A New York state judge heard Premise Media’s arguments yesterday against a preliminary injunction barring Premise Media and its associates from distributing Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed further. There’s no word yet on the judge’s decision, which could mean he is carefully mulling the matter over.
The suit is only part of the movie’s legal woes, stemming from its use of a short clip of John Lennon’s song, “Imagine.” The producers failed to obtain permission to use the song, and Lennon’s heirs and publisher are crying foul.
Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono Lennon, his two sons, and EMI Blackwood filed a copyright infringement suit April 22 in US District Court in Manhattan demanding at least $75,000 in damages, a complete recall of the existing version of the movie, now playing in about 200 theaters, and an injunction against further distribution of the movie.
EMI Blackwood and Capitol Records followed that suit up with another in state court, demanding a preliminary injunction against further distribution of the movie.
There were hearings yesterday in both the federal and state cases. In the state case, Judge Richard Lowe stayed a temporary restraining order issued April 30 barring further distribution of the movie until he rules on the preliminary injunction issue. There’s no word yet on the federal case, brought by Yoko and Lennon’s sons.
Premise Media contends that the use of the Lennon song was well within the “fair use” policy of US copyright law. The case attracted the attention of Stanford Law School’s Fair Use project, which is defending Premise, et alia, in federal and NY state courts. Lawyers for the defendants argue that using the song in the movie is an exercise of their free speech rights, as well as fair use.
The EMI suit and the response to it are now on Scribd.com.
Here’s the EMI suit:
and the response to it.