Quentin Tarantino-Miramax Dispute Isn’t The First Case About NFTs — And It Won’t Be The Last

Quentin Tarantino’s steps into the world of NFT hit one high speed collision This week when the production company Miramax filed a lawsuit against the director in a California court for selling Pulp Fiction NFT.

At the NFT.NYC conference earlier this month, Tarantino announced on stage that he would be auctioning off excerpts from his original. Pulp Fiction script, containing the “secret” of the film and his process as creator, as NFT (non-fungible token). But Miramax argued that the company, not Tarantino, owned the rights to the film and script, and sued for breach of contract and copyright infringement. “Tarantino’s conduct prompted Miramax to bring this action against a valued collaborator to enforce, maintain, and defend its intellectual property and contractual rights with respect to one of its film assets. most valuable and iconic of Miramax,” read complaint.
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The lawsuit is another example of the sometimes acrimonious way in which the concept of NFT ownership has collided with applicable copyright law. It further signals that the established powers are taking the technology seriously and believe that there is real money being made in space.

How does ownership of NFTs work? Under US copyright law, only the copyright holder (without license) of the original work authoritative to turn it into an NFT. This has not prevented the works of artists stolen or plagiarized and sold on the NFT . platform. But often, the value of those unofficial NFTs has little value in the market, as they are not considered legitimate by the buyer. If those buyers transfer the forged NFT to a third party, they also run the risk of suing themselves.

Tarantino is trying to sell seven scanned digital copies of his original handwritten scripts, including deleted scenes, with audio commentary. NFTs will have content visible to owners only in addition to a publicly viewable section; Auction date has yet to be announced. But Miramax says that when they signed Tarantino in 1993, he signed over the rights to the film, except that Tarantino kept a limited “Right of Reservation.” Those “Reserved Rights” include a provision stating that Tarantino has the right to “print publishing (including, without limitation, publishing the screenplay)” of the film. (Miramax was co-founded by Harvey Weinstein, who left the company in 2005.)

According to the lawsuit, Tarantino’s attorney argued that the sale of his NFT fell under the “publishing of the script” provision. Miramax, naturally, argued the opposite: that the sale was a “one-time transaction, not constituting publication.” The complaint also mentions that Miramax itself had hoped to sell NFTs from the film and that Tarantino’s risk-taking made it impossible for them to do so. Another aspect that will be contested is whether Tarantino’s original script was created prior to the Miramax deal – within Miramax’s purpose for the screenplay.

The complaint states that Miramax sent Tarantino a cease-and-desist order after they learned of the attempt, which Tarantino ignored. In one statement published by Variety, Tarantino’s attorney Bryan Freedman denied Miramax’s claims, writing that “Miramax is false – plain and simple. Quentin Tarantino’s contract is very clear: he has the right to sell the NFT of his handwritten script to Pulp Fiction. ”

While there have been a number of lawsuits filed over the past year regarding NFT and piracy, very few have made it to court. “99% of cases are settled: They don’t go to trial or end up in a verdict,” said Moish E. Peltz, a partner at the law firm Falcon Rappaport and Berkman specializes in IP and emerging technologies, says. Peltz has worked over the past year with a number of NFT foundations and creators, and says that disputes over which potential shareholders should be involved are often resolved before projects go public. “From a risk-reduction perspective, it seems like a best practice to proactively include all the people who should reasonably be involved in that arrangement,” he said.

Initiating a lawsuit is not only costly for the parties involved, but also has the potential to have a negative impact on court public opinion. A major reason many people buy NFTs is for speculation: because they believe the NFT will be worth more. Even if a lawsuit never materializes, whispering allegations can sound ridiculous to potential buyers. Such was the case with Weird Whales, an NFT art project that received national attention for being created by a 12-year-old programmer who scratch by six numbers. But social media users soon found evidence that the artwork could have been copied from another project and people started selling their whales at a loss. Now, the project of average price on the Opensea market is a quarter of what it was during its peak.

Something similar happened to hip-hop mogul Damon Dash, who is trying to sell Jay-Z’s classic debut album. Reasonable doubt as an NFT in June led to Jay-Z .’s Roc-a-Fella discs sue him and success apply for a temporary restraining order against him. Dash went ahead and began auctioning off a third of the rights to the album he legally owned for $10 million. But it has so far did not receive bid. Jay-Z, meanwhile, sold an album-inspired NFT artwork with Sotheby’s, sold for $138,600.

When some in the NFT . community came to the defense of Tarantino, the extremely volatile crypto market. “That’s one of the reasons why they were able to deal with it amicably: because the project might not be able to move forward with this cloud hanging over it,” Peltz said of Tarantino and Miramax.

Peltz also said that Miramax’s lawsuit can be seen as a public game and a signal that it is engaging with the NFT as a potential revenue stream. They’re not the only ones: big entertainment companies with deep IP libraries, like Disney and Warner Bros., have begun trying to capitalize on a market that was previously dominated by artists or companies Cryptocurrency companies like Beeple and Larva Labs. “Basically, it might have been a good business decision for Miramax to promote to the world that if you’re in a similar situation to Quentin, you might want to talk to them first before launching the project. My NFT,” Peltz said.

Peltz says that the legal woes surrounding NFTs are just getting started and that he is working with creators and platforms to ensure that the terms of the NFT sale are clearly presented to potential buyers. “Some projects transfer very limited intellectual property rights to the buyers of the subjects, in which some projects transfer commercial rights very widely. A wide range of major brands are currently in use, such as Bored Apes, for some other commercial use. So, where will it go? Are there concerns about using IPs that are not thought through? “ Quentin Tarantino-Miramax Dispute Isn’t The First Case About NFTs — And It Won’t Be The Last

Aila Slisco

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