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Moore defends disputed headline in ‘9/11’

Attorney says filmmaker did not violate copyright laws
/ Source: The Associated Press

Filmmaker Michael Moore makes no apologizes for his Bush-bashing documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11,” and his lawyer says he’ll make no apologies for its use of an Illinois newspaper headline, either.

The (Bloomington) Pantagraph says the headline, flashed briefly in the film, came from a letter to the editor about the 2000 presidential election recount but was doctored to look like a news story. Even the date was changed.

The newspaper fired off a letter to Moore and his production company last month that it says was lighthearted but symbolic, demanding an apology and $1 in compensatory damages.

But an attorney for Westside Productions replied this week that Moore violated no copyright laws and did nothing misleading.

“Baloney,” said Pantagraph President and Publisher Henry Bird, who directed his lawyers to send a follow-up letter asking Moore to explain why material from the paper was altered without permission.

Westside Productions lawyer Devereux Chatillon acknowledged that Moore was two weeks off on the date of the headline, which read: “Latest Florida recount shows Gore won election.”

But the mistake “did not make a difference to the editorial point...and was in no way detrimental to (The Pantagraph),” the New York-based attorney wrote in a letter to the paper.

“Fahrenheit 9/11,” which opened in theaters in June, quickly became the first documentary to top $100 million at the domestic box office.