Quentin Tarantino is sheathing his sword. At least for the moment. In an about-face, the director has voluntarily dismissed a lawsuit against Gawker only a week after it looked like the dispute was expanding.
Tarantino sued in January with claims that Gawker had “crossed the journalistic line” by linking to the 146-page script for The Hateful Eight under a post titled, “?Here Is the Leaked Quentin Tarantino Hateful Eight Script.”
The case was grounded upon the claim that the news site had committed contributory copyright infringement by leading its readers to a copy of the script that had been uploaded to a third-party storage site.
But the allegation appeared to need more factual support. Gawker’s attorneys attacked the idea that the mere possibility of someone reading the script amounted to a direct infringement act, and the judge agreed.
According to U.S. District Judge John F. Walter, “Plaintiff’s complaint fails to allege the identity of a single third-party infringer, the date, the time, or the details of a single instance of third-party infringement, or, more importantly, how Defendant allegedly caused, induced, or materially contributed to the infringement by those third parties.”
Still, it wasn’t yet over because the judge allowed Tarantino to amend his lawsuit, which he did, this time with the claim that Gawker itself illegally downloaded to its computers an unauthorized infringing PDF copy of the screenplay and thus committed direct copyright infringement. Tarantino also attempted to buttress his contributory claim with the assertion that Gawker had solicited its readers before the original post, asking them to provide Gawker with the screenplay, and then later, amending its post with a new link to a copy that one of its readers had uploaded.
Now, a week later and before Gawker made any response, Tarantino has withdrawn the lawsuit without prejudice, meaning he can refile at a later time if he chooses.
And in fact, Tarantino’s dismissal motion hints at but hardly guarantees a sequel. It says, “This dismissal is made without prejudice, whereby Plaintiff may later advance an action and refile a complaint after further investigations to ascertain and plead the identities of additional infringers resulting from Gawker Media’s contributory copyright infringement, by its promotion, aiding and abetting and materially contributing to the dissemination to third-parties of unauthorized copies of Plaintiff’s copyrighted work.”