SIGNIFICANCE: SUNTRUST BANK V. HOUGHTON MIFFLIN CO.
Case Name: SunTrust Bank v. Houghton Mifflin Co.
Citation: 268 F.3d 1257 (11th Cir. 2001)
Topics: Copyright & Fair Use
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granted the copyright holder of Margaret Mitchell’s original Gone With the Wind a preliminary injunction against the publication of Alice Randall’s The Wind Done Gone for copyright infringement.
On appeal, Alice Randall persuasively argued that her novel is a critique of Gone With the Wind’s depiction of slavery and the Civil-War-era American South. To this end, she claimed that the Fair Use Provision of the Federal Copyright Act, which specifically permits criticism and comment of a copyrighted work, protected her novel.
The court agreed with Randall’s claim because The Wind Done Gone is primarily a parody of Gone with the Wind. The Court explained that for purposes of a fair use analysis, a work is treated as a parody if “its aim is to comment upon or criticize a prior work by appropriating elements of the original in creating a new artistic, as opposed to scholarly or journalistic, work.” Under this definition, the Court held thatThe Wind Done Gone is clearly a parody because it is not a general commentary upon the Civil-War-era American South. Rather, it is a specific criticism of and rejoinder to the depiction of racial relations in Gone With the Wind.