Intelligent Design

Judge Tells Yoko Ono: Imagine Fair Use

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Yoko Ono’s copyright infringement suit against the makers of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed for using 15 seconds of the Lennon song Imagine was thrown out of court. Of course we all knew it was no more than a nuisance suit brought because Ono didn’t approve of the film’s negative view of the philosophy expressed in Imagine.

Stanford Law School’s Fair Use Project: Yoko Ono’s Injunction Against “Expelled” Producers Denied

The Fair Use Project of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society today announced that Yoko Ono’s attempt to enjoin Premise Media’s documentary, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” has been denied.

The film, released in the United States last month on more than 1000 theater screens nationwide, explores whether proponents of intelligent design are being discriminated against unfairly in academia and beyond. The film uses a 15-second clip from John Lennon’s song “Imagine” to criticize both the song and the anti-religious message it conveys—that the world might be a better place without religion. Ono asked the court to enjoin continued distribution of the film in its present form and to recall and destroy existing copies. The Fair Use Project is representing Premise Media and the other defendants in the case pro bono, along with the national law firm Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP.

In a ruling issued today, Judge Sidney H. Stein of the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York rejected Ono’s request. In holding that Premise Media is likely to prevail under copyright’s fair use doctrine, the court recognized that the film used a limited portion of “Imagine” to criticize the song and the views expressed in it, and to make further social commentary. While the lawsuit is still pending, today’s decision helps pave the way for further distribution of the film in theaters and on DVD.

“This case is not just about fair use, it is about free speech,” explained Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project and lead counsel on the case. “The right to use portions of copyrighted works in order to criticize them and discuss the views they represent lies at the heart of the fair use doctrine because that right is essential to the free flow of ideas, thoughts, and debate.”

14 Replies to “Judge Tells Yoko Ono: Imagine Fair Use

  1. 1
    poachy says:

    Actually, Dave, the case was not thrown out of court. The judge only turned down the Ono’s request for a preliminary injunction. Indeed the press release specifically says:

    “While the lawsuit is still pending, today’s decision helps pave the way for further distribution of the film in theaters and on DVD.”

  2. 2
    Larry Fafarman says:

    poachy said,

    Actually, Dave, the case was not thrown out of court. The judge only turned down the Ono’s request for a preliminary injunction.

    I think that for all practical purposes it is a final decision. All significant issues have been thoroughly addressed and there are no more facts to discover.

    We have not yet heard from the judge in the state court action but I presume that he will follow suit.

    My blog has over twenty articles about the case — see

    http://im-from-missouri.blogsp.....%20lawsuit

    http://im-from-missouri.blogsp.....%20%231%29

  3. 3
    Timotheos says:

    There’s a posting on this at http://lessig.org/blog/2008/06.....nt_or.html

    Lawrence Lessig is a lawyer at the Fair Use Project who is representing Expelled.

  4. 4
    poachy says:

    Thanks, Larry. It’s always good to hear a lawyer’s perspective.

  5. 5
    Noremacam says:

    OK, I think I’m paranoid, because I was so sure that some sort of bias was going to override logic and some incompetent judge was gonna grant Yoko’s order.

    My faith in “the system” is so little. :^)

  6. 6
    F2XL says:

    OK, I think I’m paranoid, because I was so sure that some sort of bias was going to override logic and some incompetent judge was gonna grant Yoko’s order.

    I felt the same way. For a second I thought the judge would defy all reason to support Yoko Ono, even though Michael Moore has done far worse then what we see in Expelled.

    My faith in “the system” is so little. :^)

    After Dover who wouldn’t?

    BTW just read Traipsing Into Evolution a second time to make sure it said what I thought it said and boy does it make you wonder why nobody is holding Jones accountable.

  7. 7
    F2XL says:

    Dang, anyone know what HTML code allows you to quote others on this site? Getting annoyed with having to italicize everything.

    [blockquote] quoted stuff [/blockquote]

    Replace brackets [] with carets <>

  8. 8
    Larry Fafarman says:

    Noremacam said (#5) —

    OK, I think I’m paranoid, because I was so sure that some sort of bias was going to override logic and some incompetent judge was gonna grant Yoko’s order.

    Yes, they could have gotten another judge who had “true religion” like Judge John E. “Jackass” Jones III had (I got the nickname from a Dover defendant). Judge Jones said in a Dickinson College commencement speech that his Dover decision was based on his notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief that organized religions are not “true” religions:

    “. . . . this much is very clear. The Founders believed that true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in a Bible, but was to be found through free, rational inquiry. At bottom then, this core set of beliefs led the Founders, who constantly engaged and questioned things, to secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance between church and state.”

    F2XL said (#7) —

    Dang, anyone know what HTML code allows you to quote others on this site? Getting annoyed with having to italicize everything.

    Just use the word “blockquote” inside the inequality signs. That is a standard HTML code.

  9. 9
    j says:

    The conclusion of the ruling* is (somewhat ironically) especially insightful:

    In sum, allowing defendants’ use would better serve “the copyright law’s goal of promoting the Progress of Science and useful Arts . . . than [would] preventing it.”

    🙂 (Boldface added.)

    * available at http://www.evolutionnews.org/expelledsdny.pdf

  10. 10
    Frost122585 says:

    Bwhahahahahahah!

  11. 11

    I was not as sure as you were on this, but am glad it turned out well.

  12. 12
    Larry Fafarman says:

    OK, Dave, I removed the abusive language from my comment.

    j said,

    The conclusion of the ruling* is (somewhat ironically) especially insightful:

    In sum, allowing defendants’ use would better serve “the copyright law’s goal of promoting the Progress of Science and useful Arts . . . than [would] preventing it.”

    (Boldface added.)

    That is a quotation from the US Constitution, Article I, Section 8 —

    The Congress shall have power . . . . To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

    Even if the movie’s use of the song does not promote the progress of science, it at least promotes useful arts. Films are considered to be a useful art.

    Reply to Poachy’s comment #4 — I am not a lawyer.

  13. 13
    Charlie says:

    Hi Larry,
    re: #12 re: #4.
    Poachy knows that.
    He is a sarcastic sock puppet making his points in a veiled instead of honest manner.

  14. 14
    poachy says:

    Hi Charlie,

    I see you are still trying to dirty my name. I should be upset, but I am not. It makes me feel like I am some undercover agent….or not. Much more interesting than my real life.

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