Pulp Fiction, NFT and digital art copyright
Miramax and Quentin Tarantino decided it was really more exciting when you didn’t have permission, as Mia Wallace said in “Pulp Fiction.”
The filmmaker and his former studio have settled a lawsuit over his NFT “Pulp Fiction” collection, which featured never-before-seen scenes and footage from the script along with director’s commentary. Miramax hit Tarantino with a lawsuit in November 2021. The studio claimed that not only did Tarantino not own the rights to his film, but that his efforts would interfere with Miramax’s own NFT plans.
Much has been made of the tiff, with some believing the lawsuit could help shape how entertainment law handles Web3. Tarantino claimed that “Pulp Fiction” gave Miramax the success it has today. The first drop sold for $1.1 million, but market volatility led to the cancellation of the remaining six planned drops.
Despite harsh words thrown in the media – Miramax called the project greedy, the filmmaker called the studio insensitive – the parties reached an agreement. In a joint statement, Tarantino and Miramax said they may create NFTs together in the future.
Miramax isn’t the only entertainment company looking to turn its former work into NFT – National Lampoon recently announced that it will be mining its filmography for crypto content. The whole NFT film and TV trend is another beast, and celebrities are facing separate legal issues with NFT endorsements.
The waters are still murky when it comes to intellectual property rights and NFTs. Here are some ongoing trademark, copyright and intellectual property lawsuits in the digital realm.
Nike and StockX
In February 2022, online sneaker retailer StockX released an NFT series based on Nike sneakers. The sports brand filed a lawsuit in response, alleging StockX infringed its trademarks by selling unauthorized NFTs containing Nike shoes. StockX tokens, according to Nike, offer digital versions of Nike sneakers at prices above the actual cost of the shoes, which dilutes the Nike brand by making StockX buyers doubt the legitimacy of Nike. Nike then filed forgery charges, saying they may have purchased four fake shoes from StockX. The retailer denies these allegations and insists that NFTs help authenticate a shoe.
It should be noted that Nike launched its own line of virtual sneakers in April. And trademark infringement is common in the sneaker industry, like Nike suing MSCHF for its use of Nike Air Max 97 in Lil Nas X’s “Satan Shoes.” This case just takes it to the virtual plane.
Lil Yachty and Opulent
Lil Yachty filed a lawsuit against seller NFT Opulous in January. The rapper claimed the company used his likeness to raise funds, infringing on his trademark rights to his work. It’s a bit of a situation, he said, she says: Lil Yachty said initial conversations about his involvement in the project went nowhere, while Opulous insists that he gave the green light. Opulous failed to have the lawsuit dismissed on jurisdictional grounds after claiming that the California-based lawsuit did not cover the Singapore-based company or the Georgia-based rapper, failed.
Yuga Labs and Ryder Ripps
The creative minds behind Bored Ape Yacht Club, which took the NFT world by storm, are suing artist Ryder Ripps for his “hearty” NFT collection based on their images. Yuga Labs says his work confuses consumers and devalues their art. As BAYC’s value plummets, Ripps claims his work is “appropriation art” intended to critique a “business founded on racist, neo-Nazi dog whistles.” in Web3. –Kristin Snyder
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