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Quentin Tarantino lashes out at Gawker once again

Quentin Tarantino has opened legal proceedings for the second time against the news website Gawker over a post that directed readers to a leaked copy of the screenwriter’s latest movie

Tarantino’s lawsuit accuses Gawker Media LLC of copyright infringement for posting a link to the 146-page script for a planned film titled “The Hateful Eight” The celebrity became aware of the script leak when his agent started getting calls from interested stars looking to be cast in the ensemble western. 

“Gawker itself illegally downloaded to its computers an unauthorized infringing PDF copy of the screenplay -- read it and learned that the PDF download was 146 pages,” the author and director said in a complaint filed last week against the website.

This new complaint is Tarantino's second attempt to hold Gawker responsible for copyright infringement, reported Online Media Daily. His first lawsuit focused on allegations that Gawker provided links to the leaked script. He argued that doing so encouraged readers to infringe copyright by downloading the screenplay. Last month, U.S. District Court Judge John Walter in Los Angeles dismissed a previous version of the lawsuit. Walter ruled that those allegations were too speculative, given that Tarantino didn't present any evidence to show that Gawker readers actually downloaded anything. 

“There was nothing newsworthy or journalistic about Gawker Media facilitating and encouraging the public’s violation of (Tarantino’s) copyright in the Screenplay, and it’s conduct will not shield Gawker Media from liability for their unlawful activity,” the lawsuit states.

This never-ending battle between Tarantino and Gawker goes back to January, when the site Defamer.com first reported on the leak. "I'm very, very depressed," Tarantino stated. "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."

So who leaked it? According to Tarantino, "I gave it to one of the producers on Django Unchained, Reggie Hudlin, and he let an agent come to his house and read it. That's a betrayal, but not crippling because the agent didn't end up with the script.”

The most recent lawsuit includes allegations that Gawker infringed copyright by itself downloading the script from AnonFiles. But, those allegations might not get Tarantino any further in court than his previous attempt to sue Gawker, according to Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman. He points out that the new complaint doesn't offer any direct evidence that anyone at Gawker accessed the script.

“Tarantino's complaint mentions the download URL and the number of pages in the script -- both of which are metadata that could be easily provided to Gawker without Gawker actually copying the file,” Goldman told Online Media Daily.

Imposing liability for the act of visiting sites with pirated material would break the Internet as we know it today, according to Goldman. “That's because Web users typically have no way of knowing whether any particular material online infringes copyright. “Every Internet user would be jeopardizing their net worth with every click on every link.”

For more news on copyright infringement, check out these articles:

Google tries to trademark the word 'Glass'

Record labels open a Pandora’s Box of copyright suits

There’s always money in banana copyrights… or is there?

Animator claims Disney’s Frozen infringes upon her short film

Contributing Author

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Amanda Ciccatelli

Amanda G. Ciccatelli is a Freelance Journalist for InsideCounsel, where she covers intellectual property, legal technology, patent litigation, cybersecurity, innovation, and more. She earned a B.A....

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