Court Lifts Ban On The Wind Done Gone

Posted on May 25, 2001

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has lifted an earlier District Court injunction banning the publication of The Wind Done Gone. Houghton Mifflin now plans to proceed to publish the novel by Alice Randall, which will be the author's first novel. Trade publicaton reported that the first print run would be 25,000 copies. Houghton Mifflin hopes to have the book in bookstores in 2-3 weeks.

``Today's decision is an absolute victory for both the First Amendment and for the fair use doctrine of the Copyright Act, both crucial to American culture and freedom of expression,'' said Wendy Strothman, Executive Vice President, Trade and Reference Division, Houghton Mifflin Company. ``We are grateful to the Court for its swift action as well as to the many prominent authors, corporations, media companies and First Amendment advocates who supported our position. We are particularly pleased that the American public will now be able to judge Alice Randall's parody for themselves.''

On April 20, a federal judge in the Northern District Court in Atlanta granted the Mitchell Trusts a preliminary injunction, banning The Wind Done Gone. Houghton Mifflin's emergency motion for an expedited appeal was granted, and the 11th Circuit heard arguments. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta then made its decision on Friday, May 28, 2001 to lift the injunction.

Hougton Mifflin and Author Alice Randall argued that the book was a parody. The company was backed by Friend of the Court briefs from media companies and First Amendment advocate groups including Microsoft, The New York Times Company, PEN American Center and others. The Counsel for the Heirs of Margaret Mitchell have argued that the reference is a copyright violation of the famous Gone With The Wind novel by Margaret Mitchell published in 1936. Lawyers for Mitchell's estate argued that Alice Randall's appropriation of the original novel's content is so extensive that the work represents a retelling and an unauthorized sequel -- not a parody as its publisher claims.

``{Houghton Mifflin} asks this Court to permit an unprecedented invasion of the copyright owner's exclusive right to authorize derivative works,'' Richard Kurnit, a lawyer for the heirs of Ms. Mitchell said. ``Without the threat of an injunction to derail unauthorized derivative works of fiction, 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.''

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