That’s Expelled 1, Yoko 0

John Lennon’s heirs have lost their copyright infringement case against the makers of the film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. A federal judge ruled today that the movie can legally use a snippet of Lennon’s song, “Imagine,” without express permission from the copyright holders. The decision clears the way for Expelled‘s creators and marketers to distribute the film in Canada in time for a June 6 opening, and to market DVDs in the fall. The film needs the added revenue boost; it’s bombing in the US. On April 22, Yoko Ono Lennon, her husband’s two sons, and his publisher, EMI Blackwood, filed a copyright infringement suit in US District Court in Manhattan, claiming that Premise Media — the film’s creator — had used a part of “Imagine” without their permission. The heirs asked for an immediate suspension of showing the film anywhere, recall of all existing copies and at least $75,000 in damages. Premise Media, meanwhile, contended its use of the song was within the “fair use” doctrine of US copyright law. The Fair Use Project of the Stanford Law School then announced it would defend Premise and the other defendants in court. Judge Sidney Stein ruled in favor of Premise ...

NY judge promises quick decision on Yoko – Expelled suit

From the Associated Press: NEW YORK (AP) — A judge has promised a fast decision in a lawsuit brought by Yoko Ono to get the song Imagine taken out of a movie challenging the concept of Darwinian evolution. A lawyer for the movie’s distributors has warned that the litigation could wreck the movie’s political message by preventing it from impacting viewers in the lead-up to the U.S. presidential campaign. The movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, features Ben Stein challenging Darwinian theories and suggesting life could have originated through intelligent design. About 20 to 30 seconds of the song are played in the movie. Ono has accused the movie’s producers of infringing the song’s copyrights by using it without her permission, giving the impression that the Lennon family had authorized it. US District Judge Sidney Stein’s ruling will settle whether the producers of the film can release it to Canadian theaters and to DVD as planned. The Canadian premiere is scheduled for June 6, according to Premise Media’s attorney Anthony Falzone. DVD rights have to be finalized by the end of this month for an October release, he said. As for the political impact of the film, this decision will have ...

Expelled‘s legal woes — update

A New York state judge heard Premise Media’s arguments yesterday against a preliminary injunction barring Premise Media and its associates from distributing Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed further. There’s no word yet on the judge’s decision, which could mean he is carefully mulling the matter over. The suit is only part of the movie’s legal woes, stemming from its use of a short clip of John Lennon’s song, “Imagine.” The producers failed to obtain permission to use the song, and Lennon’s heirs and publisher are crying foul. Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono Lennon, his two sons, and EMI Blackwood filed a copyright infringement suit April 22 in US District Court in Manhattan demanding at least $75,000 in damages, a complete recall of the existing version of the movie, now playing in about 200 theaters, and an injunction against further distribution of the movie. EMI Blackwood and Capitol Records followed that suit up with another in state court, demanding a preliminary injunction against further distribution of the movie. There were hearings yesterday in both the federal and state cases. In the state case, Judge Richard Lowe stayed a temporary restraining order issued April 30 barring further distribution of the movie until he rules ...

Why they did it 3

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 ...

Court restrains further distribution of Expelled, per Yoko Ono suit 4

A federal judge in Manhattan has told the makers of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed that they cannot distribute the film any further, until a copyright infringement complaint is heard in court later this month. The temporary restraining order issued April 30 does not affect existing screenings of the anti-evolution film, which uses a segment of John Lennon’s song, “Imagine,” as an example of “Darwinist” philosophy. Lennon’s heirs filed suit April 24 in US District Court in Manhattan against the producers and distributors of the film, alleging copyright and trademark infringement and requesting monetary damages and an injunction against any showing of the film in its present form. Expelled is showing in 656 theaters nationally, and has gross box office receipts topping $6 million. The parties involved in the suit have until May 6 (Wednesday) to produce documents supporting their cases. Premise Media and its co-defendants have until May 14 to argue against the injunction. The plaintiffs, Yoko Ono Lennon, John Lennon’s sons and his publisher, EMI Blackwood, have until May 16 to rebut. Final arguments are due May 19. Justice is swift, for some of us anyway. Here is the text of the judge’s order: ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE Upon ...

Stanford law group to represent Expelled‘s producers

The producers and distributors of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed have found an unlikely ally in the Stanford Law School’s Fair Use Project, which has agreed to represent them in their legal battle with the heirs of former Beatle John Lennon. Last week, Yoko Ono Lennon, Sean and Julian Lennon and EMI Blackwood Publishing filed a $75,000 copyright and infringement lawsuit against Premise Media and its associated companies, alleging that the makers of Expelled used a fragment of Lennon’s song, “Imagine,” without their permission. The suit also alleges that the association of the song with the anti-evolution polemic damages the reputation of Lennon, his “trademark,” and his heirs. Premise Media representatives assert their use of the song and its lyrics fell within the “fair use doctrine” of US copyright law, and that they did not need to obtain permission to use “Imagine” in the movie. The filmmakers did obtain permission from other music used in the movie, however. “The right to quote from copyrighted works in order to criticize them and discuss the views they may represent lies at the heart of the fair use doctrine,” said Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project. “These rights are under attack ...

Imagine no Expelled: The Yoko Ono v. Premise Media lawsuit

Lennon v Premise Media Corp COMPLAINT – Upload a doc Read this doc on Scribd: Lennon v Premise Media Corp COMPLAINT

Text version of Yoko’s lawsuit against Expelled‘s producers

For the benefit of all interested parties, I have posted a text version of the complaint John Lennon’s heirs filed against Premise Media, et al., in US District Court in Manhattan earlier this week. A PDF version is available from www.scribd.com, or you can view it here. Law expert Timothy Sandefur has some thoughts about whether Yoko has a case. She might, and Premise Media, et alia, should be worried.

‘Imagine’ is neo-Darwinist theme song, says Expelled producer

John Lennon’s 1971 song, “Imagine,” is the theme song of neo-Darwinists, according to Walt Ruloff, CEO of Premise Media, and was thus used appropriately in his company’s movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. In an interview with the conservative news site, World Net Daily, Ruloff insisted the use of the song fit the theme of the movie. “If you really listen to the lyrics of ‘Imagine’ then you realize that it represents everything that the Neo-Darwinists want. ‘Imagine there’s no Heaven … No hell below us … Nothing to kill or die for And no religion too…’ That’s exactly what the Darwinist establishment wants to do: get rid of religion,” said Walt Ruloff, CEO of Premise Media. “And that’s what we point out when we play less than 15 seconds of the song and show some of the lyrics on screen.” Rrrright … John Lennon channeled Charles Darwin, who wrote a biological theory proposing that we do away with religion. I don’t understand how I missed that connection before. Expelled alleges that a “neo-Darwinist” conspiracy seeks to quash any debate about the theory of evolution and that evolution — Darwinism — is directly responsible for racism, the Holocaust, abortion and euthanasia. ...

Lennon’s survivors sue Expelled producers 2

It had to happen. John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, and sons, Sean and Julian Lennon, have sued the producers of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed for using the song “Imagine” without permission. Joining in the suit, filed today in U.S. District Music Inc. in Manhattan, is music publisher EMI Blackwood Music Inc. The complainants seek to bar the film’s makers and their distributors from continuing to use “Imagine” in the movie, which opened last Friday. The suit also seeks unspecified damages. Expelled includes a 25-second excerpt from the 1971 song. The producers, Premise Media, claim their use of the song is legitimate. The fair use doctrine is a well established copyright principle based on the belief that the public is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for purposes of commentary and criticism. We are disappointed therefore that Yoko Ono and others have decided to challenge our free speech right to comment on the song Imagine in our documentary film. Based on the fair use doctrine, news commentators and film documentarians regularly use material in the same way we do in EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed . Premise Media acknowledges that Ms. Yoko Ono did not license the song for use ...
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