Renowned director and profanity enthusiast Quentin Tarantino had his lawsuit against Gawker Media over a script leak dismissed Tuesday by a California federal judge. In his suit, Tarantino claimed contributory copyright infringement on the part of Gawker’s Defamer website for sharing a link to a leaked copy of his script for what was to be his latest project, a Western entitled The Hateful Eight. In its post, Defamer offers a link to the script on a file-uploading site and encourages readers to “Enjoy!” The title of the article is the rather direct “Here Is the Leaked Quentin Tarantino Hateful Eight Script”. While Gawker is not cited as the original source of the script leak, Tarantino claims that the site contributed to the infringement and hurt the market value of the script by making the link available to a larger audience. In his complaint the director claimed Gawker “has made a business of predatory journalism.” Gawker has taken the stance that it linked to the script only in its reporting of Tarantino abandoning the project in light of the script leak, and that including the link falls within fair use as part of their reporting.
In his ruling dismissing the case, California Judge John Walter stated that Tarantino “failed to adequately plead facts establishing direct infringement by a third party or facts that would demonstrate [Gawker] either caused, induced, or materially contributed to the alleged direct infringement of those third party infringers.” So while Gawker did in fact provide the link, Tarantino and his attorneys were unable to substantiate that specific individuals clicked that link and downloaded the script, and therefore failed to establish the necessary grounds for a valid claim. The ruling does allow for Tarantino to amend his claim and re-file by May 1.
As would be expected, Tarantino has not taken the matter lying down. He staged a reading of his script, using actors he had previously worked with, and has stated that the movie might still move forward with a reworked script. For the time being, Gawker can rest easy and hope the matter is settled through the court system and not through extralegal agents.