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Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 09:46 GMT 10:46 UK
Media giants back Wind parody
Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in the film version of Gone With The Wind
Film stars: Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh
Microsoft and other leading US companies are backing the author of a parody of Margaret Mitchell's classic novel Gone With The Wind in a legal dispute.

In April a federal judge ruled that Alice Randall's novel The Wind Done Gone was a pirated version of Mitchell's 1936 epic, and he granted an injunction preventing its publication.

Cover of Alice Randall's The Wind Done Gone
Randall's book has gained support from authors
The Wind Done Gone publishers Houghton Mifflin said the companies have filed friend-of-the-court briefs with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, which is due to hear an appeal of the April injunction on 25 May.

Among the companies that have supported Randall's appeal are CNN, Dow Jones, New York Times, Media General Inc, Tribune, and Cox Enterprises.

Free speech

The brief says: "This case strikes at the very core of the First Amendment and illustrates the dangers inherent in placing property rights about free speech protections."

Ms Randall's story is narrated by a mixed-race plantation owner's daughter who is Gone With The Wind heroine Scarlett O'Hara's half-sister.

The book is set on the Georgia plantation which was the setting for the original novel and the subsequent Oscar-winning film starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.

Ms Randall argues parody is an important element of free speech.

She says her work was designed to ridicule a book that had portrayed black slaves as a happy, supportive backdrop to white masters in the racist Confederate South.

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh
Randall's book includes phrases, settings and references to GWTW
Houghton Mifflin has argued that her parody simply revisits the world of a famous book and as such does not violate copyright law.

Theft

The supporting brief from Microsoft said Alice Randall's work "is transformative in a way that goes to the heart of fairness of her use," Houghton Mifflin said.

Martin Garbus, attorney for Mitchell Trusts - the copyright owners of Gone With The Wind - said he expected briefs on behalf of trust to be filed next week.

"I find it surprising for Microsoft, which is relentless in getting in getting injunctions to fight copyright infringements," said Garbus.

The disagreement began when the estate of Margaret Mitchell sued Houghton Mifflin, alleging that Randall committed "wholesale theft of major characters" from Gone With the Wind.

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21 Apr 01 | Americas
Blow for 'Wind' parody
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