MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Paramount Objects to Klingon Language Amicus Brief by Language Creation Society

It doesn't want to deal with the Klingon language copyrightability issue.

AxanarAxanarParamount Pictures, which is embroiled in an expansive copyright lawsuit against Axanar Productions over the latter's Star Trek fan film, has filed an objection to the Language Creation Society (LCS) filing an amicus brief regarding the copyrightability of the Klingon language.

Paramount argues (PDF) the LCS's brief came too late in the process, was too long, and "attempts to have the Court resolve factual issues on a motion to dismiss based on inadmissible hearsay." Hearsay, in this case, refers to the context provided by the LCS for how Klingon has become a "living language."

"It is undisputed that Klingons are copyrightable characters, and have been depicted in the Star Trek Copyrighted Works in a distinct and recognizable manner," Paramount argues in its formal opposition to the brief. Paramount insists that the fictional Klingon language "is part of the depiction" of copyrighted Klingon characters and that it's "the use of the Klingon language in this context that will be before the Court… not the copyrightability of languages in general."

Irrespective of that, Paramount adds, the issue of whether Klingon is copyrightable "is certainly not before the Court on the present motion to dismiss."

In their response (PDF), the LCS's attorneys, led by Marc Randazza, a First Amendment lawyer and friend of Reason who is representing the LCS pro bono, point out that the standard for the admissibility of an amicus is "simply whether it will assist the Court."

"The evidence and arguments provided by Amicus Language Creation Society's brief will assist the Court in determining the question of whether the Klingon language is entitled to copyright protection," LCS's reply argues. "It is not premature for the Court to make this determination at the motion to dismiss stage because this is a legal question; if a spoken language is not entitled to copyright protection as a matter of law, then Plaintiffs' claims are properly dismissed insofar as they are based on Defendants' use of the Klingon language."

The LCS's attorneys also dispute Paramount's assertion that they are seeking an advisory opinion.

"Plaintiffs steadfastly assert that they 'own' the Klingon language,and there is no need for a fact-intensive 'substantial similarity' analysis, as Plaintiffs insist, to determine whether Klingon can belong to anyone," the reply argues. "This issue is properly before the Court, and the Court may properly determine at this stage whether Klingon is copyrightable."

The LCS also points out that between all of Paramount and Axanar's motions, less than two pages focus on the issue of the copyright claim on the Klingon language. It argues that this makes the brief relevant to an issue before the court, and that even if the brief isn't used now, it should be held "for use during later stages in the proceeding," since the issue of Klingon's copyrightability "will need to be dealt with (unless Plaintiff drops their claim to won Klingon) at some point in this case."

Photo Credit: Axanar

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • jjjjj||

    When the walls fell!

  • Bodica Slayer of Woodchip||

    Picard and Dathon at El- Adrel

  • Citizen X||

    NNNNNNNEEERRRDDDSSSSSS

  • Hamster of Doom||

  • You Sound Like a Prog (MJG)||

  • Ken Shultz||

    I used to live next door to Ogre in Redondo Beach.

    I was barbecuing out on my balcony one time, and Ogre's kid had beat up some nerdy kid in the neighborhood. The kid's mom had brought him to Ogre's house, and she was out on the porch demanding that Ogre make his kid apologize.

    At one point, Ogre's kid said something like, "You really want me to apologize for beating up a nerd?"

  • Citizen X||

    That is awesome.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Butthead era Klingons were the best.

  • Hugh Akston||

    This protracted legal dispute is only going to hasten the decline of Klingon language and culture. From the beginning the producers of Star Trek had to resort to heavy makeup because they couldn't find enough black people to play Klingons.

  • Free Market Socialist $park¥||

    Let this be a lesson to all future filmmakers. If you're going to get butthurt about somebody "stealing" the fake language you made up, don't make up a fake language. If you need an actor to not be understood, have him speak random gibberish. The only people that will get their asses chapped about it are the nerds anyway.

  • Stoic||

    Am I the only one who read the headline and thought the amicus brief was written in Klingon? That would have been much cooler.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Parts of some of the responses have been in Klingon.

  • KerryW||

    Stoic, that was my first thought (hope!).

  • Rich||

    Of course, the fact that Klingon has been in common usage for millennia puts the squazoo on all this crap.

  • Free Market Socialist $park¥||

    Was it Yoda or Chewbacca that spoke Klingon?

  • UnCivilServant||

    It was the Cylons who spoke Klingon, Dollar Park Yen.

  • Rich||

    Look, you, um, pseudo-nerd -- the Klingons are an ancient species.

  • UnCivilServant||

    That wouldn't work, those Klingons spoke Old and Middle Klingon.

  • Rich||

    Excuse me -- Olde Klingon.

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    Olde Klingone

    C'mon, you really need to work on your extraneous Es.

  • B. Woodrow Chippenhaus||

    I propose they put this music on and let the lawyers fight to the death.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Don't be silly - the paramount execs versus the fandom.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Don't be silly, Spanish isn't a real language.

  • Rich||

    ¡Ay, caramba!

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Voy a llorar.

  • Mongo||

    n'Atas L'iah

  • meister574||

    Why doesn't Paramount just buy this off of Axanar Productions, finish it, and show it on CBS or some other cable station (SyFy) and use it to advertise their new Star Trek series.

    The main reason this production has become so popular is that the last Star Trek movie disappointed many Trekkers and the new one looks to be Fast and Furious in space. They want something that would not only be exciting but would be true to what many fans feel has been lost with the new films.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Because, by the iron law of corporate stupidity, Paramount must generate as much bad press with its most loyal fans as possible and burn all its bridges.

  • Citizen X||

    Fast and Furious in space

    I'd watch that.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Somebody get the eye clamps

  • sarcasmic||

    Trying...

    To...

    Care...

  • UnCivilServant||

    How about this - if Paramount wins, we send you to Warty's dungeon. If Paramount loses, you on'y have to spend one night in a Rapesquatch infested forest.

  • ||

    Ain't that the way it always goes... damned prolapsed if you do; damned prolapsed if you don't!

  • Brochettaward||

    These executives are just plain fucking stupid. Let's take the most hardcore, dedicated fans of our property and sue them into oblivion. The dedication of these nerds *helps* your bottom line, you stupid cunts.

    You cannot copyright a language. Fictional or not. You release some sort of encyclopedia or whatever to teach nerds how to speak Klingon, you live with the fact that they are now free to use it as they see fit.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    But they have a copyright. That means if they want to phone in shitty, half-assed work then, by law, the fans are required to consume shitty, half-assed work or nothing at all. PAY TO PLAY, BAY-BEE. HA HA. Who cares what a bunch of fucking nerds think, anyway?

  • Rich||

    OT: No Known Illnesses From Mouse Poison Sprayed At Ann Arbor Grocery Stores

    The FBI’s Jill Washburn said … < they’re still deciding whether he should face federal or local charges

    Oh, come on, Jill -- that's terrorism and you know it!

  • Brochettaward||

    When I was a child, some little pissants sprayed raid on a potato chip that they gave me. Long story short, I hope this guy gets the chair.

  • some guy||

    IP is BS. I hate that resources are being wasted arguing in court over something as absurd as this. Was this proposed by Iron Mountain as a possible solution to destructive prosperity?

  • Acosmist||

    Property is bad -commenter on a libertarian website, somefuckinghow

    We went full socialist.

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    Intellectual Property is antithetical to traditional property rights.

    Under normal, libertarian property rights, if you sell me something it is mine to use as I see fit. Thus, if you sell me a CD filled with music, I may copy it if I wish. The CD is my property, and no one should be able to tell me I cannot do with it what I want. "Intellectual Property" is the bullshit proposition that even though you sold me something, you still own that something and I am NOT free to do what I want with my own stuff, because your called dibs on it.

  • Zan Lynx||

    "Traditional" property rights are that you keep whatever you can defend personally by holding it or standing on it.

    If you claim to "own" a house that you rent out, or a condo unit in New York, or a car, that property right is just as made up as intellectual property. You're depending on a government to punish anyone that trespasses or who takes your car for a joyride, or doesn't pay the rent.

    Without government and laws defining property you have no libertarian-style contract agreement with some random guy who walks onto your land and cuts down your trees. Attacking him after the fact to get your trees back would be a violation of the no aggression principle.

    Intellectual Property is just as real or as fake as the ownership of land or water rights or farm animals.

  • Aresen||

    This really should be settled by a bat'leth duel between Paramount Execs and the fans.

    My money is on the fans.

  • meister574||

  • Cyto||

    Best fight scene ever.... my aunt's fanny.

    Everyone knows.... literally everyone.... everyone knows that this is the best fight scene ever.


    Greatest fight scene ever.

  • c1649953||

    Most of us want to have good income but don’t know how to do that on Internet there are a lot of methods to earn money at home, so I thought to share with you a genuine and guaranteed method for free to earn huge summ of money at home anyone of you interested should visitt the site. More than sure that you will get best result.

    ===== http://www.Alpha-careers.com

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I should sue you where you stand.

  • Gwen||

    The expressions of Klingon used in the Star Trek movies are clearly copyrightable, just as the teleplays performed were. But there's a difference between copyrighting a speech in a given language, and the language the speech was given IN. A language is a means of expressing oneself, and Americans have the right of FREE expression. That means a copyright law that would restrict the MEANS of expression would probably be unconstitutional. If Paramount wants to claim that Klingon was solely a work product by Mark Okrand, they'd have to overcome the clear precedent, not of Klingon fan club activities, which might be dismissed out of hand, but instead an actual legal document, submitted to a governmental body, IN KLINGON.

    David Waddell, a North Carolina politician, resigned from office formally with a document submitted to the Indian Trail Town Council, written in Klingon.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new.....-1.1565452

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online