'Allen v. Farrow' Filmmakers Respond After Woody Allen Publisher Threatens Lawsuit

4:15 PM PST 2/22/2021 by Lexy Perez

"The creators of 'Allen v. Farrow' legally used limited audio excerpts from Woody Allen’s memoir in the series under the Fair Use doctrine," the filmmakers said in a statement Monday.

After Skyhorse Publishing threatened a copyright infringement lawsuit against HBO’s Allen v. Farrow series, the docuseries' team is firing back.

Skyhorse Publishing, which published Woody Allen’s Apropos of Nothing last year, slammed the docuseries Monday, alleging that the clips of audiobook excerpts from Allen were used and played without their permission. In a statement sent to The Hollywood Reporter on Monday, Tony Lyons, President and Publisher of Skyhorse Publishing said that "neither the producers nor HBO ever approached Skyhorse to request permission to use excerpts from the audiobook. "

Lyons added, "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. 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."

Lyons also warned, "We will take the legal action we deem necessary to redress our and Woody Allen’s rights in his intellectual property." Further details of plans for legal action were not provided.

Filmmakers Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick deny Skyhorse Publishing’s claims. "The creators of 'Allen v. Farrow' legally used limited audio excerpts from Woody Allen’s memoir in the series under the Fair Use doctrine," the film team behind the docuseries said. The Fair Use Doctrine permits the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances.

For the explosive series, which premiered Sunday, Dylan Farrow sits down with Ziering and Dick to address her infamous allegations of incest against the disgraced filmmaker, who was mother Mia Farrow's partner during Dylan's young childhood. Mia Farrow, Ronan Farrow and family friends are also interviewed, with home videos of the family by Mia featured prominently in the series.

Allen has consistently denied the allegations and released a statement with wife Soon-Yi Previn shortly after Sunday's premiere accusing the documentarians of "collaborating with the Farrows and their enablers" and describing the series as a "shoddy hit piece." In a recent story with THR, Amy Herdy, the lead investigative producer at Ziering and Dick's Jane Doe Films, said she made the first of two requests to interview Allen for the project and his team never responded.

In the audio clips played, Allen could be overheard chronicling how he met Mia Farrow and paints the picture of their family life together. Allen describes Mia as the sole matriarch of the family and himself as having a hands-off approach with the children.

Following the premiere of the docuseries, several viewers called out HBO Max for continuing to have several of Allen’s movies on its platform while airing Allen v. Farrow. Some viewers demand the streamer remove the six films from the platform which include Another WomanBroadway Danny RoseRadio Days, Scoop, Shadows and Fog and September. The

Despite the outside pressure to remove Allen's film from HBO Max, the streamer says the titles will remain and a source says the issue of works by problematic creators remaining on streaming services or broadcast networks is an ongoing larger discussion about how erasing or censoring the work of problematic creators can negatively impact the collaborative effort of creative partners and professionals also involved in those works.

"These titles will remain available in the library to allow viewers to make their own informed decisions about screening the work," HBO Max said in a statement to THR. 

Feb. 22, 5:28 p.m. Updated with HBO statement regarding Allen’s films.

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