Quentin Tarantino to Sell ‘Pulp Fiction’ NFTs, Defying Miramax Suit

The director’s fight over ownership of the movie’s script could set a legal precedent for intellectual property rights.

When Quentin Tarantino and the movie studio Miramax agreed on the rights to “Pulp Fiction” in the early 1990s, cryptocurrency didn’t exist. Now, Mr. Tarantino is courting controversy — with a crypto twist — over ownership of the cult movie’s script that could set a legal precedent for intellectual property rights.

On Wednesday, the director announced auctions of nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, associated with his original handwritten screenplay, despite a pending lawsuit by Miramax.

Mr. Tarantino has been thwarted before. In November, after he announced plans for an auction, Miramax sued, claiming breach of contract and various intellectual property violations. In December, the director’s lawyers denied the accusations, but the sales did not proceed.

A hearing to schedule the lawsuit’s next steps is set for February, according to the court docket. Mr. Tarantino’s latest plans to sell the NFTs this month could prompt Miramax to demand an emergency block of the auctions until the legal issues are resolved.

NFTs are chunks of code associated with images, sound or video files, recorded on the blockchain — think of them as digital certificates of authenticity. Miramax’s lawyers argue that NFTs are unique (“nonfungible” is in the name, after all). Mr. Tarantino’s legal team argues that he is merely reproducing copies of his original script, a right he reserved.

How these tokens compare with old forms of creative expression is unclear.

“Someone could mint hundreds or thousands of unique NFTs linked to the same creative work, kind of like printing many copies of a book,” said Frank Gerratana, an intellectual property expert at Mintz in Boston. In that sense, although each NFT has its own unique identifier on a blockchain, they may not be considered distinct.

This question is likely to come up again, Mr. Gerratana said, given growing interest in cryptocurrencies. Whoever wins this fight may forever mark the law.

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