June 2008

Yoko Ono, Ben Stein and Copyright Fair Use

by Lee Gesmer on June 3, 2008

Here is a copy (below) of the June 2, 2008 decision of Judge Sidley Stein in the Southern District of New York, holding that a 15 second snippet of the Lennon song “Imagine,” within the feature length movie “Expelled“, is “fair use” under U.S. copyright law. In other words, the film makers did not infringe Yoko Ono’s copyright rights. “Expelled” is a documentary that deals with “intelligent design” (vs. Darwinism, Creationism, ect.), and is narrated by Ben Stein of Ferris Buehler fame (presumably no relation to Judge Stein, but bad luck of the draw for Yoko Ono nevertheless).

The “fair use” doctrine is an exception to the legal rights of U.S.copyright owners. It permits the use and publication, without permission, of parts of the work for purposes of “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching … scholarship, or research.” A large body of judge-made law has built up interpreting and applying this doctrine.… Read the full article

The best aspect of law school is the subordination of math. Anon

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Are judges good at math? Foolish question, of course. Since many lawyers have a math phobia, it follows that many judges would, as well.

Nevertheless, a group of academics gave a three-question quiz to a group of several hundred trial judges. The purpose of the quiz was to determine whether the judges’ style of cognitive reflection, as a group, was “intuitive” (i.e., bad) or “analytical (i.e. “good”) decision makers.

Here are the three questions. Each one is designed to have you “jump” to a quick, intuitive wrong answer, whereas analytical reflection will lead to the non-obvious right answer.

(1) A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? _____cents

(2) If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?

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