Though I hate to cheer for Sony in anything, this was a crazy suit to begin with.Sony Pictures Wins 'Midnight in Paris' Lawsuit Over Faulkner Quote
That really should have been dismissed as a frivolous lawsuit. Glad that the Judge was reasonable in the case.
In the film, Wilson describes his fantastic experiences. He 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.”
In Requiem for a Nun, Faulkner wrote, "The past is never dead. It’s not even past."
And excerpted from his ruling:
In his ruling (read in full here), the judge analyzes the various factors that comprise a fair use to see whether Sony's exploitation of Faulkner's passage was legitimate.
In terms of the purpose and character of the use, the judge notes "the copyrighted work is a serious piece of literature lifted for use in a speaking part in a movie comedy, as opposed to a printed portion of a novel printed in a newspaper, or a song’s melody sampled in another song. This transmogrification in medium tips this factor in favor of transformative, and thus, fair use."
As for the substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work, the Faulkner literary estate attempted to argue that the "Quote describes the essence of Requiem," and as such deserved some extra credit for its qualitative importance.
But the judge responds, "Qualitative importance to society of a nine-word quote is not the same as qualitative importance to the originating work as a whole. Moreover, it should go without saying that the quote at issue is of miniscule quantitative importance to the work as a whole. Thus, the court considers both the qualitative and quantitative analyses to tip in favor of fair use."
Yay for judges with common sense!