A new player jumps in to defend the free use of the Klingon Language!
A hearing was set to take place this morning on Axanar, Inc. & Director/Actor Alec Peters’ Motion to Dismiss. The judge punted on it, saying he would take everything into consideration and didn’t need to hear anymore arguments. BUT, interestingly enough, a group called the Language Creation Society (“LCS”) apparently felt threatened enough by this lawsuit that they waded into the fray a couple of weeks ago by filing an amicus brief solely on the basis that the Klingon Language is not protected by copyright.
That’s right, folks. Paramount’s lawsuit has awoken the nerd giants, and they have gone and gotten themselves a lawyer.
For those who don’t know, amicus curae means “friend of the court” and it’s a method by which people who aren’t named in a lawsuit can interject and make arguments on behalf of either party. Being an amicus doesn’t make one a party to the lawsuit, it just allows one to chime in on important issues. The way the non-party does this is by asking the Court for permission to file a written argument/brief stating opinions, facts, or law that may have been left out by the other parties.
In this instance, the LCS is chiming in on behalf of Axanar, Inc. by making the case that the Klingon Language is not something that can be copyrighted, and therefore its use cannot provide the basis for a copyright infringement claim. While Axanar, Inc.’s previous motion to dismiss mentioned this point, this amicus brief really goes into detail. Just check out this page:
Isn’t this awesome? Right now, in federal court, in the United States of America, there is a lawsuit going on over whether or not the Klingon Language is a real thing, and whether or not you can make movies with starships that have saucer sections and call it “Star Trek” but then say it’s really not “Star Trek.” My god, there is even an exhibit attached to that amicus brief titled “Dejpubogh Hov rur qablli.” This is a golden age, people.
Paramount and CBS didn’t like the involvement of these interlopers one bit. They filed an opposition to the amicus brief, claiming that it was untimely, too early to decide the status of the Klingon Language, and that the whole thing is basically none of LCS’s business right now.
Anyway, by way of update, the parties submitted their mandatory trial schedule – basically an estimate of how long they think discovery will take and how long a trial will last. They basically estimate that discovery will take about a year and propose a trial in May of 2017. While that may seem like a long time, a year is actually pretty aggressive.
Assuming that everyone gets everything they’ve requested right away (they won’t) I can see this case getting bogged down in depositions that could last for a very long time. Remember: Paramount and CBS didn’t just sue Axanar, Inc. and Peters – they sued every single person who worked on the Axanar film as John Doe Defendants. I’d say a year is very optimistic, but who knows.
EDIT: As a_blackpanther pointed out below, LCS is represented by Marc Randazza, a well-known First Amendment attorney with a good reputation for fighting for the little guy and winning. It’s good to see him involved.
EDIT: LCS’s press folk got in touch with me and wanted it to be clear that they do not represent Axanar, Inc. or Peters and that they are just in it for the language issue. They also pointed out that I spell “curiae” wrong.