This is going to be interesting. Miramax sent a cease and desist letter to Quentin Tarantino and his team regarding the “Pulp Fiction” NFTs they’re looking to sell. Tarantino responded that he had the right to do so and kept on promoting them. Miramax sued. Just a month ago, the company was wishing Tarantino a happy birthday, and now here we are. And the show is just getting started.
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On the one hand, Miramax was “Pulp Fiction’s” production company and still holds the rights to the 1994 masterpiece. On the other, Tarantino preserved the right to publish the screenplay, and the NFTs are based on that historical artifact. However, Miramax argues that since an NFT exchanges hands with a single sale, it doesn’t count as publishing. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s explore the case further.
The Unique Characteristics Of Tarantino ’s “Pulp Fiction” NFTs
When The Secret Network announced that Quentin Tarantino was the first artist they were working with, our sister site Bitcoinist reacted. They quickly reported on the “unique value proposition” of the company in general and the “Pulp Fiction” NFTs in particular.
“Tarantino’s NFT release will be the first of its kind for the blockchain. Seven unique NFTs will come to market, featuring original ‘Pulp Fiction’ handwritten scripts and exclusive audio commentary from Tarantino himself.
The Secret Network is a Layer 1 privacy blockchain created by SCRT Labs. The unique value proposition from The Secret Network lies in the name; the NFTs will be “secret” and only accessible by the NFTs owner.”
Just that fact makes the lawsuit endlessly interesting. Only the person that buys the NFT can see what’s inside, so Miramax has no clue about the kind of content they’re suing for. They just know they own the rights to the picture and the discarded material, but, besides the reports and the marketing material, they’re as in the dark as the rest of us about the actual content.
On the day of the announcement, The Secret Network released a statement that quotes the director himself.
“I’m excited to be presenting these exclusive scenes from PULP FICTION to fans.” Tarantino says. “Secret Network and Secret NFTs provide a whole new world of connecting fans and artists and I’m thrilled to be a part of that.”
Tarantino’s words suggest simpler times. We’re nowhere near that stage anymore.
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What Does Miramax’s Lawsuit Say?
The 60-page long suit is already available online. This extract summarizes Miramax’s position:
“The fact that Tarantino kept Miramax out of the loop is particularly problematic because he granted and assigned nearly all of his rights to Pulp Fiction (and all its elements in all stages of development and production) to Miramax in 1993, including the rights necessary for the “secrets from Pulp Fiction” that he intends to sell. Tarantino’s limited “Reserved Rights” under the operative agreements are far too narrow for him to unilaterally produce, market, and sell the Pulp Fiction NFTs.”
However, Bart Williams, Miramax attorney, was much harsher in a recent statement quoted by Variety:
“This group chose to recklessly, greedily, and intentionally disregard the agreement that Quentin signed instead of following the clear legal and ethical approach of simply communicating with Miramax about his proposed ideas,” Williams said. “This one-off effort devalues the NFT rights to ‘Pulp Fiction,’ which Miramax intends to maximize through a strategic, comprehensive approach.”
Who is Williams referring to when he says “this group”? Probably The Secret Network, who responded via Twitter. “NFTs are meant to empower creators, connecting them directly with their audiences and communities,” they said. “Now some in the media world want to take a massive step back. We stand with creators.”
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That’s cute, but, does The Secret Network and Tarantino have the legal right to sell those “Pulp Fiction” NFTs? We would have to see the content to determine that. Which we can’t do. And neither does Miramax.
To close this off, here’s a video of Tarantino learning about NFTs for the first time:
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