from the this-should-be-interesting dept
A&E claims that it's fair use, since the music was being used in part as a news report would use it. The article compares it to both the recent case where John Lennon's Imagine was allowed in the movie Expelled without a license... but also to the infamous Bridgeport ruling that basically said fair use doesn't apply to music at all. Some will say that A&E's case is also weaker because it had approached the children of the songwriters (who now control the copyright) about a license, and then never got one, but that, alone, doesn't change the fair use calculation.
This is one of those cases that really could go either way. As a strong believer in fair use, it shouldn't surprise anyone that I think this is clearly fair use, and that the four factors of fair use support it (as should common sense). But, others will surely make the case in the other direction. The thing that I wonder is how allowing such a use could possibly be a bad thing for the copyright holders. It seems like one of those cases where copyright holders are suing just because they have the copyright and think that, because of that, they absolutely have to sue. Either way, kudos to A&E for standing up for fair use.