LOS ANGELES (CN) – Quentin Tarantino is fighting Gawker Media’s attempt to dismiss his lawsuit against what he calls a “predatory” news service.
Tarantino filed an opposition to Gawker’s motion to dismiss his January complaint against the entertainment gossip news site.
Tarantino claimed in his federal lawsuit that Gawker encouraged its millions of readers to track down and leak “The Hateful Eight” screenplay after it had found its way into the hands of a few Hollywood insiders.
Tarantino says there was no journalistic reason for the website to link to the script.
Tarantino told Deadline.com in January that someone had leaked “The Hateful Eight” screenplay after he shared it with a small group of actors, including nonparties Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern and Tim Roth. Revealing that he planned to nix the project and seek a publisher for the screenplay, Tarantino said he suspected that either Madsen’s or Dern’s agents were behind the leak.
“One of the others let their agent read it, and that agent has now passed it on to everyone in Hollywood. I don’t know how these fucking agents work, but I’m not making this next,” Tarantino told Deadline at the time. “I’m going to publish it, and that’s it for now. I give it out to six people, and if I can’t trust them to that degree, then I have no desire to make it. I’ll publish it. I’m done. I’ll move on to the next thing. I’ve got 10 more where that came from.”
Days later, in an article headlined, “Here Is the Leaked Quentin Tarantino Hateful Eight Script,” Gawker posted a link to an anonymous download of a pdf copy of the screenplay at a site called AnonFiles.com.
On Jan. 27, Tarantino sued Gawker and its affiliates for contributory copyright infringement and the unidentified leaker, or leakers, for copyright infringement. The filmmaker wants at least $1 million in damages.
Reacting to the lawsuit, Gawker said it had not leaked the script, had only reported that the script was online, and linked to it after receiving a tip from a reader. The site claimed that it was Tarantino who had made the story newsworthy by talking to Deadline about the initial leak in the first place.
The site denied Tarantino’s claim that it had access to the script before AnonFiles made it available for download.
“No one at Gawker transmitted it – or anything else, at all – to AnonFiles. No one at Gawker encouraged anyone to do so. No one at Gawker has any earthly idea how AnonFiles obtained a copy,” Gawker said.
Tarantino claims, however, that Gawker “contrived the very ‘news story’ that it now seeks to hide behind” and “solicited” readers to provide it with a copy of his copyrighted script.
“Gawker could just as effectively have reported the fact that the script was leaked and available on a file upload site without including any specific links to the infringing copy, just as a newspaper can report that a film piracy ring in, e.g., downtown Los Angeles, has obtained and is selling pirated DVDs of a-not-yet released theatrical motion picture without instructing exactly how, where and when readers can illegally buy their own pirated copy,” Tarantino’s motion states. “But it was not content to stop there, and instead crossed the journalistic line to become an active inducer of the illegal activity about which it was supposedly reporting. Gawker should be held culpable.”
Central to Gawker’s argument to throw out Tarantino’s lawsuit is that it was reporting news of the leak, and is thus protected under the fair-use exception of federal copyright law.
Tarantino disagrees. He claims that the links to the “The Hateful Eight” screenplay “served no legitimate journalistic purpose.”
“Merely reporting that the script had leaked is not at all the same as providing unfettered access to the work as a whole; Gawker could just as effectively have written that the script was available elsewhere online without providing readers with any direct guidance to obtain a complete infringing copy,” the 25-page opposition to the motion to dismiss states.
Tarantino claims that Gawker’s use of the “Hateful Eight” screenplay cost him millions of dollars in profits, presumably after he shelved plans to publish screenplay after it found its way online.
Summing up his argument, Tarantino’s attorney wrote: “Gossip website operator Gawker Media … has made a business of predatory journalism, violating people’s rights to make a buck. This time it went too far, expressly encouraging and engaging in copyright infringement in order to promote its own services and generate revenues.
“While it may be newsworthy when an unpublished copyrighted work of a prominent writer is infringed, newsworthiness alone does not empower a media outlet to actively encourage and participate in another’s brazen infringement under the pretense of news reporting, especially where, as here, that infringement was instigated by Gawker by its articles.”
Tarantino is represented by Martin Singer with Lavely & Singer.
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