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Yoko Ono Withdraws 'Fair Use' Lawsuit

Yoko Ono Withdraws 'Fair Use' Lawsuit - Stanford Law School
LawFuel - The Law Jobs and Legal NewsWire

STANFORD, Calif.- The Fair Use Project of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society today announced that Yoko Ono and EMI Records have withdrawn all claims filed against Premise Media. The dismissal follows failed attempts by Yoko Ono in federal court and EMI Records in state court to enjoin Premise Media’s documentary, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” because it uses a 15-second clip of a John Lennon song.

“We’re very pleased that all plaintiffs withdrew their claims,” said Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project and lead counsel on the case. He added: “We think it was clear from the beginning that our clients had every right to use the ‘Imagine’clip as they did, and we’re happy we’ve vindicated that right. The right to use copyrighted material to criticize it is essential to free speech and public debate, and that’s what was at stake here.”

“Expelled,” which was released in the United States on April 18, 2008, on more than 1000 theater screens nationwide, explores whether proponents of intelligent design are being discriminated against unfairly in academia and beyond. The film uses a 15-second clip from John Lennon’s song “Imagine” to criticize both the song and the anti-religious message some interpret it to convey—that the world might be a better place without religion.

EMI Records, along with Capitol Records, filed a dismissal yesterday following an August 13, 2008 decision by the New York Supreme Court that denied EMI and Capitol’s attempt to enjoin the further showing and distribution of “Expelled” based on the claim that the film violated their sound recording rights under New York state law. The court concluded that EMI and Capitol were unlikely to overcome Premise’s fair use defense and that EMI and Capitol therefore failed to demonstrate a probability of success on their infringement claim.

On June 2, 2008, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected a nearly identical claim from John Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono and his sons Sean and Julian, who, along with EMI Blackwood Music, alleged that the use of the song clip violated federal copyright and trademark law. The federal court also refused to enjoin the film. After originally appealing that decision, Yoko Ono and plaintiffs withdrew their appeal and then withdrew their claims altogether on September 5, 2008.

“I’m gratified that the attempts to silence our film were unsuccessful, and we want to thank the Fair Use Project and everyone else who worked so hard to preserve our free speech rights, and by extension the free speech rights of all documentary filmmakers,” said Logan Craft, chairman and executive producer of Premise Media.

The Fair Use Project represented Premise Media and the other defendants in the case pro bono, along with the national law firm Locke Lord Bissell &Liddell LLP.

About the Fair Use Project

The Stanford Center for Internet and Society’s Fair Use Project (“the FUP”) was founded in 2006. Its purpose is to provide legal support to a range of projects designed to clarify, and extend, the boundaries of “fair use” in order to enhance creative freedom. The FUP represents filmmakers, musicians, artists, writers, scholars, and other content creators in a range of disputes that raise important questions concerning fair use and the limits of intellectual property rights. In doing so, it relies on a network of talented lawyers within the Center for Internet and Society, as well as attorneys in law firms and public interest organizations that are dedicated to advancing the mission of the FUP.

About the Center for Internet and Society

Founded by Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig in 2001, the Center for Internet and Society [] is a public interest technology law and policy program at Stanford Law School which engages students, academics, technologists and policy makers in exploring the interactions between technology, law, and society.

About Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School [] is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business, and high technology. Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, and write books and articles for academic audiences, as well as the popular press. Along with offering traditional law school classes, the school has embraced new subjects and new ways of teaching.

About Premise Media

Premise Media Corporation [] develops, finances, and produces independent films, books, and DVDs for the domestic and international marketplace, producing world-class media that stirs the heart and inspires the mind to truth, purpose, and hope.

About Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP

Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP [] is a full-service, national law firm of more than 700 attorneys with offices in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, London, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Sacramento and Washington, D.C. With a vast geographic scope, and a national reputation in complex litigation, regulatory and transactional work, Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell is focused on achieving client success as a team. Among LLB&L's many strong practice areas are appellate, capital markets, corporate, class action litigation, employee benefits, energy, environmental, financial services, health care, insurance and reinsurance industries, intellectual property, labor and employment, public law, real estate, REIT, tax and technology.


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