Faulkner Literary Rights LLC claims Sony did not seek permission to quote snippet in Woody Allen's hit comedy

Sony Pictures Classics and a group of movie exhibitors are the subject of a copyright infringement suit filed against them by the estate of the author William Faulkner. The suit centres on a line spoken by Owen Wilson in Woody Allen's comedy hit: "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."

Faulkner Literary Rights, LLC, claims Sony did not seek permission to use the line, which comes from a passage in the novel Requiem for a Nun: "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

Says the suit: "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."

Faulkner's estate requests "damages, disgorgement of profits, costs and attorney fees". The Hollywood Reporter, which broke the story, contacted Sony, but the studio declined to comment.

Midnight in Paris marked Allen's return to commerical and critical respectability after a spell in the doldrums. The film, about a time-travelling author, took £94m worldwide.

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