Movie director Quentin Tarantino filed a lawsuit Monday accusing Gawker Media of facilitating copyright infringement after Gawker linked last week to an unproduced script that leaked onto the Internet.
Furious that a first draft of "The Hateful Eight" was circulating on the Internet, Tarantino announced last week that the Western would not be the next movie he filmed. Tarantino told Deadline.com at the time that the script leaked out without his permission after he sent it to six people for their review.
"I give it out to six people, and if I can't trust them to that degree, then I have no desire to make it," Tarantino told Deadline.com. "I'll publish it. I'm done. I'll move on to the next thing."
Soon after Tarantino made that statement, Gawker's Defamer blog posted an item headlined "Here Is the Leaked Quentin Tarantino Hateful Eight Script" that linked to the 146-page script published on another site.
Tarantino's 14-page lawsuit (see below) charges that "Gawker Media has made a business of predatory journalism, violating people's rights to make a buck. This time, they went too far. Rather than merely publishing a news story reporting that Plaintiff's screenplay may have been circulating in Hollywood without his permission, Gawker media crossed the journalistic line by promoting itself to the public as the first source to read the entire screenplay illegally."
The complaint, which was filed in US District Court for Central California and seeks $1 million in damages, emphasizes that Gawker highlights itself as where the script could be accessed:
"Their headline boasts... 'Here,' not someplace else, but 'Here' on the Gawker website. The article then contains multiple direct links for downloading the entire screenplay through a conveniently anonymous URL by simply clicking button-links on the Gawker page, and brazenly encourages Gawker visitors to read the Screenplay illegally with the invitation to 'Enjoy!' it."
In Gawker's response to the lawsuit, editor John Cook pointed out that the script was published not by Gawker but another site and charged that Tarantino wanted the script published on the Internet. He said Gawker and its sister publication Defamer were news sites and that publication of the link was "clearly connected to our goal of informing readers about things they care about."
"News of the fact that it existed on the Internet advanced a story that Tarantino himself had launched, and our publication of the link was a routine and unremarkable component of our job: making people aware of news and information about which they are curious," Cook wrote. "As far as I can tell (but I'm no lawyer!), no claim of contributory infringement has prevailed in the U.S. over a news story. We'll be fighting this one."