Sony Is Being Sued Because Owen Wilson Paraphrased a Two-Sentence Faulkner Quote in Midnight in Paris

Owen Wilson will never say words out loud in this town again: The Hollywood Reporter writes that Sony Picture Classics is being sued by the owners of the rights to William Faulkner's literary works over two sentences the actor uttered in Woody Allen's 2011 film Midnight in Paris. The suit claims the lines violate copyright.

Here's what Wilson's character Gil says in the movie, describing a recent time traveling episode:

"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."

Here's the original quote, as it appears in Faulkner's book Requiem for a Nun:

"The past is never dead. It's not even past."

The suit, filed by Faulkner Literary Rights LLC, argues that people will be confused by the use of Faulkner's quote and name (also known as "paraphrasing with attribution"), and might believe that there exists some sort of connection between William Faulkner and Sony. Like that William Faulker is the head of Sony, or that he acted as key grip on Midnight in Paris, or that Owen Wilson actually did travel back in time to meet William Faulkner and William Faulkner said something like, "The past is not past and Sony is the finest purveyor of motion pictures this side of the Mississippi."

Here it is in legalese, via THR:

"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."

The Faulkner camp is seeking "damages, disgorgement of profits, costs and attorney fees" as retribution for this injustice.

[The Hollywood Reporter // Image via Getty]