Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, have been booming over the past year.
People are willing to pay millions of dollars in return for the rights to unique digital assets as well as any perks that come with them.
These NFTs are not without copyright issues. For example, some artists have found their works being sold as NFTs without their permission. There are also more complex copyright angles too, as Quentin Tarantino discovered a few weeks ago.
Miramax Sued Tarantino
The award-winning moviemaker was sued by Miramax after he announced the auction of several exclusive “Pulp Fiction” NFTs. While Tarantino wrote and directed the film, he assigned many of the exclusive rights to the movie studio.
Miramax, therefore, argues that it holds the rights to sell Pulp Fiction NFTs as the company also made clear in its complaint.
“[I]t 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,” the movie studio wrote.
Tarantino wholeheartedly disagreed. Responding in court, his lawyers pointed out that the director has always retained the right to publish portions of his original handwritten Pulp Fiction screenplay. As such, the lawsuit is characterized as “offensively meritless.”
“Now a shell of its former self and flailing under a new ownership consortium, Miramax has decided to bite the hand that fed it for so many years by bringing this offensively meritless lawsuit,” the complaint added.
NFT Auctions Go Ahead
NFTs didn’t exist last century and it will be up to the court to decide whether Miramax’s claims have any merit. However, today it becomes clear that Tarantino is not backing down. The planned NFT auctions will go ahead.
SCRT Labs, which is coordinating the auction, circulated a press release noting that the director will “strike back” at Miramax. The first NFT auction will go live on January 17, with six more following in the days after.
The NFTs that will go up for auction are linked to iconic Pulp Fiction scenes. They come with a personalized audio commentary from Tarantino, which reportedly offers a unique view into the creative process that led to the final product.
“Secret Network is proud to stand with Quentin,” says Guy Zyskind, founder and CEO, SCRT Labs, commenting on the news.
“We are committed to working with talented artists across the globe, by providing them a better way to release their works directly to fans without relying on older distribution models, which favor conglomerates over creators.”
Lawsuit Has An Impact on Several Levels
Needless to say, the legal battle is about much more than principles and copyright. The NFTs could potentially bring in millions of dollars, which may also be an incentive for all parties involved.
In that regard, the lawsuit could even be a blessing for Tarantino and his team. The mainstream media attention that comes with it can be seen as valuable PR. And indeed, the fact that we received an embargoed press release days in advance shows that the project isn’t shying away from extra attention.
This doesn’t mean that the lawsuit had no impact at all. On the contrary, when we look at the TarantinoNFTs.com website there are some subtle changes.
For example, early artwork featuring Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta has been replaced with an image of Tarantino himself. The original image was labeled as copyright-infringing by Miramax so this change appears to be a direct response to this claim.
In addition, several tweets from the Tarantino NFT team with alleged copyright-infringing material were deleted as well. These tweets are also listed as infringing examples in the legal paperwork.
TorrentFreak hoped to hear more from Tarantino directly but, despite the early heads-up, we were informed that the movie director isn’t available to comment on the matter. Similarly, SCRT Labs wasn’t able to respond to our questions before publication.