Director Quentin Tarantino joins a line of international companies, artists, celebrities and even athletes, who want to enjoy the abundance that the NFT world offers, and as mentioned – where there is money, there are challenges.
It all started when Trentino announced his intention to sell NFT containing unedited scenes from “Cheap Literature” with the director’s comments, including secrets about the film and Trentino, as well as scanned excerpts from the original script which are handwritten. That is, the uniqueness is that each file that is sold will contain secret content that will be revealed for the first time only to its owner. Incidentally, coincidentally or not, due to the director’s known affiliation with Israel, Trentino joined the Israeli company SCRTLabs to sell the files.
The lawsuit, filed a few days ago in the state of California, USA, raised many allegations, such as copyright infringement, breach of contract, trademark infringement, unfair competition and more, with the remedies sought being monetary compensation, restraining order and apology.
According to Mirmax, she herself has extensive rights in the film, both because she produced and distributed the video, but also because Tarantino transferred most of its rights to her in 1993. Now, the sale of Tarantino, which she claims violates her intellectual property rights, may mislead consumers into thinking Mirmax is involved in the sale of Trentino and thus interfere with the company’s plans to sell NFT from its library, on its own terms.
Trentino, on the other hand, denies Mirmax’s claims and claims that he never waived his right to publish or sell the script, and appears to have no intention of letting the prosecution stop the planned sale, at least as long as no restraining order has been issued against its execution.
There is no doubt that there is significant economic potential in selling NFT, as we have come to know over the past year, when meme files and videos have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and other works of art even for tens of millions of dollars. Given the great success of “Cheap Literature,” which won many awards, including the Academy Award for Best Screenplay and which became a cult film and is considered to this day one of Trentino’s most successful and recognizable films, and in light of Trentino’s undisputed status as a creator The planned NFT, if implemented, will rake in considerable sums of money. These will be at the center of the legal dispute between Trentino and Mirmax.
This dispute is particularly interesting, as for the first time a court is required for this innovative issue, which involves NFT and crypto technology and the world of intellectual property and copyright in particular. This technology challenges not only the legal world, but also the entire financial world, including banks and regulators, as it is fundamentally designed to circumvent exactly the same factors.
This lawsuit illustrates the growing gap between technology and the legal world, and now the court will be required to approach this dispute through laws that did not anticipate NFT technology at all.
First, the court will have to determine what rights, if any, belong to Trentino in relation to “cheap literature.” It will then have to decide whether the actions taken within the framework of the ring and the sale of the NFT, are included within the framework of these rights. For example, he will have to decide whether the sale of a unique and encrypted NFT – which has only been disclosed to its owner – is considered “advertising” or “making it available to the public”.
It is possible that the court will even deepen the discussion and examine the issue in a more general context, that is, is it possible to “waive” rights or uses for a work that have not yet been born at the time of signing the agreement? The answer to this question depends, among other things, on the wording of the contract itself. If there is any reference to any future / new rights, this section may be sufficient to address this specific issue.
On the other hand, it is possible that both Trentino and Mirmax, who are in a situation where it is difficult to assess their chances of success in this innovative lawsuit, will choose not to take the risk in a precedent-setting ruling and opt for a compromise agreement (confidential of course).
Either way, there is no doubt that the world of NFT and decentralized currencies poses many challenges to the legal systems, banking and the art world, which are trying to figure out for themselves how to value the value of NFT works.
If there is one thing to learn from the case of Trentino it is undoubtedly that these are new times – both in Hollywood and in the world of law and commerce. The big challenge will be to try and anticipate the unexpected when signing agreements, or at the very least take into account new technological developments, which can create entirely new rights and uses.
In this way the NFT brings the legal world and the technological world even closer, and today it is clear that lawyers in many fields need a deeper technological understanding, if only to be able to anticipate future challenges of this kind.
The author is a managing partner of the Luzzatto Law Firm of the Luzzatto Group