Two recent copyright infringement cases coming out of the US
show that celebrities are taking their online rights seriously but
nevertheless remain at the mercy of their social media fan
The cases also serve as a warning to social media users and
bloggers who post or share links to unauthorised copies of
copyrighted material: copyright rights exist and can be enforced
online and in social media even against anonymous users.
Tarantino v Gawker Media and others
(United States District Court for the Central District of
California Western Division – Case 2:14 CV 00603, filed 27
On 27 January 2014, the film director Quentin Tarantino filed a
lawsuit against Gawker Media for a post on Gawker's Defamer
blog that provided a link to an unproduced screenplay written by
Tarantino, The Hateful Eight.
Tarantino alleges that on 21 January 2014, he discovered a copy
of the screenplay had been leaked public, albeit in a limited
manner, and spoke publicly about the leak. On 22 January, Gawker
actively solicited its readers to copies of the script, posting on
its blog "If anyone would like to...leak the script to us,
please do so on [email address]". The next day, Gawker
published a post entitled "Here is the Leaked Quentin
Tarantino Hateful Eight Script", containing multiple
direct links for downloading the entire screenplay through an
Tarantino claims that the post "brazenly encourages
Gawker visitors to read the screenplay illegally with the
invitation to "Enjoy!" it"". He alleges
both direct infringement by "John Doe" defendants and
anonfiles.com, an unknown entity that posted the screenplay, as
well as contributory copyright infringement against Gawker Media
which refused to remove the links to the screenplay after
Tarantino's lawyers gave it notice to do so.
Tarantino is seeking actual damages of at least $1 million in
each of the infringement claims, as well as statutory and punitive
damages, and an injunction preventing Gawker from providing a link
to the script.
Prince v Chodera and others (United
States District Court for the Northern District of California
– Case 3:14 CV 00273)
The Artist currently known as Prince also filed a similar
lawsuit against 22 Facebook and Google Blogger users, many of whom
were identified only by their username, and who had posted links to
unauthorised copies of Prince's live performances, including
one blogger who posted 363 separate infringing links to file
The lawsuit was filed on 16 January 2014 and claimed $1 million
from each Facebook and Google Blogger user who used the platforms
to "publish posts that list all the songs performed at a
certain Prince live show and then provide a link to a file sharing
service where unauthorised copies of the performance can be
However Prince's suit was over almost as soon as it began
with the singer this week withdrawing his action once the illegal
downloads were removed but only after suffering a major social
media backlash from fans many of whom posted, commented and tweeted
their disappointment at his heavy handed reaction.
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