‘Tarantino Doesn’t Own the Copyright to Pulp Fiction Screenplay NFTs’

Teddy Sagi
Reading time: 4 minutes

The legal dispute over the Pulp Fiction “NFT” copyrights is getting serious because it’s a matter of millions of dollars. Quentin Tarantino recently asked the court to drop the case because he still owns the rights to the screenplay. But Miramax now says that the movie director’s “limited rights” only apply to print publications, not NFTs.

Last fall, ‘Pulp Fiction director Quentin Tarantino said he would auction NFTs to the general public.

These NFTs would let fans get their hands on handwritten scripts and custom commentary from Tarantino himself. These are the things that many fans would like to have.

But NFTs have copyright problems, as Quentin Tarantino quickly found out. The movie studio Miramax, which owns most of the rights to the movie, sees the plan as breaking a contract and a copyright violation.

NFT Copyright Battle

Back in November, a lawsuit filed in a federal court in California. The movie company stated that the director was trying to make money off of something that he didn’t have full rights to.

“Eager to cash in on the nonfungible token (‘NFT’) boom, as widely reported in the media, Quentin Tarantino recently announced plans to auction off seven ‘exclusive scenes’ from the 1994 motion picture Pulp Fiction in the form of NFTs,” the complaint read.

Even though this legal battle was going on in court, the first NFT was auctioned off early this year. It was sold for more than a million dollars. Soon after, the upcoming auctions stopped, but the court case continued.

Both sides threw blame at each other early on. Tarantino’s lawyers asked the court to drop the case last month. The defense says that Miramax’s claims are not valid. Tarantino thinks the movie is based on the script he wrote and still owns the rights to.

‘Tarantino Only has the Print rights’

Miramax replied to the motion this week, saying that the famous director lied about the facts. He still has some rights to the screenplay, but they are not very strong.

“Defendants are roughly half right about the rights to Pulp Fiction. As one of the authors of what would become the blockbuster movie, Quentin Tarantino at one point had extensive rights to some elements that ultimately comprised the film.”

“But he assigned and transferred virtually all of those rights to Miramax in June 1993, carving out only a specifically enumerated, limited set of ‘Reserved Rights’ far narrower than Defendants’ Motion suggests,” Miramax adds.

‘Misrepresenting License’

Miramax tells the court that Tarantino is “shockingly” trying to misrepresent the license agreements by leaving out essential parts. The movie company says the director kept the right to publish the screenplay in print, but not much else.

The movie studio says that the agreement from 1993 makes it clear that it has almost all rights to the Pulp Fiction screenplay. In the legal documents, there was also a section for distributing content in new types of media that are new or not there yet.

Tarantino’s legal team did not bring up that last past. Since NFTs didn’t exist in the 1990s, Miramax says these would be a new type of media.

“Defendants’ arguments rely on an incomplete, misleading factual history of their contractual rights and a strained reading of those limited rights. Put simply, nonfungible tokens, which host and display unique content using blockchain technology, were not (and could not have been) contemplated by the parties in 1993,” Miramax writes.

‘More Copyright Violations’

The court will decide if that is, in fact, the case. But the movie studio thinks there are many reasons to keep going with the case. Aside from the debate over the rights to the screenplay, the NFT sale also used images and artwork from Pulp Fiction.

For example, early artwork on TarantinoNFTs.com showed famous pictures of Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta. An image of Tarantino in place of that currently.

Several tweets from the Tarantino NFT team that allegedly broke copyright laws were also deleted. The tweets are also used in the legal paperwork as examples of how the law was broken. Miramax says that these alleged violations should be enough to support a valid copyright claim.

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