‘Wind Done Gone’ copyright case settled

Content Regulation | Feature | May 29, 2002

    NMU         GEORGIA         Copyrights & Trademarks         May 29, 2002    

‘Wind Done Gone’ copyright case settled

  • The estate of author Margaret Mitchell dropped its lawsuit against the publisher of a “Gone With the Wind” parody in exchange for concessions from the publisher.

The estate of author Margaret Mitchell has settled its copyright infringement lawsuit against the publisher of a parody of Gone With the Wind, Mitchell's epic Civil War novel.

The settlement, announced May 9, will allow publisher Houghton Mifflin Co. to continue to distribute The Wind Done Gone under the label "unauthorized parody." The Boston publisher also agreed to make a financial contribution to Morehouse College in Atlanta at the request of the Mitchell estate.

Both parties reserved their rights regarding future adaptations of the book, including movies, plays and sequels. The settlement also does not affect author Alice Randall's rights regarding adaptations of the book.

The lawsuit, filed in March 2001, stopped distribution of the book for a month. A federal district judge in Atlanta issued a preliminary injunction in April 2001 that prevented publication. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta (11th Cir.) lifted the injunction in May 2001 as an unlawful prior restraint and allowed the sale of the book.

However, the appeals court did not rule on whether The Wind Done Gone infringed on the copyright of Gone With the Wind. The appeals court remanded that issue for trial.

The Wind Done Gone chronicles the life of Cynara, a mixed-race daughter of a Southern planter and Mammy, a slave. The novel is written from Cynara's perspective.

Randall's book appropriated characters, settings and plot twists from Mitchell's novel and copied descriptions from the original bestseller. But Randall copied those elements to criticize the original book, which gave the publisher a defense against the lawsuit, the 11th Circuit ruled in lifting the injunction last year.

(SunTrust Bank v. Houghton Mifflin Co.) -- MD

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