Quentin Tarantino And Prince Attack Linking

By: Chris Crum - January 31, 2014

It’s been an odd week in Internet news as both Quentin Tarantino and Prince looked to sue people for linking to things. The former is suing Gawker for posting links to his recently leaked film script hosted elsewhere, while the latter filed a suit against his own fans for sharing links to his material on blogs and Facebook.

Are these legitimate cases? Share your thoughts in the comments.

So how did it come to this?

As you may have read last week, a first draft of what would have been Tarantino’s next film, The Hateful Eight, leaked after the writer/director shared it with six people, including actors Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern and Tim Roth. Quentin was so furious that he vowed not to make the movie, indicating he would move on to one of his other ideas, and perhaps have The Hateful Eight published.

Naturally, knowing the script is out there, fans were/are hungry to read it. This is, after all, a Tarantino film, even if only on the page. And you know what that means to the blogger world. PAGEVIEWS!!!

That’s where a site like Gawker (a master of pageviews) comes in. Gawker’s Defamer put out the article “Here Is the Leaked Quentin Tarantino Hateful Eight Script“. The article points to two destinations that host what it calls what “appears to be the script”. The links point to AnonFiles.com and Scribd. As of the time of this writing, the script is still up on AnonFiles, but has been removed from Scribd.

AnonFiles says on its about page, “AnonFiles.com is NOT a replacement for MegaUpload. We do not allow illegal content to be uploaded.”

Now Tarantino is suing Gawker, which didn’t actually host the script, but simply pointed to it via a couple simple web links, just as anyone else on the Internet could easily do with a simple href tag.

The Hollywood Reporter obtained the complaint. It says:

Gawker Media has made a business of predatory journalism, violating people’s rights to make a buck. 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. Their headline boasts “Here Is the Leaked Quentin Tarantino Hateful Eight Script” – “Here,” not someplace else, but “Here” on the Gawker website. The article then contains multiple direct links for downloading the entire Screenplay through a conveniently anonymous URL by simply clicking button-links on the Gawker page, and brazenly encourages Gawker visitors to read the Screenplay illegally with the invitation to “Enjoy!” it. There was nothing newsworthy or journalistic about Gawker Media facilitating and encouraging the public’s violation of Plaintiff’s copyright in the Screenplay, and it’s conduct will not shield Gawker Media from liability for their unlawful activity.

So, in other words, the problem as far as Tarantino and his lawyers are concerned, is not only that the article links to it (though that appears to be the main concern), but the way it was titled.

I’m no lawyer, but at its most basic level, the Gawker title seems to be stating a fact: this is where you can find the script. “Here it is.” It’s not “Come read Tarantino’s leaked script illegally on our site.”

The complaint says there’s “nothing newsworthy” about the article, but most Tarantino fans would probably argue against that. To the most die-hard fans, his latest would-be film being available to read online is about as newsworthy as it gets.

It’s easy to see why Tarantino is upset about the whole ordeal, but this complaint seems misplaced.

Tarantino reportedly told Deadline last week, “I am not talking out of both sides of my mouth, because 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. But I gave it to six motherfucking people! Starting this week, I’ll be setting meetings with publishers.”

Gawker says it will fight the suit. The publication also makes the point that Tarantino himself actually made the the script news by speaking out about it to the press. Basically, of course people are going to be looking for it.

“Defamer covers what people in Hollywood are talking about,” writes Gawker’s John Cook. “Thanks to Tarantino’s shrewd publicity strategy, the leak of The Hateful Eight—and the content of the script—had been widely dissected online and was a topic of heated conversation among Defamer readers. News of the fact that it existed on the internet advanced a story that Tarantino himself had launched, and our publication of the link was a routine and unremarkable component of our job: making people aware of news and information about which they are curious.”

“No one at Gawker saw or had access to Tarantino’s script before AnonFiles posted it,” says Cook. “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.”

And then there’s Prince.

The pop icon reportedly filed a suit in the Northern District of California against 22 people who found links to various concerts and posted them on Facebook and blogs for $1 million each. I wonder if this strategy is next on the Tarantino legal agenda.

As TechDirt reminds us, Prince once said, “The internet’s completely over.”

Internet law watcher Mike Masnick writes, “There was a time, not even that long ago, when it seemed like Prince might have been the first musician to actually ‘get’ the internet. He had done a few things that seemed really focused on embracing the internet, spreading his music more widely, and making revenue from alternate streams, such as concerts, sponsorships and fan clubs. But… it quickly became apparent that he was going in the other direction, and in an extreme manner — in part, because it seemed like for all of his ideas, he failed at following through on most of them.”

Prince has a history of suing websites over using photos, so the latest move is not completely unexpected, even if a complete contradiction of how the Internet (which doesn’t appear to be “over” just yet) works.

After news of the suit blew up, Prince actually dropped it, but didn’t exactly kill it. He let it go without prejudice. In other words, he can still refile it later.

If Tarantino wins his legal battle, and/or if Prince refiles and wins his, what precedent does that set for future cases and the web at large? Do people have to worry about pointing their friends to links to content that they may not even know is illegal? Do either of them have a shot at winning? Some “experts” think Tarantino has a pretty good one.

Interestingly enough, the Prince suit was filed in the very place where it was ruled that linking is not direct copyright infringement in the case of Perfect 10, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc. It was found that including a link is not the same as hosting the material yourself. Maybe he’ll look to file elsewhere.

Are either of these cases in the best interest of the Internet? Let us know what you think.

Image via YouTube

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • http://www.promodrone.com Lee Davis

    THIS is what you do – instead of giving face-time to all these spoiled-@$$ individuals (who've been enabled to this level of notoriety off the love and money of their fans), cease to give them any attention whatsoever. Oh. OK. Have a record-release or tour lined up that cost you (& the studio) a fortune and you need to recoup those losses? Let's see if a massive wave of disinterest slams you back down to the level of humble. Hoping to make a splash on the red-carpet in the latest designers' outfit to promote your movie? You don't get throngs of screamos or pappos anymore. Dead, cricket-chirping empty fer yer premiere (lol!). I mean, all this big-headed behavior will stop when we stop co-signing on all these people who don't deserve a memorial candle with their passing. The world will be a better place without their rank, baseless arrogance.

  • http://www.promodrone.com Lee Davis

    PS – PRINCE is <b>'Completely Over'</b>…

  • http://www,winediscoveries.co.uk Jack

    These idots don't deserve to be treated seriously. The stuff is already in the public domain – so the only thing they want is more money – the love of which is the root of evil. Wake up Quentin & Prince – or go masturbate your egos somewehere else.

  • http://briansmith.com Brian Smith

    This is what it sounds like

    When doves cry

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum

      I'm picturing him upset in the hallway, cursing and spinning around as seen in Purple Rain.

  • Andrea

    sharing of links is sometimes a good thing but they can often be harmful, a link to a backdoor which is also known sometimes as virus

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum

      I'm not sure that applies here, but I suppose.

    • E Tiffany

      You need not worry any further about getting a virus. Just leave your computer off. Problem resolved!

  • https://www.searchen.com/ John Colascione

    Including a link is not the same as hosting the material. Pointing to something that is happening is not creating the situation. Ludicrous suit.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum

      I'm a huge fan of Quentin's work, but agreed.

  • http://www.the01day.com kikidz

    Including a link is not the same as hosting the material. Pointing to something that is happening is not creating the situation. Ludicrous suit.

  • http://colorsofAJ.com AJ

    Perhaps I don't have enough information, but Tarantino's complaint refers to his copyright and copyright infringement. My (small) understanding of copyright infringement is that someone takes your work and builds on it or passes it off as his own. Gawker has not done anything remotely like that. I don't see how Tarantino could win crying over copyright infringement.
    Now, maybe he could get somewhere if he calls it stolen property. Still, all Gawker has done is point at the stolen property and say "here it is, over here." I've never heard of anyone being arrested for pointing out stolen property's location.
    I would love to read the basis on which "Some “experts” think Tarantino has a pretty good one."
    I don't really get what Prince's problem is — does he think he has lost ticket sales because people can look at a cell phone version of his concert online? I hardly think that would satisfy the fans who would ever pay to see him in concert. It doesn't seem it would have any effect on his earnings. I'm not sure if making a video of a concert on inferior equipment (a phone, clearly not professional quality recording) is illegal.

  • http://buckfiftymiracle.info/cl Clarence Coggins

    They have to be joking. If not it another attempt to hamper the web. I understand that people have invested a lot time and money in their works, but we are living in a new world that is restoring us the natural order. We have to be willing to accept some loss of revenue while gaining access to so much more.

  • http://www.ssrichardmontgomery.com ron

    without links there would be no internet as nobody would know where anything was. Links are the internet… If they win their cases then free speech will be severely restricted with everybody worried that they will be sued if they link to something,so wont. This is a time and money wasting non runner,but good bad?)publicity for both of them which is what I think it is all about.

  • Keryn Taylor-Rhys

    Hmm. I guess professional companies should respect copyrights and, especially if they're making money off it, they should watch their Ps and Qs, HOWEVER – if ordinary little people (fans) post links – for sharing,not for profit – and they get sued for it, then the star should be boycotted right out of the business. It's bad manners, and pissy, petty behavior.

    • http://www.cityamericanvending.com William Morgan

      Get the hell out of the limelight if you don't want to be in it. I guess they are legitimate, but who needs them.

  • Joey-G

    Good luck with those cases assholes

  • Ted Bear

    Tarantino is way over rated. If I want to watch over the top everything, killing and slaughter mostly, then he is your guy. I would rather watch something with some understated humor and intrigue. Something I don't think he gets. As for him being pissed that someone leaked his script, if he didn't mean for it to be, I don't blame him. That is a serious breach of trust and he should take it out on whomever was the one to do so. Going after a website for linking to the files location is stupid though. Hollywood, Grow Up, Or Go Away!!!!!