The Quentin Tarantino-Miramax Dispute Isn’t the First Lawsuit Over NFTs—And it Won’t Be the Last

Quentin Tarantino’s foray into the world of NFTs hit a Speed bumpThis week, Miramax Productions filed suit against its director for failing to sell in a California court. Pulp Fiction NFTs.

Tarantino made it clear at the NFT.NYC conference that he was going to auction some of his originals. Pulp Fiction screenplay, which contain “secrets” about the film and his process as a creator, as NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Miramax argues that Tarantino is the owner of the rights to both the film and screenplay and has sued Miramax for copyright infringement and breach-of contract. “Tarantino’s conduct has forced Miramax to bring this lawsuit against a valued collaborator in order to enforce, preserve, and protect its contractual and intellectual property rights relating to one of Miramax’s most iconic and valuable film properties,” the lawsuit reads.
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Another example of how the idea of NFT owner has come to conflict with copyright law is the lawsuit. It further signals that established powerhouses are taking the technology seriously and believe there’s real money to be made in the space.

What is the ownership structure of NFTs? Copyright laws in the United States require that only the owner of copyright (absent license) can own an original work. Has the authorityTo transform it into an NFT. This hasn’t stopped artists’ works from beingNFT platform platforms – stolen, plagiarized, and sold. But typically, the value of those unofficial NFTs have little value in the marketplace, since they’re not seen as legitimate by buyers. The counterfeit NFT can be resold to another buyer.You also have to be prepared for litigation..

Tarantino hopes to sell seven scans of digital copies his original scripts. NFTs have content that is only accessible to the owner. A public viewable part of the NFTs has not yet been announced. But Miramax says that when they signed a contract with Tarantino in 1993, he signed over the rights of the film, with the exception that Tarantino kept limited “Reserved Rights.” Those “Reserved Rights” include a clause saying Tarantino has the rights to “print publication (including, without limitation, screenplay publication)” of the film. Harvey Weinstein was the co-founder of Miramax. He left the company around 2005.

According to the complaint, Tarantino’s lawyer argues that his NFT sale falls within the “screenplay publication” clause. Miramax, naturally, argues the opposite: that the sale is “a one-time transaction, which does not constitute publication.” The complaint also mentions that Miramax itself hoped to sell NFTs from the film, and that Tarantino’s venture impairs them from doing so. Another aspect that will be argued over is whether Tarantino’s original script–created before his deal with Miramax–retroactively falls within Miramax’s purview of the film’s screenplays.

The complaint claims Miramax wrote Tarantino an order to cease and desist after learning of the venture. Tarantino refused. Tarantino’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Although there were many lawsuits filed in the past year regarding NFTs or copyright infringement, only a few have reached court. “99 percent of lawsuits settle: They don’t go to trial or end up in a judgment,” Moish E. Peltz, a partner at the law firm Falcon Rappaport & BerkmanAccording to Peltz, who is a specialist in IP and emerging technology. Peltz, who has been working with numerous NFT creators and platforms over the last year, says disputes about which shareholders are appropriate are usually resolved before projects become public. “From a risk mitigation perspective, it seems like it would be a best practice to be proactive in including everyone that reasonably should be part of that deal,” he says.

Not only are they costly for both the plaintiff and defendant, but it can also negatively affect the court of public opinion. Speculation is a key reason many NFT buyers buy them. They believe that the NFT will become more valuable in the future. Even if there is never a lawsuit, potential buyers can be scared by whispered accusations. Weird Whales is an NFT art project that attracted national attention because it was made by a 12-year old programmer. Six figures were raked. However, social media users quickly discovered evidence that the artwork might have been taken from another project and some people started selling their whales for a loss. Now, the project’s Average price of Opensea on the marketThis is only one-quarter of its peak.

Something similar happened to the hip-hop mogul Damon Dash, whose attempts to sell Jay-Z’s classic debut album Reasonable Doubt as an NFT in June led to Jay-Z’s label Roc-a-Fella records Suing himSuccessfully Temporary restraining ordersHe won. He still started an auction to purchase a third, legitimately his, of the rights. It was worth $10 million. It has not yet succeeded.No bids received. Jay-Z, meanwhile, Selling an art piece NFT inspired by the album with Sotheby’s, which soldFor $138,600

However some in the NFT community have come to Tarantino’s defense, the crypto market is extremely fickle. “That’s one of the reasons why it might make sense for them to settle amicably: because the project might not be able to move forward if there’s this cloud hovering over it,” Peltz says of Tarantino and Miramax.

Peltz also says that Miramax’s lawsuit can be read as something of a publicity play, and a signal that they are engaging with NFTs as a potential revenue stream. They’re not the only ones: major entertainment companies with deep IP libraries, like Disney and Warner Bros., have begun trying to capitalize on a market that had previously been dominated by crypto-native artists or companies like Beeple and Larva Labs. “It might be a good business decision for Miramax to essentially broadcast to the world that if you are in a similar situation as Quentin, you might want to come speak to them first before launching your NFT project,” Peltz says.

Peltz says that the legal entanglements surrounding NFTs are just beginning, and he’s working with creators and platforms to make sure that terms of NFT sales are laid out clearly to potential buyers. “Some projects convey very limited intellectual property rights to the purchasers of the entities, where some projects convey very broad commercial rights. Bored Apes has been used by a lot of large brands, including big ones like Nike. some other commercial use. So like, where’s that going? Are there concerns with usage IP that aren’t being thought about?”


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