Earlier today it was revealed that writer/director Quentin Tarantino was suing online gossip site Gawker over the fact that in their reporting about Tarantino’s shelving of the screenplay for his planned western The Hateful Eight contained a link to an anonymous posting of said script. The website has published a response today, one which I find does not bolster any defense of their actions that they hoped to make.
Gawker writer John Cook defended the site’s original posting by arguing that they have done nothing that Tarantino wouldn’t have wanted done anyway.
Last week—before the publication of the script online but after it had begun circulating in Hollywood—Tarantino loudly turned The Hateful Eight leak into a topic of intense news interest by speaking about it at length to Deadline Hollywood, which had itself obtained a copy. Tarantino’s very public complaints about the leak—which named the six parties (of varying degrees of celebrity and potential culpability) that he believes had access to it—were picked up and amplified afterward by dozens of news sites, including Defamer. It was Tarantino himself who turned his script into a news story, one that garnered him a great deal of attention.
Quentin Tarantino wanted The Hateful Eight to be published on the internet. This is what he told Deadline, in the course of complaining about the then-small-scale leak to some unknown number of reporters and Hollywood types: I do like the fact that everyone eventually posts it, gets it and reviews it on the net. Frankly, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I like the fact that people like my shit, and that they go out of their way to find it and read it.
Unfortunately, I think Cook has two key points wrong. The first is pointed out by Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr, who broke the initial story, who flatly denies having a copy of the script before he interviewed Tarantino or receiving one since.
The second point, that Tarantino wanted the script online, is taking a quote of the director’s out of context. Tarantino was talking about the final drafts of his screenplays that get leaked just prior to the start of production. Perhaps Tarantino permits such leaks and the resultant discussion because it begins generating interest in that project. But this was a first draft being shopped around to just a few select actors to gain their feedback. Presumably there would be at least one more draft from Tarantino based on the feedback he got from the actors he showed to in order to tailor the part to them. It was certainly not a document that Tarantino was ready to have out in the wild yet.
This is definitely shaping into a lawsuit that could have some far-ranging repercussions. Is the act of posting a link to copyright material a violation in itself, or does there have to be malicious intent involved? We’ll be interested in seeing how this plays out.