Compare contributory infringement to aiding and abetting. An accessory knows about and assists with a crime in a subtle way, without getting his or her hands too dirty. An example might be storing stolen merchandise without taking part in a robbery – you’re guilty of facilitating the crime.
Movie maker Quentin Tarantino filed a lawsuit in January accusing Gawker Media of revealing his entire screenplay to the public. Tarantino had plans to produce the “The Hateful Eight” movie but scrapped the idea after Gawker’s published links to the script in a blog. Gawker wants a California judge to throw out the lawsuit, claiming the company could not be held as an accessory for copyright infringement that hasn’t occurred.
Gawker’s position is the company could not be guilty of contributory infringement, because the film director has no evidence of direct infringement. The motion to dismiss alleges Tarantino’s case is weak, because it supposes Gawker’s exposure of “The Hateful Eight” script would encourage infringement. The defendant asserted possible infringement was not actual infringement and, without direct proof, there could be no secondary liability case.