Quentin Tarantino suing over script leak

News Simon Brew
28 Jan 2014 - 09:39

Quentin Tarantino has filed a $1m suit against a website for linking to his The Hateful Eight screenplay...

Last week, Quentin Tarantino revealed that he was pulling out of making his planned western, The Hateful Eight, as the script had leaked. More to the point, it had leaked because someone he trusted with the screenplay had betrayed that trust. The details of what happened are here.

What followed was a bit of a feeding frenzy in some quarters, as the rush to track down a copy of the screenplay itself began. Tarantino said last week that he had plans to publish the script in book form, but inevitably, the whole screenplay is available - without his consent - online. And one website linking to it in particular has attracted Tarantino's ire.

The site in question is Gawker, which posted a story linking to the screenplay (although it didn't host it). Tarantino has consequently filed a copyright complaint against Gawker, specifically for contributory copyright infringement. Tarantino is seeking $1m in damages.

To quote the document that Tarantino has filed, "Gawker Media has made a business of predatory journalism, violating people’s rights to make a buck. This time they went too far. Rather than merely publishing a news story reporting that Plaintiff’s screenplay may have been circulating in Hollywood without his permission, Gawker Media crossed the journalistic line by promoting itself to the public as the first source to read the entire screenplay illegally".

It added that "Their headline boasts 'Here Is the Leaked Quentin Tarantino Hateful Eight Script' – 'Here,' not someplace else, but 'Here,' on the Gawker website. The article then contains multiple direct links for downloading the entire screenplay through a conveniently anonymous URL by simply clicking button-links on the Gawker page, and brazenly encourages Gawker visitors to read the screenplay illegally with the invitation to 'Enjoy!' it".

Gawker has responded, arguing that it didn't leak the script, that Tarantino "deliberately turned the leak into a story", and that he "wanted The Hateful Eight to be published on the internet". It added that "Gawker had nothing to do with the appearance of The Hateful Eight script on the internet", and that "Gawker published a link to the script because it was news".

Gawker has not, at the time of penning this piece, taken down the link to the screenplay.

Given that both sides have expensive lawyers who could damage our coffee fund for all time, it's probably best to say not too much here. It doesn't, to our untrained eyes, seems an utterly clear-cut case in the eyes of the law, but then conversely lots of other websites managed to report The Hateful Eight script without linking to it. None of us would talk about a film leaking online and link directly to the file after all.

Don't be surprised if this one makes it all the way to court. You can read Tarantino's suit here and Gawker's response here. Tarantino has since switched his attentions to making an as-yet unnamed film.

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