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Friday, 25 May, 2001, 19:02 GMT 20:02 UK
Court overturns Wind parody ban
Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in the film version of Gone With The Wind
Film stars: Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh
A US appeals court has overturned the publication ban of a parody of the epic Civil War-era novel Gone With The Wind.

A three-judge panel of the Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned a lower court ruling in April that Alice Randall's novel The Wind Done Gone was a pirated version of Mitchell's 1936 original.

Shortly after the court heard arguments from Randall's publisher Houghton Mifflin, and the estate of Mitchell, Judge Stanley Birch decided to lift the publication ban.

Cover of Alice Randall's The Wind Done Gone
Randall's book has gained support from authors
In its ruling the court said that the ban constituted "an unlawful prior restraint in violation of the First Amendment (of the U.S. Constitution)".

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 argued that parody is an important element of free speech.

She said 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.

"I put a lot of heart and soul in this book. It's important now for everyone to get a chance to read it," Randall said shortly after the ruling.

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

Mitchell's heirs argued that Randall's book was an unauthorized sequel that infringed on the estate's right to limit use of material in the original.

Earlier this month Microsoft and other leading US companies filed briefs to the court backing Randall in the legal dispute on the grounds that banning its publication was an infringement of free speech protections.

A number of prominent artists and writers also supported the writer, including Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, novelist Harper Lee, and musician Steve Earle.

Morrison, the author of Jazz and Beloved, said at the time that Randall's book "imagines and occupies narrative spaces and silences never once touched upon nor conceived of in Mrs Mitchell's novel".

Gone With The Wind is surpassed in sales only by a handfull of books, including the Bible and the film of the novel is one of the most popular movies ever made.

Black leaders, including Malcolm X, have periodically attacked Mitchell's book as mythologising slavery.

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See also:

21 Apr 01 | Americas
Blow for 'Wind' parody
17 May 01 | Arts
Media giants back Wind parody
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