Miramax v. Tarantino: Pulp Fiction and NFTs

Caroline Rimmer

On November 16, 2021, Miramax filed suit in California against director Quentin Tarantino. This suit stems from Tarantino’s announcement two weeks prior that he intended to auction off 7 uncut Pulp Fiction scenes as Secret NFTs.[1] These NFTs are “secret” in the sense that they contain “content viewable only by the owner of the NFT.”[2] In the complaint, the attorneys representing Miramax emphasized the fact that Tarantino did not apprise Miramax of his plans.[3] Miramax asserts this is “particularly problematic” because Tarantino assigned nearly all of his rights to the film, including those they allege are necessary for the sale of such NFTs, to Miramax in 1993.[4]

In the complaint, Miramax laid out the rights they were granted in the 1993 agreement as well as the more limited rights that Tarantino himself retained as a result of that agreement. Under the agreement, Tarantino granted Miramax “all rights (including all copyrights and trademarks) in and to the Film (and all elements thereof in all stages of development and production) now or hereafter known including without limitation the right to distribute the Film in all media now or hereafter known.”[5] Tarantino reserved the rights to “soundtrack album, music publishing, live performance, print publication (including without limitation screenplay publication, ‘making of’ books, comic books and novelization, in audio and electronic formats as well, as applicable), interactive media, theatrical and television sequel and remake rights, and television series and spinoff rights.”[6] Notably, the rights Miramax was granted contained forward-looking language that encompasses forms of media and rights that did exist at the time of the agreement, whereas the rights reserved by Tarantino did not. At the time of the agreement, NFTs did not yet exist, so the exclusive right to their sale as related to Pulp Fiction could not be assigned. The forward-looking language of Miramax’s rights may serve a useful role to account for this.

This case will set significant precedent if it proceeds to trial. The attorneys for Miramax have indicated the potential weight of this decision in stating that Miramax “will not allow Quentin’s representatives to deceive others into believing they have the authority to make similar deals in violation of the rights agreements they signed.”[7] From a policy perspective, the avoidance of individuals selling NFTs who do not have the legitimate right to do so appears to be a worthy goal. Whether this goal is attainable is in part a question of the legal rights necessary for the legitimate sale of NFTs. This case is one to watch as it could help delineate the legal contours of NFTs and what rights allow individuals to sell them.


[1] Secret Network Quentin Tarantino Revealed as Iconic Artist Behind First-Ever Secret NFTs (Nov. 2, 2021) https://scrt.network/blog/quentin-tarantino-revealed-as-iconic-artist-behind-first-ever-secret-nfts

[2] Id.

[3] https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/21111461/miramax-tarantino-nft.pdf

[4] Id.

[5] Id at 4.

[6] Id at 5.

[7] Johnny Diaz, Miramax Sues Quentin Tarantino Over Planned ‘Pulp Fiction’ NFTs https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/17/business/miramax-tarantino-nft-pulp-fiction.html