EXCLUSIVE: After decades of legal wars between Woody Allen and Mia Farrow and various jurisdictions over sexual child assault claims against the Oscar winner, HBO’s Allen v. Farrow docuseries may have opened a whole new battlefield.
Skyhorse Publishing are seriously contemplating a copyright infringement lawsuit against the AT&T-owned premium cabler and the filmmakers behind the docuseries for unauthorized use of audio from Allen’s 2020 memoir Apropos of Nothing in the four-parter.
“Neither the producers nor HBO ever approached Skyhorse to request permission to use excerpts from the audiobook,” the publishing company told Deadline today.
“Skyhorse received information second hand only at the very end of last week that each of the documentary’s four episodes makes extensive use of audiobook excerpts,” Skyhorse added.
‘Allen V. Farrow’: Publisher Of Woody Allen Autobiography Calls Out HBO Docuseries’ Use Of Audiobook “Without Permission”
“Promptly on Friday, February 19, our attorney notified HBO’s in-house counsel by letter that if the use of the audiobook were anywhere near what we were hearing, it would constitute copyright infringement. HBO has not responded to our letter.”
“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 appropriate the audiobook in a similar manner,” Skyhorse continued.
“We will take the legal action we deem necessary to redress our and Woody Allen’s rights in his intellectual property.”
Skyhorse would not elaborate on their future plans beyond this statement to Deadline. HBO did not respond to requests for comment on the letter from Skyhorse when contacted by Deadline.
Excerpts from the Allen narrated memoir appear throughout all of the four parter, including more than three minutes in the first episode alone. The Fair Use Doctrine which allows copyrighted material to be used without permission in certain news reporting, criticism and very specific other formats, generally allows for under ten seconds of said copyrighted material to be included in a project.
Allen v. Farrow filmmakers Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick gained full access to Mia Farrow and daughter Dylan Farrow for Allen v. Farrow, which covers their accusations against Allen over sexual child assault with the latter and how the filmmaker has had a grip on the legal system.
Since 1992, Allen has always denied any impropriety with his adopted daughter Dylan, who was 7 years old at the time of the alleged assault.
Earlier, Deadline reported on Skyhorse’s official statement about HBO use of Apropos of Nothing “without permission.” Ziering and Dick used portions of the audiobook, which Allen reads from, to represent his side in the docuseries. This was after the filmmakers reached out to Allen, Soon-Yi Previn and Moses Farrow for participations in the documentary.
Last night a spokesperson for Allen and his wife Soon-Yi Previn said that they were “approached less than two months ago and given only a matter of days ‘to respond.’ Of course, they declined to do so.” Allen and Previn’s spokesperson also said, “These documentarians had no interest in the truth. Instead, they spent years surreptitiously collaborating with the Farrows and their enablers to put together a hatchet job riddled with falsehoods.”
Allen’s memoir was originally set to be published by Grand Central Publishing, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, the same publisher of his son Ronan Farrow’s Harvey Weinstein investigation novel Catch and Kill. Farrow called Hachette out, and there was also walkout of 75 of the publisher’s employees in protest to Allen’s autobiography being published. Hachette cancelled publication of Apropos of Nothing. Skyhorse picked up the memoir and published it under their imprint Arcade Publishing in March 2020.