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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Proof that "Imagine" is not copyrightable

17 USC §107 says,

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include —

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Note that this is not a series of tests that must be passed -- this is just a list of factors that must be considered in determining whether a given use is fair use. Consider the second factor, "the nature of the copyrighted work." A stanza of the song says,
.
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can . . .

. . . .Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

So the song asks us to "imagine no possessions." Furthermore, the words "I wonder if you can" challenges us to try very hard to imagine that there are no possessions -- in fact, those words almost say, "I bet you can't do it." Also, while the song says that it is hard to imagine no possessions, the song also says that it is easy to imagine no Heaven and no countries:

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try

-- and --

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do

The song also says, "Imagine all the people, Sharing all the world." So asking us to "imagine no possessions" is part of the very nature of the song. Hence, enforcing the song's copyright, which is a form of possession, would violate the very nature of the song. Hence, the song is not copyrightable.

Hat tip to William Dembski for suggesting that the song is not copyrightable.
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6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You (and Dembski) are hopelessly wrong. I would go into detail but I've already done that on Uncommon Descent so go to the thread over there if you want to know why. I can't be bothered going into more detail here - you are clearly deluding yourself that you have some legal nouse, when as far as I can gather you are batting 0 for 7 on the law.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 5:56:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>You (and Dembski) are hopelessly wrong. I would go into detail but I've already done that on Uncommon Descent so go to the thread over there if you want to know why. I can't be bothered going into more detail here <<<<<<

Well, why didn't you at least post a link to help readers here find the comments on UD? The comments are #37-41 inclusive under this post.

Ben Stein really has the judges by the balls on this one.

I got a new name for Yoko Ono -- Loco Bozo Dodo Oh-No-No.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

That new name for her is pretty good.

I don't know much about legal matters, but if she tries to sue over property rights to a song that rejects property, at least she may look pretty damn ridiculous!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 4:54:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Jim Sherwood said,
>>>>>I don't know much about legal matters, but if she tries to sue over property rights to a song that rejects property, at least she may look pretty damn ridiculous! <<<<<<

It is really hard to "imagine" anyone -- even someone as tightfisted as Yoko Ono -- suing over use of just 15 seconds of a song. Maybe that clever Ben Stein arranged this whole thing with Yoko in advance and is cutting her in on the profits.

Thursday, May 01, 2008 2:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

As ever, Larry demonstrates his ignorance of the subject of law. By his supposed "standard", nothing could be copyrightable.

Thursday, May 01, 2008 7:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ViU accurately observed: By his supposed "standard", nothing could be copyrightable

Of course, only Larry considers his inane "arguments" to be proof of anything other than his insanity and his intellectual incompetence.

Manuel

Sunday, May 04, 2008 1:59:00 PM  

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