Judge, On Quentin’s Copyright Claim: ‘Cool It’

May 2, 2014

U.S. director Tarantino speaks before receiving the Prix Lumiere during a ceremony at the Lumiere 2013 Grand Lyon Film Festival in LyonQuentin Tarantino doesn’t shy away from a fight – anyone who’s seen “Kill Bill” can tell you that – but this time, it looks like he could have been a little more judicious: A federal court recently dismissed a copyright infringement suit he filed, saying, in effect, his position was without merit.

 Some backstory: A script to Tarantino’s next project, “Hateful Eight,” was reportedly bouncing around Hollywood. Pop culture and gossip website Gawker put out a public call for a copy and eventually published a post that included a link to another site that had posted the script.

Apparently in the throes of an all-too-Tarantino-esque fury, Tarantino sued Gawker, alleging contributory copyright infringement and seeking $1 million in damages. Contributory copyright infringement, in case you need a refresher, applies when a party “substantially participates” in an activity knowing that copyright infringement is the probable result. It requires knowledge of the infringing activity and supervision of the infringing activity.

Tarantino’s argument, apparently, was that few people would have seen the script had Gawker, a big and popular website, not linked to it.

When Tarantino’s claim made it in front of a judge, it sounds like that judge blinked a few times and then sighed heavily. Eventually, he granted Gawker’s motion to dismiss, saying in effect that Tarantino couldn’t point to  a single incident in which Gawker’s link led to any infringement. “Plaintiff merely speculates that some infringement must have taken place,” he wrote.

Tarantino can amend his complaint, but must do so by May 1. Supposedly, “Hateful Eight” is working its way to production, even though Tarantino had earlier implied that the leaked script meant he was going to abandon it.