HBO’s latest documentary series, Allen v. Farrow, only debuted on Sunday, so you should bet that many viewers are paying very careful attention to it and discussing the facts it sets out with such a public and contentious case at the core of its story.
While it was probably not necessarily surprising that the docuseries will raise more concerns about Mia Farrow and her daughter, Dylan, accusing Woody Allen of sexually assaulting her when she was a girl, because of Allen v. Farrow, there is already a potential case in the works.
The four-part docuseries, which outlines certain claims of sexual harassment, may now be at the forefront of a complaint, according to Deadline.
On the grounds of copyright violation, Skyhorse Publishing is considering seeking legal action against HBO, as well as filmmakers Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick, because the company claims that audio from the Woody Allen 2020 memoir’s audiobook edition, Apropos of Nothing, was used without proper permission.
Besides, Skyhorse also noted that they sent a letter last Friday to the in-house lawyer at the premium cabler when they got the notice to let it be known that they were considering taking legal action, but still have a response from HBO to be received.
Also, those at Skyhorse said in a statement:
“Having now seen the first episode, we believe that its unauthorized use of the audiobook is clear, willful infringement under existing legal precedent and that the other episodes will infringe, too, if they similarly appropriate the audiobook. We will take the legal action we deem necessary to redress our and Woody Allen’s rights in his intellectual property.”
So, what is the opportunity behind Allen v. Farrow for Skyhorse to have a real argument against HBO and the directors? Apparently, in each of the four-part episodes, Allen-narrated audiobook extracts are used, with over three minutes of the recordings used in only the first episode.
If the Fair Use Doctrine allows, in some cases (such as science, education, criticism, news publishing, among other ways), works that carry copyright to be used without express permission, it typically rarely allows less than 10 seconds of such content to be used without a license.
And, only because of the use seen in Allen v. Farrow’s first episode, it’s very likely that Skyhorse has a very good legal leg to stand on.
In their investigation of the sexual assault lawsuit, one of the reasons why the producers seem to have resorted to using parts of Allen’s audiobook was essential to reflect his side of the story.
Mia and Dylan Farrow, as well as other family members and others who have first-hand experience with the claims and the subsequent litigation, obtained complete access from Allen v. Farrow, but Woody Allen and his wife Soon-Yi Previn were approached but refused to participate.
Concerning the docuseries, Allen’s spokesman said:
“There was little curiosity in the facts among these documentarians. Instead, they surreptitiously collaborated with the Farrows and their enablers for years to bring together a hatchet job filled with falsehoods.
Less than two months ago, Woody and Soon-Yi were contacted and given just a matter of days to respond.’ Of course, they refused to do so. Those claims are categorically unfounded, as has been known for decades.
At the time, several authorities investigated them and discovered that, whatever Dylan Farrow might have been led to suspect, there had never been almost no violence.
It is unfortunately unsurprising that HBO, which has a running production arrangement and commercial partnership with Ronan Farrow, is the network to air this. While this shoddy hit piece can attract publicity, the facts do not change.”
In a statement Monday, a spokesperson for the filmmakers, Ziering and Dick, who directed the docuseries, said that they “legally used limited audio excerpts from Woody Allen’s memoir in the series under the Fair Use doctrine,” but it seems that Skyhorse will not see it that way until those in the company have had the ability to watch the remainder of the shows.
Allen v. Farrow airs at 9 p.m. on Sundays. On HBO EST.