EMI Loses Lawsuit To Prevent John Lennon's Imagine From Appearing In Expelled

from the good-decision dept

Larry Lessig points us to news of another good court decision, tossing out EMI's attempt to stop Ben Stein's movie Expelled from using John Lennon's song Imagine. If this sounds somewhat familiar, it's because Yoko Ono had filed a similar lawsuit -- which she lost. In both cases, the courts have recognized that Stein's use of the song is pretty clearly fair use. As the link above points out, this is important for a variety of reasons -- including a terrible ruling a few years back that said effectively that there was no fair use for music samples. It's good to see courts recognizing that fair use applies to music as well as other types of content.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Shaun Wilson, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 1:11am

    Shouldn't have bothered...

    The whole purpose of including the sample without paying for it was so that the producers of the film could enhance their argument of "look how the evil atheists/'Darwinists' are persecuting us". Now they will probably be promoting how the courts sided with them over the evil atheists/'Darwinists' but then again if they hadn't sued it might have given the impression that they were supportive of this work of fiction that's supposed to be a documentary.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 1:34am

    Re: Shouldn't have bothered...

    Are you on crack?

     

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  3.  
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    Shaun Wilson, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 1:58am

    Re: Re: Shouldn't have bothered...

    About what? The argument in expelled is pretty much "waaa... they're being mean to us" and it is a fiction - pretty much all the people they said were fired actually are still employed. Even the "theory" of "intelligent design" doesn't qualify as a scientific theory - some even dispute if it should be called a hypothesis rather than just a random guess.

    If you were saying about me saying they shouldn't have bothered suing then the point I was making was that it was only playing into their hands - they wanted to be sued.

     

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  4.  
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    Brian Hayes, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 2:20am

    C'mon. Go the distance.

    @Shaun: evil atheists, Darwin, persecuting us; these terms become volatile unless you're winking. It's not surprising Mister Always Anonymous Forthright comes back strongly. If you think we should learn what you're saying, what is it that you're saying?

     

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  5.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 2:47am

    The Trouble With Intelligent Design...

    ...if certain things in nature are too complex to have arisen without an intelligent designer, then presumably that would be true of the designer, too. So where did the designer come from?

     

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  6.  
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    Brian Hayes, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 3:01am

    I shoulda known

    ...some desktops have installed "John Lennon".

    Next time I'll remind myself that "Imagine" might stimulate imagination.

     

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  7.  
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    Lawrence Gage, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 3:21am

    The Designer

    @Lawrence D'Oliveiro: so you've proven that you can lip-sync a man who never bothers to read any theology or philosophy before claiming to disprove their arguments. The open question is Who's the bigger fool: the fool or the fool who quotes him?

    Sheesh! If you're going to dispute ID, at least argue about its real weaknesses, not mindlessly repeat a trite bumper-sticker slogan.

     

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  8.  
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    Pastafarian, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 4:13am

    All of you are wrong. Neither evolution or Intelligent Design. All educated people know that life and the earth were started when Flying Spaghetti Monster created the trees, mountains, and midgits. All of the evidence for evolution was planted by Him as a test for our faith. Any implication that some other creator was at work is an insult to His Noodly Greatness. So logically, belief in the FSM is the only true way.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 4:49am

    I dont get Ben Stien

    he cries on television that SONY should stop selling Everquest becuase his son doesnt have the dicipline to quit playing it (seriously). Then I see him aruging about how corporations are not responsible for the actions of thier consumers and individuals need to take responsibility for thier own behavoir and face the consequences of such (except when its his family I guess). Hes the same as most modern Republicans it would seem, just an old fashioned hypocrite willing to sell stupid ideas to stupid people.

     

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  10.  
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    WG, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 4:53am

    Re:

    NOW....That's crack, right there!

     

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  11.  
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    some old guy, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 5:07am

    Re: Shouldn't have bothered...

    You speak with such passion! If only we could understand wtf you said!

     

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  12.  
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    Shaun Wilson, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 5:14am

    Re: C'mon. Go the distance.

    I was being ironic, even sarcastic in the usage of those terms - I was trying to reflect what the producers of expelled etc say.

    I repeat I DO NOT support what is presented in that ridiculous film "Expelled".

     

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  13.  
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    Greg, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 5:16am

    Re: I dont get Ben Stien

    Yep.. total crack there.

     

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  14.  
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    Shaun Wilson, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 5:28am

    Re: The Designer

    Since it seems my posts weren't clear enough I will say it more clearly - I do not support this film in anyway shape or form.

    Lawrence D'Oliveiro is exactly right in his question - there is no real answer to this (except nowhere - he/she/it doesn't exist).

    Lawrence Gage, that is a real weakness, also ID claims to be science not theology or philosophy (though that is actually what it is). Scientifically it has no basis and D'Oliveiro just destroyed it's argument on the theology/philosophy standpoint so I think we're done here.

    If you want to teach ID in religious studies class then fine - it would be nice if you would point out that it is totally unsupported but you don't have to about the rest of religious studies so I wouldn't require it of ID in this case.

     

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  15.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 5:59am

    One post

    I bet this post generates mostly threads that have nothing to do with the actual subject. It has so far...and the tin foil cap crowd is certainly present.

    The point is, whether you like the film or not, the courts are actually doing the right thing. From previous posts, I know even Mike didn't like the ideas presented in the film but has shown support for the use of the song sample as fair use. Now the courts have backed it up on two accounts. This should be celebrated by all who want freedom to play Prince in the background while their child dances.

     

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  16.  
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    ehrichweiss, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 6:28am

    Re:

    Vote Cthulu when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 6:56am

    Hello John, Time to start rolling in the grave.

    While you can argue the legality of the situation. (I dont really care to). I think the compelling issue that is being overlooked here is the song itself. Have you really listened to, "Imagine". I have never seen a worse misintrepretation of the song. IMO John was never asking people to imagine that religion should be replaced by Evolution. If John was still with us he would probably add the lyric, "imagine no evolution to."

    The song is about peace. Not arguing hot button wedge issues. The song is about people getting along and living in harmony. Not standing on a soapbox preaching their political views. Ben Stein your as sharp as they come. Sorry, bud- you dont know everything. And you really miss the mark by trashing an increading song with your political hit piece.

    "Imagine if Ben actually got Imagine!" dare to dream John.

     

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  18.  
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    Overcast, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 6:58am

    Doesn't matter what the agenda was - the question is 'fair use'. It's gotta apply equally. That's the idea of freedom and free speech.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 7:11am

    Re: Re: C'mon. Go the distance.

    that's apparent in your multiple posts. It's also apparent that you have no tolerance for people who don't think like you.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 8:55am

    Irony

    Does anyone see the irony: high-flying lawsuits over who owns the song that contains the line "imagine no posessions"?

     

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  21.  
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    MLS, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 9:30am

    This article is plainly inaccurate and misleading. EMI did not lose and the moviemaker did not win.

    This matter involved a pre-trial motion for a preliminary injunction. The court decided, as it has the discretion to do, not to grant the motion and that trial on the merits would continue.

    This litigation is only in the "first inning" and has a long way to go before it concludes...by either a court entered judgement or a settlement between the two parties.

     

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  22.  
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    MLS, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 9:38am

    Re:

    Merely as an aside, this case does not involve copyright infringement under federal copyright law. It involves infringement under New York State copyright law, as well as some unfair competition claims likewise governed by New York State law.

    I daresay few people are aware that "works" created prior to January 1, 1978 may be protected under both federal and state law. On January 1, 1978 continued state copyright grants were truncated by the newly enacted revisions to federal copyright law.

     

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  23.  
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    John Duncan Yoyo, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 10:30am

    Re: Re: Shouldn't have bothered...

    I thought he was clear. They were leveraging an expected lawsuit into publicity for this silly movie. Those gosh darn book worshipers don't like to really examine the evidence that doesn't jibe with the book.

    Of course I don't quite understand how the take Imagine as a non-deist argument. If you have to Imagine there isn't one there must be one.

     

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  24.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 20th, 2008 @ 11:00am

    Re:

    This article is plainly inaccurate and misleading. EMI did not lose and the moviemaker did not win.

    They did lose. They asked for an injunction and they did not get it.

    Yes, it may have been a colloquialism to say "lawsuit" instead of "pre-trial motion" but the impact is the same.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    MLS, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re:

    Then it is fair to say that the moviemaker also lost since several of his arguments before the court were rejected as well.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Aug 20th, 2008 @ 3:52pm

    Does anyone see the irony: high-flying lawsuits over who owns the song that contains the line "imagine no posessions"?

    hehe, yeah

     

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  27.  
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    Feic, Aug 21st, 2008 @ 2:50am

    Re: ironic?

    pshaw, thats not ironic...now a black fly in my Chardonnay is ironic

     

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  28.  
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    Shaun Wilson, Aug 28th, 2008 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Shouldn't have bothered...

    I thought he was clear. They were leveraging an expected lawsuit into publicity for this silly movie.

    That was what I meant to say, I didn't mean to get into a debate about the contents of the movie. I should have just said that to make it clear I was talking about the merits of the lawsuit and made no comments of the movie itself...

    I also probably should have made this post earlier as well while people would still read it...

     

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