Yoko Ono, the widow of Beatles singer and songwriter John Lennon, has with several others filed several lawsuits challenging the use and critique of Lennon’s song “Imagine” in the documentary “Expelled.” One lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction that, the film’s producers claim, could remove the film from theaters.
Ono's lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Manhattan, accuses the producers of "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" of suggesting to viewers that those who oversee John Lennon's legacy somehow authorized or endorse the film, which led the blogosphere to accuse her of "selling out."
“Expelled,” which features political and economics commentator Ben Stein, claims that scientists who are skeptical of some aspects of evolutionary theory have been suppressed by the academic establishment.
Premise Media, which produced the film, did not pursue a license to use the Lennon song and claims it did not need to do so.
Logan Craft, Executive Producer of “Expelled” and Chairman of Premise Media defended the use of the song clip, saying, "The fair use doctrine is a well established principle that gives the public the right to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for the purposes of commentary and criticism. While some may not like what we have to say or how we say it, we have the free speech right to do so - just as other political and social commentators have been doing for years."
Walt Ruloff, Executive Producer of the documentary and CEO of Premise Media, said the lyrics represent “everything that the neo-Darwinists want. 'Imagine there's no Heaven...No hell below us...Nothing to kill or die for… And no religion too...' That's exactly what the Darwinist establishment wants to do: get rid of religion.”
“And that's what we point out when we play less than 15 seconds of the song and show some of the lyrics on screen,” he said.
Ben Stein, the star of the documentary, said the lawsuit was ironic, considering the lyrics of the song.
“So Yoko Ono is suing over the brief constitutionally protected use of a song that wants us to 'Imagine no possessions'?” Stein asked. “Maybe instead of wasting everyone's time trying to silence a documentary she should give the song to the world for free? After all, 'imagine all the people sharing all the world...You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one I hope someday you'll join us And the World can live as one.'”