‘Tarantino does not own the copyright to the Pulp Fiction script NFTs’ *TorrentFreak

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With millions of dollars at stake, the legal battle over the copyrights of Pulp Fiction “NFT” is heating up. Quentin Tarantino recently asked the court to dismiss the case because he still owns the rights to the script. However, Miramax now argues that the director‘s “limited rights” only apply to print publications and not NFTs.

Last fall, director Quentin Tarantino announced he would be auctioning “Pulp Fiction” NFTs to the public.

These NFTs would unlock handwritten scripts and custom Tarantino-exclusive commentary, assets that many fans would love to get their hands on.

However, NFTs are not without copyright issues, as Quentin Tarantino quickly discovered. Film studio Miramax, which owns most of the rights to the film, considers the plan a breach of contract and copyright infringement.

NFT copyright battle

In a lawsuit filed in California federal court last November, the film company accused the director of trying to profit from something he doesn’t own full rights to.

Keen 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 film Pulp Fiction under the form of NFT.”, the complaint reads.

Despite this legal dispute, the first NFT was auctioned earlier this year, selling for over $1 million. Follow-up auctions were halted soon after, but the same cannot be said for the legal battle.

After some early back and forth, Tarantino’s legal team asked the court to drop the case last month. According to the defense, Miramax’s claims are unfounded. Tarantino sees the film as a derivative of the screenplay he personally wrote and still owns the rights to it.

“Tarantino only has the printing rights”

This week, Miramax responded to the query, saying the star director misrepresented the facts. While he did retain some rights to the script, those rights are rather limited.

“Defendants are pretty much right about the rights to Pulp Fiction. As one of the writers of what would become the blockbuster film, Quentin Tarantino at one point had extensive rights to certain elements that ultimately made up the film.

“But it assigned and transferred virtually all of those rights to Miramax in June 1993, carving out only a limited, specifically enumerated set of ‘reserved rights’ much narrower than defendants’ motion suggests,” Miramax adds.

“History Rewritten”

Tarantino is “shockingly” trying to misrepresent licensing agreements by omitting critical parts, Miramax tells court. The film company admits that the director has reserved the rights to publish the script in print, but not much more than that.

The film studio says the 1993 deal makes it clear that it owns virtually all rights to the Pulp Fiction script. The legal documents also created a section for distributing content in new types of media that had not yet been invented.

The latter past was not mentioned by Tarantino’s legal team. Since NFTs didn’t exist in the 90s, they would certainly be considered a new type of media, Miramax argues.

“Defendants’ arguments are based on an incomplete and misleading factual history of their contractual rights and a strained reading of those limited rights. Put simply, non-fungible tokens, which host and display unique content using blockchain technology, were not (and could not have been) considered by the parties in 1993,” Miramax writes.

‘No more offences’

Whether that is indeed the case is for the court to decide. However, the movie studio believes there are plenty of reasons to pursue the case. Besides the disagreement over script rights, the NFT sale also used other images and artwork directly related to Pulp Fiction.

For example, early artwork on TarantinoNFTs.com featured iconic depictions of Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta, which have since been replaced with an image of Tarantino himself.

Additionally, several tweets from the Tarantino NFT team containing alleged copyright infringing material have also been removed. The tweets are also listed as examples of infringement in legal documents. These alleged infringements alone should be enough to support a valid copyright claim, Miramax notes.

A copy of Miramax’s objections and response to Tarantino’s motion is available here (pdf).