View Full Version : Expelled Producers Reject Yoko Ono's Suit

04-25-2008, 04:47 AM
Found this on PR newwire. Thought it was interesting.

Apr 24, 2008 18:38 ET

EXPELLED Producers Reject Yoko Ono's Lawsuit for Use of John Lennon's 'Imagine' in Film



EXPELLED Producers Available for Interviews
LOS ANGELES, April 24 /PRNewswire/ --
WHAT: Yoko Ono and others have filed lawsuits against Ben Stein's
EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed, challenging the film's use
and critique of John Lennon's song "Imagine." One of the suits
seeks to ban free speech through preliminary injunctive relief
which essentially means that they are trying to expel EXPELLED
as it is now being shown in theaters.

Producers of EXPELLED reject the lawsuits and state that
Premise Media did not pursue a license for the song and had no
obligation to do so. Unbiased viewers of the film will see that
the "Imagine" clip was used as part of a social commentary in
the exercise of free speech. The brief clip -- consisting of a
mere 10 words -- was used to contrast the messages in the
documentary and was not used as an endorsement of EXPELLED.

EXPELLED has been embraced by fans and stunned its detractors by
opening as one the nation's Top 10 films last weekend. It has
received more than 2,000,000 visitors to its website and was #2
on Fandango.com's "hottest tickets" chart on Opening Day, April
18. Out for less than one week, it opened as one of the most
commercially successful releases for any documentary film and
already become one of the top 25 documentaries of all time.

04-25-2008, 04:54 AM
There's no "fair use" doctrine for copyrighted musical works; every piece of music you put in a movie or television show needs a mechanical reproduction license. The law is very clear on this; either this is a disingenuous attempt to try the case in the media, or the producers of this film need to find different lawyers.

04-25-2008, 05:22 AM
It will be interesting to see what happens.

04-25-2008, 05:39 AM
It will be interesting to see what happens.

Not really, because they don't have a leg to stand on. US copyright law calculates mechanical reproduction, synchronization, and "master use" license fees down to the second; there's no provision for "fair use" at all. This is kind of the movie-business equivalent of the people who say that they don't have to pay taxes because there's fringe on the flag.

Note: I spaced out a bit in the prior post above; where I typed "mechanical reproduction" I actually meant to type "mechanical reproduction, synchronization, and 'master use'". ASCAP's site has a good FAQ (http://www.ascap.com/filmtv/faq.html) on this topic.

Mac H.
04-25-2008, 05:53 AM
There's no "fair use" doctrine for copyrighted musical works ... there's no provision for "fair use" at all ... The law is very clear on this;That simply isn't correct.

Read the law. 'Fair use' doctrine (or 'Fair dealings' outside the USA) doesn't magically stop being applicable just because the copyrighted work is music. This is a myth - a myth that is incredibly widely stated as 'fact', though.

It isn't surprising that the ASCAP summary doesn't have section on 'Under what circumstances do I NOT have to pay license fees?' .. but that doesn't mean that it isn't true.

See here: http://www.current.org/doc/doc0521fairuse.shtml for a counter example.

To quote:

Friday afternoon, things changed for producers who need to use somebody else’s footage and music in their documentaries.

Suits over fair use are rare anyway, he said, and almost always decided in favor of producers ...
Because fair use is a stranger to some producers, the statement takes pains to argue against common misconceptions. To have fair use, for example, a documentary doesn’t have to be exclusively high-minded, unpopular or boring. Indeed, it can be entertaining or even commercially successful, according to the statement.