Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Imagine there's no fair use

"It is a pity that this decision weakens the rights of all copyright owners."

What was the decision? A judge denied a preliminary injunction against release of the movie "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" which features 15 seconds of the song Imagine by John Lennon. The judge ruled that Yoko Ono and family were unlikely to succeed in their claim that fair use did not protect their inclusion of a small portion of the song in the movie. Of course, the decision will be appealed, and the real winners in the end will be the lawyers on both sides, but at least temporarily the correct decision has been made, regardless of the claim that copyright has been weakened for everyone because the well-established doctrine of fair use has been upheld. The lawsuit actually goes into some trademark infringement as well, since the song is supposedly a de facto trademark of Lennon.

I looked up Yoko's lawyer, Peter Shukat. In the following video, he explains some of the intricasies and disputes between artists and recording companies:

Peter seems like a nice guy as lawyers go, although that doesn't mean the above quote by him has any merit. Of course, he gets paid a lot of money by artists and their estates to push copyright law in their favor, so I don't hold it against him. Although, reading about the cease and desist letter he sent to an artist who donated a couple of paintings to John Lennon's former elementary school, and then they sent Yoko one of the paintings of John to thank her for a donation to the school (How dare anyone paint a picture of him without my permission!? I broke up the Beatles-I did-John belongs to me!), you kind of have to wonder if he isn't selling out.

I may have to go see the movie if it comes to Logan or Redbox.

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