Woody Allen's publisher, Skyhorse Publishing, claims that HBO did not gain legal clearance to use portions of his audiobook in the new documentary Allen v. Farrow. Allen wrote a tell-all autobiography last year called Apropos of Nothing, which was heavily quoted in filmmakers Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick's new documentary. It is not clear whether there will be any legal action over this infraction.
Skyhorse told reporters from Deadline about the issue on Monday, saying that Allen had refused to participate in the documentary itself. Instead, they used snippets from the audiobook, which Allen himself narrated, but the publisher says they did not have permission for that either. Reps for Allen and his wife, Soo-Yi Previn went on: "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."
The documentary used quotes from Allen in his audiobook to explain his side of the story, opposite that being described by Mia and Dylan Farrow. So far, HBO has not issued a statement on these accusations, nor commented on whether this constitutes copyright infringement. President and Publisher of Skyhorse, Tony Lyons, issued a statement.
"The first episode of Allen v. Farrow uses without permission more than three minutes of Skyhorse's audio edition of Woody Allen's autobiography, Apropos of Nothing," he said. "It is our understanding that the remaining episodes make similar unauthorized use of the audiobook. This blatant appropriation of Mr. Allen's intellectual property is unquestionably copyright infringement under existing legal precedent. Viewers of the series should take into consideration the producers' unethical conduct when evaluating their so-called documentary's sensationalist and salacious story."
Allen v. Farrow premiered on HBO and HBO Max on Sunday night, with three more episodes to follow. It is made up of interviews with Allen's sexual assault accuser and family members, as well as home videos from around the time of the alleged attack. It concerns Dylan Farrow's claim that Allen, her father, sexually abused her when she was 7 years old.
In spite of the backlash from Skyhorse, the creators and participants in the documentary are generally counting its premiere as a success. On Monday, Farrow herself wrote on Instagram: "Thank you to everyone for their kind words, the outpouring of support means more to me than I can say. Speaking the truth is so difficult, but I hope any fellow survivors who watched last night know they are not alone. The truth is something that cannot be changed. If you feel empowered to speak out, there are resources and support available."