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'Quentin Tarantino' by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Once Upon a Time on the Blockchain: Tarantino’s NFTs

Tarantino claims
He has rights to NFTs
Based on his screenplay

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) continue to be a hot investment/gamble, and even kids are getting in on the action.

As the New York Times recently reported,

The 40-year-old digital artist known as Beeple may have grabbed headlines last spring when one of his works sold at Christie’s for $69 million, but NFT markets like Atomic Hub, Nefty Blocks, and OpenSea are filled with creators barely old enough to drive. They promote their work not through blue-chip galleries or auction houses but on social media.

As we explained in this blog (quoting the Times),

An NFT is an asset verified using blockchain technology, in which a network of computers records transactions and gives buyers proof of authenticity and ownership. The current boom is mostly for digital assets, including images, GIFs, songs, or videos. Most importantly, NFTs make digital artworks unique, and therefore sellable.

Now, artists, musicians, influencers, and sports franchises are using NFTs to monetize digital goods that have previously been cheap or free.

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino is one of those artists. As Artnet reported,

This week, Tarantino took the stage at NFT.NYC, a week-long crypto-art conference in Times Square, to announce that he’s turning seven scenes from Pulp Fiction into “secret” non-fungible tokens. Each will feature digitized excerpts from the original handwritten script for the film, as well as snippets of audio commentary from the director himself.

The digital objects will reveal “secrets about the film and its creator,” according to Secret Network, the blockchain platform on which the NFTs will be minted. They’ll be auctioned off on the OpenSea NFT marketplace.

As the Tarantino NFT website modestly notes,

Quentin Tarantino is arguably one of the greatest screenwriters, directors, and authors of all time. The NFT collection contains scenes from the never-before-seen, handwritten screenplay of Pulp Fiction, one of the most influencing artworks of modern film. Each NFT consists of a single iconic scene, including personalized audio commentary from Quentin Tarantino. The collector who will purchase one of these few and rare NFTs will get a hold of secrets from the mind and creative process of Quentin Tarantino. The owner will enjoy the freedom of choosing between:

  1. Keeping the secrets to themself for all eternity.
  2. Sharing the secrets with a few trusted loved ones.
  3. Sharing the secrets publicly with the world.

As the site explains,

Secret NFTs are a new asset class of non-fungible tokens, enhanced with privacy and access control features to create hidden content and experiences.

Visitors to the site are invited to join the waiting list for access to the NFTs. But there may be some legal hurdles to clear before that happens.

As The Verge reported,

Production company Miramax has sued director Quentin Tarantino over his non-fungible token or NFT collection based on Pulp Fiction. The lawsuit, filed yesterday in California court and noted online by attorney Mark Jaffe, says NFTs don’t fall under Tarantino’s reserved rights for the film. Miramax accuses him of violating the company’s copyright and trademark, and it’s demanding a halt to the upcoming sale.

Tarantino’s NFT collection is said to include blockchain tokens associated with high-resolution scans from his original handwritten screenplay of the film, plus a drawing inspired by a scene.

Miramax (which owns the film) claims that Tarantino’s contractual rights for Pulp Fiction — which include interactive games and live performances — don’t cover NFTs associated with the film’s screenplay. The studio claims that Tarantino’s actions interfere with its own plans to market Pulp Fiction NFTs.

Of course, NFTs didn’t exist in 1994 when the movie came out. The internet itself barely existed back then, as computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee only released the source code for the world’s first web browser and editor in 1993.

Tarantino’s lawyer responded to the suit in Variety, saying

Miramax is wrong — plain and simple. Quentin Tarantino’s contract is clear: he has the right to sell NFTs of his hand-written script for Pulp Fiction and this ham-fisted attempt to prevent him from doing so will fail.

As Variety notes,

The suit appears to turn on the question of whether selling NFTs based on excerpts of a screenplay qualify as a “publication” of the screenplay. According to the suit, Tarantino’s lawyer has told Miramax that Tarantino retained the right to publish his screenplay in the Miramax contract and that he is exercising that right through the NFT sale.

Miramax argues that NFTs are a one-time sale, and are not equivalent to the publication of a screenplay, and that therefore Miramax owns the NFT rights.

Just like the haiku above, we like to keep our posts short and sweet. Hopefully, you found this bite-sized information helpful. If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us here.

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