A federal judge has agreed to dismiss a lawsuit brought by writer/director Quentin Tarantino against Gawker Media after it published a link to an independent website that had posted a copy of the first draft screenplay for his planned film The Hateful Eight.
John F. Walter of Federal District Court in Los Angeles, ruled Wednesday that Tarantino and his legal crew did not offer any concrete example of copyright abuse that resulted from the Defamer article and therefore had no basis for their claim. In his ruling, Judge Walter stated –
Plaintiff [Tarantino] merely speculates that some direct infringement must have taken place… For example, Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to allege the identity of a single third-party infringer, the date, the time, or the details of a single instance of third-party infringement, or, more importantly, how Defendant [Gawker Media] allegedly caused, induced, or materially contributed to the infringement by those third parties.
Essentially, since Tarantino’s legal team has not supplied any evidence that anyone actually clicked on the link in the Defamer article and that same person went on to download a copy of the script from that independent website, there was no proof that any actual infringement had taken place.
Unfortunately, this does seem to keep the legal status of a link to copyright material being an infringement itself still uncertain. If it were determined that just a link to something infringing counts as infringement itself, it would open up a legal quagmire that could engulf numerous websites including outlets like Google to repercussions that would seriously damage the nature of the internet as it is now.
The judge did gave Tarantino a May 1st deadline to amend their complaint with more evidence to support their claim or else he would complete the dismissal of the case.
Tarantino announced he was suing Gawker Media back in January after Defamer reported on the leak of the Hateful Eight screenplay with the sensationalistic headline “Here Is the Leaked Quentin Tarantino ‘Hateful Eight’ Script.” The script first leaked after the writer/director showed it to a small circle of actors he was thinking about casting, soliciting their feedback. That the script had spread beyond that small coterie quickly became the story of the day after Deadline broke the news on January 21.
Honestly, I would not be surprised if Tarantino didn’t see this coming. He openly admitted last weekend that he was working on rewrites of the script, an odd thing to be doing if one has decided to shelve a project. It remains to be seen if Tarantino and his lawyers will file an amendment by the deadline next week.