Earlier today, my FilmDrunkian overlord Vince brought us the news that Quentin Tarantino is suing Gawker Media and its “predatory journalism” because the website Defamer linked to another site called AnonFile that allowed people to download the entire script for the now-shelved Western, The Hateful Eight. In case you’re late to the party, Tarantino gave an exclusive hissy fit to Deadline last week after one of the six people that he gave a copy of the script to leaked it to an agent, who then started showing it to actors and actresses who might fit the descriptions of the supporting characters.
Ultimately, Tarantino decided that this betrayal – committed by either Michael Madsen or Bruce Dern, but we’ll apparently never know the truth – was too much, and he said that he’d either just rewrite the screenplay as a book, or he’d come back to The Hateful Eight at another time, once he calmed down and stopped being the only person who sees this as a bad thing. In the meantime, Tarantino’s lawyer is pressing hard at Gawker and Defamer for “contributory copyright infringement,” and naturally the website is calling BS on all of this.
Defamer covers what people in Hollywood are talking about. Thanks to Tarantino’s shrewd publicity strategy, the leak of The Hateful Eight—and the content of the script—had been widely dissected online and was a topic of heated conversation among Defamer readers. 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.
Contributory infringement is a legal theory that has traditionally been deployed against file-sharing sites and search engines—venues that explicitly exist as directories to copyrighted content. Gawker and Defamer are news sites, and our publication of the link was clearly connected to our goal of informing readers about things they care about. 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. (Via Gawker)
Gawker’s John Cook contends that this whole stupid news story only became “news” because Tarantino gave Deadline’s Mike Fleming, Jr. the exclusive story that we and so many other websites freaked out about. Additionally, Cook points out that Gawker didn’t “leak” anything, and other websites who are reporting about this have indicated the contrary, which is something that will make a lot of people think that this lawsuit is focused on Gawker as the original culprit, when, in fact, it was either Madsen or Dern, as Tarantino initially stated. I know, I’m confused, too.
Now I’m no big city slicker lawyer, but what’s strangest about all of this is the fact that while Tarantino claimed to be depressed and betrayed over the initial leak, he admitted that he’d still work with both Madsen and Dern in whichever project he picks to work on instead of The Hateful Eight. Ultimately, suing Gawker or any website that linked to the AnonFile site that was allowing people to download the entire script seems petty and trivial in the big picture.
The majority of people who have written about this entire stupid ordeal – at least myself and the other sites that I regularly read – simply seem pissed off that we’re not getting The Hateful Eight now. The bottom line is that, like the Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained leaked scripts before it, people want to read The Hateful Eight script because we really want to see the movie. We want to see any movie that Tarantino wants to make. So by telling us that he’s not going to make the film anymore, Tarantino is basically daring us to find the script and read it. This is basically the most ass-backwards viral marketing in movie history.
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