Thursday, May 01, 2008


Tears of a Clown

Most everyone interested in Expelled will be aware of the lawsuit by the family of a moderately famous singer/songwriter:

[John] Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono Lennon and sons Sean and Julian, along with EMI Blackwood Music, filed suit on April 22, 2008 claiming that Premise Media’s unauthorized use of “Imagine” violates copyright and trademark law. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges that Premise Media, C&S Production LP, Premise Media Distribution LP, and Rocky Mountain Pictures misappropriated the composition in violation of the Copyright Act, the Lanham Act, and New York state law. On the same date, EMI Records Ltd. and Capitol Records LLC filed suit against the same defendants in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, alleging violation of their rights in the sound recording under New York state law.

Now the Fair Use Project of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society has announced today that it will help defend Premise Media’s right to use a clip of John Lennon’s song “Imagine” in its documentary.

“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 here, and we plan to defend them.”

Falzone will serve as counsel on the case along with Stanford Law colleagues Julie A. Ahrens and Brandy Karl. The Stanford team will be joined by Roy Hardin and April Terry, partners at the Dallas office of Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP.

The reasons behind the move are given as:

The Stanford Center for Internet and Society’s Fair Use Project (“the FUP”) was founded in 2006. Its purpose is to provide legal support to a range of projects designed to clarify, and extend, the boundaries of “fair use” in order to enhance creative freedom. The FUP represents filmmakers, musicians, artists, writers, scholars, and other content creators in a range of disputes that raise important questions concerning fair use and the limits of intellectual property rights. In doing so, it relies on a network of talented lawyers within the Center for Internet and Society, as well as attorneys in law firms and public interest organizations that are dedicated to advancing the mission of the FUP.

I certainly have sympathy for the notion of "fair use." It is hard to [cough] imagine how critical analysis of any political or social position, literature, art, music or other human activity could be legitimately had, without the right to reasonably quote or reproduce the material being criticized. On the other hand, dragging an artist's work from over three decades ago into a documentary allegedly about science and how the "new" theory of Intelligent Design is being supposedly suppressed today, not only appears to be gratuitous, instead of legitimate criticism related to the movie, but a blatant attempt merely to profit from the fame of the artist.

This claim by the producers is as ridiculous as any in the movie itself:

“Yoko Ono and the other plaintiffs are trying to redefine the Constitution and the free speech protection it affords,” Craft continued. “Our movie is about freedom — the freedom to discuss alternative views of how life began on our planet, the freedom to ask reasonable questions about the adequacy of Darwin’s theory, and the freedom to challenge an entrenched establishment. Now we find that we also have to fight for our free speech rights.”

Ono, et al., are merely seeking to protect their own rights to their property. No one's "free speech" is unlimited and we have devised a method to determine competing claims to "rights," namely the court system. The family's suit is fully in line with free speech rights and no one is being imposed on, except to the extent that we are a society of laws and all citizens are "burdened" with obeying those laws and submitting disagreements about them to judicial determination.

This is nothing more than crocodile tears, something the IDeologists are past masters at.

IANAL(&YA) but: I though that "fair use" covered the right to excerpt a work for purpose of comment or parody *on that work* -- not as background music for comment on some other subject.

It seems something of a stretch to try and link "Imagine" to....well, pretty much anything the movie is about.
Let's see.

Lennon thought religion should be done away with, which means that he was an atheist and all atheists are, by definition, "Darwinists," because the only other explanation for life as we know it is a loving God (who just happens to go by the name "Jesus"), and anyway all those scientists (as long as we ignore Ken Miller, Francis Collins, Francisco Ayala, et al.) are atheists who also want to do away with religion, except as a hobby, like that PeeZed guy, and who probably start their monthly Overthrow America meeting singing "Imagine" because they all were Beatle fans instead of God-fearin' Pat Boone fans, so the connection between "Imagine" and Darwin is, as David Berlinski said, clearly part "of the historical record and common sense."

Did I mention that the commentary or criticism needn't be coherent?
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