Sony Pictures Classics and a group of unnamed movie exhibitors have been sued by the owners of the rights to the literary works of the late William Faulkner because a quote from one of his books was used by Woody Allen in the hit 2011 movie Midnight In Paris.
The copyright infringement suit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Mississippi claims Sony and others did not seek permission to use a quote spoken in the movie by Gil Pender (played by Owen Wilson). The dialogue describes his experiences with the line, “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.”
The quote, notes the suit, is from a passage in Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun, which reads: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
The suit charges: “The use of the infringing quote and of William Faulkner’s name in the infringing film is likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake, and/or to deceive the infringing film's viewers as to a perceived affiliation, connection or association between William Faulkner and his works, on the one hand, and Sony, on the other hand.”
The suit, filed by Faulkner Literary Rights LLC, asks for “damages, disgorgement of profits, costs and attorney fees.”
A spokesperson for Sony declined to comment.