Fair Use “Ripped from the Headlines”

Pont_Neuf,_Paris_July_2014Laura Quilter, Copyright and Information Policy Librarian at UMass, Amherst posted a fascinating analysis of a recent fair use case that involved paraphrasing Faulkner in a Woody Allen film. She had used the example in a quiz and about a quarter of respondents did not think the case was a fair use. Her analysis is thorough and fun to read. Like getting your history from historical novels, except more accurate.

Paraphrasing a famous quote from a novelist, in a commercially released film.

Almost a quarter of respondents thought this should be licensed. The Faulkner estate agreed, actually, and sued Sony Pictures for the paraphrase of William Faulkner’s quote in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris”.  Eriq Gardner for the Hollywood Reporter covered the case, which resulted in a finding of fair use in July, 2013.

The quote in the movie goes like this:

“The past is not dead! Actually, it’s not even past. You know who said that? Faulkner, and he was right. I met him, too. I ran into him at a dinner party.”

And the original quote, in Requiem for a Nun, is certainly one of Faulkner’s more memorable quotes:

“The past is never dead.  It’s not even past.”

This brings up my first point, which is that reasonable people can disagree about fair use.


Photo By Frédérik Vuille (quai de paris soiree lune_) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons