Prolific screenwriter and director Quentin Tarantino has retracted his copyright infringement suit against Gawker Media for disseminating a leaked copy of his soon to be in-production, unpublished screenplay, “The Hateful Eight.” Last month, U.S. District Court Judge John F. Walter tossed the case, but allowed Tarantino the option of refiling the case on the first of May.
The incident in question occurred when Defamer, a website owned by Gawker Media, posted an article that was subtly titled “Here Is the Leaked Quentin Tarantino ‘Hateful Eight’ Script” that contained links to a file-sharing site featuring a draft of the script that’d been leaked by an unnamed Hollywood agent.
The judge’s original ruling found that Tarantino’s attorneys had failed produce enough evidence or plead facts that adequately established Gawker Media as having directly infringed by a third party or facts that would have demonstrated Gawker had either induced, caused, or materially contributed to the alleged infringement. Basically, judge Walter ruled the attorneys hadn’t offered him any copyright abuse examples resulting from the article in question, which meant they had no basis for a legitimate claim.
“Gawker has made a business of predatory journalism, violating people’s rights to make a buck,” said the amended version of the lawsuit. “This time they went too far.”
The first step in preparing for copyright enforcement litigation is to ensure that the copyright on the work has been registered. Not only is registration a statutory requirement for bringing suit, a registered copyright provides clear evidence of the contents of the work as of the date registration was sought. Fortunately, registration can be easy and relatively inexpensive.
“According to the AIPLA Report on the Economic Survey 2013, the average attorney fee in 2012 for filing a copyright registration application for a filing-ready original work of authorship was $413. And, the United States Copyright Office website indicates that government fees for such an application start at $35.” says Ben Klosowski, Patent Attorney at Thrive IP. “However, each author’s situation differs, and there could be more work involved, increasing those fees. Given the very long term of copyright-generally speaking, the life of the author plus seventy years, copyright registration makes sense for authors at risk for infringement of their valuable intellectual property rights.”
Tarantino’s attorneys argue that Gawker Media encouraged their readers to read the leaked copy, to download it, and then they made it available for the public to do so with the link.
After the initial incident, the director abandoned the project, but has since decided to tentatively pick it back up. After a public reading of the script in Los Angeles, California last month, Tarantino confessed that he was still doing some work with it.
The script reading had such actors as Tim Roth, James Remar, Walton Goggins, Amber Tamblyn, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, and the actor featured most in Tarantino’s films, Samuel L. Jackson. “The Hateful Eight” is a Western set in 19th-century Wyoming about a group of bounty hunters transporting prisoners and is said to be similar to his earlier work, like “Reservoir Dogs.”