The legal battle over the Pulp Fiction “NFT” copyrights is heating up because millions of dollars are at stake. Quentin Tarantino recently asked the court to drop the case because he still owns the rights to the screenplay. But Miramax now says that the movie director’s “limited rights” only apply to print publications and not NFTs.
Last fall, Quentin Tarantino, who makes movies, said that he would sell “Pulp Fiction” NFTs to the public.
These NFTs would let fans get their hands on handwritten scripts and custom commentary from Tarantino, which are things that many fans would like to have.
But there are copyright issues with NFTs, as Quentin Tarantino quickly found out. Miramax, which owns most of the rights to the movie, thinks that the plan is a breach of contract and an infringement of copyright.
Copyright War of the NFT
In a lawsuit filed in November in a federal court in California, the movie company said that the director was trying to make money off of something that he didn’t fully own.
“Wanting to cash in on the non-fungible token (NFT) boom, which has been widely reported in the media, Quentin Tarantino recently announced plans to auction off seven “exclusive scenes” from the 1994 movie Pulp Fiction in the form of NFTs,” the complaint said.
Even though this was going on in court, the first NFT was auctioned off early this year and sold for more than a million dollars. Soon after, the follow-up auctions stopped, but the court case is still going on.
After both sides threw mud at each other early on, Tarantino’s lawyers asked the court to drop the case last month. The defense says that Miramax’s claims are not true. Tarantino thinks that the movie is based on the script he wrote and still owns the rights to.
Only the Print rights belong to Tarantino.
Miramax replied to the motion this week, saying that the famous director lied about the facts. He does still have some rights to the screenplay, but they are not very strong.
“The defendants are about half right about Pulp Fiction’s rights. Quentin Tarantino had a lot of rights to some parts of the movie that would become a big hit, because he was one of the people who wrote the script.
“But he gave and transferred almost all of those rights to Miramax in June 1993, leaving only a small set of “reserved rights” that were listed and were much smaller than what the defendants’ motion implies,” Miramax says.
Miramax tells the court that Tarantino is “shockingly” trying to misrepresent the license agreements by leaving out important parts. The movie company says that the director kept the right to publish the screenplay in print, but not much else.
The movie studio says that the agreement from 1993 makes it clear that it has almost all rights to the Pulp Fiction screenplay. In the legal documents, there was also a section for the distribution of content in new types of media that hadn’t been made yet.
The legal team for Tarantino didn’t bring up that last thing. Miramax says that since NFTs didn’t exist in the 1990s, these would definitely be a new type of media.
“Defendants’ arguments are based on a history of their contractual rights that isn’t complete and doesn’t tell the whole truth, and on a strained interpretation of those limited rights. “To put it simply, nonfungible tokens, which use blockchain technology to host and display unique content, were not (and could not have been) thought of by the parties in 1993,” Miramax writes.
The court will decide if that is, in fact, the case. But the movie studio thinks there are many reasons to keep going with the case. Aside from the dispute over the rights to the screenplay, the NFT sale also used images and artwork from Pulp Fiction.
For example, the early artwork on TarantinoNFTs.com had famous pictures of Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta, which have since been replaced with a picture of Tarantino himself.
Also, a number of tweets from the Tarantino NFT team that allegedly broke copyright laws were deleted. In the legal papers, the tweets are also used as examples of how the law was broken. Miramax says that these supposed violations should be enough to back up a valid copyright claim.