Tom Cruise must be sooo unhappy

JISHOU, HUNAN — The French have dared to tread where no one else has gone: they are suing the Church of Scientology for fraud. I wonder if Scientology’s poster boy, Tom Cruise, is jumping on any couches now. A woman who claims she was tricked into spending all of her savings — €21,000– on Scientology training and paraphernalia filed suit in the French courts. The church naturally denies the charges. From the BBC: Her lawyers will argue that the church systematically seeks to make money by means of mental pressure and the use of scientifically dubious “cures”. A lawyer for the church, Patrick Maisonneuve, told AFP news agency: “We will contest every charge and prove that there was no mental manipulation.” Scientologists called as witnesses by the defence are expected to argue that they espouse a belief system like any other. True, if those others were also created from whole cloth by a B-grade science fiction author, or if they charge beaucoups dollars (or euros) for the privilege of receiving religious instruction. Also named in the suit are seven individual Scientologists, some of whom are charged with practicing pharmacy without a license. According to this report, there originally were five ...

Catching up on the news Stateside

JISHOU, HUNAN — Last spring, I was following the case of one John Freshwater, an Ohio science teacher accused of proselytizing his seventh-graders a little too zealously. Freshwater was relieved of his duties when an unnamed student and his parents filed suit, charging Freshwater with civil rights violations. Freshwater allegedly burned a cross on the student’s arm with a Tesla coil, a common science lab demo device that generally should be kept far from human flesh. (I speak from personal experience.) Anyway, this teacher, who subscribes to some kind of wacko right-wing Christianity, wants the names of the student and his parents made public. In a town where folks are already polarized over Freshwater’s “I will keep a Bible in the classroom no matter what” crusade, revealing the names of the family would be tantamount to inviting people to burn crosses in their front yard. Yeah, it’s that bad in mid-Ohio. Land of the free, and all that. Ed Brayton at Scienceblogs has the gory details.

Injured student sues controversial mid-Ohio teacher

The saga of John Freshwater, part XII … While Freshwater’s superiors at the Mount Vernon schools dither, the family of one of his students have resorted to the all-American method of getting to the root of things — they’re suing him and the school district. The suit claims that Freshwater violated the student’s civil rights by allegedly burning a cross into his arm with a Tesla coil and and that his superiors were negligent in not disciplining Freshwater. The school district hired an outsider to investigate the allegations against Freshwater, an otherwise popular seventh-grade science teacher. That report is due Friday, at which time the school board will make some decision about Freshwater’s future, supposedly. Freshwater made a name for himself earlier last year by refusing to remove his Bible from his desk. Christians loved his “Christ’s warrior” decision, but civil libertarians demurred. It then came out that Freshwater was a bit of a religious nut, proselytizing students, teaching creationism, and on at least one instance, burning a cross on a student’s arm with a Tesla coil. That apparently woke up his superiors from their overly cautious slumber. They put an observer in his classroom while the independent investigators did ...

NY judge promises quick decision on Yoko – Expelled suit

From the Associated Press: NEW YORK (AP) — A judge has promised a fast decision in a lawsuit brought by Yoko Ono to get the song Imagine taken out of a movie challenging the concept of Darwinian evolution. A lawyer for the movie’s distributors has warned that the litigation could wreck the movie’s political message by preventing it from impacting viewers in the lead-up to the U.S. presidential campaign. The movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, features Ben Stein challenging Darwinian theories and suggesting life could have originated through intelligent design. About 20 to 30 seconds of the song are played in the movie. Ono has accused the movie’s producers of infringing the song’s copyrights by using it without her permission, giving the impression that the Lennon family had authorized it. US District Judge Sidney Stein’s ruling will settle whether the producers of the film can release it to Canadian theaters and to DVD as planned. The Canadian premiere is scheduled for June 6, according to Premise Media’s attorney Anthony Falzone. DVD rights have to be finalized by the end of this month for an October release, he said. As for the political impact of the film, this decision will have ...

Expelled‘s legal woes — update

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 ...

Court restrains further distribution of Expelled, per Yoko Ono suit 4

A federal judge in Manhattan has told the makers of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed that they cannot distribute the film any further, until a copyright infringement complaint is heard in court later this month. The temporary restraining order issued April 30 does not affect existing screenings of the anti-evolution film, which uses a segment of John Lennon’s song, “Imagine,” as an example of “Darwinist” philosophy. Lennon’s heirs filed suit April 24 in US District Court in Manhattan against the producers and distributors of the film, alleging copyright and trademark infringement and requesting monetary damages and an injunction against any showing of the film in its present form. Expelled is showing in 656 theaters nationally, and has gross box office receipts topping $6 million. The parties involved in the suit have until May 6 (Wednesday) to produce documents supporting their cases. Premise Media and its co-defendants have until May 14 to argue against the injunction. The plaintiffs, Yoko Ono Lennon, John Lennon’s sons and his publisher, EMI Blackwood, have until May 16 to rebut. Final arguments are due May 19. Justice is swift, for some of us anyway. Here is the text of the judge’s order: ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE Upon ...

Stanford law group to represent Expelled‘s producers

The producers and distributors of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed have found an unlikely ally in the Stanford Law School’s Fair Use Project, which has agreed to represent them in their legal battle with the heirs of former Beatle John Lennon. Last week, Yoko Ono Lennon, Sean and Julian Lennon and EMI Blackwood Publishing filed a $75,000 copyright and infringement lawsuit against Premise Media and its associated companies, alleging that the makers of Expelled used a fragment of Lennon’s song, “Imagine,” without their permission. The suit also alleges that the association of the song with the anti-evolution polemic damages the reputation of Lennon, his “trademark,” and his heirs. Premise Media representatives assert their use of the song and its lyrics fell within the “fair use doctrine” of US copyright law, and that they did not need to obtain permission to use “Imagine” in the movie. The filmmakers did obtain permission from other music used in the movie, however. “The right to quote from copyrighted works in order to criticize them and discuss the views they may represent lies at the heart of the fair use doctrine,” said Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project. “These rights are under attack ...

Imagine no Expelled: The Yoko Ono v. Premise Media lawsuit

Lennon v Premise Media Corp COMPLAINT – Upload a doc Read this doc on Scribd: Lennon v Premise Media Corp COMPLAINT

Text version of Yoko’s lawsuit against Expelled‘s producers

For the benefit of all interested parties, I have posted a text version of the complaint John Lennon’s heirs filed against Premise Media, et al., in US District Court in Manhattan earlier this week. A PDF version is available from www.scribd.com, or you can view it here. Law expert Timothy Sandefur has some thoughts about whether Yoko has a case. She might, and Premise Media, et alia, should be worried.

Lennon’s survivors sue Expelled producers 2

It had to happen. John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, and sons, Sean and Julian Lennon, have sued the producers of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed for using the song “Imagine” without permission. Joining in the suit, filed today in U.S. District Music Inc. in Manhattan, is music publisher EMI Blackwood Music Inc. The complainants seek to bar the film’s makers and their distributors from continuing to use “Imagine” in the movie, which opened last Friday. The suit also seeks unspecified damages. Expelled includes a 25-second excerpt from the 1971 song. The producers, Premise Media, claim their use of the song is legitimate. The fair use doctrine is a well established copyright principle based on the belief that the public is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for purposes of commentary and criticism. We are disappointed therefore that Yoko Ono and others have decided to challenge our free speech right to comment on the song Imagine in our documentary film. Based on the fair use doctrine, news commentators and film documentarians regularly use material in the same way we do in EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed . Premise Media acknowledges that Ms. Yoko Ono did not license the song for use ...
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