April 10, 2008

Expelled Caught Stealing Video: Premise Media Put on Notice

The duplicity in which Intelligent Design Neocreationists engage is a constant in all that they do and it seems that they never learn from being caught at it. Some time ago, a video by production company XVIVO was used without permission by leading ID lowlife William Dembski. He was caught red-handed at it. Dembski even posted an acknowledgment on his Uncommon Descent blog regarding this. He had to agree not to use the video in further presentations to avoid being sued for copyright infringement.

You would think that this small episode would have registered as an object lesson, but it hasn't. In the upcoming propaganda film Expelled, the video is used again without permission, although this time the Creationists in question believed they were being clever by making some minor alterations to it. By "minor," I mean doing things like digitally altering colors. Once again, they had no permission to use the video and XVIVO is pissed. A letter has been sent to Premise Media, the production company behind Expelled, telling them that the video must be removed from the film or a lawsuit will follow. The letter from XVIVO's legal team has been reproduced in full at Pharyngula, but here's a taste:

...It has come to our intention that Premise Media and Rampant Films has produced a film entitled "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," which is scheduled for commercial release and distribution on April 18, 2008. To our knowledge, this film includes a segment depicting biological cellular activity that was copied by computer-generated means from a video entitled "The Inner Life of a Cell." XVIVO holds the copyright to all the models, processes, and depictions in this video, and has not authorized Premise Media or Rampant Films to make any use of this material.

We have obtained promotional material for the "Expelled" film, presented on a DVD, that clearly shows in the "cell segment" the virtually identical depiction of material from the "Inner Life" video. We particularly refer to the segment of the "Expelled" film purporting to show the "walking" models of kinesic activities in cellular mechanisms...

We have been advised by counsel that this segment in your film constitutes an actionable infringement of XVIVO's intellectual property rights, as protected by federal statutes, including Section 106 of the Copyright Act, the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998...

This letter will also serve as notice to you that XVIVO intends to vigorously and promptly pursue its legal remedies for your copyright infringement...

We have been advised, by a telephone conversation with Mellie Bracewell of Premise Media on April 8, 2008, that an e-mail transmission of this letter to her will be promptly forwarded to you. A hard copy of this letter, on XVIVO stationary, will also be sent to you today by express delivery...
For all of the Creationist protestations about evolutionary biology eroding morality, it seems that the self-righteousness of the ID crowd is to morality as a river is to a sandbank. In the quest to deceive their followers into acting upon erroneous and irrational ideas about biology, these people have no compunction about stealing. I have seen both the original XVIVO video and the clip from Expelled and they are certainly the same, although the kinesin in the original is white or yellow, as I recall, and the one in the new clip is a greenish color.

First the Expelled people interviewed Dawkins, Myers and others under a calculated fake pretext of making a movie called Crossroads about the conflict between religiously and scientifically-inspired ideas regarding evolutionary biology. SA storm troopers with placards of the Then they made a different sort of documentary (to use the term very loosely), editing the interviews dishonestly to make them say what they wanted them to (the cinematic equivalent of quote-mining) and trying to tie modern biology to the Holocaust (a profoundly unscrupulous thing in itself as a quick review of this archive of photos documenting Nazi religious involvements and Hitler's own writing about "finishing the work of Jesus" readily demonstrates). In bolstering their quest to smear evolutionary biologists, is it any surprise to find now that they've stooped to common theft as well?

These people lie, they cheat, they steal, and they get caught time after time — yet a significant portion of the American people continue to have faith that these same people should be involved with determining the truth about how life and the world works. They are willing to let these people and their followers influence legislation that will affect how their children are taught in public schools. Why? How much does it take for people to finally wake up and see what's going on here? In another setting, the person who most likely would want them to ignore evidence is a criminal, and here we have ID-Creationist filmmakers who want people to ignore mountains of evidence that support a theory getting caught in a criminal act. Will the people who place their faith in this nonsense open their eyes and excoriate the immorality of liars when they get caught lying — or will they act like Mathis, Stein and company and ignore even this evidence and go see the film anyhow because it supports what they already believe and the facts be damned? Will they fork over their money to thieves?

Sadly, I think I know the answer. The True Believers will always invent some sort of loophole to excuse criminal behavior from those who serve the purposes of their religion. Expelled and Dembski are symptoms of a more general disease that afflicts America, a peculiar kind of blindness that is bringing a darkness and decline in this country. If Americans can ignore the evidence, if they can stop thinking and cease considering and simply go along with whatever they already believe, if they can refuse the challenge of consideration of fact in the face of whatever ideology suits the agenda of those who would manipulate them — and isn't that precisely the whole basis of our current executive branch of government? — then there's very little hope that things will get better. I wish Americans would wake up and repudiate opportunists like Ben Stein and William Dembski, but I don't see it happening anytime soon. That's too bad; this used to be a great country not afraid of taking on the hard challenges. If Expelled tells us anything of value at all, it's a good marker of how far we've fallen and how much we're willing to be lied to for the sake of feeling good about ourselves and the reassurance that we are special and unique in the universe not because of what we have accomplished, but because Daddy Says So.

More at the NCSE's Expelled Exposed as well.

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