Everybody Pylon

If you ever suspected that the chief beneficiary of ever-lengthened copyright protection would be the legal profession, go to the head of the class:

When settling previous intellectual disputes, Woody Allen has been able to produce esteemed men of letters to come to his defense (at least when Marshall McLuhan is hiding just off camera). But there is not much chance that William Faulkner will be able to speak up for him in this latest disagreement: Faulkner Literary Rights, the company that controls works by that Nobel Prize-winning author of The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, has filed a lawsuit over Mr. Allen’s 2011 film Midnight in Paris and what it says is that movie’s unauthorized use of a line from Faulkner’s book Requiem for a Nun.

The line, as spoken by Gil Pender (Owen Wilson): “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.”

Faulkner, of course, was right. Sony Classics, Allen’s distributor, hopes to prove the lawyers are wrong.

(Via this Lauren Gilbert tweet.)

6 comments

  1. Neil »

    27 October 2012 · 10:13 pm

    It never really occurred to me that it would be copyright infringement to repeat a line from a book in a movie. Doesn’t this happen all the time? Or people using lines from commercials and songs? I supposed they usually get the rights….

  2. Bryan »

    27 October 2012 · 10:29 pm

    Probably, possibly, well *maybe* if Woody had just thought about those words a bit more he might have reconsidered using them…

  3. Tatyana »

    27 October 2012 · 11:13 pm

    Blog wavelength is an amazing thing.
    Just 2 days ago I was chaperoning a visitor di jour around NY and brought him to Gramercy; he was half-listening to me talking about history of townhouses surrounding the park…until I came to #19 and said “This is where S. Morley (sp?) from Time & Again lived when he traveled back” Aaaaa!- he yelled, – I read that book when I was 10! It was my favorite book! This house? Seriously? This house, for real?

    I thought he’s going to cry, it was like he met again his first lover,after 35 yrs.

  4. CGHill »

    28 October 2012 · 12:11 am

    Simon Morley it is. And after all these years, they might actually make a movie out of it.

  5. fillyjonk »

    28 October 2012 · 7:57 pm

    I can’t believe that a one-line quotation – with attribution – constitutes infringement. Good lord, it’s done all the time in published scholarly papers.

    Of course, I also can’t believe that it might possibly (as I interpret the case winding through the courts now) become illegal to sell used books.

    Someone please check to see if Mr. Spock has a beard in the universe we are in right now.

  6. Roger Green »

    28 October 2012 · 8:19 pm

    “fair use,” he screamed, to no one in particular. Maybe at lawyers.

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