Proof that "Imagine" is not copyrightable
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.
Labels: Yoko Ono lawsuit