Publisher of Woody Allen memoir threatens HBO with lawsuit over 'Allen v. Farrow'

Publisher of Woody Allen memoir threatens HBO with lawsuit over 'Allen v. Farrow'
Mia Farrow and Woody Allen are pictured in 1988. Farrow holds baby Ronan (who was then called Satchel) while Allen holds adopted daughter Dylan.David Mcgough/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images
  • Skyhorse Publishing says neither the producers or HBO approached it to request permission to use the excerpts.
  • Directors Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick said in a statement they legally used the excerpts under the Fair Use doctrine.

Skyhorse Publishing, which released Woody Allen's 2020 memoir "Apropos of Nothing," is "seriously contemplating" a copyright infringement lawsuit against HBO after its docuseries "Allen v. Farrow" used excerpts from its audiobook voiced by Allen.

The publisher told Deadline on Monday that "neither the producers nor HBO ever approached Skyhorse to request permission to use excerpts from the audiobook."

The four-part docuseries, which premiered on Sunday, delves into the heated custody battle between Allen and his longtime partner Mia Farrow as well as the allegations by Allen's adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, that Allen sexually abused her when she was 7.

"Allen v. Farrow" directors Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick told Insider that after failing to land an interview with Allen for the docuseries after numerous attempts, they decided to use excerpts from "Apropos of Nothing."

Publisher of Woody Allen memoir threatens HBO with lawsuit over 'Allen v. Farrow'
Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering.Charley Gallay/Getty

"I was reading the book and thinking how can we get the book in and then I read online there was an audio book and I felt that was perfect," said Dick. "I went to the editors and said, 'Let's start cutting with it.'"


Skyhorse claims it only received "second hand" information last week that the docuseries would use excerpts from the audiobook.

"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 told Deadline. "We will take the legal action we deem necessary to redress our and Woody Allen's rights in his intellectual property."

HBO did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

In episode one of "Allen v Farrow," the audio is used when Allen speaks about the first time he met Farrow and his first impression of Farrow's children. In future episodes, Allen's voice speaks on much more sensitive issues, including his denial of the sexual abuse accusations.

"The creators of 'Allen v. Farrow' legally used limited audio excerpts from Woody Allen's memoir in the series under the Fair Use doctrine," a representative for directors Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick said in a statement on Monday.

Publisher of Woody Allen memoir threatens HBO with lawsuit over 'Allen v. Farrow'
Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn.Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Allen and his wife, Soon-Yi Previn (one of Farrow's adopted daughters), said in a joint statement Sunday evening after episode one of the series aired: "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. Woody and Soon-Yi were approached less than two months ago and given only a matter of days 'to respond.' Of course, they declined to do so."

"As has been known for decades, these allegations are categorically false," the statement continued. "Multiple agencies investigated them at the time and found that, whatever Dylan Farrow may have been led to believe, absolutely no abuse had ever taken place. It is sadly unsurprising that the network to air this is HBO - which has a standing production deal and business relationship with Ronan Farrow. While this shoddy hit piece may gain attention, it does not change the facts."

"Allen v. Farrow" includes revealing information that the public has never known, like the flaws in the child sexual assault evaluation of Farrow, allegations that Allen began a sexual relationship with Previn when she was a teen, information from the police report of Farrow's alleged abuse that contradicts what Allen said about the incident, and the never-before-seen video footage of Farrow telling her mother how Allen had abused her.

Episode two of "Allen v. Farrow" airs on Sunday night at 9pm.