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Judge Dismisses Copyright Case Over Midnight in Paris' Faulkner Quote

July 19, 2013  |  12:00pm
Judge Dismisses Copyright Case Over <i>Midnight in Paris</i>' Faulkner Quote

In 2011, Woody Allen gave us his insightful and well-executed Midnight In Paris, which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. However, not everybody thought the script was really all that original.

The rights-owners of William Faulkner’s catalog sued Sony Pictures Classics for copyright infringement for using a 10-word quote from the Mississippi author’s Requiem for a Nun in the film. But yesterday, a Mississippi judge granted Sony’s motion to dismiss the case.

“The court also considers it relevant that the copyrighted work is a serious piece of literature lifted for use in a speaking part in a movie comedy, as opposed to a printed portion of a novel printed in a newspaper, or a song’s melody sampled in another song,” wrote U.S. District Court Judge Michael P. Mills in his opinion. “This transmogrification in medium tips this factor in favor of transformative, and thus, fair use.”

Representatives from Sony told Deadline that they were confident the judge would rule in their favor. The quote in question was said by Owen Wilson’s character Gil Pender, who says “the past is not dead. Actually, it’s not even past. You know who said that? Faulkner. And he was right.”

“The court has viewed Woody Allen’s movie, Midnight in Paris, read the book, Requiem for a Nun, and is thankful that the parties did not ask to compare The Sound and the Fury with Sharknado,” Mills joked in court.

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