- - Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Actor Daniel Day-Lewis is donating papers belonging to his father, the poet Cecil Day-Lewis, to Oxford University.

The archive, which fills 54 boxes, includes early drafts of the poet’s work, as well as letters from actor John Gielgud and famous literary figures such as W.H. Auden, Robert Graves and Philip Larkin, according to The Associated Press.

Daniel Day-Lewis stars this year in the much-anticipated film “Lincoln,” about the assassinated U.S. president. He and his sister, Tamasin, said Tuesday they are thrilled that their father’s papers will be housed at Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries and become accessible to students and researchers.

Cecil Day-Lewis, who studied classics and became poetry professor at Oxford, was appointed the U.K. poet laureate in 1968. He also wrote mystery novels and stories under the name of Nicholas Blake. He died in 1972.

Faulkner estate sues over quotes in movie, ad

William Faulkner wrote that the past is never dead. His heirs say their copyright to that phrase is very much alive.

The author’s literary estate is suing Sony Pictures Classics for using a paraphrase of the line in Woody Allen’s 2011 film, “Midnight in Paris,” The Associated Press reports. It’s also suing Northrop Grumman Corp. and The Washington Post Co. for using another Faulkner quote in a newspaper ad for the defense contractor.

The first lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court in Oxford, Miss., said Sony infringed on the copyright when actor Owen Wilson slightly misquoted the line from Faulkner’s “Requiem for a Nun.” He said, “The past is not dead! Actually, it’s not even past.”

The second lawsuit, filed Friday in Jackson, Miss., makes similar claims about the ad, which used a passage from a 1956 essay Faulkner wrote in Harper’s Magazine. The quote, which says in part “We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it,” was the conclusion to an essay criticizing the South’s response to school integration.

Sony said the quote is “fair use,” a legal term meaning the user doesn’t have to license or pay for it.

“This is a frivolous lawsuit and we are confident we will prevail in defending it,” a Sony Pictures spokeswoman said in a written statement.

Northrop Grumman declined to comment. The Washington Post did not return a phone call Monday.

David Olson, a Boston College law professor who specializes in patent law and copyright, said he agreed the estate is overreaching legally.

Lee Caplin, who represents the estate, disagreed. He said these are the first lawsuits it has ever filed. Mr. Caplin said the estate recently licensed a quote to the sitcom “Modern Family.” He contrasted that to Mr. Allen’s use of the quote in the movie.

“He just wanted to kind of take it and he felt entitled,” Mr. Caplin said of Mr. Allen.

Mr. Caplin said the suit is not a “money grab.” He said Sony was dismissive of his attempts to license the quote after the movie came out.

Under the fair use principle, people can take and reuse part of a copyrighted book, song or movie without permission. Generally, excepts can be used if they’re short and if they’re part of a new artistic work, scholarly work or a parody. Noncommercial uses are generally more permissible, Mr. Olson said.

“If it’s for a commercial use, they do have to pay for it,” Mr. Caplin said.

Mr. Olson, though, said that’s a flawed understanding of copyright law.

“Commercial use isn’t presumptively unfair,” he said. He said no one watches “Midnight in Paris” as a substitute for buying “Requiem for a Nun.”

“The Faulkner estate’s interest is not being harmed in any way,” Mr. Olson said. “If anything it draws a little more interest.”

In the Northrop case, Mr. Caplin said he’s not sure the heirs would have wanted Faulkner’s name to be associated with an arms manufacturer.

Mr. Olson said the Northrop case may be stronger, but he fears that authors are using copyright to limit the political context in which works are quoted or used.

Mr. Olson said some estates are zealous about enforcing copyright, to increase revenue or limit discussions that heirs find disagreeable. The suits could just be warning shots by the estate to other users.

“Part of what they could be doing is just trying to get the word out,” Mr. Olson said.

Tim McGraw readies 1st album on new label

Tim McGraw has announced a Feb. 5 release date for his first album since leaving Curb Records.

“Two Lanes of Freedom” is Mr. McGraw’s first release since a judge granted him the right to record for Big Machine Records. The Louisiana native had been under contract with Curb for nearly two decades.

The singer announced his partnership with Big Machine’s Scott Borchetta last May, and an appeals court recently affirmed his right to record and release new material with the label.

Mr. McGraw will perform the new single “One of Those Nights” during the Country Music Association Awards, airing live Thursday night on ABC.

The partnership between Curb and Mr. McGraw was one of the most successful in country music history, leading to 40 million in album sales, 32 No. 1 singles and three Grammys.

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