Axanar: A Star Trek Fan Production

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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 02/24/16

Alec Peters wrote:Can I tell you how cool it is to have a firm like Winston & Strawn defending us? I had a long call with Erin Ranahan, our amazing and brilliant lawyer today, and it really was such a positive experience.

So here is the skinny. Winston & Strawn filed a MOTION on behalf of Axanar based on certain aspects of Paramount/CBS's COMPLAINT. This is not an ANSWER, but basically says "Wait, before we answer, we find the following fatal flaws in your complaint."

Currently, Plaintiffs’ response is due February 29 and our reply is due March 7. If the court grants the parties’ stipulation to push out the deadlines, Plaintiffs will have till March 11th to respond, and then we have till the 28th to respond to their response. Then the judge will make a ruling (There is a possibility of a hearing, but this judge doesn't seem to do that much).

Based on that outcome, two things can happen:

1) The judge denies the entire MOTION, finding in favor of Plaintiffs. We then have 14 business days to file an ANSWER to the original COMPLAINT (unless the Court sets another deadline).

2) The judge grants some part of the MOTION for Axanar and then Plaintiffs have the opportunity to file a new COMPLAINT, within the timeframe ordered by the Court (typically around 10 days), which we would then have 14 days to file an ANSWER (unless the Court sets another deadline).

And basically EVERYTHING you have read online about this case is wrong.

So that is where we are!
Alec
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 02/29/16

Alec Peters wrote:Latest Lawsuit News 2/29

The Court denied the plaintiff's stipulated request for more time to respond to our motion to dismiss. (We agreed to let the plaintiffs have more time to answer the motions - the "stipulation". The court decided they didn't want to allow the extra time).This means we are back on the original schedule, with their opposition due today and our reply due Monday, 3/7.
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 03/01/16

Alec Peters wrote:Latest Lawsuit News 3/1

(From Axanar lead counsel Erin Ranahan)

Paramount/CBS decided not to bother opposing our motion, and to instead to amend their complaint (this was their best option given the strength of our motion) in an attempt to address the deficiencies. The rules now allow plaintiffs to amend their complaint before the 3/21 hearing--so that's what they have elected to do.
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Tregarde » 03/01/16

Thanks for keeping us up to date. Here's hoping things work out so Axanar can continue.

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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 03/08/16

Alec Peters wrote:Lawsuit Update 3/8

Yesterday, Defendants Axanar Productions and Alec Peters, through their legal counsel, Winston & Strawn, filed a document notifying the court that Plaintiffs CBS Studios and Paramount failed to properly respond to Defendants’ motion to dismiss, which was filed on February 22, 2016. Under the rules, Plaintiffs were required to file either an opposition or a statement of non-opposition by February 29, 2016. They did neither.

(Please note this does not mean an end to the lawsuit, just that the plaintiffs failed to response to the motion to dismiss.)
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Scrattch » 03/09/16

In legalese this essentially translates to a big win for the Axanar crew (defendants). They now have precedent for showing that the plaintiffs are uncooperative with the court and/or knowingly filed a junk suit.

Failing to respond to motions is not going to make the judge happy.

Well, here's hoping.

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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 03/13/16

Good evening everyone.

Here’s Axanar Production’s statement concerning the amended complaint filed on Friday by attorneys for CBS Studios and Paramount Pictures:

As you know, Axanar Productions and Alec Peters filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against them by Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios on the grounds that the complaint was deficient in various respects. Rather than opposing the motion to dismiss, Plaintiffs opted to amend their complaint to attempt to respond to the deficiencies we raised in our motion, which they are entitled to do under the procedural rules. Plaintiffs filed their amended complaint yesterday.

We will have an opportunity to publicly respond to Plaintiffs’ amended complaint later this month by filing a responsive pleading (either a motion to dismiss or answer) with the court. We appreciate that supporters are understandably anxious to know what is going on. We ask for your patience while we work with our lawyers at Winston & Strawn to formulate a response. There's a legal process in play which is in the hands of our capable legal team, whom we have absolute confidence in. We will update donors and fans as soon as we can.

Before anyone decides to start asking any more questions, please understand that this is about all we can say on this matter until W&S has had an opportunity to thoroughly go through everything. Speculation now - public or private - isn't particularly helpful.

Thanks,
Mike Bawden
PR for Axanar Productions
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 03/14/16

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-es ... rek-874985

As promised, the lawsuit launched by Paramount Pictures and CBS over Axanar, a fan-funded Star Trek film, is boldly going places where no man — or Klingon — has gone before. As the Klingons say, "DabuQlu'DI' yISuv."

After the Star Trek rights-holders sued producers, led by Alec Peters, who put out a short film and solicited donations with the aim of making a studio-quality feature set in the year 2245 — before Captain James T. Kirk took command, when the war with the Klingon Empire almost tore the Federation apart — the defendants brought a dismissal motion that faulted Paramount and CBS with not providing enough specificity about which of the "thousands" of copyrights relating to Star Trek episodes and films are being infringed — and how.

Ask and ye shall receive.

On Friday, Paramount and CBS filed an amended complaint that responded in a few ways.

To the argument that because the crowdfunded film hasn't actually been made yet, the lawsuit is "premature, unripe and would constitute an impermissible prior restraint on speech," the plaintiffs point to defendant's Facebook post that mentioned a "locked script." They also note a press interview that Peters gave on Feb. 1 where he said, "We violate CBS copyright less than any other fan film," as an admission he indeed is violating copyright.

But the highlights of the new court papers are more specificity about what is alleged to be a copyright infringement.

For example, how about them pointy ears of the Vulcans?

Image

Or how about those gold shirts that Federation officers wear?

Image

There's also word that the defendants are infringing characters like Starfleet captain Richard Robau, the triangular medals worn by Starfleet officers, the Starship Enterprise, the appearance of Klingons, the name of the Klingon home planet, the element of using a "Stardate" to tell time, the logo of the United Federation of Planets, the element of phasers, the element of beaming up via transporters, the element of warp drive and so forth.

Read the amended lawsuit in full.

But here's our particular favorite:

Image

Yes, that's right, the language of Klingon.

Why this strikes a particular chord is that last year, the copyrightable nature of Klingon actually became a subject in a closely watched dispute between Oracle and Google. In a nutshell, Oracle looks to protect its Java API code from Google's attempt to use some of it for its Android software. A federal appeals court ruled in May 2014 that one could indeed copyright an API, leading to a collective freak-out by many in the tech industry. Google then attempted to get the U.S. Supreme Court interested, and Charles Duan of both Slate and the Milky Way Galaxy found a metaphor in the language of Klingon.

Duan wrote, "With the rumors about the third Star Trek film starting to fly, it’s high time to talk about how the Supreme Court is about to rule on whether it is illegal to speak Klingon."

In his view, copyrighting an API is akin to copyrighting a language, and what Oracle was doing was an attempt to stop Google from speaking a language. Unfortunately for Google, the Supreme Court didn't agree to hear the case. Over the years, there have arisen other copyright concerns pertaining to the Klingon language without any firm evidence that Paramount indeed would ever claim rights to stop others from speaking it.

Until now.

Maybe API code wasn't the right starship to explore the copyrighting of Klingon. Perhaps instead it's a real-life legal dispute involving Klingon that will inform rights surrounding code. The influence of Star Trek on technology has long been celebrated. Now comes a Star Trek legal dispute that is totally sci non fi.
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 03/14/16

I just have to laugh at the above. I mean, it's the 50th anniversary for the entirety of Star Trek. And they choose now to bring everything into question. IMO, there are no more dedicated a fan base within Trek than those who actually champion the Klingon Empire. They speak the full-fledged Klingon language fluently. It's conversational for them. This legal shot across the bow of Axanar's hero starship actually scrapes the leather from those Klingon cosplayer's. Who I would not want to piss off.
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 03/14/16

Meanwhile, Justin Lin, director of the soon-to-be-released Star Trek Beyond, tweeted on Monday that he supported Axanar Productions. Lin, who produced Fast and the Furious 7, took over the "Star Trek" franchise from J.J. Abrams, with "Beyond" being his first project in the series.

Unexpected - but welcome - support, IMO, Of course, the haters took to Lin's twitter feed to express their dismay. Spewing the same armchair nonsense I read at Facebook and various Trek forums. No facts, just their opinion. But reader's can't glean that reality from short burst on twitter.
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Scrattch » 03/15/16

Well, I guess Peter Jackson had best summon up his legal team for the massive amounts of pointy ears in the LOTR saga... and every single graphic novel, work of art, tv show, movie...

Who knew elven like ears are under trademark by Paramount?

This just gets stupider by the minute and is only serving to piss off the fans, right before the 50th Anniversary.
Yeah. Smart move to piss off your fan base, guys.

What they *should* do is take Axanar 'in house' and just produce it as an honest to god movie.
Removes all the copyright troubles there. Which, of course would ruin it utterly, but it serves to illustrate the real motivation behind this:

Cash. It doesn't matter that Axanar isn't for profit or crowdfunded, they smell competition.
Fan productions have been easy to "overlook" as long as they weren't up to professional snuff.

Axanar changed that...

Hmm. I wonder when Cawley and Co. as well as Continues will be served with their lawsuits? Basically, they've opened the proverbial can of worms and now will *have* to go after all the productions that use Trek properties in any way.

That's the trouble with setting legal precedents. Tend to bite you in the ass somewhere down the line in some way you weren't expecting.

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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 03/16/16

Scrattch wrote:Well, I guess Peter Jackson had best summon up his legal team for the massive amounts of pointy ears in the LOTR saga... and every single graphic novel, work of art, tv show, movie...

Who knew elven like ears are under trademark by Paramount?

This just gets stupider by the minute and is only serving to piss off the fans, right before the 50th Anniversary.
Yeah. Smart move to piss off your fan base, guys.

What they *should* do is take Axanar 'in house' and just produce it as an honest to god movie.
Removes all the copyright troubles there. Which, of course would ruin it utterly, but it serves to illustrate the real motivation behind this:

Cash. It doesn't matter that Axanar isn't for profit or crowdfunded, they smell competition.
Fan productions have been easy to "overlook" as long as they weren't up to professional snuff.

Axanar changed that...

Hmm. I wonder when Cawley and Co. as well as Continues will be served with their lawsuits? Basically, they've opened the proverbial can of worms and now will *have* to go after all the productions that use Trek properties in any way.

That's the trouble with setting legal precedents. Tend to bite you in the ass somewhere down the line in some way you weren't expecting.
Maybe if we don't shout too loudly, they won't notice?
And this is why there is so much contention from other fan productions. Cawley is good friends with Peters. So I don't think we will hear a negative opinion or criticism from Cawley. It's most of the others who were trying to get Peters to quiet down and not place his efforts so far above their own. They sincerely dislike him and were hopeful Peters would shoot himself in the foot. So to speak. BUT. Be careful what you ask for? Some of what I've read is extremely unattractive and I've lost any respect I might once have had for a few of them (individual person. Not entire productions.) While some might snicker publicly - and privately - about Axanar being sued, the worst case scenario is that all productions might well start receiving cease and desist judicial orders. If Paramount has it's way, that is. Should that occur, the closed down fan productions will most assuredly point their bony fingers at Alec Peters. Because they are so classy that way.

In the meantime, I'm still laughing at Paramount's attempt to claim exclusive copyright to the Klingon language. Buffoons, I say.
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 03/16/16

Quite a mouthful from a reputable source.

phpBB [media]
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 03/17/16

Sorry if I'm overposting here. I'm following all this very closely. And some good observations are becoming more public. None that will affect a legal case whatsoever. But still interesting, IMO. I spaced out this quote for readability's sake.
Richard Hatch, Actor, aka Kharn the Undying wrote:Hey I can understand and sympathize with all sides of this equation, but truly once a network or Studio goes to great lengths to engage and bond an audience to their story or movie concept and the characters involved, than I believe they need to realize that there's a responsibility to that audience they've asked to get emotionally invested in their story. And yes, I do believe the studios want to do their best to please the fans. But as we all know once we fans get invested in a great story we all want to experience living in that world and role playing and cosplay along with all the fan fiction and fan films allow us dedicated fans to play in a backyard that the studios have invited us to play in. And had the fans not played in that backyard and carried the torch for Star Trek, and kept it alive after it was cancelled back in the 60s through conventions, fan fiction and all the wonderful role playing the story would not have been preserved, inspiring a new generation of fans and Trek movies and TV shows.

So in retrospect without the fans this franchise would not be here. These Trek conventions, cosplay, role playing and ever more professional fan films are responsible for keeping the fans interest in any thing Star Trek growing and wetting the appetite for every Studio Driven Trek project, providing millions and millions of dollars of revenue for the studios.

I honestly don't know why anyone would not want to support these amazing and very creative efforts by the fans that is driving the success of the Trek franchise. I sincerely hope the Studios can come on board and support these fan efforts and make them a partner in their success. It would be a win/win for everyone and only help to generate more revenue to create even more amazing Trek movies and Television series. I'm sincerely hoping for a resolution between all parties involved. I love the Trek universe and like all Trek fans want to continue playing in it. Make it so.....
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 03/17/16

Alec Peters wrote:Hey all.

You know the worst part of this lawsuit is not being able to share the details with you all! I have these fascinating phone calls with Erin Ranahan, our AMAZING attorney, and I have to keep them to myself. It sucks!

But I can tell you, just be patient and don't listen to any of those cynical armchair lawyers - we know who they are - because they are all WRONG. Seriously, I roll my eyes every time I see their knucklehead posts about how it is about money or the studio or salaries. Ugh. They have no clue.

So just know that we have an amazing team on this, and Axanar isn't going anywhere anytime soon!

Thank you for your support!
Alec
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Scrattch » 03/18/16

Not about money. Uh huh.

Keep telling yourself that, Peters. Either you're being fooled or fooling yourself.
And do keep posting on this, Psia. I enjoy reading the updates and it saves me from having to do it myself... ;)

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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 03/29/16

https://www.axanarproductions.com/axana ... complaint/

Yesterday, acting on behalf of both Axanar Productions and Producer Alec Peters, Winston & Strawn filed a Motion to Dismiss the first amended copyright complaint of CBS Studios and Paramount Pictures Corporation. The motion explains that in multiple respects, the deficiencies in CBS and Paramount’s original complaint are still not sufficiently addressed in their amended filing, and that in some ways the amendments have created new defects.

The motion provides examples as to how CBS and Paramount overreach in what they claim are elements protected under copyright, and fail to be specific as to exactly which copyrights have been infringed upon; and, in the case of the potential feature film AXANAR, claims of alleged copyright infringement cannot be made against a film that doesn’t yet exist.

One issue discussed in the Motion to Dismiss is the lack of specificity about allegedly infringed works at issue raises the question of whether or not Paramount Pictures Corporation even has standing in this lawsuit given that copyright extends only to new elements in derivative works like Paramount’s films, and the allegedly infringing elements at issue may ultimately all be from works that CBS claims to own.

Axanar Productions hoped that any amended complaint filed in response to its prior motion to dismiss would help narrow and clarify the scope of the case to put the parties in the best position to negotiate a fair and reasonable outcome. In the view of Axanar Productions, CBS and Paramount’s efforts failed in that regard. According to Axanar Production’s Alec Peters: “So as not to distract from Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary year, the best thing for all parties to do is to sit down and work out a settlement that address both the interests of Paramount and CBS and the desire of over 10,000 Star Trek fans who donated to support this project.

You can download the Motion To Dismiss here:
https://www.axanarproductions.com/wp-co ... ke-FAC.pdf

LEGAL PROCEDURE
Many fans ask about how a lawsuit works. So here is the latest from Axanar lead attorney and Winston & Strawn star Erin Ranahan.
Plaintiffs can’t amend their complaint freely now because they used their one “free” amendment previously. So they will have to file an opposition to the motion. The court could still grant the motion to dismiss in part and let them amend– another amended complaint would just have to be court approved or court ordered. Some cases have several amended complaints (could have third, fourth, etc), which can come about because the court orders an amended complaint in response to a motion, or the plaintiff files a motion for leave to amend, which the court can then grant (and the standard there is liberal). Or the parties can submit a stipulation with a proposed court order to permit another amended complaint. The court will actually set a deadline for amending the pleadings several months out, and once that passes, the standard is much higher (meaning it’s harder to amend).
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 03/29/16

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-es ... hat-878837

'Star Trek' Lawsuit Now Explores What Vulcans and Vampires Have in Common

Plus, the 19th-century Supreme Court case that is being called upon to knock the contention that the language of Klingon is copyrighted.

The lawsuit brought by Paramount and CBS over Axanar, a crowdfunded Star Trek film, continues to chart a course for exploration of the intellectual property galaxy.

To quickly review, Star Trek rights holders, despite tolerating decades of fan-made works, sued Axanar producers led by Alec Peters in December. This drew a motion to dismiss that called upon Paramount and CBS to do a better job describing the copyrighted elements allegedly being infringed. Two weeks ago, Paramount and CBS did just that with a well-decorated amended complaint that claimed ownership to such things as the pointy ears of the Vulcans, the gold shirts and triangular medals that Federation officers wear, and even the language of Klingon.

It's now time for another attempt by the defendants to stop the lawsuit at the doorstep — and there's plenty to chew. Axanar Productions repeats its contention that the claims are not sufficiently detailed to survive, plus argues that a potential fan film that hasn't been produced yet makes for a premature lawsuit.

"Despite Plaintiffs’ allegation that scripts exist, Plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged that any version of the script violates their rights, let alone the film itself, which does not exist in a fixed, tangible form," states the defendants' motion, authored by Erin Ranahan at Winston & Strawn.

That itself makes for a watchable legal showdown given the inconsistency of past rulings on the topic of unrealized film scripts.

But this being Star Trek, it's hardly the highlight of the latest brief. Instead, the defendants tackle each of the elements that Paramount and CBS are claiming are theirs to copyright.

Take Vulcans, the famous species best known for their adherence to logic, pointy ears and "V" shaped salute. If the classic sign-off by Vulcans like Spock is "live long and prosper," Ranahan writes that Vulcans have indeed lived long. "In Roman mythology, Vulcan is the god of fire and metalworking," she writes. "The first known use of 'Vulcan' was in 1513."

In other words, the defendants are arguing this element belongs in the public domain. It's reminiscent of the time that the producer of a mockbuster titled Age of the Hobbits unsuccessfully tried to point out that "Hobbits" was a reference to a real-life human subspecies, Homo Floresiensis, discovered in Indonesia.

No matter. Axanar Productions also says that the Vulcans' appearance — specifically the "pointy ears" — "is not original to Star Trek, and has appeared in many fictional fantasy works depicting imaginary humanoid species predating Star Trek, including, but not limited to, vampires, elves, fairies, and werewolves, as well as in many animals in nature."

The motion to dismiss attempts to knock other elements as unprotectable. Here are some examples of the arguments: The gold shirts worn by Starfleet officers can't be copyrightable because they fall under the "useful article" doctrine. (See our discussion of Power Rangers costumes.) Triangular medals fail as a protectable element because common geometric shapes can't be copyrighted. The "Starship Enterprise" is too short a phrase to be protected. The Federation logo is adapted from the United Nations flag. Transporters have existed in science fiction since 1877, warp drive since 1945, phasers since H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds in 1898.

And, of course, all this (see the full motion here) wouldn't be complete without some retort on whether the Klingon language is subject to copyright. For this, the defendants manage to cite a Supreme Court case that dates back to 1879 (!), Baker v. Selden, which presented the question of "whether the exclusive property in a system of book-keeping can be claimed, under the law of copyright, by means of a book in which that system is explained."

According to the defendants, "The Klingon language itself is an idea or a system, and is not copyrightable. As the Supreme Court held in the context of a system of bookkeeping, although copyright protects the author’s expression of the system, it does not prevent others from using the system. Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99, 101 (1879). The mere allegation that Defendants used the Klingon language, without any allegation that Defendants copied Plaintiffs’ particular expression of that language, is therefore insufficient to state a claim for copyright infringement as to any protected element."
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 04/02/16

David Gerrold wrote:Regarding Axanar and the CBS/Paramount lawsuit, I will say only this:

Alec Peters and Rob Burnette are both good friends. I know Alec from his participation with James Cawley's New Voyages. I know Rob from his excellent work on the various Blu-ray sets he's worked on.

Yes, they have both expressed enthusiasm for seeing two of my book series translated into film, but we have never gotten beyond conversation. There is no deal in place of any kind. If there is going to be a deal, it will not happen until Axanar has been completed.

No, I am not investor in Axanar. Aside from a set of script notes I gave Alec a couple years ago, and a visit to their studio, I am not connected to the project, nor am I in a position to say anything about Alec Peters' plans.

As for the lawsuit, I have not been asked for my opinion by either side. Nor have I been in the room for any negotiations or discussions--neither has anyone else who's talking about the case.

Those who do know the specifics are not talking -- so all the online conversations are speculation, second-guessing, rumor-mongering, and just plain old-fashioned gossip.

The signal-to-noise ratio on this is deteriorating. I refuse to add to the noise. And I respectfully request to be left out of the discussions.
Italics are mine. Pretty much my interpretation of all the blog pages and such with pov on this topic. Some of it is really out there in left field.
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Scrattch » 04/03/16

Well, what it amounts to is that until everything is settled, everything is still in the air. So if there is a settlement in the works (betting on this would be commonsense) then neither side is going to talk about details until ink hits paper with signatures.

And perhaps not even then, depending on the details of the settlement.

However, Axanar ala Winston and Straun have a fairly solid basis for having this complaint dismissed as frivolous or at the very least ill-prepared.

Still following with interest. Thanks, Psia.

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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 04/22/16

Team Axanar wrote:A MUST WATCH!!!! You know you have made it when you get parodied.
phpBB [media]


I laughed. I laughed loudly. :D
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 04/28/16

Best amicus quote for a legal case ever:
It would not take a Vulcan to explain their logic - even the Pakleds know that nobody can own a language.
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-es ... gon-888419?

A federal judge gets an earful of Klingon proverbs from a language society intent on making sure that Paramount Pictures can't claim ownership.

When Paramount and CBS ended last year with a lawsuit over a crowdfunded Star Trek fan film titled Axanar, the two studios probably had no idea that they were about to get mired in an esoteric legal debate about the protectability of the Klingon language. But that's exactly what's happened, and with the language of digital coding hanging in the background, a California federal judge's forthcoming decision could hold significance — so large, in fact, that this otherwise run-of-the-mill copyright action has now drawn an amicus brief from a language society that quotes a Klingon proverb
translated as "we succeed together in a greater whole."

To review, after the Star Trek rights holders filed their complaint, the defendant production company demanded particulars of the franchise's copyrighted elements. In response, Paramount and CBS listed a lot, but what drew most attention was claimed entitlement to the Klingon language. The defendant then reached back to a 19th century Supreme Court opinion for the proposition that Klingon is not copyrightable as a useful system.

On April 11, that drew an entertaining response from the flummoxed plaintiffs.

"This argument is absurd since a language is only useful if it can be used to communicate with people, and there are no Klingons with whom to communicate," stated a plaintiffs' brief authored by David Grossman at Loeb & Loeb. "The Klingon language is wholly fictitious, original and copyrightable, and Defendants' incorporation of that language in their works will be part of the Court's eventual substantial similarity analysis. Defendants' use of the Klingon language in their works is simply further evidence of their infringement of Plaintiffs' characters, since speaking this fictitious language is an aspect of their characters."

Before U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner gets a chance to rule on a motion to dismiss, he's now being asked permission to review a friend-of-the-court brief from the Language Creation Society.

The brief, authored by Marc Randazza, begins with background that the Klingon language was invented in 1984 by Marc Okrand for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

"Before that, when actors played Klingons in Star Trek television programs or movies, they simply uttered guttural sounds or spoke in English (Federation Standard)," writes Randazza. "Given that Paramount Pictures commissioned the creation of some of the language, it is understandable that Paramount might feel some sense of ownership over the creation. But, feeling ownership and having ownership are not the same thing. The language has taken on a life of its own. Thousands of people began studying it, building upon it, and using it to communicate among themselves."

The shortcomings of The Hollywood Reporter's font system precludes quoting some of the more entertaining moments of this brief (read in full below), but here's a look at how Paramount is being blasted as "arrogant" and "pathetic" in Klingon:

Image

Now, with 250,000 copies of a Klingon dictionary said to have been sold, Klingon language certification programs being offered, the Microsoft search engine Bing presenting English-to-Klingon translations, one Swedish couple performing their marriage vows in Klingon, foreign governments providing official statements in Klingon and so on, the Language Creation Society is holding up Klingon as having freed the "bounds of its textual chains."

Ultimately, the amicus brief comes back to the theory that Klingon is not copyrightable.

"What is a language other than a procedure, process, or system for communication?" asks the society. "What is a language's vocabulary but a collection of words? The vocabulary and grammar rules of a language provide instructions for a speaker to articulate thoughts and ideas. One cannot disregard grammatical rules and still be intelligible, and creating one's own vocabulary only worked well for the Bard. Vocabulary and grammar are no more protectable than the bookkeeping system in Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99, 101 (1879)."

According to the amicus brief — which also nods to the framers of the U.S. Constitution and to Sesame Street theme-song lyrics — no court has ever addressed the issue of whether a constructed spoken language is entitled to copyright protection. Whether or not the Star Trek fan-film case provides that very opportunity is now up to he judge. He could sidestep the legal geekery by agreeing with Paramount that defendants and those interested are making too much of this, that use of Klingon is merely evidence of some larger infringement. Or he could give Klingon speakers everywhere "qapla"!
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Scrattch » 04/28/16

I called it back at the beginning... they had no idea the power of the genie they were uncorking, or the extent of the can of worms they opened.
If they're smart, they'll drop the damn suit and let Axanar proceed.

Otherwise... don't look for a quick resolution to this, unless the judge grants the motion to dismiss. Which, he has more than enough cause to do so. The Plaintiffs have been very amateur about how they went about this.

Likely, they just figured that everyone would fold because the "Big Studio" started frowning.

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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 04/30/16

Alec Peters wrote:For those who want to read our response, to the Paramount response, to our Motion to Dismiss, here you go!My two favorite parts:

Page 2: Erin & co. take Loeb & Loeb to task for arguing that EXACT opposite of what they argued when defending James Cameron in the Avatar case. "Sauce for the good Mr Saavik..."

And then later on that page, Erin points out the "massive, single spaced block quote". Why? Because there is a 10 page limit to a response and single spacing your block quotes is cheating. Procedure yes, but Judge Klausner is a stickler for form. Erin has been in front of Judge Klausner before. :)

Did we mention Erin is one of the best entertainment IP lawyers in Hollywood? I love my legal team. They need more cupcakes.....
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 05/02/16

http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterdecher ... 06f6725ded

In Copyright Lawsuit, Star Trek Fan Work Gets Its 'Easy Rider Moment'
Paramount and CBS are suing the creators of a Star Trek fan film, Axanar, for copyright infringement. They claim that the film uses Star Trek characters, themes, and the invented Klingon language, among other elements. The use of Klingon aside, the case is less interesting for the copyright issues it raises than for the change in corporate strategy it signals.

Since the 1960s, Star Trek’s stewards have tolerated if not encouraged fan work. Star Trek creator Gene Rodenberry fed material to fans, and over the past half century the franchise has created space for fan films, writings, and performances at its regular conventions. If any franchise has flourished because of fan work, it is Star Trek.

Why is Axanar different? The project, which includes a short film, Prelude to Axanar, and has a longer multi-part movie in development, raised over $1.1 million from the crowdfunding websites Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Prelude to Axanar boasts high quality special effects and over 2 million views on YouTube. And similar trends in fundraising, production values, and audience interest are notable across the larger ecosystem of online fan work. Star Trek fandom has always been the canary in the larger coalmine of creative fan communities.

Star Trek fan work has reached what I describe in my book on the history of Hollywood as an Easy Rider moment. The history of Hollywood can be seen as a series of challenges to the studios from independent companies that pioneered new technologies or embraced new storytelling strategies and topics. Though Hollywood usually puts up initial resistance, the studios have always responded in ways that expanded their audience and profits.

The 1969 film Easy Rider is a paradigmatic example. Hollywood was content to let foreign and independent films dominate art houses in the 1950 and 1960s, addressing sex and politics in ways that seemed outside the scope of the studio system. But when Easy Rider, which was made for $360,000, grossed over $60 million, the studios took notice. They realized that they were ignoring a significant segment of the moviegoing audience, and they responded by making a structural change. Columbia Pictures acquired BBS, the company that made Easy Rider, as a largely autonomous subsidiary. Hollywood benefited from the creative sensibilities of the independent company, and BBS operated with more stable funding and distribution. Other studios soon followed suit with satellites like Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope, which went on to make 1970s classics American Graffiti (1973) and Apocalypse Now (1979).

How has Hollywood reached another “Easy Rider” moment? And what is the structural change that will save the studios this time?

Clearly innovations in funding and technology have led to increased production of fan work and expanded its audience. But in the case of Star Trek, there are management issues as well. In 1994, Viacom acquired the franchise when it bought Paramount. At first, Viacom threatened fan websites with cease and desist letters. But after an uproar, Viacom backed off, giving tacit approval to fans. Then in 2005, the only active Star Trek television series Enterprise went off the air. The same year, rights to the franchise were split between CBS, which got the television rights, and Paramount, which got the film rights. This created friction between the two companies, and official Star Trek production ground to a halt.

Fans filled the hole with dozens of noncommercial web series and movies. Surprisingly, many fan works lured cast and crew members from the official franchise, including Walter Koenig (Pavel Checkov), Nichelle Nichols (Lieutenant Uhura), and writer D.C. Fontana from the original 1960s series.

When Paramount rebooted the Star Trek franchise with two films directed by J.J. Abrams (in 2009 and 2013), they created action blockbusters that had wide box office appeal but left fans of the older series cold.

The movies also deepened the tension between Paramount, which wanted to focus merchandising exclusively on the new series, and CBS, which still had a multi-million dollar a year business making action figures of Captain Janeway, Mr. Spock, and other classic characters. While the companies fought, fan films continued to proliferate.

Now, Paramount is preparing to release the third film in its rebooted series, Star Trek Beyond, and CBS has a new television series set to premiere on its streaming service, CBS All Access. Paramount and CBS have finally overcome their differences and teamed up. Unfortunately, they have decided to fight the unstoppable snowball of fan production rather than finding a strategy that would embrace fan work as part of an open (though still profitable) franchise. It seems that Hollywood needs another structural change.

There are already many attempts to include fans in the larger network of production. Fan writers regularly land jobs writing for television series or working for media companies. When the BBC released its latest Doctor Who season, for example, it featured a title sequence adapted from one a fan had posted online.

And there are many other models of hybrid media systems that incorporate rather than deny fans access to intellectual property. Amazon has created a platform called Kindle Worlds that sells fan fiction and shares revenue between publishers of the original works and fan writers. YouTube gives copyright holders the option of sharing advertising revenue when fan videos use their intellectual property. So in theory, when Star Trek fans create YouTube sensations, CBS and Paramount can profit as well.

These are exciting though limited experiments. Authors who write for Kindle Worlds are bound by the fairly restrictive creative parameters set by publishers. And copyright holders are generally silent about and often inconsistent in their YouTube policies, leaving fans with a guessing game.

If Axanar proves to be Hollywood’s latest Easy Rider moment, it remains to be seen which company will successfully find a structure that includes fan work in the ecosystem of Hollywood franchises. Star Trek—and Hollywood franchises more generally—have passively benefited from fan work in the past. Hopefully, CBS and Paramount will lead the way and embrace methods of actively incorporating fan labor and creativity.
"The food is good, the wine is excellent, the staff timely. All that is lacking is your company." - EQ2 Raven Mythic FAQ

"Let me tell you something. Don't. Don't let them promote you. Don't let them transfer you, don't let them do anything that takes you off the bridge of that ship, because while you're there, you can make a difference." - Kirk to Picard, Star Trek Generations

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