Wind Done Gone injunction lifted
By The Associated Press
(Editorís note: A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Oct. 10 affirmed the courtís decision to block an injunction against publication of The Wind Done Gone. The panel said it wasnít clear whether Alice Randallís book parodied Gone With the Wind. But the judges said Margaret Mitchellís estate hadnít demonstrated a likelihood of success for its claims, part of the standard for an injunction.)
ATLANTA A federal appeals court today lifted a lower court's injunction against publication of The Wind Done Gone, a parody of the classic Gone With the Wind.
A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard less than an hour of arguments on an appeal by Boston-based publisher Houghton Mifflin before issuing its ruling from the bench.
In a brief order, the judges said the injunction was an "extraordinary and drastic remedy" that "amounts to an unlawful prior restraint in violation of the First Amendment." They promised a more comprehensive opinion later in the day.
Author Alice Randall and her publisher said they would get the book out within the next few weeks.
The Nashville, Tenn., writer said she wrote the book so that black and white Americans could have a "belly laugh" together about the painful period of slavery and the Civil War.
"I'm so glad that the court will allow that message to get heard," Randall said.
Martin Garbus, one of the lawyers for the estate of Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell, said he would seek another hearing before the 11th Circuit.
"I think the racial issues ... had obscured the copyright issues," he said.
Paul Anderson, a trustee of Mitchell's estate, attended the hearing and said he was surprised at the quick ruling. He declined further comment.
U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell issued the injunction against The Wind Done Gone last month, ruling that it violated the copyright of Mitchell's original and was "precisely the kind of work that copyright laws prohibit."
Randall's novel is an account of life at a plantation named "Tata" narrated by the daughter of a black slave woman and the white plantation owner, the half-sister of a character that mirrors Scarlett O'Hara.
Mitchell lawyers argued during today's hearing that Randall's characters, scenes, setting and plot were taken directly from Gone With the Wind and that quotes were lifted directly from the original.
"It appeals to the market when the readers are hungry to read about these characters. The people who are infatuated with Rhett and Scarlett will gobble any story about them," said Richard Kurnit.
"This injunction has to be held up," he told the judges. "It is shocking to me that they would want this court to usurp the decision."
Joseph Beck, arguing for Randall and Houghton Mifflin, said Randall did not copy Mitchell's writing but merely gave a new perspective on Mitchell's story.
"The Wind Done Gone has told me for the first time how African-Americans read Gone With the Wind," he said.
Beck also argued that authors would be inhibited from writing parodies if the injunction were not lifted.
The literary community and several news organizations supported the book's publication, calling it a matter of free speech.
"I'm glad to hear that the injunction was lifted," said historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., one of many artists and intellectuals who supported the book's publication. "I thought it (The Wind Done Gone) was a legitimate effort to try and give a different perspective on the story."
Randall noted that the ruling came on May 25, the birthdate of her fictional character. "And today is the day she will be free."
Wendy Strothman, executive vice president of Houghton Mifflin, said the publisher would print an initial run of 25,000 copies.
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