"Pulp Fiction" director Quentin Tarantino sued gossip website Gawker Monday, seeking at least $2 million over the publication of a leaked screenplay for what was to be his latest movie.
Tarantino, who announced last week that he had scrapped plans to film "The Hateful Eight" as his next project, accused Gawker of "predatory journalism" over the 146-page screenplay, posted anonymously online at a location which Gawker pointed its readers to.
"This action is necessitated by Gawker Media's and the other defendants' blatant copyright infringement by their promotion and dissemination of unauthorized downloadable copies of the leaked unreleased complete screenplay," said the lawsuit.
"Gawker Media has made a business of predatory journalism, violating people's rights to make a buck. This time they went too far," added the legal document filed in the federal court in California, emailed to AFP by Tarantino lawyer Evan Spiegel.
The lawsuit cited Gawker Media and ANONFILES.COM, the anonymous website where the screenplay was posted.
But Gawker responded by saying that it did not leak the screenplay, but simply pointed out where it was posted online -- and accused Tarantino of deliberately turning the leak into a story.
The "Reservoir Dogs" and "Django Unchained" filmmaker went on the warpath last week, telling Deadline.com that he believes the screenplay was leaked by someone linked to only six people with whom he shared the screenplay.
"I'm very, very depressed ... I finished a script, a first draft, and I didn't mean to shoot it until next winter, a year from now. I gave it to six people, and apparently it's gotten out today," he said last Tuesday.
His lawsuit said: "There was nothing newsworthy or journalistic about Gawker Media facilitating and encouraging the public's violation of Plaintiff's copyright in the Screenplay, and it's conduct will not shield Gawker Media from liability for their unlawful activity."
It sought at least $1 million for violation of copyright by the person who published it online, and the same amount for contributory violation of copyright -- the claim specifically targeting Gawker.
Gawker wrote an online response Monday, saying it did not leak the screenplay.
"Someone unknown to Gawker put it on a web site called AnonFiles, and someone unknown to Gawker put it on a different web site called Scribd. Last Thursday, Gawker received a tip from a reader informing us that the script was on the AnonFiles site, after which Gawker published a story reporting that the script had surfaced online," it said.
"Quentin Tarantino deliberately turned the leak into a story," it added, while saying that it published a link to the screenplay "because it was news."
It added that to its knowledge "no claim of contributory infringement has prevailed in the US over a news story.
"We'll be fighting this one," it said.
Tarantino said last week that he wants to know who exactly leaked the screenplay, telling Deadline he wants someone to "name names."
"I don't know how these ... agents work, but I'm not making this next. I'm going to publish it, and that's it for now.
"I give it out to six people, and if I can't trust them to that degree, then I have no desire to make it. I'll publish it. I'm done. I'll move on to the next thing.
"I've got 10 more where that came from," he said.