Saturday, October 27, 2012

Faulkner Estate Sues Sony Over Quote

The estate of William Faulkner would seem to have opened up a real can of worms with a lawsuit agains Sony Pictures Classics over a Faulkner quote paraphrased in Woody Allen’s Academy Award-nominated film Midnight In Paris.

Faulkner Literary Rights filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Mississippi for copyright infringement, commercial appropriation and violation of the Lanham Act.

“Sony’s actions in distributing the Infringing Film were malicious, fraudulent, deliberate and/or willful,” reads the complaint. “Sony did not have Faulkner’s consent to appropriate William Faulkner’s name or his works for Sony’s advantage.” From Deadline:
In Midnight In Paris, Gil Pender, the disillusioned Hollywood screenwriter played by Owen Wilson, says, “the past is not dead. Actually, it’s not even past. You know who said that? Faulkner. And he was right. And I met him, too. I ran into him at a dinner party.” The rightsholder say the slightly paraphrased quote could “deceive the infringing film’s viewers as to a perceived affiliation, connection or association between William Faulkner and his works, on the one hand, and Sony, on the other hand.”
The words, as written by Faulkner in 1950’s Requiem for a Nun, are, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the studio’s position is firm:
In a statement, a representative for the studio said: “This is a frivolous lawsuit and we are confident we will prevail in defending it.  There is no question this brief reference (10 words) to a quote from a public speech Faulkner gave constitutes fair use and any claim to the contrary is without merit.”


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