Well that’s no surprise – Sony Pictures Classics has moved to have a lawsuit over a William Faulkner quote used in Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris dismissed. “Plaintiff’s purported copyright infringement claim does not survive a motion to dismiss because: (a) the use of a nine-word quotation from a full-length novel is a de minimis use and is not actionable under the Copyright Act; and (b) the Film’s use is a fair use expressly allowed by Section 107 of the Copyright Act,” the studio’s short five-page motion (read it here) filed earlier this week states. Faulkner Literary Rights filed suit on October 25 against Sony Pictures Classic in U.S. District Court in Mississippi for the infringement plus commercial appropriation and violation of the Lanham Act. The paraphrased quote comes from Faulkner’s Requiem For A Nun. At the time, Sony called the lawsuit over few words uttered by Owen Wilson in the 2011 film “frivolous.” Their court move earlier this week only reinforces that view. What is interesting though is that at the same time as seeking the dismissal, the studio is also seeking to have the case moved from the south up to New York. Besides stating the case “could have and should have” been filed in New York in the first place, Sony says in a separate filing Tuesday that such a move would benefit “the convenience of parties and witnesses, and the interest of justice.” Even though he’s not named as a defendant in the initial suit, maybe that’ll make it easier for Woody to make an appearance.
UPDATE, 1:45 PM: One day after the rightsholder to the work of William Faulkner filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Sony Pictures Classics over a quote used in Woody Allen’s 2011 film Midnight In Paris, the studio responded:
“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.” – Ann Boyd, SVP Global Communications Sony Pictures Entertainment.
PREVIOUSLY, OCT. 25, 4:22 PM: The rights holders to William Faulkner’s work say Sony Pictures Classics had no right to use a quote from the author’s Requiem For A Nun in Woody Allen’s2011 film Midnight In Paris. Faulkner Literary Rights filed suit (read it here) today against the studio 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,” says the six-page complaint. “Sony did not have Faulkner’s consent to appropriate William Faulkner’s name or his works for Sony’s advantage,” it adds. 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.”
David Milch is extending his relationship with HBO. Milch, whose latest series for the pay cable network, Luck, launches in January, has inked a new multi-year deal with HBO where he has been based for the past eight years. Under the new extension, in addition to executive producing Luck with Michael Mann, Milch will develop series and movies based on books by Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner William Falkner. Milch’s Redboard Prods has inked a deal with the literary estate of the iconic American writer who penned novels, short stories, a play and screenplays as well as poetry and essays. The pact covers all of the 19 novels and 125 short stories in the estate, as well as other works, with the exception of those currently optioned by other parties. Milch will partner with Lee Caplin, the executor of the William Faulkner Literary Estate and CEO of Picture Entertainment Corp, to choose which works to develop, package and produce. Milch and Caplin will be executive producers of those projects, with Milch serving as the executive writer in charge of the adaptions. His daughter Olivia Milch will serve as coordinating producer. The agreement, brokered by ICM, which reps Milch, gives HBO an exclusive first crack at financing, producing and distributing the projects as movies, miniseries and series. “We are especially pleased to continue our longstanding relationship with one of the industry’s most talented contemporary writers,” HBO president of programming Michael Lombardo said. “We know that whatever David brings to the HBO table will be exciting and innovative.”