The reason for this tapdance is that many courts say, without explaining why, that a de minimis use is one that’s not recognizable. But the film attributed the quote to Faulkner, making this use recognizable, and it’s ridiculous to have a standard that any attributed use, however minimal, is infringing. Back when courts didn’t think copyright owners would sue over sentence-long quotes, the recognizability standard didn’t do much damage, but it does now.
I thought Midnight in Paris was pretty awful, but I’m glad to see them prevail here. As for Tushnet’s complaint above, I agree in principle, but I wonder if a hard line on recognizability wouldn’t be better than the status quo, i.e. if we could also agree on the flip side, that unrecognizable uses are de minimis, we could set aside Bridgeport and allow a vast amount of presumptively legal sampling.