Tarantino Sues Gawker. Hellz Yeah!
I am dying to hear the rationale for this one. According to several stories this morning, Quentin Tarantino is suing Gawker for leaking and promoting access to the full screenplay for a feature in late-stage development called The Hateful Eight. According to the LA Times, the director says he’s depressed over the leak and is shelving the production, but meanwhile, he’s suing Gawker for copyright infringement. The first report I read stated that a rumor was circulating that the whole kerfuffle is a publicity stunt by Tarantino, but I doubt it; and I certainly hope not. Tarantino doesn’t need a publicity stunt. His films, like them or not, are provocative enough to be their own publicity stunts.
There are times when copyright cases contain shades of gray, but this isn’t one of them. What possible social justification can anyone offer for leaking the screenplay of a motion picture in development? If you think you have an answer to that, find someone to administer a dope slap because your ego is eating the rest of your psyche. Assuming there’s nothing more to this story, what Gawker is doing is an outright hijacking of a process that represents many hours and many dollars worth of stranded investment. What journalist does that absent any actual news that serves the public? Have we become so debauched that we think we have a right to read an author’s work mid-process, let alone a component of a multi-million-dollar product in development? Tarantino should not only sue Gawker, but the responsible parties should have to clean his house without pay for six months.
It is apt that this story breaks this morning, when the House Judiciary Committee readies to hold another round of hearings on copyright review. Today will be focused on the subject of fair use, and we will undoubtedly hear testimony from parties arguing to expand fair use, despite the fact that the U.S. already has the most liberal application of the principle among countries who uphold copyright. Regardless, while there may be nuance to consider in this regard, this Tarantino case serves as a timely example of the fact that certain website owners would strain the legal foundation of fair use until the only part left is the use. This is what happens when people grow accustomed to making money for doing nothing: they become self-righteous about exploiting people who actually work for a living.
I don’t love every film Quentin Tarantino produces, but his voice certainly makes its presence known in the chorus of American cinema; and the world would be duller without him. Gawker? Really? It could disappear tomorrow, and what? Where would we ever find another team of lazy-ass gossip-mongers? Check under the nearest rock.
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