As Ben Stein's pro-intelligent design documentary "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" soars into history as one of the most successful documentary films of all time, the producers of the film have found themselves threatened with a lawsuit – part of what they claim is the latest in a series of attacks against the film and the message it represents.
Last Wednesday, John Lennon' sons and widow, Yoko Ono, filed suit against the producers of Expelled, claiming that they had illegally appropriated and made use of John Lennon's hit song "Imagine."
In the lawsuit, Yoko Ono, Lennon's sons, and EMI Blackwood Music Inc are seeking both unspecified damages and a halt on all current screenings of the film using "Imagine."
The producers of the film, however, have claimed legal protection under the fair use doctrine and said that the lawsuit was unfairly attacking and singling out the film because of its message challenging Darwinism.
"Based on the fair use doctrine, news commentators and film documentarians regularly use material in the same way we do in EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed," the producers said in a statement.
"Unbiased viewers of the film will see that the 'Imagine' clip was used as part of a social commentary in the exercise of free speech. The brief clip – consisting of a mere 10 words – was used to contrast the messages in the documentary and was not used as an endorsement of EXPELLED," the producers added.
Walt Ruloff, executive producer and CEO of the film's production company, explained the symbolism behind the use of the song.
"If you really listen to the lyrics of Imagine then you realize that it represents 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,"
Ben Stein, the star of the film, said the lawsuit was humorous given the greater implication and meaning behind the song.
"So Yoko Ono is suing over the brief Constitutionally protected use of a song that wants us to 'Imagine no possessions'? 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," he said, citing lyrics from the song.
"Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," is a feature-length documentary film about researchers, professors, and academics who claim to have been marginalized, silenced, or threatened with academic expulsion because of their challenges to some or all parts of Darwin's theory of evolution.
Since its release on April 18, the film has generated over $5.2 million, placing it among the most successful documentary films of all time.