Black People : ''Gone With the Wind'' Goes To Court...

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by Aqil, Apr 23, 2001.

  1. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    "Gone With The Wind" Goes To Court...

    ATLANTA (Reuters) - A battle over the Civil War epic Gone With the Wind went to court Wednesday, with representatives of the late novelist's estate seeking to stop publication of a parody called "The Wind Done Gone."

    Margaret Mitchell's estate contends that Alice Randall's novel, which is scheduled to be published in June, infringes on the copyright of "Gone With the Wind," and has sought an injunction.

    But Randall's publishers, Houghton-Mifflin, backed by a slew of literary figures who have sprung to the defense of first-time novelist Randall, say the author has merely engaged in a time-tested literary exercise of parody.

    U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell was holding a hearing in Atlanta Wednesday on the Mitchell estate's lawsuit seeking a bar on publication of "The Wind Done Gone."

    Randall's work is written as the intimate diary of a mixed- race woman - who might be a half-sister of "Gone with the Wind's" Southern belle heroine Scarlett O'Hara - on a Georgia plantation after the Civil War.

    Randall and her publisher argue that "The Wind Done Gone" simply revisits the world of a famous book and does not violate copyright law.

    But an attorney for the Mitchell Trusts, Tom Selz, has told local media that Randall commits "wholesale theft of major characters from 'Gone with the Wind.'"

    Mitchell's 1936 novel of a Southern plantation during and after the Civil War is known to many Americans through the wildly popular 1939 film starring Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable. Simon & Schuster published Alexandra Ripley's authorized sequel, "Scarlett," 10 years ago.

    But the original novel's depiction of black slaves, a cheerful and supportive backdrop to the white protagonists' lives, is offensive to many African-Americans.

    The publisher believes Randall's novel will appeal to African-American and other readers "who are troubled by the picture of the Antebellum South and Reconstruction portrayed in Margaret Mitchell's novel," Wendy Strothman, a Houghton-Mifflin executive vice president, said earlier this month.

    She stressed the company was well aware of copyright laws but said Randall's work was not a retelling or a sequel, and that authors have the right to parody other work."We would not permit retellings, sequels, nor any other infringement of the copyrights of the valuable literary works we publish," Strothman said in an April 5 statement.

    Randall, who is African-American, noted in a statement last month that African-Americans were once barred from reading and writing. "It saddens me and breaks my heart that there are those who would try to set up obstacles for a Black woman to tell her story, and the story of her people, with words in writing," she said.

    Authors who have defended the novel include novelist Harper Lee, author of "To Kill a Mockingbird," and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. Morrison filed a declaration with the Atlanta court on Monday, opposing efforts to block Randall's novel.

    REUTERS/Variety
     
  2. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Mitchell Estate Appeals "Wind Done Gone" Ruling...

    ATLANTA, Georgia (Reuters) - The estate of the author of "Gone With the Wind" asked a U.S. appeals court Thursday to restore an injunction blocking the publication June 28 of a African-American writer's parody of the Civil War-era best seller.

    Last week, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned a U.S. district court's order preventing the appearance of "The Wind Done Gone," a novel by Alice Randall that portrays life in the Old South from an African-American viewpoint.

    That panel, ruling from the bench, said the ban on the new book was a violation of free-speech rights. But lawyers for the estate of Margaret Mitchell - whose perennially popular "Gone With the Wind" came out in 1936 and inspired a classic movie with the same name three years later - asked the appeals court to review the case and block Randall's book again.

    "The Wind Done Gone" is the subject of a copyright-infringement lawsuit filed by Mitchell's heirs, who allege that Randall and her publisher, Houghton Mifflin Co. , committed "wholesale theft of major characters" from "Gone With the Wind."

    Richard Kurnit, who argued on the Mitchell estate's behalf before the appellate panel last week, said Thursday that his firm had requested a new hearing before the full 11th Circuit Court, which has 12 judges. "We have filed today a petition for rehearing en banc, including a request that the entire court stay the order of the panel which vacated the preliminary injunction," Kurnit said.

    First judge found 'unabated piracy'

    Mitchell's heirs are seeking to restore a ban by U.S. District Court Judge Charles Pannell, who ruled in April that Randall had engaged in "unabated piracy" by lifting characters and plot from Mitchell's original. Pannell issued a preliminary injunction against "The Wind Done Gone," which had originally been scheduled to reach bookstores in early June. "Should we be successful, the injunction from the district court would be in effect until the entire court reviewed the case," Kurnit added.

    Mitchell's heirs argued that Randall's book was an unauthorized sequel that infringed on the estate's right to limit the use of material in "Gone With the Wind." Last week, Kurnit said the appellate panel's ruling ignored copyright issues in the case.

    Wendy Strothman, a Houghton Mifflin executive vice president, said "we are not surprised" that Mitchell's heirs were seeking a rehearing. "We see no reason to change our plans" for the book, she added. Houghton Mifflin intends to put "The Wind Done Gone" on sale June 28 at a retail price of $23.

    Narrated by a mixed-race woman who appears to be a half-sister of "Gone With the Wind" heroine Scarlett O'Hara, "The Wind Done Gone" seeks to rebut the disparaging portrayals of African-Americans in "Gone With the Wind."

    The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is not obligated to grant a new hearing. In lifting the preliminary injunction against Randall's book, the court's three-judge panel ruled that the ban amounted to "an unlawful prior restraint in violation of the First Amendment" of the U.S. Constitution, which safeguards freedom of speech and of the press.