Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino is suing Gawker Media and related entities based on Gawker allegedly assisting in the distribution of a stolen film script:

Director Quentin Tarantino has filed a lawsuit against Gawker Media for copyright infringement. A week after declaring he would no longer make his next film “The Hateful Eight” because someone in his small circle had leaked the screenplay, director Quentin Tarantino has taken legal action against Gawker Media alleging copyright infringement for disseminating the script

Tarantino’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Monday, alleges that the web site Gawker disseminated “unauthorized downloadable copies of the leaked unreleased complete screenplay” and “expressly refused to remove their directions to and URL links to get the infringing materials.” The director is demanding actual and statutory damages as well as Gawker’s profits in the amount of at least $1 million.

“Gawker Media has made a business of predatory journalism, violating people’s rights to make a buck,” the complaint states. “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.”

Not being a fan either of Tarantino’s films, or of Gawker, I consider myself neutral.

I read the Complaint. All Gawker did was promote the fact that it had links to others on the internet who had the script. That seems like a tough claim of copyright liability, but hey, presumably the plaintiffs’ lawyers did the reasearch and think they have a legal claim. But still, just linking to others creates a copyright liability? Yikes, if that’s true.

Gawker is promising a fight:

Gawker had nothing to do with the appearance of The Hateful Eight script on the internet.

Tarantino’s complaint includes the following claim: “Gawker Media itself for its own benefit, itself transmitted or encouraged an infringing unauthorized full copy of the Screenplay to be posted for download on the obscure file share website AnonFiles.com.” This claim is false. No one at Gawker saw or had access to Tarantino’s script before AnonFiles posted it. No one at Gawker transmitted it—or anything else, at all—to AnonFiles. No one at Gawker encouraged anyone to do so. No one at Gawker has any earthly idea how AnonFiles obtained a copy.

Gawker is not being sued for copyright infringement.

We are being sued for contributory copyright infringement for linking to a site that is being sued for direct copyright infringement. We are not being sued for publishing copyrighted information….

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.

It pains me to think Gawker might be right here. First they came for Gawker, ….

(Featured image from Pulp Fiction, a movie of no redeeming value and the only Quentin Tarantino film I’ve ever seen.)