Flunked, Not Expelled: Train Wreck in Progress

Expelled With the revelation that the producers of Expelled did not obtain permission to use a short segment of John Lennon’s song “Imagine”, the premiere of this movie appears to be a train wreck in progress. Given that they reportedly used the snippet about “imagine there’s no religion” with various nasty visual content from Communist China, it seems unlikely that they will manage to work out a deal with Ono to license the song at this point. Premise Media (PM) is arguing that the snippet meets the requirements for a “fair use” exclusion, or that they have an “educational” movie, or whatever in order to set aside the issue.

Let’s assume that Expelled does actually open tomorrow at a thousand theaters across the country. (We’ll set aside the very real possibility that Ono will seek an injunction against PM.) Given that the Wall Street Journal has raised the issue that the rights clearance procedure at PM is at the least sloppy if not completely incompetent, there will be lots of observers looking for other potential copyright infringement for photos, music, and video clips. Will it stand up to that sort of scrutiny? Will theater owners stand firm with PM as accessories to infringement as further claims are made? I think that we are likely to have an interesting weekend, and not just like the IDC cheerleaders were hoping for, either.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

8 thoughts on “Flunked, Not Expelled: Train Wreck in Progress

  • 2008/04/17 at 10:16 am
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    Expelled is definitely bad to the bone.

  • 2008/04/18 at 12:54 am
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    lots of observers looking for other potential copyright infringement for photos

    This is more like entertaining news, than actual. It’s highly unlikely either Premise’s lawsuit against the company with another animation of the cell or atheists wishing Premise would be in violation of copyright infringement of animation will have any impacts. In other words, most likely it will go nowhere.

    As for as Yoko Ono who might make a “stink” about the song as it’s a money issue when it comes to her values in protecting the estate. The lawyers who represent Yoko Ono are experts in the field, and they seem sort of vague on the type of options they have. Meaning, are they going to make a good profit out if a lawsuit. They may even wait till the movie has been out awhile in order to see what sort of money it brings it before they decide. I believe Premise made a mistake using the song in the first place no matter what happens.

  • 2008/04/18 at 5:02 am
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    Well, if I’m wrong, the article will still be here later and I’ll even add a comment to say I was wrong.

    PM has made a lot of mistakes concerning content of their film, a number of them may be viewed at Expelled Exposed. The “Imagine” portion is a small part of that.

  • 2008/04/18 at 5:10 am
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    Wow, Michael, I just checked out the link associated with your comment. Don’t you believe that you should know something about a topic *before* going on and on about it?

    F’rinstance, in the first paragraph:

    Most of us from years past have been taught to use terms like, “the theory of evolution” or the “facts of evolution” by government schools, atheists or in the media. It’s generally not refer to in the mainstream as; “the hypothesis of evolution.” Although, I have seen it used in various articles on the grassroots level over the years. I believe using the term, “theory” to describe evolution does cast a little confusion as upon how validated it is. The reason why is because not all theories are considered unproven. Rather, some of the theories floating out there, are generally considered as fact, but not proven enough to become scientific “law.”

    Theories are never “proven”. They can be tested and not found to be false, but they cannot be “proven”. There is no progression of concepts from “theory” to “law”. This is basic philosophy of science stuff. In fact, this is stuff graduating high school students should know, but often do not.

    Please check out the index of creationist claims. As you find claims that you are repeating in your own page, you should probably reconsider whether you want to be a conduit for that misinformation.

  • 2008/04/18 at 7:26 am
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    “There is no progression of concepts from “theory” to “law”.”

    I like that.

    There is no rule of thumb about when, and by what means, a theory turns into a law, because a law is just a theory that has become a sort of ‘rule of thumb’. The best way to think of a science law is that it is simply a theory that can be stated in a succinct generalised form. It doesn’t even have to be always true, some laws may come with caveats or have already been replaced by a more accurate theory. A law will typically continue to be used until the more accurate or general theory can be stated in a similar form (representing a fancy rule of thumb until then), or until it is proved so wrong that its continued use causes problems.

    In truth when people attempt to denigrate a theory on the basis that it is called a ‘theory’, rather than arguing on the merits, then they are arguing from semantics. Unfortunately, as we observe, remains an effective logical fallacy.

  • 2008/04/18 at 9:42 am
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    While there is a good deal of fuzziness about how “theory” and “law” are actually used, I think one can usefully distinguish between the two in this way:

    A “law” is an observation about a relationship between observed values that apparently always holds. Oftentimes this is expressed in terms of an equation.

    A “theory” is an explanation of observed phenomena, proposing some testable mechanism that tells us something about how the phenomenon operates.

    These are conceptually quite different. For example, Newton’s laws of gravitation do not explain the mechanism of gravitation. That is the role of various theories that are still being investigated in physics. There is no prospect that, say, quantum gravitational theory would someday become a law.

    One can also see that of the two, a theory is actually the more informative of the two. A law tells you that a pattern exists, but a theory tells you how that pattern comes to exist.

  • 2008/04/18 at 7:55 pm
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    Thank you, that is a much more accurate statement than mine. My explanation conflates laws and theories falsely. I can see where my error arose, but as this isn’t on topic I won’t waffle on.

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