UPDATE (7/19/13): U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills has DISMISSED the Faulkner Estate’s lawsuit against Sony Pictures! This is very good news.
The Faulkner Estate’s assault on copyright law’s Fair Use doctrine makes me want to borrow As I Lay Dying from the library (I refuse to buy it) and post a snippet of it on this blog every single day until the lawsuit ends. But I’ll refrain, not because I fear getting sued, but because I can’t stand Faulkner’s convoluted writing.
There were two lawsuits, both filed in October 2012. The case against The Washington Post and Northrop Grumman for use of a fourteen-word Faulkner quote in an advertisement was, at best, a weak case, but it settled.
The other case against Sony for a nine-word paraphrase of a Faulkner quote in Woody Allen’s movie, Midnight in Paris, is frivolous, as I’ve explained in previous posts. Sony filed its Motion to Dismiss in December, and while we’re waiting for the court’s decision, a trial date has been set: April 7, 2014.
Let’s hope the case gets thrown out before then, preferably on the motion to dismiss or, if not then, on summary judgment (which is filed before trial but after the parties have exchanged documents and taken depositions). We certainly don’t want the Faulkner Estate’s narrow view of Fair Use to prevail. It’s a threat to all of us, as I’ve explained before:
The worst-case scenario, in my opinion, involves some court giving credence to the Faulkner estate’s shockingly narrow and chilling view of copyright law. It is particularly concerning that Faulkner’s lawsuits seek to narrow exceptions to intellectual property rights in a way that could restrict not only the creative work of wealthy “deep pockets,” like Sony, but also “empty pockets,” like authors and bloggers who use short quotes in their works.
In case you’re interested, these are my previous posts about these lawsuits:
• When Someone Quotes You, Say “Thank You,” Not “F-You” (Nov. 13, 2012)
• “Manners” for Authors: On Being Quoted (and an Update on the Faulkner Lawsuits) (Dec. 10, 2012)
• Faulkner’s Literary Estate “Works Hard” (at Staying in the Limelight?) (April 3, 2013)
*I’m not really considering this change.