NEW YORK (Reuters) - John Lennon’s sons and widow, Yoko Ono, on Monday lost a battle to block the use of the song “Imagine” in the documentary “Expelled: No Intelligence allowed.”
Ono, her son Sean Ono Lennon, and Julian Lennon, John Lennon’s son from his first marriage, along with privately held publisher EMI Blackwood Music Inc filed suit in April in Manhattan federal court seeking to bar the filmmakers and their distributors from continuing to use “Imagine” in the movie.
They said the film, which looks at alleged discrimination against scientists and teachers who support so-called intelligent design as an alternative to Darwin’s theory of evolution, used the song without their permission.
But on Monday U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein found in favor of the filmmakers based on a “fair use” doctrine. “That doctrine provides that the fair use of a copyrighted work for purposes of criticism and commentary is not an infringement of copyright,” the judge said.
The documentary features Ben Stein, an actor, comedian and former speechwriter for President Richard Nixon.
The suit, which sought unspecified damages, named the film’s producers and distributors — Premise Media Corporation, C&S Production LP and Rocky Mountain Pictures.
Lennon recorded “Imagine” in 1971 and in 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it No. 3 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, according to the lawsuit.