Lawsuit over 'Midnight in Paris' Faulkner quote dismissed

In the case of the lawsuit between Sony Pictures Classics and Faulkner Literary Rights, the past may be dead after all. Yesterday, a judge dismissed the case, which had claimed that Woody Allen’s 2011 movie, Midnight in Paris, had infringed on a copyright by quoting from William Faulkner’s novel Requiem for a Nun.

In the movie, Owen Wilson’s character 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.” Faulkner Literary Rights argued that the use of the line from the 1950 novel was unauthorized. The original passage from the book reads, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

In his opinion, Chief Judge Michael P. Mills of the United States District Court in Mississippi stated that the rights-holders provided limited facts in the complaint beyond descriptions of Requiem for a Nun and Midnight in Paris, and that the court concludes that “no substantial similarity exists between the copyrighted work and the allegedly infringing work.”

In determining the final opinion, Mills both viewed the film and read Faulkner’s original novel. His memorandum opinion reads that the court “is thankful that the parties did not ask the court to compare The Sound and the Fury with Sharknado.”


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