6 January 2022CopyrightMuireann Bolger

Tarantino pursues Pulp Fiction NFT sales despite Miramax suit

Film director Quentin Tarantino has confirmed auction dates for the sale of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of his landmark film, Pulp Fiction, despite facing a copyright infringement suit by movie studio, Miramax, over these plans.

Data privacy firm SCRT Labs is coordinating the auction on behalf of Tarantino, and announced this latest development in a statement issued yesterday, January 5.

In November, the director’s long-time financier and collaborator Miramax alleged that the award-winning director needed its permission to go ahead with the auction.

Miramax sued Tarantino at the US District Court for the Central District of California, claiming that he made no effort to contact the company before his auction press campaign.

“Exclusive rights”

NFTs are a new digital property right in existing innovations and creations, allowing creators and authors to exploit digital commercialisation of existing goods.

According to the release issued by SCRT Labs this week, chapters from the original, handwritten “Pulp Fiction” script and exclusive audio commentary from Tarantino will be publicly auctioned between January 7 and 31.

“Secret Network is proud to stand with Quentin,” said Guy Zyskind, founder and CEO of SCRT Labs in the statement. “We are committed to working with talented artists across the globe, by providing them a better way to release their works directly to fans without relying on older distribution models, which favour conglomerates over creators.”

The statement further held that Tarantino owns the exclusive rights to publish his “Pulp Fiction” screenplay and the original, handwritten copy has remained “a personal creative treasure” he has kept private for decades.

Made for under $9 million, the 1994 crime caper earned nearly $214 million at the box office, garnering Tarantino and co-writer Roger Avary an Oscar for best original screenplay.

According to Tarantino, each non-fungible token will contain “secret” content that’s only available to its owner, including the uncut first handwritten scripts of the movie.

While the Miramax lawsuit was dismissed by Tarnatino as meritless in court documents, Tarantino has initiated some subtle changes in the wake of the litigation, according to copyright blog TorrentFreak.

These include the substitution of early artwork featuring actors Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta on the site with an image of Tarantino himself, after Miramax held that the original images infringed.

NFT copyright issues

While NFTs are becoming more commonplace, lawyers believe that this trend will be accompanied by a host of copyright issues and high-profile lawsuits.

Commenting on the legal wrangle between Miramax and Tarantino, Thomas Daly, partner at Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie, said:

“The exploitation of NFTs is exploding. With several recent examples of NFTs selling for multi-million dollar figures, influencers and others are being drawn to the opportunity to generate significant value. However, with big money comes big litigation,” he said.

Daly anticipated that NFT buyers are likely to encounter future questions on who owns the IP in the content, and how that ownership might impact any resale. “This is an area where current IP law needs to catch up with the technology. I anticipate court rulings during 2022 that should help define the IP parameters of NFTs,” he noted.

Caleb Green, associate attorney at Dickinson Wright, also underlined the legal ramifications posed by the increased use of NFTs, warning that brands and their IP counsel are wading in uncertain territory akin to the lawless terrain of the “wild west”.

“Emerging technologies, such as NFTs, are novel, especially in the legal and IP context. As new technologies emerge, lawmakers, courts, and tribunals will likely lag behind new developments,” he concluded.

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