Volume 77
Number 3

Turning Point

12 Hours on Unit 21

Outreach in Action

War of the Winds

A Sense of Place

Enigma: Defying Gravity

Emory University

Association of Emory Alumni

Current News and Events

Emory Report



Sports Updates






















































ITHIN THE HIGH WROUGHT-IRON FENCE, African-American author Alice Randall stands at a microphone on what was once Mitchell’s front porch, reading passages from her book, The Wind Done Gone, in a strident voice that carries out into the street. The crowd seated on the lawn is made up of listeners both black and white, more old than young, many holding a copy of Randall’s book on their laps. A handful of journalists scribble rapidly and a couple of TV cameras navigate the perimeter of the yard, occasionally swinging to note the protesters outside. Later, the event will appear on local news programs, with reports focused on the racial tension that marked a spirited dialogue between Randall and some members of the audience.

The scene being enacted on this July evening is a shining example of constitutional freedoms being exercised, but it is carried along by dark undercurrents of the South’s turbulent past. The present conflict began over an exchange of words: those of Mitchell’s famous 1936 novel set in the plantation South, Gone With the Wind, and Randall’s recently published reply, The Wind Done Gone, told from the point of view of a former slave.

At the center of this highly publicized drama are several Emory alumni, each of whom brings both professional expertise and personal interest to bear on the outcome. Paul H. Anderson Sr. ’38C-’40L, one of a two-member committee charged with protecting the copyright to Gone With the Wind, was instrumental last spring in bringing a lawsuit against The Wind Done Gone publisher, Houghton Mifflin Company, for copyright violation, claiming Randall’s book is essentially an unauthorized sequel to Mitchell’s.

But Joseph M. Beck ’65C, one of the lead attorneys for Randall and the publishing house, has argued that Randall’s novel was intended as a literary parody, a work that consciously borrows elements of another to achieve effective social commentary. Legally, parodies are considered “fair use” and are absolved of copyright restrictions; sequels are not. Beck, a partner with Atlanta law firm Kilpatrick Stockton who has also taught intellectual property and First Amendment courses at Emory’s law school, worked on the case with Miles J. Alexander ’52C, co-chair of the firm.

A handful of others with Emory ties have played critical supporting roles. A faculty member and a University alumna provided expert testimony on Randall’s behalf. A law school graduate headed a panel of judges who heard Randall’s appeal when publication of her book was temporarily blocked. And the University libraries recently hosted a panel discussion on the troublesome tension between copyright law and creative liberty.

The landmark Wind vs. Wind lawsuit has raised compelling questions about the right to ownership of words and ideas, the design and critical validity of parody, and the authenticity of those images of the antebellum South that continue to grip the public imagination. The lawsuit has generated national interest, with hundreds of news stories, editorials, and scholarly debates all hinging on one question: Is The Wind Done Gone a hollow attempt to cash in on the popularity of a beloved classic or a smart, scorching satire that exposes the racial stereotyping inherent in Gone With the Wind?

From a legal standpoint, this story is rich in dramatic climaxes but lacks a grand finale. In April, a U.S. District Court judge agreed with the Mitchell Trusts and issued a temporary order blocking publication of The Wind Done Gone. Just a few weeks later, an appellate court lifted the injunction and allowed publication to move forward, making the book widely available to the public. Then in October, the three-judge panel of the appellate court followed up with a long-awaited opinion that generally favored Houghton Mifflin’s fair use defense of the intended parody. This move sent the Mitchell Trusts back to the U.S. District Court level with the option of seeking monetary damages but with no guarantee that they’ll succeed.

Still, attorneys for the Mitchell Trusts have indicated that they plan to try, even suggesting they may ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case. The Wind Done Gone’s publication is a fait accompli, but as to whether Randall’s book is an instructive parody or an exploitative piracy of Gone With the Wind, the answer is far from black and white.


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