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There are two sides to every story. Now, Gawker would like the public to hear its take.
Yesterday, we reported that Quentin Tarantino filed a lawsuit against Gawker Media and its site Defamer for publishing a link to the writer-director’s unpublished screenplay for the Western The Hateful Eight. Once the screenplay hit the Web, Tarantino immediately pulled the project’s plug, shelving Eight and sulking over the betrayal. He claimed he only shared the script with a handful of people, yet it somehow landed online and, later, on Defamer. Tarantino filed the lawsuit.
Monday, in a six-point stance, Gawker fired back. Right off the bat, the site explains that they did not "leak" Tarantino’s screenplay. They reported that the script had found its way online to sites like Scribd and AnonFiles. (The script has since been removed from those sites, as you might imagine.)
The site then turned the tables on QT, stating that the director "wanted The Hateful Eight to be published on the internet." Quoting the director in a Deadline story, Gawker notes that Tarantino recently said:
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."
The post quickly collapses into a battle of he-said/she-said, with Gawker trying to get off on a technicality, because the site claims it didn’t physically put Tarantino’s screenplay online, but merely linked to the existing copy and let everyone else know where to find it. They claim that they are NOT being sued for copyright infringement, and that they published the link to the script "because it was news."
Defamer covers what people in Hollywood are talking about. … News of the fact that [the script] 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."
Now it will be up to the courts to decide. Is it really a slippery slope? Filmmakers like Tarantino rely on the Web to generate fan interest in their upcoming projects. And while Defamer (and Gawker) did NOT publish the actual script, linking directly to copies of the work is just as bad. It’s unethical… but is it illegal?
It will be interesting to see how the courts respond. There are too many Web sites dedicated to hunting down, publishing and critiquing unpublished screenplays. Do studios and filmmakers sometimes "leak" these works to get fan feedback? Without question. But if we eventually get a law preventing such online give-and-take, what method will both parties use in the future?