So why did Stanford Law’s Fair Use Project decide to defend the makers of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed in a copyright infringement lawsuit? To protect their free speech rights, the project’s executive director said yesterday in his blog.
The legal tussle revolves around the movie’s use of part of John Lennon’s song, “Imagine,” to suggest how “Darwinism” might lead to atheism. Reports vary as to the length of the clip, from 10 to 25 seconds, but in any event the copyright holders to the song were not amused.
Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono Lennon, and sons, Sean and Julian, along with his publisher, EMI Blackwood Publishing, filed a copyright and trademark infringement suit April 22 in US District Court in Manhattan, demanding the current version of the film be pulled from theaters and that further distribution of the film be barred. They also asked for at least $75,000 in damages.
Until he hears both sides of the case next Monday, District Court Judge Sidney Stein issued a temporary restraining order April 30 preventing Expelled‘s makers from distributing the movie to any more theaters or in DVD form. His order did not affect the movie’s screenings (dwindling as we speak) already in place.
EMI apparently also filed a similar suit in NY state court, though I do not have those details yet.
Premise Media, the producers of the anti-evolution film, contends that its use of the Lennon clip was permissible under the fair use doctrine of US copyright law, which gives critics and commentators some leeway in quoting copyrighted material.
The Fair Use Project announced just a few days after the Lennon suit that it would defend Premise Media and its co-defendants. Yesterday, the project’s exec, Anthony Falzone, explained why.
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is a controversial documentary about a contentious issue: whether proponents of intelligent design are being unfairly
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