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Quentin Tarantino refiles suit against Gawker over 'Hateful Eight' script leak

By Saeed Ahmed, CNN
updated 7:16 AM EDT, Fri May 2, 2014
Oscar-winning screenwriter and director Quentin Tarantino says he is still working on the script for the Western.
Oscar-winning screenwriter and director Quentin Tarantino says he is still working on the script for the Western.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Last month, a federal judge dismissed his original suit
  • The suit seeks more than $1 million
  • "This time they went too far," Tarantino says, of Gawker

(CNN) -- Aaaand ... take 2!

Not one to give up, director Quentin Tarantino has filed an amended lawsuit against the gossip website Gawker for linking to the leaked screenplay for his next movie, "Hateful Eight."

Last month, a federal judge dismissed his original suit, ruling that Tarantino had failed to prove that Gawker's actions was direct copyright infringement.

The judge, John F. Walter of the Central District of California, then gave Tarantino's lawyers until Thursday to refile.

And so, they did. And they're seeking more than $1 million.

Tarantino's lawyers are arguing that Gawker encouraged a reader to 'leak' a copy of the screenplay, downloaded it, and then made it available to the public by linking to it.

"Gawker has made a business of predatory journalism, violating people's rights to make a buck," the amended lawsuit says. "This time they went too far."

How it all began

"Hateful Eight" is a Western that Tarantino said he was hoping to take on as his next project. It's in the same genre as his 2012 hit "Django Unchained," a movie that won him an Oscar for writing and a Golden Globe for best screenplay.

He told the gossip site Deadline that he'd given the script to only six people, including actors Michael Madsen, best known as the killer in Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs;" and Tim Roth, for whom "Reservoir Dogs" was his breakthrough role.

Somehow, the script leaked. It was posted through a site that lets users anonymously upload and download files.

In January, Gawker linked to the website hosting the script. "Here Is the Leaked Quentin Tarantino Hateful Eight Sript," the headline on the story read.

Although Gawker didn't post the script to its own site, Tarantino's lawyers charged the script wouldn't have been widely accessible if Gawker hadn't linked to it.

"Rather than merely publishing a news story reporting that plaintiff's screenplay may have been circulating within certain limited Hollywood circles without his permission, Gawker crossed the journalistic line, first by requesting that a reader 'leak' an infringing copy directly to Gawker, then second, after obtaining a link to and itself directly downloading an infringing PDF copy, and then third, by promoting itself to the public as the first source to download and read the entire screenplay illegally and directing the public to do so."

Tarantino sued.

What happened next

Gawker responded saying Tarantino's suit was without merit. It wasn't guilty of actual copyright infringement.

The judge agreed. On April 22, he threw out the original suit, saying Tarantino's lawyers had failed to prove "direct infringement."

Now, comes the amended suit. Tarantino's lawyers are claiming both direct and contributory infringement.

What's happening now

The question before the judge now is this: Does a site that downloads copyrighted material violate the rights of an author?

Whether the "Hateful Eight" project is indeed scrapped is unclear.

Last last month,Tarantino held a three-hour reading of the script and told audience members he was working on changes to it. He said making the film is still possible.

For now, though, there's the lawsuit to contend with.

Lights, camera, (legal) action!

CNN's Alan Duke, Gregory Wallace and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.

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