Society of synthetic linguists explain to court, in Klingon, why Klingon shouldn't be copyrightable


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I dunno, bro. Poker jargon wasn’t created by an artist, it was created by millions of poker players. You can’t copyright French, because you aren’t France. But why can’t Tolkein (were he alive) copyright Elfish? It’s not as if he picked it up from the millions of native speakers. It is an original creation.

Klingon is different not because it is a language, but because it is largely fan-created.


How do you fix it in tangible form?


I dunno, print a book? I hear those are copyrightable.


In case you have any questions about the brief or LCS’ involvement, feel free to ask me.


Could Ben-Yehuda have copyrighted Modern Hebrew? What copyright status would that have given literary works written in Hebrew?


Rumor has it books are usually finite in length.


grammar and some vocabulary were defined by Okrand, but even he observed that a lot of the feel of the language is in idioms. For example, Klingons playing baseball would shout, “you’re dead,” not, “you’re out!”

So here’s a weird spanner in the works: some the weird language of the show is the Klingonese equivalent for equally fictitious concepts about space travel. The “warp core” in a Federation starship’s engineering – the power plant that makes the physics-bending engines work – is rendered in Klingon as “reactor pit”.

Does Paramount get to copyright those terms? Gut feeling is yes, since it’s a translation (derivative work) of some very specific jargon for a very specific made-up thing. Doing without those might make a fan film pretty difficult.


This has no place in the courts. Settle it with a betleH duel like warriors, if honor means anything to you.



Modern Hebrew is a derivative work, not an original creation (of course copyright law is so fucked up, who knows if he could have copyrighted it?). Even if it were possible, I think asserting ownership over Modern Hebrew would have probably been counterproductive to his efforts of resurrecting Hebrew as a native tongue.

With the exception of those from Kronos, are there any native Klingon speakers?


At least one:


While my statement was tongue in cheek, I do remember this. A few years back I remember reading that eventually he stopped the experiment and his kid didn’t retain any Klingon after switching solely to English.


That’s not sufficient for copyright protection. Ideas are “original creations,” but a core concept of copyright is that it protects specific expressions of ideas (e.g. a dictionary), not the ideas themselves (e.g. a language). That’s the whole point at issue here.

Also, “copyright” is not a verb. It’s not a thing you do.


Ben-Yehuda. His first name was Eliezer. :slight_smile:


Copyright is supposed to apply to a fixed expression of an idea. A language by its very nature isn’t a fixed expression of an idea, it’s a medium used to create fixed expressions of ideas.

Also, the “original creation” of these languages are (by necessity) typically based on a pre-existing language, and just providing “translations” of the pre-existing language into the “new” language. Otherwise, they would just be gibberish that only the creator could ever possibly understand.


I’m curious exactly what Marc Okrand’s contract with Paramount said he was providing them.


Thought experiment: what if the designer of esperanto decided to copyright it?
IMO, languages are meant to be used. If a language isn’t used, it’s either dead, or useless. How is Paramount planning to restrict the thousands of people who already know and use Klingon from using it? JatlhlaHbe’wI’ Quv vIghaj.


Do any members of your society object to being called “synthetic linguists”?


Thanks for coming by! I don’t have any questions but it’s infinitely cool when cool people involved in a story come by.

Well, I guess I do have a question but it’s not related to the lawsuit exactly. Do you personally want to see a conlang become a lingua franca or is it more the joy of making something? (I suspect I know the answer but I’ll admit I might be wrong. :laughing: )


I, for one, am not a replicant. As far as I know. :stuck_out_tongue:

We normally say “language creators” or “conlangers”.