X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
A federal appeals court lifted an injunction Friday against publication of a “Gone With the Wind” parody at the center of a closely watched dispute over copyright law, the First Amendment and who owns some of literature’s most memorable characters. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the injunction against “The Wind Done Gone,” was an “extraordinary and drastic remedy” that “amounts to unlawful prior restraint in violation of the First Amendment.” The court issued its ruling after less than an hour’s worth of arguments on an appeal by the book’s publisher, Houghton Mifflin. The court promised a more complete opinion later. Copies of Alice Randall’s “The Wind Done Gone” should be out no later than the end of June, said Wendy Strothman, executive vice president of Houghton Mifflin. “I wrote this book for all Americans, both white and black, so they could have a deep, hearty belly laugh” together about the painful Civil War period, said Randall, who lives in Nashville, Tenn. “I’m so glad that the court will allow that message to get heard.” Last month, U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell blocked publication of the book, ruling that it violated the copyright of Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 classic, “Gone With the Wind.” Lawyers for Mitchell’s estate had sought the injunction, arguing that Randall took characters, scenes, setting, plot and even some passages straight from “Gone With the Wind.” Randall and her publisher argued that as a parody, Randall’s book is protected by the First Amendment. They also contended that the book gives a new perspective on Mitchell’s story by telling the tale from the point of a view of a slave. Martin Garbus, a lawyer for the Mitchell estate, said he will appeal Friday’s ruling. “I think the racial issues have obscured the copyright issues,” he said. “The damage done here is a very substantial one.” The lawsuit, a test case for how extensively a parody can borrow from a copyrighted work, has been closely watched by the publishing industry and legal experts. Supporters of the book’s publication, including many artists and intellectuals, also see it as a matter of free speech, the right to tell history from an alternative point of view. “I thought it was a legitimate effort to try and give a different perspective on the story,” historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. said. “Despite the attention it has gotten, it is a fairly typical case,” said Jane Ginsburg, a professor of copyright and trademarks at Columbia University Law School. “In dissolving the injunction, the court doesn’t acknowledge that injunction relief is pretty standard.” Randall’s book tells of life at a plantation named Tata. It is narrated by the daughter of a slave woman and the white plantation owner. The narrator is the half-sister of a Scarlett O’Hara-like character. During Friday’s arguments, Mitchell estate lawyer Richard Kurnit told the judges that allowing publication of the book means “pirates will be free to mine the rich vein of copyrighted works and only to pay if they strike gold, get sued and get caught before they steal away.” Joseph Beck, arguing for Randall and Houghton Mifflin, said: “‘The Wind Done Gone’ has told me for the first time how African-Americans read ‘Gone With the Wind.’” The judges agreed. “Doesn’t this book add something new and profound?” Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus asked. “Doesn’t the artist completely recast and profoundly alter the story?” When Kurnit argued that Randall had written an unauthorized sequel, Circuit Judge Stanley F. Birch Jr. disagreed, saying Randall’s work did “anything but put the characters in a favorable light.” Houghton Mifflin said it plans an initial run of 25,000 copies of Randall’s book. Judge Harlington Wood, visiting from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, joined Marcus and Birch on the panel. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.