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Publisher can release "Gone With The Wind" parody novel

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  1. Content Restrictions

    NMU         ELEVENTH CIRCUIT         Copyrights & Trademarks         May 30, 2001    

Publisher can release “Gone With The Wind” parody novel

  • The federal appeals court in Georgia removed a preliminary injunction against The Wind Done Gone calling it an unconstitutional prior restraint.

The Wind Done Gone is far from gone. On May 25, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta (11th Cir.) lifted a prior restraint against Houghton Mifflin that barred the publisher from publishing and distributing a parody of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.

The court rejected a lower court ruling granting a preliminary injunction as “an abuse of discretion in that it represents an unlawful prior restraint in violation of the First Amendment.”

Author Alice Randall wrote The Wind Done Gone, which 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.

The appellate court said Mitchell’s estate failed to show that it would likely prevail in its lawsuit or suffer an injury sufficient to warrant an injunction against publication.

In a prepared statement, Houghton Mifflin attorney Joseph Beck said, “The Court was very well prepared and showed tremendous commitment by putting this on a fast track. It says a lot about the importance of the First Amendment. No one will ever confuse The Wind Done Gone with Gone with the Wind.”

Houghton Mifflin plans to have the book in stores in two to three weeks, according to the company’s statement.

In April, a federal district court granted Mitchell’s estate a preliminary injunction based on its claim of copyright infringement and succeeded in blocking publication. Mitchell’s estate argued that the Wind Done Gone violated Gone With the Wind’s copyright by copying the novel, while Houghton Mifflin contended that Randall’s novel used general references to Gone With the Wind to parody the novel.

The district court judge agreed with Mitchell’s estate and said, “With the canvas of Gone With the Wind as a backdrop, The Wind Done Gone repeats the story of Gone With the Wind, by utilizing a detailed encapsulation of the older work and exploiting its copyrighted characters, story lines, and settings as the palette for the new story.”

(Suntrust Bank v. Houghton Mifflin; Media counsel: Joseph Beck, Kilpatrick Stockton, Altanta) AP

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© 2001 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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