A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: woody allen

Woody Allen, William Faulkner, Sharknado

Sharknado

By LASIS Staff 

Last November, LASIS wrote about the lawsuit brought by the Faulkner estate against Sony Pictures Classics alleging copyright infringement because of a sentence or two in Woody Allen’s romcom “Midnight in Paris.” As then NYLS Professor said to our reporter, “The intellectual property rights asserted in this case are, in fact (brain) dead.”

Chief Judge Michael P. Mills of United States District Court in Mississippi apparently felt similarly, and earlier this week, dismissed the case.

So as to be sure to make a wise decision, Judge Mills saw  “Midnight in Paris” and read (Faulkner’s) “Requiem for a Nun.” He is, he writes, “thankful that the parties did not ask the court to compare ‘The Sound and the Fury’ with ‘Sharknado.’”

Nice pop culture savvy, Judge Mills.  And in tossing the case out of court, good legal savvy, too.

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(Brain) Dead Intellectual Property Rights

Midnight in Paris

By Jonathan Eggers

Strong box office.  A critical darling. Nominated in 2012 for the Academy Awards for Best Picture; winner of the Best Original Screenplay. By any measure, Woody Allen’s 2011 film Midnight in Paris would be considered a cinematic success.

That is, until the film found itself in the center of some legal sound and fury.

The movie transports its hero, a struggling author played with panache by Owen Wilson, to the artistic mecca that was Paris in the early 20th century.

Pablo Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway all have memorable moments in the film. And in one scene, Mr. Wilson’s character says, in true Woody Allen-neurotic style: “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 literati in the audience surely recognized the quote, and laughed. It’s a riff on a line from William. Faulkner’s “Requiem for a Nun”: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

Other people who recognized the quote? Mr. Faulkner’s estate.

Faulkner Literary Rights, LLC (Faulkner LLC) has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in federal district court against production studio Sony Pictures Classics.

Does the law protect use of quotes only ten words long? Or does it dismiss these types of actions as frivolous and use of such material as protected by fair use? Does it matter that the movie clearly attributes the quote to the original author? Or was it more damaging to have associated Faulkner with the film than not? The media didn’t say. LASIS investigates.

(more…)

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