The “public domain” isn’t just some hedonistic collective consumption good, but a vital resource for creators; thus Disney was able to base its golden-age animation features on literary properties and tropes that it could freely transform without permission. Among the properties we could have started freely transforming and remixing in this country had Congress not unilaterally and drastically extended copyright lengths: The King and I, Ian Fleming’s Diamonds Are Forever, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, My Fair Lady, and the novel 101 Dalmatians. [Duke Center for the Study of the Public Domain via BB, similar, related]
Sony Pictures has decried the suit as frivolous:
In Midnight In Paris, Gil Pender, the disillusioned Hollywood screenwriter played by Owen Wilson, 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.” The rightsholder[s] say the slightly paraphrased quote could “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.”
David Olson, a professor of law at Boston College (and no relation), disputed the notion that a license was needed just because the movie was intended to make a profit. “Commercial use isn’t presumptively unfair” he said. He said no one watches “Midnight in Paris” as a substitute for buying “Requiem for a Nun.” [Deadline.com, Washington Post]
P.S. “Is the complaint written in Faulknerese?” [@jslubinski]
Following a complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Sacramento library system has agreed not to give patrons any more Nook e-readers, which cannot be used by blind persons because they lack text-to-speech capability [Disability Law] Disability-rights lawyers have taken the view that it is unacceptable for libraries to stock a mix of devices, some with text-to-speech and some not.
A Montana federal court dismisses a class action against author Greg Mortenson demanding reader refunds over alleged fabrications in his memoir Three Cups of Tea. [Volokh, earlier here, here, etc.] More: Trask.
Defendants in federal court in Montana are now seeking dismissal of a purported class action on behalf of readers disappointed by author Greg Mortenson’s exaggerations and embroiderings. As in the earlier (and successful) James Frey episode, lawyers are arguing that consumers should be awarded refunds for their purchases of the flawed memoir. [AP/Washington Post] Earlier here, etc.
“The Village Voice is giving up on a scheme to force rivals to pay for permission to use the phrase ‘best of.’” [Paid Content]
Terry Teachout thus nominates the verbal barbed wire that surrounds the work of the late poet Louis Zukofsky (see also).
Alex Beam at the Boston Globe and Ian Crouch at the New Yorker write about the rise of lawsuits over unsatisfactory book contents, as with class actions filed over Greg Mortenson’s challenged memoirs and, before that, those of James Frey. Beam also brings up the outrageous lawsuit against former President Jimmy Carter and his publisher by someone who disagrees with the views Carter expressed in a book on the Mideast conflict. I’m quoted in both pieces (and at especially generous length in Beam’s). [Boston Globe, New Yorker; earlier here, here, etc.] (& WSJ Law Blog)
“Finding that Google has no duty to provide accurate content on its website, a Utah judge has thrown out the novel case of a woman who claimed that faulty walking directions on Google Maps caused her to be hit by a car.” [OnPoint News, earlier here, etc.] The same post, updating another story we’ve noted, reports that a bill to make guidebook publishers liable for some injuries to tourists has died in the Hawaii legislature.
Welcome Daily Beast readers: Newsweek reporter Mike Giglio quotes me on the class action lawsuits filed over Greg Mortenson’s book Three Cups of Tea. Earlier coverage here.
It might eventuate in another deeply flawed book-reader class action, predicts Andrew Trask (earlier on James Frey “Million Little Pieces” suits).
A proposed Hawaii law would assign liability to guidebook writers for some injuries at risky tourist sites [WSJ]