William Faulkner Estate Gets Lawsuit-Happy On ‘Midnight In Paris,’ WaPo

The estate of the late novelist William Faulkner was feeling litigious this week. Lawsuits were filed against The Washington Post and Sony Picture Classics, which produced Woody Allen’s film Midnight In Paris, over copyright infringement. 

Sony is in trouble for a line in Midnight In Paris uttered by Owen Wilson, in a script written by Allen which was not attributed to Faulkne. "The past is not dead," Wilson’s character muses. "Actually, it’s not even passed. You know who said that? Faulkner. And he was right. And I met him, too. I ran into him at a dinner party." This is, of course, the famous Faulkner line, "The past is never dead. It’s not even passed" from his novel Requiem For A Nun.

Faulkner Literary Rights LLC filed the lawsuit on Thursday, claiming this quote was not fair use. As The Hollywood Reporter explains, the suit alleges:

The use of the infringing quote and of William Faulkner’s name in the infringing film is likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake, and/or to 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.

Then yesterday, Faulkner Literary Rights LLC filed another lawsuit against The Washington Post and an advertisers. The Post is getting spanked alongside the Northrop Grumman Corporation for running a full-page ad with a quote Faulkner wrote about freedom, The Hollywood Reporter explains. Faulkner Literary Rights LLC alleges that Grumman ran an advertisement on July 4 which stole the writer’s line "We are free not because we claim freedom but because we practice it."  Faulker wrote that back in June 1956 for Harper’s in an essay called "On Fear: The South In Labor." 

Sony dismissed the lawsuit to THR as "frivolous"; the Post declined to comment.  

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

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