Paramount wants to kill a fan-film by claiming copyright on the Klingon language

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I’m a little alarmed by the URL to the article, which seems to overstate things a bit:





Cory and Wil Wheaton are having a disagreement about this on Twitter…


Heavens! Overstatement? On my BoingBoing?


Native speakers?


In the Wil camp with this one, myself.

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long time reader, first time poster. Wil is right, this is not a fan-film. These guys used kickstarter to raise money for said “fan-film” but used it pay themselves a salary and open a movie production studio. Yes they are making the film as well but they are using the works of another for profit. Paramount is justified IMO.


If this is infringement, then it’s not infringement because of the use of Klingon. If the use of Klingon is the only peg they’ve got, then it’s probably not infringement.


Yeah, but he’s been in the pocket of Big Klingon for years.


He played a Romulan (in the 2009 movie). I think he’d object to your comment.


I hate to see it go down the memory hole like “The Day the Clown Cried”, but Paramount is in the right here.


Or as it was called in the original Klingon, “Today is a Good Day to Cry”


Justified according to broken copyright laws and case law precedents maybe.

What exactly is wrong with fans making money off of a derivative story if other fans are willing to pay for it? I wouldn’t have a problem with an obligatory licensing fee to Paramount for a small percentage of the gross.

Copyright was supposed to increase the production of creative works, not decrease them.


They’re arguing different parts of a ‘V’ and slowly converging

It’s possible for BOTH Paramount and Axanar to be the bad guys here. The fact that we can’t just have it say ‘This is a fan film based on these other guys’ stuff. They’re not endorsing it or anything’ at the beginning and the end and be done with it is kind of the root cause.

It’s a stupid set of laws that creates bad behaviors and the fact that these arguments can happen is what’s really a travesty.


All kinds of this.

It’s not like everything isn’t derivative in one way or another. Big copyright holders shouldn’t get eternal profit, much less suppression rights, just because they happened to be both good and lucky on the way to fame. I say if the fans can make a Transformers movie that won’t suck then they should be allowed to, and I should be able to pay them instead of the forces behind that Bayhem.


Not just that, but they had merchandise.

You could get Axanar Coffee. And coffee mugs.

Now, I don’t remember, and I think it’s since been pulled, but those may have been Kickstarter rewards.

But Axanar Coffee.

How could they think that was okay?

And I don’t get how he thought he’d fly under the radar. AFAIK that photo is of an actual prop, because he worked for CBS as an archivist on one of the exhibit tours. Further, you can see not just him, but James Cawley as well, on the special features of the Wrath of Khan Blu-ray. They’re both collectors, and both responsible for fan productions. Only one of them is being sued, though Cawley did get a nastygram from CBS when they approached William Shatner about filming a fanfilm episode of a real, but unused, TOS script.

It’s not like CBS is in a habit of suing fan productions out of existence, either; Enterprise used some of Cawley’s props on the ENT mirror universe episodes, and Cawley was in the 2009 Star Trek.

I disagree, and I’ll use a counter-example: if I decided that I wanted to write Little Brother slashfic, I don’t think I should be able to put it on Amazon for $5.99 and keep all the profits for myself. I don’t feel like another person’s creative work should be everyone’s playground to profit from. The thing is, CBS and Paramount have been pretty nice about the fanfilms so far.


First, this isn’t a fan film. It’s a commercial venture.

Second, imagine your solution applied the other way: Your little art-house film gets rave reviews for a wonderful story. And so a major Hollywood studio does their own version without consulting you.

And like many if not most movies and TV shows, even when wildly successful, Hollywood accounting shows that they never made a profit. The DVD release is wildly successful, but somehow never makes a profit. Streaming deals are made - and do amazingly well in the ratings - but somehow never make a profit. And so while they (in reality) make a fortune, you get squat.

And don’t say that you’d sue. That’s been tried a great many times, and in the rare successes is by people who already have a fortune to spend on the fight.


I didn’t say that I thought there shouldn’t be some reasonable profit-sharing. I’d be all for it, though not to the point of heirs milking the creative work of somebody they didn’t know…that’s a bit extreme.

I was saying that they shouldn’t have access to the sledgehammer against other creative works. Satire and parody are already okay, I just happen to believe that when a work has transcended it’s creators people should appreciate their lucky breaks and never have the temptation to be militant about things.