TOMORROW we’ll know if the AXANAR lawsuit has settled or not…

Tomorrow (November 16) is the deadline to file motions for summary judgement in the AXANAR copyright infringement lawsuit.  And while the two sides are supposedly still in talks to settle (they reportedly had a conference call meeting yesterday), we’ll know tomorrow whether or not a settlement is imminent.

How?  Well, by the end of the day tomorrow–if they aren’t really close to a settlement or there already–we will most likely see two major filings from the legal teams: each a motion for summary judgment.  And what the heck is that, you ask…?

Okay, first and foremost, understand that courts and judges actually don’t like lawsuits to actually go to trial.  Trials are messy, complicated things.  Trials take time and cost people money.  Trials require jurors to put their lives on hold for days, sometimes weeks or even months, in order to do their civic duty.

This is NOT to say that judges don’t want any trials!  They are judges, after all, and judgin’ trials is their job.  It’s what they get paid for.  But trust me, at the Federal level, there’s more than enough cases on the docket to keep a judge and jurors quite busy…with more and more lawsuits entering the queue on a daily basis.

But the more cases that can be cleared before reaching the trial phase, the faster the line of lawsuits will move forward.  That’s why the two sides in the Axanar case were ordered by Judge Klausner to meet before tomorrow’s summary judgement motion deadline and try to reach a settlement (which would also avoid a trial).

So the primary goal of summary judgement is to get the lawsuit to end before a trial starts, and here’s how it works…

The whole idea of a trial is to resolve facts that are in dispute.  Did Johnny steal a cookie from Mary?  Mary says he did, Johnny says he didn’t.  A trial determines (hopefully) which story is the correct one and whether or not Johnny needs to be punished and Mary given some kind of relief for her troubles.

In the case of Axanar,  the main fact to determine is: did Alec Peters infringe on the intellectual property of CBS and Paramount?  If so, he needs to pay restitution and not do it again.  If not, then he should be allowed to go ahead and make more fan films if he wants to.

If the answer to that question is really, really obvious, if the facts are so incontrovertible that any idiot would easily and inevitably come to the same conclusion, then the attorneys can ask the judge to just say so.  Why waste time with a trial if the jury is just ruling on the obvious?

So let’s imagine that there’s video of Johnny taking the cookie right out of Mary’s hand and then running away.  Well, that seems pretty cut and dried, right?  Case closed.  The judge can simply rule that Johnny stole Mary’s cookie and owes her some money to go buy a new cookie.  No need for a jury.

But now let’s imagine that Johnny’s lawyer says that this video shows the two of them talking before Johnny takes the cookie, and even though you can’t make out what they’re saying, Johnny claims that Mary is telling him that she doesn’t like oatmeal raisin and is asking if he wants the cookie.  What’s more, there was a witness in the deposition who confirmed that Mary doesn’t like oatmeal cookies and another witness who thinks she might have actually had an oatmeal raisin cookie in her lunch box that day…although maybe it was chocolate chip.

Not so cut and dried anymore, is it?

And that’s why motions for summary judgment that simply resolve an entire case are seldom granted.  The whole reason the lawsuit got as far as the doorstep of going to trial is probably because the facts are, indeed, in dispute.  But, hey, it can’t hurt to try, right?  After all, what’s the worst that could happen?  The judge doesn’t grant your motion and the case goes to trial…which it was gonna do anyway.  And the best case scenario?  You win!  Trial’s over!  Collect your marbles and take a victory lap…and celebrate all the money you no longer have to spend in legal fees!

So, can either side file a motion for summary judgement?  Yes.  In fact, in the Axanar case, both the plaintiffs and the defense teams have previously indicated that they intend to seek summary judgment (assuming the case doesn’t settle before the deadline).

While I don’t know what precisely will be in these motions (no one tells me anything!), I think it’s a pretty safe guess that it might look something like the following:

THE STUDIOS WILL LIKELY ARGUE THAT…

Alec Peters knowingly infringed on the copyrighted intellectual property (Star Trek) of CBS and Paramount, committing multiple violations, each deserving of a statutory judgment award (monetary penalty).

Of course, the plaintiffs can’t just say this and walk away, waiting for the judge to agree with them.  The law needs to support their claim, and evidence gathered during discovery needs to back it up.  Perhaps Alec Peters or Robert Meyer Burnett or Christian Gossett or one of the studio executives said something in their deposition that’s a “smoking gun.”  Or maybe there’s an e-mail or other document–or the lack of one–which really brings the point home that Alec Peters knowingly (willfully) infringed on the studios’ copyright.

Of course, the defense team gets to rebut the plaintiff’s motion, and I’m sure it’ll include lots of stuff about all of the many, many fan films that similarly used Star Trek intellectual property and weren’t challenged by the studios.  This goes toward Alec Peters’ state of mind when he made Prelude to Axanar.  Did he have a reasonable expectation that the studios were okay with Star Trek fan films?  (After all, over a hundred were made and released before Axanar, and no one was ever sued or even told to stop.)

If it can be shown that any reasonable person would have believed fan films were okay with the studio, then Alec Peters’ infringement–if infringement it was–should be considered non-willful (innocent) and carry a much lower monetary penalty.  The defense team will likely  argue that the judge, therefore, should NOT issue a summary judgement that Alec Peters knowingly and willfully infringed…since such infringement may be determined by a jury to have been non-willful.  And thus does this fact remain in dispute.

Of course, the plaintiffs will get one, final chance to reply to the defense rebuttal…and I’m certain they will!  The rebuttal and the response to it happen over a two-week period.  Then, a week later, both sides go before Judge Klausner to orally argue their motions, and then the judge rules a short time later.

THE DEFENSE WILL LIKELY ARGUE THAT…

Prelude to Axanar was “fair use.”  Although Star Trek is, by its creative nature, certainly worthy of copyright protection (one of the four elements of fair use, and you can read about them all in more detail on the U.S. Copyright Office’s webpage), there are three other elements of fair use to consider.

First, is it transformative?  Prelude to Axanar was done in a documentary/mockumentary format…something that Star Trek has never done before.  Did Alec Peters TRANSFORM Star Trek into something new and original?  Also, is Prelude to Axanar a commercial endeavor?  Some might say that Ares Studios was built to be “for profit,” but the actual film Prelude to Axanar cost more to make than was raised and was being shown for free.  So it would be difficult to qualify it as “commercial.”  Granted (and I am sure the plaintiffs will rebut this point in a similar way), Prelude to Axanar was used to generate additional donation revenue.  So in that way, it was commercial.  However, in a likely rebuttal to that rebuttal, I would imagine the defense arguing that it was highly likely that the Axanar movie would also have finished with no profit.  And if plans were in the works to make Ares Studios non-profit, then it’s arguable that Axanar was never commercial in nature.

Second, how much of the original copyrighted work was actually used?  In the case of Prelude to Axanar, we have Garth of Izar and Soval, Captain Robbau; the races of Klingons, Vulcans, Andorians were mentioned, too; some uniforms, medals, and the Starship Enterprise plus the Klingon D-7 battlecruiser.  That might sound like a lot, but Star Trek is a vast galaxy (universe even…multiple universes, in fact!) of intellectual property content.  Kirk and crew, Picard and crew, Sisko and crew, Janeway and crew, Archer and crew…nowhere to be found in Prelude to Axanar.  No Romulans, Ferengi, Cardassians, Borg, Trill, Bajorans, Betazoids, Kazon, or any other of countless alien species.  The starship Enterprise was glimpsed for mere seconds in the 20 minutes of Prelude…the D-7 for even less time.  So really, did Alec Peter use a small enough amount of copyrighted content to qualify for fair use?  Or did Axanar take the “heart” of Star Trek and use it as its own?  The studios will likely argue the latter point.

And finally–and this is the most important element of the fair use defense–how much financial damage did Axanar actually do to the studios’ multi-billion dollar franchise?  I’m actually most curious to see what came out during discovery dealing with this very question.  Were the studios, in fact, able to measure the financial effect of Axanar on their revenue?  Personally, I can’t see how, but if this is brought up in the defense motion, we’ll all get to peek behind the curtain of confidentiality that kept the details of discovery secret.  In other words, the cat will finally be out of the bag!

PARTIAL JUDGMENTS

So here’s what is potentially going to be the most interesting (and possibly surprising!) part of the summary judgment phase.  Y’see, the attorneys don’t need to limit themselves to simply asking for the judge to end the entire trial now in their favor.  To be honest, judges are seldom so accommodating, although they are more likely to throw out a plaintiff’s complaint (in this case, CBS and Paramount) as being unwinnable than to grant a plaintiff’s motion and simply bring down a losing verdict on the defendant without giving him/her/them a chance to at least make an argument in front of the jury.  To win a summary judgement, the side that files has a higher burden of proof to show that the facts are obvious and not in dispute at all.  The opposing side need only make things look a teensy bit uncertain.  Even a small speck of dust on the otherwise cleanest window of evidence can stop a summary judgment ruling in its tracks.

However, each party is also allowed to ask for partial rulings.  For instance (and I kinda expect to see a little of this if motions are filed tomorrow), there are 57 alleged copyright violations against Alec Peters.  Why not eliminate some of them now?  The judge can do that in the summary judgment phase.  For example, clothing is not copyrightable.  You can’t copyright gold turtlenecks over dark-gray pants with boots.  So the alleged violation dealing with the Starfleet uniforms could well disappear before trial.  Triangular medals–you can’t copyright a shape.  The Klingon language?  There’s a whole amicus brief on that one!

So even if the defense doesn’t get the judge to throw the whole case out, those 57 alleged violations could be trimmed down to 50 or 40 or 30 or even less before the trial ever begins!  That could reduce the amount of the potential verdict (if Alec loses) significantly.

Now, there’s one last thing I should mention: appeals.  If the judge throws the case out or eliminates one or more of the claims, it is possible for the losing side to appeal the decision to a higher court (and there is a Ninth Circuit Appeals Court…after that, it’s the Supreme Court, and I doubt they’d ever hear a case about a Star Trek fan film!).  That said, summary judgments are seldom overturned.  So if CBS and Paramount find their complaint tossed, it likely isn’t coming back.  Likewise, if Alec Peters receives a harsh summary judgment and stiff verdict, he’ll have an uphill battle on appeal, as well.  But for reasons I don’t have time to get into (’cause this article is already really long!), the possibility of the latter situation is much less likely than the former…although both are pretty unlikely.


That said, I do need to mention one last time that most of my conjectures about what might be in the motions are simply that: conjecture.  I’ve got no inside information on any of this other than one document I produced at the beginning of the year at the request of Alec Peter’s legal team.  Since it was part of discovery, I haven’t been allowed to mention it.  But I really hope it makes it into a motion tomorrow (assuming there is one) because I worked REALLY hard on it, and it’s kinda linked to the secret origin of FAN FILM FACTOR itself…and I’d so like to finally talk about it!

And of course, there might be no motions at all on Wednesday…in which case I’ve just written twenty-two hundred words for nothing!!!

67 thoughts on “TOMORROW we’ll know if the AXANAR lawsuit has settled or not…”

  1. So I’m assuming you compiled a full list of Star Trek fan films over the past 50 years?! That has got to have taken some considerable investment of time!

  2. Just a few points:

    “So the primary goal of summary judgement is to get the lawsuit to end before a trial starts”

    True, kind of. The primary goal of summary judgement is to provide a judge with the vehicle to rule on the merits of the case prior to a full trial should he/she determine that the facts and any subsequent violations of law are indisputable. Summary judgements help the judge out.

    “A trial determines (hopefully) which story is the correct one”

    You missed a step: The trial is also to determine whether that theft of that cookie is in violation of any federal laws. Simply determining the facts is the easy part. Usually.

    “Prelude to Axanar was done in a documentary/mockumentary format…something that Star Trek has never done before.”

    Not exactly true. The final episode of ST:Enterprise was told through flashback and personal reflection that served as a de facto documentary. But, regardless, the argument that a documentary-style approach rises to the level of transformative is a huge reach if it’s the only transformative element. Was anything else transformative? Did the costumes radically change? Were the characters new? Did the ships look non-Star Trekky? Were the alien races new? Just how much of the Axanar works was actually transformative?!?

    “This goes toward Alec Peters’ state of mind when he made Prelude to Axanar. Did he have a reasonable expectation that the studios were okay with Star Trek fan films?”

    I hope the defense has more up its sleeve than this argument, because it’s going to crash and burn faster than the Hindenburg. I’m not aware of any provision in federal law that allows for IP infringement based on a mistaken “reasonable expectation”. If there is such a precedent, I’d appreciate someone pointing me to it.

    “You can’t copyright gold turtlenecks over dark-gray pants with boots.”

    True, but you can when they’re combined in such a way as to match those worn by Star Trek characters and, by the way, worn by Star Trek Characters.

    “That could reduce the amount of the potential verdict (if Alec loses) significantly.”

    My guess is that if Peters’ goal was to reduce the amount of the verdict, he would have settled long ago. Unfortunately for him, he has this crowdfunding thing sitting over his head as well. He can’t admit to doing anything illegal since doing so might put him in violation of the Kickstarter or IndiGoGO TOS and at risk for fraud complaints.

    1. I hope the defense has more up its sleeve than this argument, because it’s going to crash and burn faster than the Hindenburg. I’m not aware of any provision in federal law that allows for IP infringement based on a mistaken “reasonable expectation”. If there is such a precedent, I’d appreciate someone pointing me to it.

      Well, it’s not precedent so much as actual law, James. There are two kinds of infringement: willful and non-willful (innocent). The statutory damages for willful infringement can be as high as $150,000 per violation. The statutory damages for innocent infringement can be as low as $200 per violation. Assuming 57 violations–and depending on the defense’s success in proving Alec’s state of mind and reasonable expectation based on prior studio (lack of) copyright enforcement–the verdict could be as high as $8.55 million or as low as $11,400. The latter is barely a slap on the wrist and would be a huge embarrassment to studios that just spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a lawsuit. And such a low award could embolden other fan series with large crowd-funding to simply raise an extra $50K or $100K to pay the “fine.”

      As for clothing, no, you can’t claim a copyright on a clothing design, even if it’s for a Starfleet uniform worn by a character. You can copyright the Starfleet arrowhead insignia, but that wasn’t used in PRELUDE. It was the USS Ares spear tip. Now, you can copyright the character himself/herself, and one of the alleged violation is, in fact, for using Garth of Izar. But there is another, separate alleged violation regarding the uniforms themselves. That one, I predict, won’t survive summary judgement. But hey, I could be wrong. 🙂

      And I’m not sure where Alec admitting to anything illegal comes from. You do realize that, if there is a settlement, neither party admits to anything, right?

      1. Given Axanar’s and Alec Peters NUMEROUS public statements and HOW he STILL runs his ‘Donor Store’ full of UNLICENSED Star Trek related merchandise – trying to claim ity was all innocent and unwillful in terms of the law is just plain ludicrous and I seriously doubt it’ll fly – but hey – keep drinking the Axanar Kool-Aid.

    2. Well James, thank you for an excellent example of the term, “arm chair lawyering”. I didn’t notice “James, the attorney”, after your name…. Did you locate your information on the internet, or did you have actual law reference to back up your claims. I’d be interested to hear them.

      1. To be fair, Charles, I’m just an armchair lawyer, too. The closest thing I have to a J.D. degree is hanging in my wife’s office, and she refuses (for professional reasons) to discuss this case in any way with me…and I respect that. So I’m flying mostly by the seat of my pants, helped along by a couple of legal friends who occasionally answer the questions I throw at them. But I’m sure I’ve gotten a few things wrong along the way…just as James did. I’ve also gotten a number of things right, just like James. His first two points were spot on: summary judgments can also simplify a case for both the judge and jury, and yes, trials are done not simply to determine facts but also whether a committed act is, in fact, against the law (or, in some cases, simply injurious and therefore meritorious of some kind of remedy from the defendant to the plaintiff).

        And then there’s the stuff where we’re both essentially clueless. James’ third point is a perfect example. Was PRELUDE transformative? Does the series finale of Enterprise count as mockumentary or not? This is what we’re going to trial to determine. James thinks it’s a huge reach. He might be right. Personally, I think there’s a 20% chance the defense will win outright on fair use. If they do, however, it won’t be simply because PRELUDE is transformative. That’s a small element to consider for fair use. The most significant element to consider is market harm to the original property. There, I think the studios are going to fall waaaaay short. And if Axanar is simply an ant crawling around on a huge buffet-style picnic table (in terms of damages), then the chances of a fair use verdict aren’t a “huge” reach…maybe just a “pretty big” reach.

        In the end, James and I both don’t really amount to a hill of beans in this crazy lawsuit. We’re just spectators sitting way up in the stands, cheering on our favorite teams and telling the other fan why our guys are gonna beat their guys…even thought neither of us is actually playing.

        1. Good attitude ! 🙂
          Its difficult to “be fair” to “opposition”, and you definitely do a good job at that!

  3. I am following the Axanar Case since the beginning. And i really don´t understand CBS in that matter. Especially, because the new Series is delayed for nearly half an year, the Company could use all Advertising they can get for free. And that are Fanfilms. Free Advertising. To stay in the minds and hearts of the Fans.
    But instead CBS poisened the Hearts and Minds with “hate”.
    Divided the Fandom in Pro and Contra Axanar.
    And that in the 50 Anniversery Year who both Companies have screwed up.
    They should hire some guys from Disney. This Company knows how you deal with Fans and what is Fanservice.
    Eventually sorry when i misspelled some text, but english is not my native language.
    Greetings from an huge Axanar Fan in Germany
    PS.: Fingers crossed this going not to trial and is settled tomorrow.

    1. Mike, your English is indefinitely better than my German (just ask my father-in-law, whose parents immigrated from Austria)! Thanks for writing and following my blog. 🙂

  4. …chipping away at the alleged violations seems quite do-able =)

    …summary judgement (either way) seems like a LONG shot 😉

    let’s hope they reach a settlement! =)

    #IStandWithAxanar

  5. Jonathan, given the previous stances of the parties involved, I’m guessing that we will get the summary judgement motions given that CBS/PARAMOUNT are in too deep to back out now or they lose face for saying they want to make Axanar an example and then possibly get the case thrown out before trial. So I’m guessing the summary jugement motions are filed and rebutted, the motion gets dismissed and this case goes to trial, although I’ll be suprised as anyone if it’s settled beforehand, but I rather doubt it.

      1. Jonathan, agreed. I don’t think anybody saw those election results coming either. I know I wasn’t. Looking back, though, I can see where they took too many votes for granted and that was a big mistake.

  6. Am I the only one who sees all of this as the most entertaining form of “Star Trek” this year?

    Don’t get me wrong; I would have loved to have seen the Axanar movie by now but… for what it’s worth, this is compelling entertainment!

        1. Well, if you think about it a little more, Not Herbert, selling the rights to the documentary could help to fund the Axanar movie–if it ever gets made–and keep the studio running. I’d be willing to pay $12 for a movie ticket to see “The Battle of Axanar” in a theater. 🙂

    1. Totally agree!!

      Mr. Lane’s vibrant chronicle makes following this lawsuit something extraordinary 😀

  7. I would like to thank you for this blog and the time you put in, this is a great story. I have been feeling let down by the star trek powers that be for awhile now, having grown up with a constant stream of good star trek to watch: tng 87′-94′, ds9 93′-99′, voyager 95′-01′, enterprise 01′- 05′ though the last one was abit more hit and miss i still count it as good. after 20 years of constant and consistent star trek we haven’t had anything (but what is in MHO a failed reboot) for over a decade from the studios. i don’t understand how star trek could need a reboot or why the studios would choose to abandon it for so long then suddenly lay claim to it with such furry when fans got tired of waiting for them to return. just look at the ds9 voyager overlap, they produced 2 good shows at the same time for 4 years and we as fans gave back in kind we supported both shows at the same time even when they were on different networks and we had to try to follow them through time slot changes and such. i understand that the world and especially media is changing but how can it be changing so much that a franchise with such a dedicated fan base would become so hostile. frankly I’m afraid to see what the studios come up with next, and if they no longer support the franchise they need to unload it and give someone else who has the passion to make star trek great again a chance to do just that. So i hope Alec sticks to his promise and fights for the chance to do just that.

    1. Remember that CBS only took over Star Trek officially in 2009…and Leslie Moonves is on record as not being a Star Trek fan. So there isn’t as much of a moral imperative to produce new Star Trek anything at CBS. Star Trek never was theirs to begin with–it came to them from Paramount via Viacom. When Enterprise was canceled in 2005, its ratings were in the garbage chute, and Paramount’s UPN network was on its own last legs. The studio (at that point) felt that Star Trek as a franchise needed a rest.

      It was JJ Abrams who came up with the idea of going back to Trek’s roots of Kirk and Spock et al and doing a reboot. And to his credit, he woke up the franchise from hibernation (whether or not you loved or hated his reboot). Had Star Trek 2009 bombed at the box office, I doubt we would ever have seen ANY Star Trek on either the big or small screen for a verrrrry long time.

      But in my opinion (and many others) Star Trek works best on television in a weekly format, not in a theater (Wrath of Khan and Undiscovered Country notwithstanding). The characters and plot-lines can take time to develop more slowly and richly. It’s kind of like Game of Thrones. One 2-hour movie wouldn’t be enough to tell the story of that series properly. That said, while I’m hopeful for DISCO, I do worry about all the headwinds it seems to be facing. And that’s why I gravitate toward fan films so much. It’s Star Trek the way I remember it…just with worse acting and better visual effects. 🙂

      1. I agree and that is basically why I think some people reacted badly to the new trek, it doesn’t have the story quality of the old star trek. And I can understand CBS execs not liking star trek, its not for everybody, I myself am in full in hate with about 90% of what companies choose to broadcast these days. However in my opinion CBS would be doing themselves and society a favor if they cut star trek loose. If their not in love with their property and aren’t willing to give it the attention it deserves they should sell the rights, or partially. SCIFI, because I refuse to use their ridiculous new call letters, is actually doing some amazing new ACTUAL science fiction television lately, and it just doesn’t make sense to me to let a perfectly good franchise rot because you don’t understand it. Let me educate you on how things are done in the oil field to illustrate a point. What a lot of people don’t understand is no single company usually owns a big oil development here in America, to limit exposure a number of companies share the development and a single company is chosen to run the operation, and the majority holder isn’t always the operator. The operator is usually chosen on the basis of who can operate the facility most efficiently, safely or economically, and every now and then operations will change hands or holdings will be sold and a new company will come in and take the lead. So why can’t CBS just admit to themselves hey, were done with this lets find someone who cares and can run this franchise, maybe even a few different parties so they can limit their liability while increasing their chances to produce a quality product we can all be happy with. Perhaps even find a way to lease the rights to fan film producers who do the job solely out of love for the product.

  8. So for all the executive producers that donate millions to finance Paramount Pictures so that a Star Trek work gets created, licensed as Star Trek, with Star Trek merchandise and negotiated licenses to use the images and trademarks of Star Trek, what makes “crowd funding” (which is finance) a non-licensed Star Trek film, still call it Star Trek, with non-negotiated, non-licensed Star Trek merchandise, from which can be “purchased” by means of a “donation”, different?

    I have a strange feeling Axanar will not even come close to a defeating a Summary Judgement motion from CBS and Paramount. And it’s about time that Erin from Winston & Strawn, that god damned broad, who made Veoh identified as a “service provider” (which it isn’t), get what’s coming to her in law. This time Axanar will get economy, zero cost, representation from her. No need to give her any case-law hints, she lost this case.

    P.S.: Clothing can be trademarked and copyrighted. Go F yourself Lane and your a-hole friend Alec Peters with a pink-haired girlfriend that belongs on a mental hospital.

    1. And this, my friends, is the definition of “deplorable.”

      Ed, this is your only warning. The next comment you try to post that is this insulting to anyone–me, Erin, Crysstal, Alec, or even Mother Theresa–gets trashed. Just because you don’t spell out the full word doesn’t mean you haven’t used it. Grow up, dude.

    2. This may be informative for you, Ed.

      TED — Johanna Blakely: Lessons from fashion’s Free Culture
      youtu.be/zL2FOrx41N0

  9. From what a lawyer friend of mine says, jury trials can be both ugly and unpredictable. Even if they win, CBS/Paramount will end up looking like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas (without the happy ending!)

    I’m putting my money on some kind of settlement.

    1. Quite possibly. However, if motions for summary judgment are filed tomorrow, I suspect we’ll make it to at least oral arguments before one side or the other moves closer to settling. Remember that each side could potentially win outright or, if not, as least possibly cripple the other side. Why not at least see how oral arguments go. If the judge is sounding particularly sympathetic to one side or the other during the hearing, we might see the parties gather in the hallway on the way to the elevator to reexamine the finer points of settlement.

      Remember that many settlements happen on the courthouse steps on the way to opening arguments. 🙂

    2. Ya I was told the same thing in my petrochemical histories course. Yes that is an actual course or was for a while. Its bad enough when a big companies runs afowl, the initial event is bad publicity and that the company does usually want to drag things out in court. It’s hard enough to get people to forget a year long struggle to contain a situation let alone the year long court battle that follows. Add to that a fickle jury that could swing either way and could levy damages of ridiculous proportions and bigger companies who have far more to lose will often considered it cheaper to simple settle out of court and avoid a possibly sour jury and PR nightmare that a trial could bring. When big companies goto court their not looking for money, their looking for vindication, how much that’s worth to them and how much their willing to risk for that is the question.

        1. Lincoln was a very humble man who had greatness thrust upon him through the most challenging crucible in our nation’s history. He rightly deserves his place on a $5 bill. [=|:-)3

  10. Judge will Rule Star Trek is derivative of Forbidden Planet, and that everything belongs to MGM (just Kidding, good luck Axanar)

    1. Actually, on the credits of Forbidden Planet trailer it says Copyright MCMLXVI (1956) by Loew’s Incorporated…

  11. Another fine contribution to the Axanar story Jonathan. Your knowledge of the ongoings and the law with the help of real lawyers is outstanding.

    I am also impressed that I am allowed to comment on everyone of your posts, unlike the “other guy” who seems afraid to be challenged on his “facts”,yet openly attacks you in your assessments. Something you do not. I guess we know where the class is.

    Thank you again. My part in the documentary will be played that guy who makes Trivago commercials…..or a young Natalie Portman….

    1. Hey, now I want to be played by Natalie Portman! Or at least some portly man! 🙂

      And who is this “other guy” of whom you speak? Actually, I’m guessing it’s one of two possible people. Hey, to each his own. I believe in letting voices be heard (well, read)…as long as they’re at least moderately respectful and civil. And yes, that often means approving the comments of those who do not agree with me. In my opinion–as long as things don’t get nasty–that makes this a MUCH more interesting website and blogging experience. It looks like you agree, Charles.

      1. Alas, I am too much of a portly man to entertain Natalie Portman…..

        The one I was speaking was Carlos….he does not allow feedback on his blog….thus, “I am NOT entertained!” To each his own… 😉

        1. Yeah, Carlos is the Joker to my Batman…or I’m the Joker to his Batman (not sure which of us which, but between the two of us, we bring balance to the Force). 🙂

  12. Ok, so tomorrow is “summary judgement day”. Since everything pertaining to Star Trek and Axanar is considered “fair use” for a trial, or settlement. Anyone else scratching their heads over the fact that last week a CBS executive went on record in an interview saying “science fiction doesn’t work on network TV”?

    Not withstanding any of the multitude shows on air right now including Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomarrow, all on the CW a network that CBS partially owns. Since part of the case is proving that Axanar has done “financial damage” to the Star Trek brand/property, this interview being part of public record, is a 9th inning godsend to Axanar’s legal team.

    We know CBS/P is going to argue that they have been harmed financially, and possibly try and show the delay to STD as proof. Now Erin can trot out this interview as proof CBS/P doesn’t think SciFi can even work on TV as a weekly series which is why they decided to put it on their streaming site. It also sets up the possibility of this executive being called as a witness for the defense to explain how CBS views the financial aspects of science fiction on their network, and how that view pertains to their overall strategy.

    I doubt this executive thought he was doing anything wrong except answering a question, but i am sure CBS’s Lawyers were pulling out their hair, when they read it.

    1. I’m not sure it’s quite the smoking gun, Jon. The biggest challenge in proving damages is finding an objective way to show how a 20-minute fan film viewed 2 million times on YouTube (mostly by fans) results in LOST revenue. Maybe it results in MORE revenue. Maybe it doesn’t have any effect at all on a billion dollar franchise. I donated $300 to Axanar’s various campaigns. I also saw STAR TREK BEYOND twice with my son in theaters and spent $500 on a ticket the Creation 50th anniversary con in Las Vegas. I bought this years’ Ships of the Line calendar, and I’m thinking about the new Encyclopedia. (And I suspect my wife has already bought this year’s Hallmark Star Trek ornaments for our tree.) So it’s not like donating to Axanar is taking away money I might otherwise have given to the franchise.

      Hard to prove anything there.

      1. It is not the fact that it is taking money away from the franchise. It goes to a “general state of mind” concerning the executives thinking behind the scenes. Everything placed in public domain like this can be used to support or defend a position. Having watched my father practice law for a long time before his death, even the most innocuous statement can be used to bolster or harm a legal position.

        Doesn’t have to be a “smoking gun”. It is simply a statement made about financials at a battle time vis a vis the lawsuit.

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