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Tarantino Says He Owns ‘Pulp Fiction’ Screenplay, Can Sell NFTs

June 22, 2022, 6:06 PM

Director Quentin Tarantino argued that his rights to the screenplay of his award winning film “Pulp Fiction” allows him to sell nonfungible tokens depicting the screenplay without infringing the copyrights or trademarks of Miramax LLC, which owns the rights to the movie.

The NFTs are a derivative artwork of the screenplay—which Tarantino said he continues to own the copyrights to—not the film, according to a brief filed Tuesday asking a Los Angeles federal judge to rule on the pleadings.

Miramax sued Tarantino in November 2021 in the US District Court for the Central District of California. It alleged the NFTs were unauthorized artworks and violated trademark laws by misleading consumers into believing they were connected to Miramax.

The NFTs, which are bought and sold using blockchain technology, included digital images of portions of the original handwritten screenplay and audio recordings of Tarantino sharing his thoughts on the screenplay.

Throughout the various rights agreements between Tarantino and Miramax, the director said he specifically reserved the rights to the screenplay, which include rights to print publications, interactive media, spinoffs, and sequels.

The screenplay was registered with the US Copyright Office in 1993 before the film was released a year later.

“Miramax’s complaint assumes that an assignment of copyrights in a motion picture encompasses an assignment of exclusive rights in the underlying screenplay for that motion picture,” the brief said. “That turns copyright law on its head.”

The screenplay—including the dialogue, characters, and plot—is an original artwork with its own copyright, and the film is a derivative of that work, not the other way around, the brief said. The NFTs are just electronic versions of the screenplay, Tarantino argued.

The brief said Miramax’s trademark infringement claims also fail because Tarantino’s rights to the screenplay include the “Pulp Fiction” title.

Miramax is represented by Proskauer Rose LLP. Tarantino is represented by Freedman and Taitelman LLP and Irell & Manella LLP.

The case is Miramax LLC v. Tarantino, C.D. Cal., No. 2:21-cv-08979, 6/21/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isaiah Poritz in Washington at iporitz@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com