Earlier this month (November 2), Quentin Tarantino appeared at a crypto-art fair in New York, announcing an auction of seven “exclusive” NFTs based on his Pulp Fiction screenplay. He was “excited”, he said at the time, to give fans a chance to own the scenes for themselves, but now it seems that the filmmaker’s first foray into the murky world of crypto has landed him in legal trouble.
On Tuesday (November 16), Miramax — the entertainment company that financed and distributed Pulp Fiction in 1994 — filed a lawsuit against Tarantino, accusing him of copyright infringement for selling NFTs based on the film’s screenplay.
As detailed in the original press release for the auction, the Pulp Fiction scenes are going up for sale as Secret NFTs on the marketplace OpenSea, featuring an original handwritten script and additional commentary. The contents will be kept private if the sale is allowed to go ahead, and the owner will be able to view them exclusively.
According to Miramax, however, Tarantino didn’t consult the company beforehand, despite the fact it still owns the rights to the film. A cease and desist letter sent by Miramax’s attorneys apparently didn’t stop him and his team from moving ahead with the sale.
“This group chose to recklessly, greedily, and intentionally disregard the agreement that Quentin signed instead of following the clear legal and ethical approach of simply communicating with Miramax about his proposed ideas,” says Miramax attorney Bart Williams (via Variety).
Williams adds that the “deliberate, pre-meditated, short-term money grab” interferes with Miramax’s own plans to enter the NFT market with its own Pulp Fiction content.
The lawsuit states that Tarantino’s lawyer told Miramax that the filmmaker retained the right to publish his screenplay as part of the original Pulp Fiction deal, and that he is essentially “publishing” the script through the NFT sale. Miramax argues that the one-time sale doesn’t count as publishing the script, and that it therefore owns the rights to the NFTs.
Earlier this month, Quentin Tarantino made an emotive case for going to see films at the cinema (remember when it was that simple?). “When you have a good experience — it’s not always a good experience — but when you have a good experience, those are the things that stay in your mind and you remember for the rest of your life,” he says. “They become indelible snapshots.”