Copyright

Paramount Copyright Claim on Klingon Language Challenged in Klingon Language

Paramount's arguments lack reason, or "meq Hutlh."

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Axanar

The Language Creation Society has filed an amicus brief challenging Paramount's claim of copyright over the Klingon language in its lawsuit against Axanar, a fan-produced film set in the Star Trek universe. Marc Randazza, a top notch first amendment attorney who has helped out Reason on copyright issues, and Alex Shepard filed the brief yesterday.

Conlanging is the process of constructing a language, and Klingon is a popular conlang which originated with lines of dialogue and a dictionary written by Marc Okrand, the linguist who created Klingon for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and the two movies after that.

The amicus brief is peppered with Klingon words and phrases, even quoting The Big Lebowski in Klingon, "not Qam ghu'vam" ("This will not stand, man") in response to the idea that anyone expressing anything in Klingon would be a copyright infringer if Paramount owned the actual language. The brief mentions Alec Speers, whose dad taught him Klingon at an early age.

"To claim copyright in a language is to claim ownership over all possible thoughts and artistic expression that might employ that language," the attorneys argue in the amicus brief. "If not ownership, such a claim at least provides some support for the idea that the copyright owner could, at some point, simply pull the plug on any future development in the language."

The Framers, the brief argues, would have an analogy—the Académie Française, which regulates the entirety of the French language.

"In effect, significant parts of French are constructed," the attorneys argue. "The Framers would have been shocked to learn that they might be prohibited from writing and speaking in French were the Academy to register copyright in its constructions. However, that would be the eventual result, if this court commits the qaq of blessing Paramount's claim to the intellectual property inherent in a language."

The attorneys point to previous case law, including on constructed programming languages. In Computer Assocs. Int'l v. Alta, the court found terms in programming languages that were required to accomplish tasks in an operating system were not copyright-protected. In Zalewski v. Cicero Builder, meanwhile, the, brief points out that  court found that "if an idea 'can only be expressed in a limited number of ways,' those means of expression 'cannot be protected, lest one author own the idea itself.'"

"Copyright law protects the means of expressing ideas or concepts, but it does not give the copyright holder the right to exclude others from making use of the ideas or concepts themselves," the brief argues. "Neither is one permitted to register copyright in a word."

The brief illustrates the importance of a decision in the Axanar lawsuit that addresses the specific yet broad copyright claims made by Paramount. "No court has squarely addressed the issue of whether a constructed spoken language is entitled to copyright protection," the brief argues.

There was, however, a trademark case. A federal circuit court affirmed the cancellation of a trademark claim for "Loglan," the name of a constructed language tied to an institute that eventually splintered.

"While individual Klingon words may be expressive, one cannot speak Klingon without using these words," the brief argues, rejecting comparisons to litigation between Oracle and Google over Java. "The idea of speaking Klingon thus merges with the expression of particular words, making Klingon as a language not entitled to copyright protection."

The brief also pointed to precedent on "poker jargon" (Grosso v. Miramax), which was also found to be not copyright protected. The attorneys drew on the conclusions of the Supreme Court about copyright and basic information in the 1991 Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service case. "To this end, copyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote for the majority opinion in the 9-0 ruling. "It is the means by which copyright advances the progress of science and art."

"But, if Paramount were able to claim the exclusive right to use or license the use of this language, an entire body of thought would be extinguished," the brief concludes. "Hoch jaghpu'Daj HoHbogh SuvwI' yIvup" ("Pity the warrior who kills all his enemies.")

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221 responses to “Paramount Copyright Claim on Klingon Language Challenged in Klingon Language

  1. Shaka, when the walls fell.

    1. Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.

      1. Temba, at rest

        1. Drinking Kanar with Damar.

          1. Okay, I give up and I’m too lazy to google it. What’s this all about?

              1. The General in his labyrinth.

                1. Yousa say peoples gonna die?

                  1. The river Temarc in winter!

              2. Q: How are a roll of toilet paper and the Starship Enter-thighs alike?

                A: They both circle around Uranus looking for Klingons!

            1. His eyes closed.

            2. Okay, I’m gonna start hitting things.

            3. C’mon, guys, stop picking on the normals.

              TM, it’s a reference to an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation when they encounter an alien civilization with whom nobody has been able to communicate because their language never says anything directly, but references incidents from their history/mythology.

              The H&R equivalents: Like Preet Bharara, when the chippers came out. Like Tonio and Eddie on an abortion thread. When Switzy narrowed his gaze.

              1. Tonio, the party pooped.

                1. Yokels, when the cucks fell.

                2. Sorry, it’s what I do.

              2. Warty, in his dungeon.

                1. Heroic, and the furry wars.

                2. Cytotoxic, his mom not home.

              3. The one thing that bugged me about that episode was the question of how anyone in that society learned those references. If there isn’t a base language in which the references are taught, wouldn’t the phrases then take on the aspect of words instead? for example, a lot of far eastern terms, if literally translated by sub-element, are flowery phrases what seem nonsensical, but are treated as words instead of phrases for translation.

                The whole problem is one that should not be.

                1. The one thing that bugged me about that episode was the question of how anyone in that society learned those references. If there isn’t a base language in which the references are taught, wouldn’t the phrases then take on the aspect of words instead?

                  The second part is correct, imo, but you wouldn’t have to learn the story behind the phrases to use them. If you see your dad shout “Darmok, his ass sore!” every time he drops a quantum spanner on his foot, you’d quickly put two and two together that it means something about anger and/or pain. Think of all the phrases you learned just by context before learning the stories behind them.

                  1. The second part is correct, imo, but you wouldn’t have to learn the story behind the phrases to use them. If you see your dad shout “Darmok, his ass sore!” every time he drops a quantum spanner on his foot, you’d quickly put two and two together that it means something about anger and/or pain. Think of all the phrases you learned just by context before learning the stories behind them.

                    Which then leads into it being no harder than any other alien language to translate (which is in of itself a monumental task, but one that has been done often in-universe)

                    1. “Which then leads into it being no harder than any other alien language to translate (which is in of itself a monumental task, but one that has been done often in-universe)”

                      Well, it really goes to how the Star Trek universal translator works. Is it able to figure out a new language free from context? That seems unlikely, so may be the problem here is with the concept of the universal translator. If all previous interactions were while captains stood on their bridges and talked, then the meanings of the phrases could not be deduced. But given a more complex environment and situations, Picard was able to deduce the meaning of the phrases from context.

                    2. Well it also raises questions about how they talk in normal life. If I say that someone is pinning for the fjords, most nerds would recognize what I meant, but how do they order a gross of self sealing stem bolts, or tell someone to run a level 3 diagnostic? Do they have heroic epics about someone inflating their car’s tires?

                    3. Is it able to figure out a new language free from context?

                      Yes. The universal translator explicitly reads brainwaves for meaning.

                    4. no harder than any other alien language to translate

                      Don’t get me started on the “universal translator”. Quite possibly the most BS device in all of Trekdom.

                    5. The translator is the most BS device?! In a universe that contains the replicator and the transporter, the universal translator merely looks mildly unlikely.

                    6. I always thought that was George Takei!

                    7. Takei, his ass sore.

                2. The thing that bugged me about that episode is it seems unlikely that an advanced space-faring civilization could arise with a language that based on what we see of it is limited in the types of ideas that can be conveyed.

                  1. “The thing that bugged me about that episode is it seems unlikely that an advanced space-faring civilization could arise with a language that based on what we see of it is limited in the types of ideas that can be conveyed.”

                    I don’t see this as a problem. All language is metaphor to a certain extent, and metaphors are hierarchical. I can see them combining mythical concepts together to describe technical details.

                    1. A mathemtical language would be the best place to start. Kind of like in ‘Contact’. Just without the superfluous Matthew McConughey character and the alien looking like Jodie Foster’s dead dad.

                3. UCS, you’re not supposed to think about that hard.

              4. Tonio with his lies.

                1. Taking insulin with SugarFree.

                2. | is to O

                  as

                  Sarc is to John?

              5. Aha, now it all makes sense. Thanks Tonio!

                The commentariat, upon seeing Lobster Girl for the first time.

                1. The commentariat, upon seeing Lobster Girl for the first time.]

                  One of us, one of us…

                2. The scales fall from his eyes!

                  1. Annakin, not liking sand.

                3. Juliet, from her balcony

              6. Do you people realize how geeky you are? DO YOU?

            4. It’s fro the TNG episode ‘Darmok’. They’re quoting dialogue from the episode. Paul Winfield plays an alien starship captain trying to communicate with Picard. The universal translator translates the words ok, but the alien’s use a language based on metaphor. Since the Enterpise crew lacks any contextual references, they are confused by the alien’s.

              The alien captain kidnaps Picard and isolates the two of them together on the planet they are both orbiting. Trying to develop a common frame of reference so they can accurately communicate and avert a potential misunderstanding and tragic interstellar incident. It was a very strong dramatic episode (Winfield was a terrific character actor, God rest his soul).

              In retrospect, that was much more work for me to type than it would have been for you to just google the shit and look it up yourself. So you’re welcome.

            5. Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Darmok”

      2. Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra

        That was a great outdoor concert.

    2. Shaka ain’t nobody, loves me better, makes me happy, makes me feel this way,

      1. Khaaaaaaannnnnn!

      1. …what a savings!

      2. Ha, I just rewatched this the other day.

        “Can you form some sort of rudimentary lathe?”

    1. mub HIv SoHvaD nuqDaq blQam!

      (How does this gibberish even make it through the reason censors?)

      1. If it didn’t, half of the comments wouldn’t due to our remarkable tendency to create gibberish.

        Why do you think the bots keep coming back?

      2. Like Agile on Friday, when the shrooms come out!

        1. *coughs, stumbles into room, gives Tonio a standing ovation and staggers back out*

  2. Dorks.

    1. Law nerds are the worst kind of nerds.

      1. What about communist progtard nerds?

      2. Besides, I thought it was Klingonese

  3. This is so nerdy that i got an acne breakout and my virginity back just reading about it, but Marc Randazza gets props for being a Popehat contributor.

    1. my virginity back

      *suddenly is interested in X*

      1. Won’t my wife be surprised!

        1. On second thought, she might not be.

          :’-(

        2. Yes, but perhaps not pleasantly surprised.

  4. I wonder what Okrand himself has to say about this.

  5. The Nerds are getting so meta.

  6. I just want the movie to be made. It looked like the first entry worth seeing in a long time.

    1. It looked like the first entry worth seeing in a long time.

      You have identified Paramount’s true objection.

  7. Look guys, Paramount is just trying to preserve the integrity of the franchise that they have spent so many decades cultivating, okay? Now lets all go listen to some Beastie Boys while riding dirtbikes.

    1. Ah, the Beastie Boys! Their music was the only thing that got me through the tough times of the Eugenics Wars.

    2. “We thought you only cared about cans of anchovies and stuffy old songs about the buttocks.”

      1. “I’m rich, I can live whenever I want.”

  8. Can I ask a question – why the hell is it possible to copyright an entire genre or universe? It strikes me that the whole concept speaks to how out-and-out ridiculous our IP laws have become. I can see maybe being able to copyright a particular work. But, how the hell is creativity encouraged (the only legitimate reason for the grant of ostensibly temporary monopoly) by telling people they can’t produce works anything like the work in question?

    1. It’s the principle of derivative works.

      If someone goes through the trouble of worldbuilding through multiple entries in a series containing their creative expression, to start creating work derivitive from that can be almost as exploitative as just flat out pirating it.

      There’s nothing that stops other space operas from being made, they’re made all of the time. The issue is a story about a war between factions very specifically tied to a body of work built up by the initial copyright holder.

      A war in a generic space opera-style setting would be like the work in question for this case, but would be non-infringing. The piece, however is explicitly set in the setting of and using aspects created and cultivated by the original creator.

      1. But at what point does it become like writing new King Arthur stories, or new Robin Hood stories. This fictional universe has been around for 60 years now, and its author has been dead for decades. At what point does the need for this “protection” trickle off?

        1. That’s the only point we can agree on. The absurdity of continually extending the duration of copyright has run counter to its original intent of encouraging creation by creating a window of exclusivity for the creator.

          There’s no reason for copyright to outlive the creator, but then you get the question of works created by and/or for a corporation, which can be absurdly long-lived. None of the recent extensions were justified.

          1. There’s no reason for copyright to outlive the creator,

            So why shouldn’t a creator be able to pass an asset to his/her heirs?

            1. That would be an excellent argument for a fixed term copyright. Life plus ninety is just plain absurd, especially given the variability of the ‘life’ part. Someone who creates early and lives long gets protection longer than the octigenarian who used their retirement to compose?

              1. “Someone who creates early and lives long gets protection longer than the octigenarian who used their retirement to compose?”

                Why not? What difference does it make once they’re all dead?

                1. You can take it up with Kinnath. But there are examples of well know writers who increased their output in the later years with the express purpose of providing for their widows from the residuals. (I wish I could remember which one in particular).

                  1. “But there are examples of well know writers who increased their output in the later years with the express purpose of providing for their widows from the residuals. (I wish I could remember which one in particular).”

                    I can well imagine, but that doesn’t make it a right.

                  2. I wish I could remember which one in particular

                    Anthony Burgess comes to mind.

                    … Hobbit

            2. I don’t see it as an asset. It’s a legal privilege granted for a utilitarian purpose.

              I say just put a fixed term on copyrights like with patents.

            3. Because it’s not an asset, but an unjust use of government force to censor and control certain information, even if it exists on other people’s physical property. Government censorship can never be justified, and in the end, copyright requires government censorship. Copyright simply should not exist.

          2. The absurdity of continually extending the duration of copyright has run counter to its original intent of encouraging creation by creating a window of exclusivity for the creator.

            Yes, Extending copyright for now what, a hundred years– and probably to be extended longer, is the real issue.

          3. “works created by and/or for a corporation”

            I think this cuts to the heart of the issue, and is a form of collectivism gone awry. “Corporations” don’t create things – individuals do.

            “Paramount Pictures” had nothing whatsoever to do with the creation of either Star Trek or the Klingon language other than funding the productions of the creator. I see no reason the creator can’t give up some share of their IP as part of production deal, but the logic that says the act of creation is itself thereby transferred to the collective entity that could exist for centuries to come escapes me.

            1. People invent stuff not corporations. That doesn’t stop me from “selling” the rights to my inventions to my employer.

              1. “but the logic that says the act of creation is itself thereby transferred to the collective entity that could exist for centuries to come escapes me.”

                1. The issue is whether or not “intellectual property” is in fact “property”. If it is property, there no reason why ownership shouldn’t go on for ever. If it is not property, then why can anyone ever own it.

                  Copyright is an artificial construct to protect the right of a creator to control the replication of creative works. There are many valid arguments that it should never exist (I don’t agree, but I understand the arguments). This construct has been warped to protect the commercial interests of large and powerful organizations while doing little to protect actual creators (which I fully agree with).

                  The current copyright regime needs to be gutted.

                  1. ^ I agree with this almost completely.

              2. But why is it that your selling the rights to the employer changes the legal definition of the rights?

                The actual laws governing the IP should still lie with the actual creator. So in the case of Star Trek even though Paramount owns the rights the copyright should expire relative to Roddenberry’s death. Not Paramount’s death.

                1. “even though Paramount owns the rights the copyright should expire relative to Roddenberry’s death. Not Paramount’s death.”

                  ^ This.

        2. But at what point does it become like writing new King Arthur stories, or new Robin Hood stories.

          I guess you have to decide if you can own the characters.

          If I invent a popular series called The Adventures of Drippy Spillywinks, and someone else writes an entirely different story featuring a character named Drippy Spillywinks, has my IP been violated? Do I not have a right to control the characters I invented?

          On the larger question of ‘the universe” it’s a less clear question. If I write fanfic “in the Star Wars Universe” with entirely new characters and situations, but making reference to some specifics of the copyrighted work (such as The Empire, The Rebellion, The Clone Army), have I violated anything?

          I don’t have any of those answers.

          1. “The Empire, The Rebellion”

            Perfect examples. Isn’t this a bit like Taylor Swift copyrighting common English phrases because she happens to use them in her songs?

            Can I no longer write stories that involve an “Empire” vs. a “Rebellion?”

            Star Wars is a better example than Star Trek because, let’s face it, Star Wars isn’t all that original in the first place.

            Who owns Samurai swordmasters, and how much does Lucas owe them for the IP? Remember when TSR copyrighting the word “Nazi” for the Indiana Jones role-playing game?

            I don’t have the answers, either – it’s a really squishy area, but I think we’ve gone way to far in the direction of “protection” to the point it is obviously stifling, rather than encouraging, creation.

            1. I may have used bad examples. I agree “The Empire” is awfully vague. Let me rephrase:

              Tie Fighters, X-Wings.

              those aren’t characters, but they are specific, named creations by George Lucas. Can I write a story about a Tie Fighter pilot without getting permission from the owner of the Star Wars franchise?

              1. “Can I write a story about a Tie Fighter pilot without getting permission from the owner of the Star Wars franchise?”

                If there is a line, I think that is it, right there. And how I feel about that depends on the time of day.

                And it’s naturally ambiguous – at some point you cross from vague (“The Empire”) to specific (Tie Fighter). That’s probably not a very clear point of transition.

                But in my mood today, I would argue that you could go ahead and write a story about Tie Fighters and you won’t be damaging George Lucas.

                Here’s why:

                1) your story is likely to be shitty, and people won’t pay attention to it
                2) if your story is brilliant, then what is brilliant about it is owned by you, the rest is just backdrop

                IOW, is the line that I can’t have spaceships with wing shapes named after letters? I can have spaceships, though, right? Can they be “spaghetti wings?”

                This is even bigger with fantasy fiction – do we have to keep coming up with different ways of saying ‘Middle Earth,’ since Tolkien’s translation of “Midgard” is IP?

                Like I say, I’m not an absolutist on this, but today I’m feeling like if your creative work is good, it will be original by nature and stand on its own. If it’s not it won’t. The law won’t change that, and the law the way it is currently implemented seems, to me, to do more harm than good.

        3. Those existed before copyright law. When those laws started showing up they only applied to newly-created works. Fortunately the lawmakers were not stupid enough to allow people to copyright existing stories, myths, etc.

          So, either the copyright has to expire (unlikely, because they keep extending that shit) or there is nobody left to enforce it.

          1. “Fortunately the lawmakers were not stupid enough to allow people to copyright existing stories, myths,”

            Disney?

            1. So if you make a cinderella movie Disney is going to sue you? I know they’re litigeous, but they’re not stupid.

              1. Expanding on that, if you make it using their representation of the character instead of your own, they will pounce.

              2. “Disney Sues Over Use of Snow White at Oscars”

                http://articles.latimes.com/19…..-character

                But in fairness, they dropped the suit due to the bad publicity.

                1. Was the dancer’s costume designed to resemble the animated version?

                  Would they have had a snowball’s chance in court?

                  1. Haven’t seen a picture, but from the article:

                    “The Snow White character–as portrayed Wednesday night by Bowman–was created by Steve Silver, who for 15 years has used the character in the San Francisco musical revue “Beach Blanket Babylon.””

                    But yes, they may well have dropped because they realized they didn’t have snowball’s chance.

                    So OK, I’ll concede that Tonio’s point that people can’t copyright existing fables and myths stands, despite Disney’s often de-facto-successful attempts to do so.

                    IP law is not as completely and utterly fucked up as I was representing. Only partly.

              3. Besides, there are at least scores of “Cinderella” stories and films, not to speak of cinderella-themed servant-girl-wins-prince plots and servant-boy-wins-princess reverse plots for Disney ever to claim they originated the idea.

      2. I get your point that that’s what the law says. But, that doesn’t make at all clear to me why the law protects derivative works. I’m not convinced that creating derivative works of a world someone has created is the equivalent to pirating it. If anything, I’d say the opposite is more the case. Any popularity the derivative work creates adds to the value of the original as the “authoritative source”.

        1. “If anything, I’d say the opposite is more the case. Any popularity the derivative work creates adds to the value of the original as the “authoritative source”.”

          An excellent point.

        2. Further, if anyone can create derivitave works it creates a decided incentive for the author to bless better ones as “official” (for a percentage of course) and by that blessing will confer benefits to both authors as it enhances the desirability of both of their works.

          In otherwords if anyone could write stories set in the Harry Potter world it would be in JK Rowlings Best interests to create an official style guide and “license” specific vetted authors to create the stories of the magical schools located other parts of the globe and ackowledge those works as cannon for the universe.

          That would serve to further increase interest in the universe as a whole and guarantee the “offical” derivatives are more popular than fly by night copycats.

          As thing stand now however there is little to no incentive to licence derivatives without charging outrageous fees and so it basically does not happen.

          1. Actually, it happens fairly often in sci-fi and fantasy.

          2. Star Trek did this with fan fiction back in the 70’s allowing hundreds of novels to be written. I believe there was a vetting process, so that if the product was of sufficient quality and followed canon well enough it would be blessed.

            In recent years it’s become possible for people to do their own films on low budget (under $100k). Apparently CBS/Paramount has tolerated previous Star Trek fan-films, several featuring original cast members, as long as they were ‘non-profit.’

            The people behind Axanar planned to do it as a crowd-funded project, building a studio and a reputation in the process, that would allow them to do other non-Trek for-profit projects later.

            It appears that the quality of the writing, acting and production in Axanar, as well as using the ‘donated’ funds to build what would eventually become a for-profit business, is what set the copyright owners off.

    2. ^ This.

      IP has long since stopped being about encouraging creativity and is now about protecting revenue streams for the well-connected.

      1. But sometimes “The Revenue stream of the well-connected” can be as simple as a lone self-publishing author earning a modest but steady living writing serials about a character he created. If that lone author suddenly sees his living shrink because people begin to purchase diffuse derivative works, has that author been harmed?

        1. I have no trouble with copyright persisting during the author’s lifetime, but how many future generations are allowed to continue milking that cow? Plus, eventually “lifetime” will become an issue. Either with life extension technology, or claiming that frozen corpses aren’t really dead, etc.

          1. It’s definitely a problem. How many cases have we seen where “the author’s estate” is vigorously suing anyone who threatens the layabout children’t stipend cheque?

            I agree, the length of copyright is a yuge problem.

          2. Well it’s been 50 years, and it doesn’t seem like we’ve gotten any closer to thawing out Walt, so maybe we should consider letting Mickey Mouse go into the public domain. Haha I’m kidding, I’m sure even my grandkid’s grandkids won’t be live long enough to see that happen.

        2. “If that lone author suddenly sees his living shrink because people begin to purchase diffuse derivative works, has that author been harmed?”

          I’m not sure he has. People have been writing shitty derivative fan fiction for years, but it doesn’t compete with the “originals” because the authors who invent things are, well, more inventive than those who are derivative.

          A decent author shouldn’t have to use the government to protect their abilities – Shakespeare didn’t, even when offered the opportunity.

          1. Christopher Marlowe nods.

            1. Indeed.

              In fact, truth be told, large sections of both Marlowe and Shakespeare are *directly plagiarized* from other works.

              1. We have sort of an odd obsession with originality. There is nothing wrong with making something people will enjoy from stuff that is already lying around.

                1. As Carl Sagan once said, in order to make a cake from scratch, you first have to invent the universe.

          2. What if that lone, self-publishing author suddenly sees a major motion picture blockbuster come out featuring a derivative work of his character, and he wasn’t paid one thin dime for it?

            1. “What if that lone, self-publishing author suddenly sees a major motion picture blockbuster come out featuring a derivative work of his character, and he wasn’t paid one thin dime for it?”

              Like Jack Kirby?

              This is a sucky thing, yes, and has gone on since there has been such a thing as audiences.

              Historically, though, copyright laws don’t protect that guy – they screw that guy.

              The first copyright laws in England came about midway through Shakespeare’s career. Every single one of his plays appears on the Stationer’s Register of protected works. Not one is registered in his name. Going by the Register, a small handful of well-connected guys wrote *a lot* of great plays.

              I go back and forth between rejecting IP laws altogether and acknowledging that *some* protection for creative types is warranted, but then that brings me back to the classic libertarian dilemma – who do we empower to make these calls?

              1. If one (not you, but one) is totally against IP, then none of my arguments resonate, because there is no recognition of “harm” from borrowing/stealing/using another’s intellectual property. But if you accept there can be harm from it, then some balance of IP protection and fair use must be struck.

                My chief complaint with copyright is it’s too long. It’s been extended beyond reasonable lifetime and it empowers an author’s estate (read, descendants) to sue and milk revenue from something they had no hand in creating.

                1. I’d say too long and too broad. I can see an actual work getting protection. I shouldn’t be allowed to write The Hound of the Baskervilles and call it my own. But, at a certain point, it’s not doing much for creativity or common sense to say I should not be able to write a Sherlock Holmes story or even a Mycroft Holmes story because the Doyle estate owns the entire mythos. It’s why I’m skeptical of derivative works protection.

                2. I think we essentially agree. IP is an artificial construct, but it does do *some* good, at least in theory.

                  There is at least the literal case of copying someone’s novel word-for-word, putting your own name on it and (if you have the connections that the author doesn’t have) out-marketing the actual author and screwing him out of the proceeds of his work.

                  That should be actionable, no question.

                  But like you say, we’ve gotten to the point where the copyright terms go on potentially forever, and that’s a very, very different sort of law that has a very different effect.

                  People like Jack Kirby aren’t really protected by current IP law, when it is exactly people like him who are supposed to be protected by it, but people can be sued for printing a phrase on a T-shirt. This is where the part of me that opposes having any laws about this kicks in, because this is so often how it turns out.

                  1. Or even just publishing it with the real author’s name on it but not paying them.

            2. Well, if that lone self published author gets wind that a studio is making a blockbuster motion picture of his work, and he will because the studio will contact him about working on the project directly with him before they try to do it behind his back, then he can always go to a competing studio and offer his services to help them make the “officially authorized” version of the story, something that will in effect kill the prospect of the first studios movie being successful because people value authenticity of the original creator.

          3. My guess is that the fan fiction you cite, if anything, only adds to the value of the original material. At it’s worst, people ignore it. At its best, it extends the universe the original author creates that adds to the appeal.

            1. I even remember hearing in the commentary on a Buffy episode that the writers *liked and encouraged* the fan fiction, because the fans would actually fill in plot holes and explain things that didn’t make any sense that the writers hadn’t thought about.

        3. Sounds like you’re thinking of Piers Anthony or John Norman now …

        4. But sometimes “The Revenue stream of the well-connected” can be as simple as a lone self-publishing author earning a modest but steady living writing serials about a character he created. If that lone author suddenly sees his living shrink because people begin to purchase diffuse derivative works, has that author been harmed?

          I am suddenly compelled to shill my books: http://www.amazon.com/Robert-M…..B00D6UZ736

          The ‘modest’ part is true, but it hasn’t been steady of late (I need to write more)

          1. *producing derivative work now*

          2. Just bought one. So, shilling successful!

        5. If the author is successful enough for people to be making derivatives of his works then he is not a small time lone author. He might be self published but he’s a 1%er by a massive margin.

      2. And it even goes beyond that sometimes. Look at the recent cases with the Marvin Gay estate suing whoever that was and the Stairway to Heaven thing. Is there really any reason to believe that people would have been buying more Spirit records if Led Zeppelin hadn’t done Stairway?
        Except for the most unlistenable modernist stuff, all music is derivative. That’s a lot of why people like particular music; it reminds them of something else.

        1. Likewise, no one would know who Jake Holmes was if Zeppelin hadn’t ripped off “Dazed and Confused.” OK, fewer people would know who he is. Because “Dazed and Confused” by Jake Holmes is a shitty song.

          1. If you want to rip on Zeppelin, do it for all those blues songs they recorded without attribution.

            1. That’s another sticky question, too, though.

              On “Whole Lotta Love” Zep is *most* directly ripping off The Small Faces’ rendition of “You Need Lovin'”.

              In fact, Robert Plant’s “trademark” shriek “Wo-MAN, Yoooooou need . . . LOOOOOOOOOVE!!” is *actually* Steve Marriott’s trademark, directly and affectionately imitated, with Marriott’s full blessing.

              The Small Faces took credit for “You Need Lovin'” as a “Marriott/Lane” composition when they had in fact first heard it from Muddy Waters.

              We *now* think of Muddy Waters as having “written” that song, but who’s to say Muddy Waters didn’t rip it off? The man wasn’t exactly a saint. Most blues songs were passed around and modified by the performers – like “Hound Dog,” which was first recorded by Big Mama Thornton, but was modified and later recorded by Elvis, who took credit for it, and then re-modified by Rufus Thomas, IIRC.

              In short, there is no such thing as original music. Not even John Cage.

              1. Scratch Muddy Waters. Willie Dixon. Same point stands.

                /blues history fail.

  9. So fucking sick of Star Wars.

    1. At least they killed William Shatner in the last one.

      1. Emo Darth in the not Death Star with a phaser cross.

        1. Do you think Jon Snow is gonna come back, or what?

          1. Who? Did he leave as a ploy for more money?

          2. Didn’t they make the entire clone army from his DNA?

            1. That was only after he and the Skipper got off of the island.

              1. +1 Coconut Lightsaber

                1. That is a pretty rad name for a band.

        2. You people don’t have a space clue.

          1. Now, just a doggone comet-hoppin’ minute!

          2. “What Star Wars Gets Wrong about Space Blacks and Space Women” — Michael Moynihan.

            1. Space Blacks and Space Women

              Her name is Dr. Mae Jemison…geez.

              1. What number of Cylon was she?

                1. I thought she was a goa’uld.

            2. Hey, somebody has to pick cotton on the space plantations, clean the space toilets, prep and serve the space food, and wash the windows on the Falcon – and droids are too valuable to waste on such tasks.

              /sarc

            3. “But What About Black Space Women?: Intersectionality in Roddenberry’s Rottenberry of a Universe”

  10. SUGARFREE DON’T ACT LIKE YOU’RE ABOVE ALL THIS.

    Called. Out.

    1. I’m above nothing. I just don’t care if Mal or Greedo shot first.

      1. I think you’re mixing things up on purpose.

        1. Of course he is, it was Jayne.

          1. I love Jayne!

  11. If anyone has questions, feel free to ask. 🙂

    Disclosure: I founded the LCS, directed our participation as amicus in this case, and am press contact for this issue. Marc Randazza wrote the awesome amicus brief (linked in OP) pro bono.

    1. qatlh isn’t ghu’vam neH public yer pong DaH?

    2. wej related: qatlh tornadoes law’ neH DuQ in the middle of trailer parks?

    3. Steve forbes simply Stephen colbert retarded older loDnI’wI’?

      1. SeH legh alike, qatlh Qu’ loDHom!

        1. Google Translate’s English-to-Klingon service is not all it’s cracked up to be.

          1. There’s a bunch of words it can’t get, so it ends up looking mostly like broken English.

    4. More of a warning than a question: As you may have already surmised, you’ve ventured to the third worst place on the internet.

      1. Cytotoxic will be done with his homework soon and log in here, and then we’ll be number one with a bullet.

      2. THIRD worst?? Who’s got us beat?

    5. Are there chicks in your racket?

    6. NEEEEEEERD

  12. Guess who said this:

    I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.

    Hint: He’s a miserable son of a bitch.

    1. Sounds like a real establishment type.

      1. He has an established tan.

        1. Orange Lives Matter.

    2. Orange people gotta stick together, whitey’s always trying to take em down.

  13. A) Shouldn’t Klingon be in the public domain by now?
    B) How the hell doesn’t this fall under creative license? You can make scenes in movies which directly copy lines from other films, in order to make a paraody or an homage. How is this not an homage?
    C) Why would Paramount want to STOP people from making fan films in Klingon? It’s like free advertising.

    1. I don’t think they have a case.

      1. Sorry, I don’t think Paramount has a case.

    2. Why Paramount didn’t simply negotiate for payment of a licence fee instead of going for the “shut them down!” approach is beyond me.

      1. The prevailing theory is that Axanar is actually a better movie than any of the current Abrhams helmed Trek Clones and once Paramount figured that out they ran to shut it down before they were embarrassed by a bunch of fans.

  14. My hovercraft is full of eels. Like everything *nix. The Raspberry PI is a piece of shit. I wish this wasn’t so. I bought one from Amazon a couple of weeks and checked it out. The App layer of the OS often does not know which window is in focus and goes in front. Sometimes I see the focussed window hollow. I installed RDP on it to see if it was really multi-user. Well, some of the pre-installed apps are hard-coded to work only in the console session.

    1. Depends what you’re doing with it I think. Windowing is a little dodgy, especially via VLC, but that’s more software related than the hardware I think. I have a 2 and a 3 and I think they’re pretty slick, especially for 40 or so bucks.

    2. Get these motherfuckin’ eels off my motherfuckin’ hovercraft?

      That Lando Calrissian is a great actor. Very few people realize he was on the boat in Apocalypse Now.

    3. Is this some kind of “slam poetry”…?

    4. Yeah, the hardware’s OK. There’s a competing Andrino product line but I haven’t bought one yet. I am very curious about small footprint computing. That’s why I bought it. I am not asking for money back. I think ‘dodgy” is a bit of understatement. Where are you from, England?

  15. Imagine a world where everyone had the same middle name.

    SCIENCE FICTION’D!

    1. Imagine a world where you don’t need a pancreas a’tall!

      1. Or, if you prefer the old Trans-Atlantic accent…don’t need a pancreas a’toll!

      2. That was unnecessarily hurtful.

        1. I disagree, respectfully.

        1. You never go full SF.

  16. I suppose if they win they’ll slay a targ, eat its heart, break out the bloodwine, shout Qapla’ and sing klingon opera till they all pass out.

    Doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend an evening.

  17. The keep flashing that picture of Steve Forbes. Is it just me, or does he look like Stephen Colbert with advanced pancreatic cancer?

  18. Finally, a legitimate excuse to post this again.

  19. SugarFree|4.28.16 @ 2:58PM|#

    +1 Coconut Lightsaber

    Citizen X|4.28.16 @ 3:01PM|#

    That is a pretty rad name for a band.

    Star Wars themed reggae, right? Consider it pre-ordered.

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  22. I almost hope Paramount wins just so I can create a dialect of Klngon that closely resembles the original, but just like Patois isn’t French, Creole Klingon will not be Klingon.

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