Yesterday the trial court ruled against Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s sons, holders of the copyright to Lennon’s song “Imagine,” in their lawsuit against challenging use of 15 seconds of the song in Ben Stein’s film “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” Ono et al did not want use of the song to appear to endorse the message of Stein’s pro-intelligent design film. The judge ruled that use of the song was fair use. I’ve not seen the film but the judge’s ruling appears to be correct, based on what I’ve read. The song is played against a montage of images criticizing its anti-war and anti-religion lyrics, a straightforward example of transformative, parodic use. Ono plans to appeal but success on appeal is unlikely.
This story about high school students suing TurnItIn.com made the rounds on Friday: McLean Students Sue Anti-Cheating Service. I’ve not analyzed it closely but their claim–that TurnItIn.com violates copyrights in their papers and essays by copying them to its database–has some legal merit, and wise-ass ironic flavor to boot. The Volokh Conspiracy blogged about it here, succinctly summarizing the arguments on both sides and predicting TurnItIn.com has the better of the arguments. I agree that the transformative nature of TurnItIn.com’s service probably tips the scales in its favor.
An apology for the number of recent posts echoing stories from other sites. A number of things have caught my eye recently but between course prep, exams, and papers I have not been able to get much beyond the surface of anything.