Director Quentin Tarantino has argued that his rights to the script for his award-winning film “Pulp Fiction” allow him to sell non-fungible tokens representing the script without infringing the copyrights or trademarks of Miramax LLC, which owns the rights to the film.
The NFTs are a derivative work of the script – which Tarantino said he continues to own the copyright to – and not of the film, according to a brief filed Tuesday asking a federal judge in Los Angeles to rule on the pleadings .
Miramax sued Tarantino in November 2021 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. He alleged that the NFTs were unauthorized works of art and violated trademark laws by misleading consumers into thinking they were connected to Miramax.
The NFTs, which are bought and sold using blockchain technology, included digital images of portions of the original handwritten script and audio recordings of Tarantino sharing his thoughts on the script.
Throughout the various rights agreements between Tarantino and Miramax, the director has stated that he specifically reserves the rights to the script, which includes rights to print publications, interactive media, spin-offs and sequels.
The script was registered with the US Copyright Office in 1993 before the film was released a year later.
“Miramax’s complaint assumes that an assignment of copyright to a film includes an assignment of exclusive rights to the underlying storyline of that film,” the brief states. “It overturns copyright law.”
The screenplay — including dialogue, characters, and plot — is an original work of art with its own copyright, and the film is a derivative of that work, not the other way around, the memoir states. NFTs are just electronic versions of the script, Tarantino explained.
The brief says Miramax’s trademark infringement claims also fail because Tarantino’s rights to the screenplay include the “Pulp Fiction” title.
Miramax is represented by Proskauer Rose LLP. Tarantino is represented by Freedman and Taitelman LLP and Irell & Manella LLP.
The case is Miramax LLC v. Tarantino, CD Cal., no. 2:21-cv-08979, 6/21/22.