Quentin Tarantino has filed a lawsuit against Gawker Media for contributory copyright infringement on Monday, Jan. 27, after Gawker posted links to his leaked script The Hateful Eight.

Tarantino Put Off 'The Hateful Eight' After Script Leak

Last week, Tarantino announced that he was scraping plans to make his film, a classic Western, after the script was leaked and began circulating around Hollywood. Tarantino suspects it was Oscar-nominated actor Bruce Dern’s agent who leaked the script – he had given Dern the script in the hopes of working with him. In an interview with Deadline, Tarantino expressed his anger, saying, “I’m very, very depressed. I finished a script, a first draft, and I didn’t mean to shoot it until next winter, a year from now. I gave it to six people and apparently it’s gotten out today.” That interview was published Tuesday, Jan 21. The next day, Wednesday, Jan. 22, Defamer, a Gawker offshoot, posted about the story and wrote that they would welcome any links to The Hateful Eight screenplay or tips as to who leaked the script.

“In the meantime, if anyone would like to name names or leak the script to us [Gawker], please do so at tips@defamer.com,” wrote Lacey Donohue at the end of the article.

On Thursday, Jan. 23, a new post was published on Gawker, titled “Here Is the Leaked Quentin Tarantino Hateful Eight Script,” and contained multiple links to other sites – file sharing sites such as AnonFiles.com – that contained complete copies of the script itself – all 146 pages. However, the article that contained links to the full script did not contain any direct quotes from the script itself. Instead, Gawker quoted other celebrity news site, The Wrap, and their description of The Hateful Eight.


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Tarantino Sues Gawker For 'Predatory Journalism'

In his lawsuit, Tarantino alleges that Gawker advertised the article as the place where fans could find the illegally obtained script in its entirety and criticizes the site for proclaiming that they had the screenplay ‘Here’ as is written in the title of the post.

“This time, they went too far. Rather than merely publishing a news story reporting that Plaintiff’s screenplay may have been circulating in Hollywood without his permission, Gawker Media crossed a journalistic line by promoting itself to the public as the first source to read the entire screenplay illegally,” reads the suit.

The lawsuit goes on to state that Tarantino repeatedly requested that Gawker take down the links to the screenplay, and Gawker refused each time. Tarantino is reportedly seeking at least $1 million in damages and Gawker’s profits from the leak, which could make over $2 million combined.

According to the documents, Tarantino also accuses Gawker of “predatory journalism” and claims that providing a link to the leaked script did not qualify as ‘news.’

“There was nothing newsworthy or journalistic about Gawker Media facilitating and encouraging the public’s violation of Plaintiff’s copyright in the screenplay, and its conduct will not shield Gawker Media from liability for their unlawful activity,” claims the suit.

Gawker Responds: Tarantino Made 'Hateful Eight' Script News

Gawker has since responded to the lawsuit on their website and maintains that they linked to the leaked script because it was news.

“News of the fact that it [the screenplay] existed on the internet advanced a story that Tarantino himself had launched, and our publication of the link was a routine and unremarkable component of our job: making people aware of news and information about which they are curious,” writes Gawker editor John Cook.

In their response to the lawsuit, Gawker suggests that, by voicing his opinions to Deadline instead of simply announcing the leak, Tarantino himself turned The Hateful Eight script into headline news. Furthermore, they point out a quote from Tarantino’s interview with Deadline in which Tarantino declares that he actually does appreciate how curious his fans are about reading his scripts online:

“I do like the fact that everyone eventually posts it, gets it and reviews it on the net. Frankly, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I like the fact that people like my s–t, and that they go out of their way to find it and read it,” Tarantino had said.

It is worth pointing out that the quote as written above is how it was written in the Gawker post. In the original Deadline article, Tarantino is quoted as adding, “But I gave it to six motherf—king people! Starting this week, I’ll be setting meetings with publishers.”

Gawker ends their response by clarifying again that they are not being sued for copyright infringement (publishing something illegally without consent), but are instead being sued for contributory infringement (linking to an illegal publishing of the content), and intends to fight the charges in court:

“Contributory infringement is a legal theory that has traditionally been deployed against file-sharing sites and search engines… Gawker and Defamer are news sites, and our publication of the link was clearly connected to our goal of informing readers about things they care about. As far as I can tell (but I’m no lawyer!), no claim of contributory infringement has prevailed in the U.S. over a news story. We’ll be fighting this one.”

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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