Synthetic linguists file a new brief (with Klingon passages!) about Paramount's fan-film crackdown


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/01/04/synthetic-linguists-file-a-new.html


#2

I know Klingon (the dialect) has been referenced before in legal papers, and of course Star Trek has been, and I even wouldn’t be surprised if a romanized Klingon word or two has appeared - but is this the first time the Klingon alphabet has been in a legal brief? :smiley:


#3

A cunning argument!


#4

It’s a good thing this is an amicus brief and not a brief filed by a party to the case, because the downside of pissing off the judge with this is a whole lot lower when you don’t have anything directly at stake.


#5

It’s simple. The lead “klingon” stunt actor challanges the head of Paramount’s legal team to Bat’leth fight in the High Council room in front of the Chancelor of the Klingon Empire. If Paramount has any honor they will accept the challenge.


#6

Yes, but then Paramount surrenders, as they have no chance of winning such a fight.

If the stunt-actor then tries to kill the lawyer anyway, that proves that it is Axanar that has no honour.


#7

It’s the second time, to the best of my knowledge. The first was our actual amicus brief - see link at top of http://conlang.org/axanar

If anyone finds another example, though, please let us know via press@conlang.org — I’d love to be proven wrong on this.


#8

Also FYI, Klingon is a language, not a dialect.


#9

The court earlier today denied the parties’ competing motions for summary judgment without any reference to proposed the amicus brief. I think it’s safe to say the court didn’t consider the proposed amicus brief at all.

Again, the amicus wanted a ruling on whether or not the Klingon language is copyrightable, and counsel for Paramount repeatedly insisted answering that question was unnecessary. It appears, per the court’s opinion, that it agreed with Paramount’s counsel on this point. After rattling off a laundry list of things allegedly copied from Star Trek, the court dropped this footnote:

Some elements such as U.S.S. Enterprise may be individually copyright protectable under the DC Comics three-part test. See DC Comics, 802 F.3d at 1024 (holding that the Batmobile is a copyright-protected character). However, because Plaintiffs’ allegation is that Defendants infringe the Star Trek Copyrighted Works as a whole, the Court does not undertake an analysis beyond Garth for which evidence in unredacted records is relatively abundant.

I imagine the linguists will attempt to file another brief before the court as part of the upcoming trial (given that the motions for summary judgment were denied, that’s where things are heading). I hope they avoid the procedural chicanery their attorneys attempted in trying to get this brief before the court. (The opposition does an excellent job of setting that forth. Regardless of whether it’s cool to see Klingon in briefs, they have to be filed in a timely fashion and pursuant to proper procedural rules.)


#10

Take a look at Axanar’s motion in limine #4, linked @ http://conlang.org/axanar/#updates

The court’s going to have to decide what the jury is told about the legal status of Klingon. They could decide to simply not tell the jury about it either way (and just use it as a point of similarity); that’d be fine by us. It’s true that the language copyrightability question is not necessary to decide substantial similarity. Had they limited themselves to just saying it’s similar, we’d never have filed the amicus.

But right now, Paramount’s operative complaint does claim that they own the language and that Axanar’s use of Klingon is an infringement of that supposed copyright. We’re only in it because Paramount overreached.

If they walk it back, fine. If they want to defend their claim to own an entire language, great. It’s their call.

And no, we don’t need to file another brief. The court hasn’t ruled on our pending motion for leave, so that’s still open. It’ll probably be resolved before trial, together with Axanar’s motion in limine #4.


#11

Does this lead to the lawyer’s discommendation?

Good.


#12

I worked on some Star Trek/Klingon books several years ago. My understanding was the Klingon alphabet had nothing to do with the Klingon language. (I mean, it wasn’t a system that was actually designed to represent the language. It was basically a prop.)

I wrote How to Speak Klingon. (Well, I wrote all the English parts.)


#13

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