Companies & Industries

The Feud: William Faulkner’s estate vs. Sony Pictures Classics

The distributor of Woody Allen’s film Midnight in Paris could get dinged by the literary icon known as Pappy.


The Conflict: The estate of the late author has filed suit against Sony for unauthorized use (and misquoting) of Faulkner’s famous line “The past is never dead. It’s not even the past” in Allen’s 2011 film. The quote originally appeared in Faulkner’s 1950 novel, Requiem for a Nun.

The Outcome: Pappy’s representatives say the copyright infringement could damage the market potential of the original work. “If Woody could have written something better, I’m sure he would have,” said Faulkner executor Lee Caplin. Sony claims such borrowing is permitted under “fair use” provisions, and calls the suit “frivolous.” The famously reclusive director has not yet responded, but might just still be stammering and adjusting his glasses.