With the NFT craze reaching new heights, Quentin Tarantino finds himself at the receiving end of a copyright infringement battle.
The director of movie classics such as Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill plans to sell NFTs to the public. These NFTs will unlock handwritten scripts and exclusive custom commentary from Tarantino, which could be worth millions of dollars.
Tarantino is collaborating with the Secret Network, a.k.a. SCRT Labs. They officially announced the planned sale a few weeks ago and launched a dedicated website where interested parties can join a waiting list.
While there are undoubtedly some die-hard fans willing to pay big money for these exclusive blockchain records and their associated perks, not everyone is happy with the plan. Movie studio Miramax, which owns most of the rights to the film, sees it as a contract breach and copyright infringement.
‘Eager to Cash In’
In a lawsuit filed at a federal court in California yesterday, the movie company accuses the director of wanting to cash in on something he doesn’t own the full rights to.
“Eager to cash in on the non-fungible token (‘NFT’) boom, as widely reported in the media, Quentin Tarantino recently announced plans to auction off seven ‘exclusive scenes’ from the 1994 motion picture Pulp Fiction in the form of NFTs,” the complaint reads.
Earlier this month Miramax sent a cease and desist notice to Tarantino urging him to halt the upcoming sale. However, the director’s attorney replied that his client was acting within his “reserved rights.” As such, the sale is still scheduled to go through next month.
Miramax Claims NFT Rights
Faced with this refusal, the movie company saw no other option than to take the matter to court. Not just to stop Tarantino but also as a warning to others and to affirm that they hold the rights to sell Pulp Fiction NFTs.
“Left unchecked, Tarantino’s conduct could mislead others into believing Miramax is involved in his venture. And it could also mislead others into believing they have the rights to pursue similar deals or offerings, when in fact Miramax holds the rights needed to develop, market, and sell NFTs relating to its deep film library,” Miramax writes.
The lawsuit will have to determine what Tarantino can and can’t do under his reserved rights, which include the right to “screenplay publication.” Miramax argues that selling NFT’s doesn’t fall under this heading as it is a one-time transaction.
‘Copyright Infringing Marketing’
In addition to a contract breach, Tarantino is also accused of copyright and trademark infringement. Among other things, the TarantinoNFTs.com website and marketing campaign uses copyrighted footage and the Pulp Fiction trademark without permission, the complaint alleges.
As an example, Miramax mentions several tweets with unauthorized content from Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill: Vol. 2, including a fake Pulp Fiction VHS tape with unauthorized imagery from the film.
“In short, Defendants seek to capitalize, unilaterally, on Miramax’s rights to Pulp Fiction,” Miramax writes.
Through the lawsuit, Miramax hopes to stop the NFT sales. In addition, the movie company demands damages for copyright and trademark infringements, to be determined at trial.
‘Massive Step Back’
“NFTs are meant to empower creators, connecting them directly with their audiences and communities. Secret NFTs on @SecretNetwork take this potential a step further. Now some in the media world want to take a massive step back,” the tweet reads.
Since NFT’s are relatively new, the lawsuit could potentially set an important precedent. At the time of writing, there are no signs that Tarantino and his team will back off as the NFT website remains online.
A copy of the complaint Miramax filed against Quentin Tarantino at the US District Court for the Central District of California is available here (pdf)