Gawker to Quentin Tarantino: We're Safely Based in the Cayman Islands
Nick Denton's company throws up a jurisdictional challenge to the lawsuit over the "Hateful Eight" leak.
Gawker has a tropical reason why a judge should dismiss Quentin Tarantino's lawsuit over a leak of his Hateful Eight script.
According to a motion filed Wednesday, "This Court lacks personal jurisdiction over [Gawker Media Group, Inc.], a Cayman Islands corporation which is not subject to general jurisdiction because it does not have any continuous and systematic contacts with California and is not subject to specific jurisdiction because it does not publish the website at issue in plaintiff’s Complaint and was not involved in any way with the researching, writing, editing, or publishing of the article that is the subject of plaintiff’s Complaint."
As The Hollywood Reporter first reported, Tarantino is suing Gawker for contributory copyright infringement in connection with Gawker's Defamer blog linking to the 146-page script under a post titled, "Here Is the Leaked Quentin Tarantino Hateful Eight Script."
The lawsuit says that Gawker "crossed the journalistic line by promoting itself to the public as the first source to read the entire Screenplay illegally."
The dispute could open up a judicial discussion of secondary liability and news reporting privileges, but first Tarantino must deal with the nuances of jurisdiction. The director, who is known for having international cinema tastes, now has to focus on the Cayman Islands.
"GMGI has no operations or employees in California or elsewhere," says a motion to dismiss. "Rather, it is a Cayman Islands holding company. Its sole assets are equity securities in its subsidiaries, one of which is defendant Gawker Media, LLC. In short, GMGI does not publish anything, including without limitation the website found at www.gawker.com."
So the lawsuit is taking a little bit of an unexpected detour in how Nick Denton has set up his publishing company.
Even if the judge grants the motion, it probably won't end the dispute. A footnote in the legal brief states that Gawker Media is not contesting personal jurisdiction nor Gawker Entertainment. "However, Gawker Entertainment, LLC was dissolved as a corporation in 2013, and counsel for the parties have reached an agreement that Gawker Entertainment, LLC is not a proper party to this action," says the footnote.
As to the merits of the contributory copyright infringement claim, there isn't any discussion of that just yet. The closest that the motion comes is by talking about the "public dissemination" of Hateful Eight on January 21. "On this date, plaintiff gave an interview, which was widely reported in the media, to the effect that he had given copies of the script to certain individuals and that the script was now circulating publicly," says the brief.
In a Jan. 30 post, Gawker editor John Cook blamed Tarantino for "deliberately" turning the leak into news by revealing it to the media.
Gawker Media Group is being represented by attorneys at Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz.