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Faulkner Rights-Holder Gets Litigious

Few American writers have left a literary legacy that is on par with that of air max 270 noir William Faulkner, the wordsmith behind such classics as The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Absalom, Absalom! and Light in August, to name several of his most beloved works.

One consequence of Faulkner’s enduring legacy is that he tends to be quoted often, in part because he committed to the page so many amazing, highly quotable turns of phrase. At times haunting, at times hilarious, there are many subjects of which one could say “nobody captured this quite like Faulkner.”

Well, evidently, Faulkner Literary Rights LLC, the rights-holder to Faulkner’s catalog of work, is not so pleased with a pair of recent quotations, one coming in the Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris and another in a very different context; an advertisement in the Washington Post placed by defense contractor Northrop Grumman.

In the Midnight in Paris case, Faulkner Literary Rights objects to a bit of paraphrasing imparted by Owen Wilson’s character in the film, the offending line being:

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 original Faulkner line, which can be found in his 1951 work Requiem for a Nun, reads “The past is never dead! It’s not even past.”

The Faulkner rights-holders’ beef with Northrop Grumman and The Washington Post stems from the former’s use of a truncated quote from an essay Faulkner wrote called “On Fear: The South in Labor.” As it appears in Northrop Grumman’s ad, the line reads: “We must be free, not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.”

Faulkner Literary Rights’ lawsuit notes that the full context of that line is as follows:

We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it; our freedom must be buttressed by a homogeny equally and unchallengably free, no matter what color they are, so that all the other inimical forces everywhere – systems political or religious or racial or national – will not just respect us because we practice freedom, they will fear us because we do.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Sony Picture Classics called the lawsuit targeting their studio “frivolous” and expressed confidence in its ability to defend against the claim. “There is no question this brief reference (10 words) to a quote from a public speech Faulkner gave constitutes fair use and any claim to the contrary is without merit,” added the unidentified Sony spokesperson.

While I typically side with rights-holders in most copyright litigation, I tend to agree with Sony on this one. Among other things, the (near) quote was properly attributed to Faulkner and appeared in the context of a larger work that in no way relied on Faulkner’s writing to generate interest in the film, much less profit from the film.

For me, the claims in these lawsuits are summed up by another of Faulkner’s great lines, this one from his 1927 novel Mosquitoes: “Talk, talk, talk: the utter and heartbreaking stupidity of words.”http://www.kanyewestyeezy.fr