Last week a Huffington Post article called out Yoko Ono for licensing John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ to the producers of Ben Stein’s intelligent design flick Expelled. He was curious about The Killers allowing their tune ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ to be used as well. Neither the songs nor the original performers seem much in line with the film’s ethos.   

The Playlist and little papers like The Wall Street Journal picked up the story, and it turns out that Yoko didn’t license the song. The film’s producers (Walt Ruloff, John Sullivan and Logan Craft) did not seek permission to use the tune but laid it into the film claiming fair use under the First Amendment. Now, to no one’s surprise, Yoko, with Sean and Julian Lennon and EMI Blackwood Music Inc, has filed suit to bar the producers and their distributors from using the song, and are seeking unspecified damages.

This should make for an interesting legal scrum. The film is not a large-budget affair, but it might have some fans with deep pockets. I’d guess that Liberal Yoko vs Conservative Stein would be enough of a rallying cry to send some legal donations to help the film. But beating Yoko on this point doesn’t seem likely. How long will Expelled hold out?  

For their part, The Killers claim to have been duped. On the band’s official message board this statement was issued by the board’s head administrator:

“I just spoke to the band’s manager, and adding to the confusion was the fact that they did authorize a project months ago with this request:

Quote: ‘The film is a satirical documentary with an estimated running time of 1 hour and 50 minutes, exploring academic freedom in public schools and government institutions with actor, comedian, economist, Ben Stein as the spokesperson.’

What they authorized was a documentary about ‘academic freedom in schools’, not the film that the producers produced.

They contacted the producers of the film to ask that the song be removed but it is too late. Unfortunately it was misrepresented to them when the request came through to use it. Add this band to a long line of people who were misled by the producers of this film.”

She later added: “The band asked the producers to remove their song from the film when they became aware of the true nature of it. They were told it is too late. That’s all there is.”

As for our own lack of direct coverage of Expelled, the press (in Atlanta, at least) was not given a chance to see the film, and this is one I’m not going to pay for. It’s playing at a theater where I have a screening this evening, and if the times line up I might grab a large popcorn (to throw the theater some money) and sneak in. Otherwise I’ll have to find time this weekend when I can buy a ticket for Sarah Marshall or Harold and Kumar and then slip into Stein’s creationist stew so that I can form some informed opinion.