Interesting law suit regarding fair use of copyrighted music at DVinfo.net

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Old April 24th, 2008, 02:18 PM   #1
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Interesting law suit regarding fair use of copyrighted music

Just noticed this on CNN: Ono sues over use of 'Imagine' in the Ben Stein film "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed",
http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/Musi....ap/index.html

I'm not a fan of the film nor the politics behind it, but I think this raises some interesting questions: they used Lennon's 'Imagine' without permission of the copyright holders (including Yoko Ono Lennon) and this could be an interesting test case about music fair use in documentaries, if it ever makes it to court - which I doubt. The filmmakers are claiming:

"Based on the fair use doctrine, news commentators and film documentarians regularly use material in the same way we do," Premise Media said in a statement. "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 and freedom of inquiry."

For those of us working in the documentary area, this could be worth following.

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Old April 25th, 2008, 04:46 AM   #2
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From the trailers I've seen of the film "Imagine" is no more of a documentary than Borat was. It's a movie, not a doc. Bet they lose - bigtime - as they should.
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Old April 25th, 2008, 07:08 AM   #3
 
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Rick, no one said Imagine was a documentary. It was used, "fairly", in a documentary.

BTW, I liked Expelled. It was very well done--very "intelligent" in its "design". Using the Berlin Wall as a visual metaphor was brilliant! They picked up on a comment made by one of those being interviewed referring to the Wall.
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Old April 25th, 2008, 07:44 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick L. Allen View Post
From the trailers I've seen of the film "Imagine" is no more of a documentary than Borat was. It's a movie, not a doc. Bet they lose - bigtime - as they should.
You make no sense.... If you don't consider "Expelled" a doc because it has an agenda in it, then any of Michael Moore "docs" should not be considered "docs." Any feature length movie that is not a fictional narrative should be considered a doc (I can't think of any other categories.)

I think the bigger question is, if it's a doc and you charge admission to it, is it still a "doc" in the sense of the law.

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Old April 26th, 2008, 11:09 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Quinn View Post
they used Lennon's 'Imagine' without permission of the copyright holders (including Yoko Ono Lennon)
I haven't seen Expelled, so I don't know what the exact context in which 'Imagine' (and are we talking about the song or the film?) was used, so it is hard to really comment either way.

People seem to be under the impression that Fair Use is a giant grey area, and it is... but it isn't. Or what I should say is, it isn't as big of a grey area than some think it is -- or, it's only as big as one's ignorance on the subject. I have seen a few threads here and elsewhere where people make erroneous statements about Fair Use when they clearly have never read the law. And for the sake of sharing information (that's what we're here for):

http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html
http://fairuse.stanford.edu/Copyrigh...view/chapter9/

Now, without knowing how it was used in Expelled I will say that it should be interesting to hear more about it. I can't imagine that somewhere down the line before the doc's release, someone didn't say "uh, guys, we're gonna get our houses taken from us if we don't make sure all licensing has been cleared." Anyone with even a bit of education in the doc-making process knows how critical diligence about those issues are to getting into a film fest, much less a distribution deal. So the idea of someone being asleep at the wheel on this -- especially for something that involves someone as iconic as Lennon! -- sounds a bit unbelievable. But maybe that's exactly what happened and they are now back-peddling with this excuse -- OR perhaps they did just what Yoko is accusing them of doing.
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Old April 26th, 2008, 11:15 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Rogers View Post
You make no sense.... If you don't consider "Expelled" a doc because it has an agenda in it, then any of Michael Moore "docs" should not be considered "docs." Any feature length movie that is not a fictional narrative should be considered a doc (I can't think of any other categories.)
That discussion deserves it's own thread altogether!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Rogers View Post
I think the bigger question is, if it's a doc and you charge admission to it, is it still a "doc" in the sense of the law.
I don't understand what you are saying here. Are you arguing that a film that purports to be a documentary and charges admission to be viewed should not be considered a documentary under "the law" -- that to be a documentary, admission shouldn't be charged to view it in the theatres? And to which "law" are you specifically referring?
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