Science

Skepchick Quickies 4.24

  • Rapidly Evolving Lizards– Sounds like a great band name, huh?  To quote Durnett, who posted this link in the comments; “Creationists have been complaining for years that they can’t see evolution happening. “You don’t see a dog grow another leg…” Well, check out this lizard. True, this isn’t like growing an extra leg, however it is like growing an extra stomach, bigger head, and stronger bite!”  And all this change took only since 1971 to happen.
  • Clinton and Obama parrot the “vaccine and autism connection inconclusive” line
  • JREF has uploaded a bunch of new Randi videos– Because I know you all need help procrastinating today and what better way to do it than watching Randi videos?  I’ll bring the popcorn.
  • No sex for all-girl fish species– Scientists believe the Amazon Molly fish has survived 70,000 years without sexual reproduction.  Now they’re trying to figure out how that’s possible without the fish becoming genetically fucked up.
  • Yoko Ono sues Expelled filmmakers– Tsk tsk, they used “Imagine” without asking permission.  “The producers cited the fair use doctrine, which allows the use of copyrighted materials for the purposes of commentary and criticism.  “We are disappointed therefore that Yoko Ono and others have decided to challenge our free speech right to comment on the song ‘Imagine’ in our documentary film,” they said in a statement.”  I’m interested to see how this plays out.  If you’ve seen the movie, can you comment on how the song is used, please?

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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17 Comments

  1. “Since when does ‘Free speech’ mean ‘We get to steal and use other people’s work at will’?!”

    Well, they could be right here…if they were in fact critiquing the song or lyrics. I don’t know if that is the truth since I have not seen the film.

    Fair use rules (among other things) keep people from using copyright law to shut down critical discussion of their work. Exactly where the line is I leave to the lawyers.

    Just because we don’t like their message doesn’t make them wrong about everything.

  2. “If you’ve seen the movie, can you comment on how the song is used, please?”

    Ben Stein asks PZ Myers what he hopes the relationship b/t science and religion will be like in the future, or something along those lines. PZ says his thing about religion becoming like knitting, which you have probably heard before. Basically, as science literacy increases, dependence on religion decreases.

    Then Ben says, “Dr. Myers would like you to think he’s being original, but we’ve heard this all before.”

    Then they play two or three lines from the song with the lyrics on the screen close caption style, over images of (if I remember correctly) soldiers marching down a city street. It’s only the lines about “no religion too”. It’s pretty brief.

  3. Sounds like fair use may apply but obviously Yoko Ono disagrees. Like TheCzech, I would have to leave it to the lawyers to decide. I’d be more apt to give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt if I hadn’t also heard about the other possible copyright infringement case regarding the animations of cells.

  4. Oh, I should add that, as far as I recall, I don’t think they discussed the merits of the song itself. It was just in there to show that PZ didn’t invent the idea of the decline of religion.

    As if PZ ever once claimed that he did.

  5. “Then they play two or three lines from the song with the lyrics on the screen close caption style, over images of (if I remember correctly) soldiers marching down a city street. It’s only the lines about ‘no religion too’. It’s pretty brief.”

    I repeat the not-a-lawyer disclaimer, but that seems to be a pretty thin case for it being commentary on the song.

  6. I haven’t seen the film, and I don’t know all the details of copyright law – but I’ve been reading about this elsewhere, and it seems that the film uses the song for “commentary” purposes, which IS protected by fair use.

    Copyright issues aside, though, isn’t one of the messages of that song that we should just be nice to one another, and that religion isn’t necessary to do so? Did they miss that part?

    I’m a huge defender of fair use and copyright reform, but, frankly, I understand why Yoko is pissed about how the film seems to willfully misrepresent what the song is about.

  7. So can I quote the lyrics if I continue the discussion about their meaning? Well I’m going to, and you can remove them if you’re afraid of getting sued:

    Imagine there’s no heaven
    It’s easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today…

    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace…

    Those are the two first verses. And it looks pretty anti religious to me. The first verse paints the picture that the idea of heaven and hell makes people forget the world they live in today. And in the second it’s clearly implied that religion is one of the causes of people not living in peace.

  8. I get that, DMS. It’s just that if they’re trying to convince people to their way of thinking, this wouldn’t be the best way to do it. Another example of their ineptitude. Then again, I can see how they would feel the need to preach to the choir in some parts.

    By the way, I’m sick of that phrase. Can we come up with something other than “preaching to the choir?”

    How about “Bringing pollen to the hive?” Uh… “Paperclipping a stapled document?”

  9. dannyness:“I get that, DMS. It’s just that if they’re trying to convince people to their way of thinking, this wouldn’t be the best way to do it.”

    I think their goal here is more to preach to the choir rather than convert the masses.

    Jen:“Copyright issues aside, though, isn’t one of the messages of that song that we should just be nice to one another, and that religion isn’t necessary to do so? Did they miss that part?”

    Ultimately, what Imagine asks us to imagine is that all the cultural differences that separate humans from one another are gone. Yeah, it’s somewhat of a hippy-dippy idea, but it is not without merit.

    The song does single out religion and religious ideas, but note that it doesn’t say that there is no heaven, it just urges people to imagine that there isn’t, to live our lives thinking about how we affect those around us instead of keeping our eyes on some incomprehensible future reward. ‘Living for today…’

  10. “Tsk tsk, they used “Imagine” without asking permission. “The producers cited the fair use doctrine, which allows the use of copyrighted materials for the purposes of commentary and criticism. “
    I believe you cannot use lyrics or literary quotes that are still under copyright without getting permission from the copyright holder.
    From what I understand of the copyright laws, “purposes of commentary and criticism” refers to commentary and criticism of the work the excerpt is taken from not the commentary and criticism of any other subject.
    Someone writing a review may use excerpts because they are writing a piece directly commenting on the work it comes from and therefore that constitutes fair use.
    Yoko should kick their collective asses across the universe. Using Lennon’s beautiful song in the context it was implies John Lennon was an atheist – and by their thinking – ergo a Nazi.

    Yeah, I’d sue them if they messed with my assassinated husband’s legacy.

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