Last year the estate of William Faulkner, embodying the labyrinthine, confusing stream-of-consciousness of the late author’s works, filed a lawsuit against the producers of Midnight In Paris, after concluding that a paraphrased, nine-word Faulker quote in the film constituted copyright infringement. But now a federal judge in Mississippi has tossed that suit, declaring that Owen Wilson’s passing reference to a passage from Requiem For A Nun (“The past is never dead. It’s not even past”) is, at best, “a fragment of the idea’s expression” and not the same as presenting the entire work as a whole, as Woody Allen no doubt had Wilson do in his original draft. And certainly, it isn’t enough to argue that its use creates a perceived connection between Sony Pictures and William Faulkner—a connection that could potentially lead to consumer confusion where Faulkner is, say, blamed for there being too many villains in Amazing Spider-Man 2. (Though, in a way, isn’t he?)
In dismissing the complaint, the judge also had some fun, because sometimes it gets boring up there: “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.” Ha ha. Indeed, that would be equally pointless, as everyone knows that Sharknado is based on Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying—specifically the line, “My mother is a fish with a thirst for blood, and especially dangerous in tornado form.”
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