“We were confident that the judge in this case would get it right, and he did”, a Sony rep told Deadline in response to the studio’s victory today in the Midnight In Paris lawsuit. A federal judge in Mississippi today ruled Sony Pictures Classics (read it here) had the right to use a nine-word quote from William Faulkner’s Requiem For A Nun in Woody Allen’s 2011 film. There also was some humor in U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mills’ opinion. “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“. The rights holders to Faulkner’s work sued Sony Classics last year, alleging copyright infringement, commercial appropriation and violation of the Lanham Act. 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.” In his ruling, Judge Michael Mills laid out his reasons why use of the quote was not copyright infringement which included the following: “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. This transmogrification in medium tips this factor in favor of transformative, and thus, fair use”, Mills wrote. With that and other reasons, Mills granted Sony’s motion to dismiss.
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