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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

July 22, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Woody Allen vs. William Faulkner

As a former English-lit major, I’m not about to let this story pass by: Last year, the literary rights holders for William Faulker sued Sony Pictures Classics, distributor for Woody Allen’s brilliant “Midnight in Paris,” claiming unauthorized use of a Faulkner line, from “Requiem for a Nun.” The line in question, from Faulkner’s novel, is “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” In the movie, Owen Wilson’s character 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.”

It’s a great line, either way. And on Thursday, Chief Judge Michael P. Mills of United States District Court in Mississippi dismissed the case, writing that “no substantial similarity exists between the copyrighted work and the allegedly infringing work, and Sony’s use in this matter was de minimis. The use is not actionable, and this claim is dismissed.” Judge Mills, who is clearly a fellow with a sense of humor, added that, “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 the court to compare ‘The Sound and the Fury’ with ‘Sharknado.’ ” (I’d read that ruling; wouldn’t you?)

Speaking of “Midnight in Paris” . . .

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