Expelled producers accused of copyright infringement
On April 9, 2008, XVIVO, the animation company which produced an award-winning animation of "The Inner Life of the Cell," charged producers of a forthcoming "intelligent design" film with copyright infringement. In a letter to Logan Craft, chairman of Premise Media Corp., the producer of "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" (featuring Ben Stein), XVIVO claimed that a segment of "Expelled" portraying the complexity of the cell is patterned upon segments of their well-known animation, produced on behalf of Harvard University.
For the following reasons, it is hard to take the XVIVO letter seriously --
(1) XVIVO has no right to demand the return of copies of the video. BTW, the video is available right here.
(2) There was no demand for payment of purchase, licensing fees, or royalties in lieu of deletion of the segment. Discrimination against the producers of "Expelled" in regard to sale or licensing of the video could involve restraint of trade issues. For example, US law prohibits price discrimination. If XVIVO has sold or rented the video to others and refuses to sell or rent the video to the "Expelled" producers on the same terms, IMO that is restraint of trade.
Also, the video was created in collaboration with Harvard University, which may have received government support for the project, so the video could be in the public domain. What does XVIVO's contract with Harvard say? Did Harvard and or XVIVO have a contract with the government to produce the video? Arguably, anything co-produced by Harvard should be considered to be in the public domain because of all the general government support that Harvard receives.
Creating a knockoff of the original video cost a fair amount of money and supposedly carried the risk of a charge of copyright infringement, so why did the "Expelled" producers choose this option? Did the "Expelled" producers ever try to buy or rent the original video?
Also, there is evidence that XVIVO knew about this alleged copyright infringement for a long time, yet did not send the letter until just a few days before the scheduled release date for the movie. Failure to assert a right in a timely manner often results in forfeiture of that right.
It appears that a lot of important legal questions are being ignored here.
Here is a list of blog posts on the issue.