The battle between Quentin Tarantino and Miramax over script NFTs is shaping up as one of the most closely-watched in entertainment legal circles. Studio execs are just wrapping their heads around the potential value of movie memorabilia in the digital ecosystem. Last thing they want is actors or producers—or, god forbid, the writers—profiting in this burgeoning space.
If you missed it, Miramax, now run by C.E.O. Bill Block and jointly owned by a Qatari media company and ViacomCBS, sued Tarantino on Tuesday claiming he’s not entitled to sell “non-fungible tokens” of his handwritten Pulp Fiction script pages because Miramax owns the copyright and NFTs aren’t included in the “reserved rights” he negotiated back in the early ‘90s. The complaint, by a six-litigator team at Proskauer Rose, alleges breach of contract, copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and unfair competition.
I’m skeptical about this case because Tarantino specifically held onto the right to “publish” his screenplay. When his team negotiated the deal (agent Mike Simpson and lawyer Carlos Goodman are still with Tarantino today), they were consciously positioning him as an auteur filmmaker whose fans would potentially buy copies of his screenplays, like for Scorsese, Woody Allen and others. Which, over the years, they have, without Miramax objecting. To me, NFTs are just digital publishing.