Could the AXANAR LAWSUIT go all the way to the SUPREME COURT? (Part 1)

Imagine it’s about three or four years from now, and you’re watching the news.  Suddenly, you start hearing William Shatner’s voice, “Space, the Final Frontier…” as the news anchor says, “Star Trek fans are about to go where they’ve never gone before. The Supreme Court has just agreed to hear a case involving a 2014 Star Trek fan film called Axanar…”

So you think I’m trippin’, huh?  You think I’ve been smoking la weed a’ toka (now legal here in California, but still not my thing).  Or maybe you just think I have delusions of grandeur about Axanar and I’m completely out of touch with reality.

Well, possibly.  After all, the Supreme Court gets more than 7,000 petitions each year to hear cases…and accepts only about 100-150 of them.  And Supreme Court cases generally involve very important and complex issues of law that have national implications…especially if someone’s constitutional rights are being violated in some way.

So you probably don’t think that a copyright infringement lawsuit against a small Star Trek fan film could possibly rise to the level of having national implications.

But thanks to Judge R. Gary Klausner’s ruling last Wednesday during summary judgement that fair use is an invalid defense at this trial, the Axanar lawsuit is now very much a constitutional case with national implications…

Okay, get comfortable, ’cause we’ve got a LOT to go over today (and when is that NOT the case with this lawsuit???).  And it all began with me doing a little research for yesterday’s blog about appealing the case based on the fair use ruling by the judge.  I was wondering is that even allowed?  How common is it for a judge to take the decision of fair use away from a jury and rule on it himself?

That research led my to a fascinating article from the University of California, Davis School of Law’s Law Review (volume 44, issue 2 from 2010-2011): “Judges Playing Jury: Constitutional Conflicts in Deciding Fair Use on Summary Judgment.”  It was written by Professor of Law Ned Snow (currently at the University of South Carolina), and didn’t put me to sleep like I thought it would.  In fact, the more I read of it, the more I wanted to read…and it eventually convinced me that not only CAN the Axanar case go the the Supreme Court, it actually SHOULD…and is an opportunity to challenge a recent and disturbing 30-year trend in law that invalidates and ignores more than two centuries of legal precedent!

Wow, all this from a Star Trek fan film???  Yep.  But first I need to tell you what Professor Ned Snow said in his 70-page law article.  (I’ll try to be a little more brief…but no promises!)

We’ve discussed fair use many times before.  If you want a quick primer, just go back two days to this blog entry.  But what is the history of fair use?  Have judges typically decided its validity before trial, or has that traditionally been left up to juries?

It turns out the answer is juries…at least for the first two centuries of this nation.  I’ll quote from Professor Snow’s article:

[F]rom the outset of the fair use doctrine in the mid-1700s to the mid-1900s, fair use represented a triable issue of fact for a jury.  In actions at law, courts routinely described and treated fair use as raising an issue of fact for a jury rather than a pure issue of law for a judge.

Yep, fair use spent two hundred years being decided by juries, not judges!  I betcha didn’t even know fair use went back that far!  A version of fair use actually came from English Common Law, which greatly influenced our own legal procedures.  And the Founding Fathers were big on the concept of empowering juries, so they got to determine it during infringement trials in courts of law.

In fact, it turns out that the first time that a judge in the U.S. ever ruled on fair use himself during summary judgment didn’t come until as late as 1968!  And even then, Judge Wyatt called fair use a “difficult issue” and admitted that he had an “initial reluctance” to rule that there was, indeed, fair use in the case.  Nevertheless, he issued his ruling…in favor of the defendant, if you’re curious.

What followed in the 1970s and 80s was a period of rapid and mostly inconsistent transition from fair use being given exclusively to juries to rule on during to the decision being hijacked by judges before trial (ruling on the merits of fair use as a pure issue of law rather than a finding of fact).

Like a flock of geese taking off to the east and then suddenly all changing direction and heading west, so too was the shift of the federal courts from fair use being for juries to decide to being a matter for judges.  There was no discussion or debate, no new law passed by Congress.  The birds just all began, one by one, to fly in a different direction.

By the 1990s, the transition was complete.  Judges now rule on fair use as a matter of law almost exclusively, issuing orders from the bench at summary judgment just as Judge Klausner did last Wednesday.  And that brings us back to Axanar

In yesterday’s blog, I explained how, if Alec Peters loses the copyright infringement lawsuit at trial, he has grounds for an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, CA.  His attorneys can claim that, for two centuries, fair use was a question of fact weighed by juries, and Judge Klausner’s declaring the fair use defense invalid as a matter of law was a mistake ignoring legal precedent and tradition stretching back to the infancy of America itself.

Cry me a river, though, because there’s a good chance the appellate judges will respond with the legal equivalent of “Tough noogies!”  After all, even though 200 years is a pretty long time, the last 30 years have seen a pretty consistent agreement among all of the federal courts that fair use is a matter of law, not fact…and judges can rule the fair use defense invalid at summary judgment if they choose to.  Appeal denied.  Have a nice day.

At this point, there’s nowhere else for Alec Peters to go but up…to the Supreme Court.  But how does he get there?  Just saying, “The appeals court got it wrong!” ain’t likely gonna fly…not with another 6,999 cases competing for maybe 100 open slots on the high court’s docket.

So how do Alec Peters and his lawyers get the Supreme Court’s attention?

You’re probably aware that the Bill of Rights (written by future president James Madison) consists of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  You probably can name a few.  Everyone knows the First: Freedom of Speech (it actually says a lot more than that.)  The Second Amendment: right to bear arms (as opposed to arming bears), that’s a biggie in he public awareness.  And then there’s that Fifth Amendment: the right to remain silent (and again, a whole lot more than just that).  If you’re American, you really should read all ten amendments…after all, they’re YOUR rights.

Anyway, who here knows about the Seventh Amendment?  Don’t be embarrassed; I had no idea either until I started researching all of this appeal stuff!  But here it is:

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Short form: every citizen has a right to a trial by jury…assuming there’s more than twenty bucks at stake!  (By the way, factoring in inflation, that’s about $500 today, but the amendment has never been changed, so it’s still technically $20.  I didn’t say the U.S. Constitution isn’t still a little wonky in places.)

And the reason that jury trials are so fundamental to our rights as Americans is because, well, let me let Professor Ned Snow tell you himself (because he’s a LOT smarter than I am!):

The jury right reflects the view that society trusts several citizens to decide a matter admitting discretionary judgment more than society trusts a single aristocratic judge.  For like any other position of power, the office of judge exposes its officer to subtle but weighty influences that may affect impartiality.  Influences attend the position of judge that are less likely to attend the position of juror. The right to a jury guards against those influences.  Influences on judges that the Seventh Amendment was intended to guard against apply as much in fair use today as they did in 1791.

So what the heck does this have to do with Axanar?  After all, Alec Peters will get his trial by jury.  Done deal.  His rights as an American citizen have been upheld, right?

Well, not so fast!

Okay, time for yet another cliff-hanger!

(Yesterday, Alec Peters called me verbose…and hey, he’s not wrong!)

But because the second part of this blog is so critically important to explaining why the Axanar case has national, constitutional implications, I want you all to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when you start reading it.  And I’m guessing that, right now, your eyes are starting to glaze over.

So come back tomorrow for Part 2, where we look at why Axanar may be the only chance the Supreme Court has of righting a wrong that’s been going on for three decades.  And is it really that inappropriate for judges to decide fair use?  Why should juries get to have the final say?  And finally, does Alec Peters even want to take this case to the Supreme Court (it’s such a long haul)?  I asked him, and I’ll tell you what he said…

68 thoughts on “Could the AXANAR LAWSUIT go all the way to the SUPREME COURT? (Part 1)”

  1. No need to publish this comment, this is just for you..but you need an editor it’s two wasted paragraphs, 127 words. You could just say, “let’s look at the 7th amendment.” instead you waste everyone’s time. It’s not cute it’s not helpful, it’s not funny. You seem like an unprepared 7th grader just trying to get to a preset page count.

    “You’re probably aware that the Bill of Rights (written by future president James Madison) consists of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. You probably can name a few. Everyone knows the First: Freedom of Speech (it actually says a lot more than that.) The Second Amendment: right to bear arms (as opposed to arming bears), that’s a biggie in he public awareness. And then there’s that Fifth Amendment: the right to remain silent (and again, a whole lot more than just that). If you’re American, you really should read all ten amendments…after all, they’re YOUR rights.

    Anyway, who here knows about the Seventh Amendment? Don’t be embarrassed; I had no idea either until I started researching all of this appeal stuff! But here it is:”

    1. I’m fine publishing constructive criticism, Mario. And you’re not wrong. I actually thought about trimming that part…and I almost did. I left it in as a bit of a mental “break” for people. I do that quite a bit…much like John Oliver does on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight.” This Axanar legal stuff is very dense and very complex. Presented just paragraph after boring paragraph turns this blog from an entertainingly informative experience into a mental chore (at least in my opinion…but hey, I’m the blogger).

      I think people learn more and pay more attention when they get a little chance to rest their brain and process every few paragraphs or so. That’s why I add in the “flourishes.” I joke, I throw in parenthetical comments (like this one), and occasionally take short tangents. The idea isn’t to waste people’s time–after all, how long does it take to read 127 words?)–but to allow people to take a breath before the starting the next sprint through more legally complex stuff.

      Also, to be perfectly frank, I don’t really have the time to write less. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but Mark Twain actually said it first: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote you a long one.” What this means is that I write the whole blog first. They usually start out REALLY long. And then I edit it myself (I work fastest alone), checking for typos and poorly explained and confusing points. And I fix them. This usually makes the piece slightly longer. Along the way, I’ll trim out some of the unnecessary stuff. I almost deleted the “written by future president James Madison” part, but I wanted to 1) show off, and 2) give James Madison a little love because most people are all about Jefferson wrote this and Jefferson wrote that…and no one ever seems to credit Madison for codifying the sacred rights we all enjoy as American citizens.

      Anyway, the next step in editing is the “Sophie’s Choice” part, where you have to slash and burn and leave large portions of your precious prose on the cutting room floor. That kind of editing takes more time, though, and I really don’t have that time to give. As it is, I write most of these blogs in the late evening after Jayden goes to bed. By 1am or 2am, I’m done with the first pass of editing and not really motivated for the slash-and-burn/trimming-for-length second pass. Sleep is a much more attractive option at that point. And I usually publish either then (2am) or early the next morning before I drive Jayden to school. If I ever publish later than that, it’s because I didn’t finish the first round of editing by the time the room began spinning.

      And by the next night, I’m writing the next blog!

      BTW, I also don’t bother trimming these responses I write either. 😉

      1. I always find it amazing when people can be so critical of someone that is giving us something for free… well, not really free even, since time is money. I greatly appreciate the time you take to investigate each step of this lawsuit and compress it down to the important parts, I’ve become a regular follower and routinely recommend it to friends as well. I tend to write fairly verbosely as well, so I totally understand what you are talking about not having the time to write less. It would drive me crazy when I would feel like I edited something down and people would still complain about how much I said… I have to wonder if sites like Twitter have made people incapable of reading full paragraphs any more. I personally enjoy your writing and the extra info and tangents you throw in at times… as you say, it gives the brain a break from all the legalese. So keep in mind, for every critical comment you get like this, there are probably dozens that have no issue with what you are doing and even prefer it over an edited and watered down version but just don’t take the time to say so.

        1. Thanks, MJ, that’s very uplifting to hear. I realize that I can’t please all the people all the time or even most of the people some of the time. But I just keep on keeping on because, well, going to sleep each night before 2am is just overrated! 🙂

  2. …hmmmm …i think you’ve got a valid SCOTUS case!

    …however: corrupt, corporate-serving system will probly have a way of shooting it down =(

    …ESPECIALLY under der pumpkin fuhrer! =P

  3. That was……short. 🙂

    I personally appreciate all the work that you are putting in Mr Lane.

    Thank you for your service and I look forward to reading much much more….

  4. Verbose? Naw, it’s just a new lifestyle choice that we’ve all adopted.

    Thanks for the analysis.

  5. Existe un viejo refrán que dice: “No luches nunca con alguien que no tiene nada que perder” y creo que Paramount/Cbs no lo escucharon nunca; más tiempo dure este juicio lo único que van a conseguir es en primer lugar publicidad negativa y en segundo lugar pérdidas financieras por las costas legales.

    There is an old saying, “Never fight someone who has nothing to lose” and I think Paramount / Cbs never heard it; Given that the longer this trial lasts the only thing they will get is first negative publicity and secondly financial losses due to legal costs.

      1. Sucede que soy del otro extremo del continente (Argentina) y mi ingles deja mucho que desear (uso un traductor), por eso los dos idiomas. Aprovecho para felicitarte por el blog, lo sigo desde el principio.

        It happens that I am from the other end of the continent (Argentina) and my English leaves much to be desired (I use a translator), that’s why both languages. I take advantage to congratulate you on the blog, I follow from the beginning.

        1. I do love your country, Leonardo–how do you get the meat to taste so good???? I’ve been to Buenos Aires, Usuaia, and Iguazu Falls. Such breathtaking beauty and wonderful people. All this, and tango in the streets, too!

          Muchas gracias, mi amigo.

  6. Jonathan, I’ve been following your Axanar lawsuit blog with intense interest the last month or so. First, thank you for providing your insights into this convoluted case. I’m a chemical engineer, not a lawyer so I know very little about copyright law and what I do think I know is probably incorrect (or at least incomplete). I’ve also been a Trekkie since watching TOS in the 7th grade when it first aired (yes I’m old) and also supported the Axanar Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns. I’ve got to admit this lawsuit has turned me a little cold regarding Star Trek Discovery. Previously I would have rushed right out, signed up for CBS All Access and settled back with my popcorn. Now, I’m probably going to wait to see what the new series reviews are before I give CBS any more of my money. I suspect I’m not alone in this. There is a lot of good SciFi out there. It may not be Star Trek but …

    Nevertheless, thanks again Jonathan. I look forward to your posts, with all the humor and playful turns of phrase with which you gift your readers. To those who criticize your style (as opposed to your analysis) my response would be – “Don’t like it, write your own.”

    1. “Don’t like it, write your own.”

      That’s funny…that’s sorta why I started blogging about the case! I took a look at Axamonitor and 1701news and decided it was time somebody said something nice for a change! 🙂

      I also wanted to help educate the masses. There’s so much misinformation out there from armchair lawyers–and I freely admit to being one myself! In fact, I wrote that whole “History of Star Trek Fan Films” for the wrong reason! I got trademark law confused with copyright law. And the more I learned about this case and the way things actually work, the more I wanted to share that correct information with those who seemed to traffic in simplified misinformation. The only problem is, it’s a lot easier to misstate the truth if you’re simplifying down to a sound byte. In order to explain reality properly, I need to talk to people, research, and carefully arrange the information to flow logically and educate rather than just confuse people even more. It doesn’t always work, but I try. It’s nice to know that most people are appreciating the effort. 🙂

    2. “I suspect I’m not alone in this.”

      Indeed you are not! Your background and reaction to CBS’s behavior are nearly the same as my own and several others I’ve seen commenting on forums and Facebook.

  7. I like your writing style. It would be much harder to get through all this complex stufgf AND even harder to decide what’s your own bias and what’s matters of fact if you didn’t write in such a folksy style. This Axanerd wants you to keep on as you have been 🙂

    1. Did you know I was the person who first coined the term “Axanerd”? Before the lawsuit, that’s how I’d asked Alec to list me in the credits! 🙂

  8. So what I want to know (and forgive me if you’re already planning on writing about this) is why does this case have a chance of making it to the Supreme Court, if other cases for the last 30 years have all failed. If there have been enough cases to draw a trend then presumably (even if the odds are low) at least one of them should have made it. But it sounds like that isn’t true—none of them have ever made it to the Supreme Court. So why not? Why has no one made it, and what makes Axanar different?

    1. You think I’d let that strong argument dangle undealt with in Part 2, Elliott? Oh, ye of little faith. Also, copyright infringement lawsuits are not very common. It’s not like there’ve been hundreds of them all looking to appeal to the SCOTUS.

      1. And the cases that do come up tend to settle LONG before then…because of the massive legal costs involved in trying them. These seems to be one of those very rare cases where both sides seem unwilling to bend at all. However it may not be Peters that makes the decisions so much as the law firm that is defending him, in terms of how far to take this, since they are the ones incurring all the costs for it. I’d be curious to know if they have ever tried to take a course to the SCOTUS before.

  9. So my previous comment was in error, looking it up the case is already in federal court so the 7th does apply. So I would have to agree that this case would be a good candidate for examining common law as it applys to jury trials. However, though uptill now all case law supports prerevolutionary english common law the supreme court has been fond of reinterpreting or “updating” the constitution these last few decades, especially if it expands federal reach. So don’t be to surprised that they may choose to hear the case not to correct the trend away from jury decision but to expand the power of federal court judges and their power to pass judgement without a jury.

    1. Yeah, it totally could happen that way. But man, just to have the bragging rights to say I called it if this case even makes it to the Supreme Court!

      By the way, as you’ll read tomorrow, the last time the high court ruled on a case like this. it was an eight-member unanimous majority ruling against judicial overreach at summary judgment. And it was a conservative court, with an opinion written by Clarence Thomas and concurring opinion by Antonin Scalia.

  10. Hi Jonathan. My concern and question regarding this has to do with Fair Use being thrown out by the current ruling. As I understand it, the only way to appeal is to claim a mistake was made by the Court, so I’m going to guess that we at Axanar would put forth an appeal claiming Mistake in the denial of Fair Use at the current trial. If that appeal somehow sprouted wings and moved forward, wouldn’t it force a new trial? That could potentially be a decade from now. Is my understanding correct? Or, worse yet, is Fair Use allowed at all as part of an appeal since it won’t be part of the trial?

    1. Right on the first one, Dave. Alec likely gets to appeal on account of being denied a fair use defense at trial. At either the appeal level (first three judges and then, possibly an en blanc review by a panel of twelve or more judges from the Ninth Circuit) or at the Supreme Court level, the best Alec can hope for is a new trial where his attorneys are allowed to argue a fair use defense. And yes, he could still lose. And yes, it could take three or more years…possibly even ten (likely not THAT many, though…maybe five or six at the outside).

  11. I just want to say thank you, for taking time out of your life to write for us. I truly appreciate it.

  12. Jonathan lane wrote:
    “But thanks to Judge R. Gary Klausner’s ruling last Wednesday during summary judgement that fair use is an invalid defense at this trial, the Axanar lawsuit is now very much a constitutional case with national implications…”
    Um, no it isn’t – and Judge Klausner’s denial of ‘Fair Use’ as a defense was based on him performing the required legal tests that are done for ALL copyright cases where the Defense claims ‘Fair Use’.

    IF Judge Klausner denied ‘Fair Use’ without performing those tests; then YES – an appeals court could find fault. That said, he DID properly apply those tests and came to the proper legal conclusion. Can/Will Axanar appeal if they ‘lose’? By Alec Peters comments, yes. But FYI – Judge Klausner didn’t ‘hand them an appeal’ with this one ruling as technically, Axanar could use ANY defense motion that was denied as the basis of an appeal.

    But, if you think because Judge Klausner denied ‘Fair Use’ means this case will be heard by the Supreme Court – yes, let me know what you’re smoking because it’ obviously some good S**t.

    Bottom Line: A clear open and shut copyright infringement case like this isn’t something that’s going to get on the Supreme Court’s radar. If Alec Peters ‘looses’ the trial; and then the case is upheld by the Ninth Circuit, and then higher appeals courts; I’m pretty sure if he tried to get the Supreme Court to hear it – they’ll decline and just state that the finding of the nest highest appeals court that heard the case stands – and Alec Peters will attempt to declare bankruptcy.

    The fact that this case is so obvious and ‘open and shut’ is the reason it only took one year to get to Trial. You may think that there’s a lot to ‘contest’ in this case; but that’s only because you haven’t seen other cases. I happen to work in the IT department of a court; and I can tell you, unless somehow Alec Peters gets lucky in Jury selection and somehow manages to fill 10 (of 12) Juror seats with die hard Axanar fans; he’s looking at a major damages judgement against him and Axanar Productions – and the upholding of said Judgement on any subsequent appeal he tries to make.

    As for the Axanar feature fim: In the words of the character Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy: “It’s dead Jim!”

      1. Guess this guy probably didn’t read your blog, and certainly didn’t read Professor Snow’s paper! He’s acting as if the four factors in determining Fair Use are cut and dried, giving the exact circumstances under which it applies, when it is evident from Snow’s paper that it is anything but.

        And how does being in the IT department of a court confer any legal acumen enough to proclaim one’s opinion as superior to the layperson. We have IT guys at the door company I work for, but I wouldn’t ask them how to install a lock….

    1. “I happen to work in the IT department of a court”

      All of that just to say you aren’t a lawyer but work in proximity to them so you know what you are talking about more than Jonathan. Wow. Thanks for the hearty laugh on an otherwise dull Monday! 🙂

      1. Well, I’m not a lawyer, but I wake up next to one. That said, she still can’t discuss this case with me. But hey, we’re all just spectators in this case (except for Alec, the W&S and L&L attorneys, and Judge Klausner). Even the lawyers who read this blog aren’t privy to the inside information that’s necessary to know what’s really going go. We could be minutes away from a settlement or years away from a resolution. We just don’t know.

        1. “Well, I’m not a lawyer”

          I wasn’t claiming you are, just that I don’t see any reason to give his opinion more weight than yours just because he thinks we should for… reasons, apparently.

          “We could be minutes away from a settlement or years away from a resolution. We just don’t know.”

          Indeed so, and it’s all armchair all the time until then. 😉

  13. This story is a train wreck in the making… I do hope someone makes a documentary about the court case about it, however…

    ~Pensive’s Wetness

  14. So let me ask some clarifying questions.

    1) If Alec prevails at the first appeal, he gets a new trial, probably with fair use a question to the jury.
    2) If Alec lost the first appeal, the supreme court can overturn the verdict, but that does not mean that Alec wins. It only means that he gets a new trial?

    I believe Jonathan’s opinion is that fair use has a low chance of prevailing at 20%. Now it is pretty likely that Alec is going to lose the trial (on the issue of subjective substantial similarity, willfulness is probably a toss up). Let say he is going to lose the trial because of no fair-use defense.

    Hence, if the court has not rule out fair-use, Alec’s chance of winning is 20%.
    Let pA = alec chance of winning first appeal
    Let pS = alec chance of winning at the supreme court, if he lost at the first appeal

    His chance of winning now = pA x (20%) + (1-pA) pS x (20%)
    = 20% x (pA + (1-pA) pS)
    < 20%
    Since pS<1. In fact, what is his chances at the supreme court? 10%? 50%? How about his chances at the appeal court?

    The judge just reduced Alec's chance of winning. By how much? It depends on his chances at appeal. But it looks worse now. (If you wonder, yes, i do probability models for a living, and this is a very simple case).

    I highly doubt we will see Axanar 🙁 Again, the only thing I have to take in account is the chances of a deal, and that cannot be estimated unless i know more about how CBS operates. A deal is probably the only scenario that we will ever see Axanar made.

      1. Hey Jonathan,

        you’re quite the Star Wars fan as well, aren’t you? First C-3PO and now the late Han Solo? 😉

        Anyhow, thanks for the informative and entertaining blog and keeping us up-to-date! It’s greatly appreciated! 🙂

        1. I’m not just a fan of Star Trek, dude! There’s so much amazing sci-fi out there. I’ll even sit through 2001 once every ten years or so! 🙂

    1. If somehow Alec succeds on appeal – it doesn’t necessarily mean a whole new Trial (yet.) The appeals court could:

      – Throw out the verdict entirely (at which point CBS/Paramount could appeals that appeals court’s decision to a higher court — welcome to how the appeals process works)

      – Reduce the ‘damages’ part of the verdict, but let any ‘copyright infringement’ finding and injunctions against Axanar Productions producing anything related to the Star Trek IP stand (at which point Alec Peters or CBS/Paramount accept that finding or appeal to a higher appeals court)
      And this continues until the case gets a Judgement from the highest appeals court that will hear it. At that point we’re done and that ruling (whatever it is stands.)

      If, in the end, the highest Appeals court throws out the verdict entirely (and assuming they rule ‘without prejudice’ which is the standard); then CBS/Paramount is free to file another Copyright complaint against Axanar Productions/Alec Peters and the whole thing starts over from scratch.
      This is why you want to avoid/settle Civil disputes without taking them to court, as they only ones who make money on all this are the lawyers. If it’s gotten to the point one side feels the courts are they only way they can protect themselves; you’re in for a bad time as NO ONE on this level takes a case to court lightly – as Axanar Productions and Alec Peters are finding out. CBS/Paramount didn’t do this all on a whim. I’m sure if they felt Alec Peters would have ceased if he received a C&D order; they would have sent him one. But I’m sure many at CBS and Paramount who knew and worked with Alec Peters also knew a actual Civil complaint filed with a court was the only thing he’d respond to; and we’re seeing that response play out.

      1. “This is why you want to avoid/settle Civil disputes without taking them to court, as they only ones who make money on all this are the lawyers.”

        Hmmmmm, maybe we should tell that to Winston & Strawn! 🙂

      2. The assumptions you have to make in order to give CBS/P the benefit of the doubt on their motivations and reasoning for filing the lawsuit rather than a phone call (let alone a C&D) seem fairly dubious given how all of this has played out. So, in turn, I get to assume this about your posts:

        “This is why you want to avoid/settle Civil disputes without taking them to court, as they only ones who make money on all this are the lawyers.”

        Yeah, to bad Alec Peters wasn’t able to get a pro bono attorney that are not only top notch but willing to see this through any appeal. Oh, wait… 😛

  15. I see you’re making assumptions again.

    It’s highly unlikely it will even get an appeal because of the fact it’s and open and shut case.

    Keep dreaming

      1. No, we have the right to tell you to stop dreaming. SCOTUS has a lot more very important cases to hear than a $2 Million fan film with a lawsuit thats pretty much an open and shut like a classiest yet cheap briefcase its sealed in.

        And frankly, the true fan film artists like those on Intrepid, New Voyages, STC, Farragut and more have worked much harder than writing a blog with far fetched tales.

        1. Before everyone starts piling on Tom here, remember that yes, he does have the right to tell me to do or to not do anything he wants. And I, in turn, have the right to ignore him by telling him to, oh, you can all use your imaginations for the rest. 😉

          By the way, Tom, you might not be aware that I co-wrote, co-produced, and provided voice-overs for three different characters in the animated Star Trek fan film Prelude to Ax’d-We-Are. I also worked on (and in) multiple episodes of the Star Trek: Hidden Frontier fan series. AND I write a blog with far fetched tales!

  16. Just an FYI, JIC: Your RSS feed seems to still be pointed at the old FFF domain making it mostly unusable. 🙁

      1. Rechecked it. It looks like everything is working. 🙂

        Not sure what percentage of ‘netizens use RSS feeds (I use them as live feeds in a folder on my browser’s bookmarks bar), but I like using them for the sites I like the most.

  17. I could be wrong, but to my knowledge, nothing in a copyright case is ever open and shut unless plagiarism is involved.

  18. Never write of anything as a done deal these days… Trump, Brexit, many other things lately, no matter your personal opine, great change and huge legal shocks/upsets are fast becoming the norm these days… The winds of change be a blowin’ round the old nacels… As with the comment, “the judge just reduced Alec’s of winning” kind of goes in favour of what Jonathan is saying about the case, or at least is a paradigm for the information about the 7th Amendment, a la Prof Ned’s last few quoted sentences.
    Jonathan, please embellish, fluff, add and plump in both opine and abridgement as much as you like… being from the UK I know very little about US law, other than what relates to my account with the IRS, of course… so as a modern columnist, which is how I see all bloggers of a certain calibre and above, it’s part of the charm of your work, as I like to know something of the personality from whence cometh the words… Plus it is nice to read someone else who likes to ‘write the conversation in ones head’ as I am often told I do, and at length also… Keep it flowing good sir, in torrents… Please pass on my support to all at team Axanar, as well as that of my ‘other’ contacts with whom great interest is expressed in this case.

  19. This sanitising of this blog is a disgrace. Why are you afraid of actual lawyers? Are you being paid by Peters?

    Why won’t you allow proper discussion on here? Why do you try and control the narrative like Peters?

    Very alarming.

    Why don’t you have the bollocks to talk to another Trek fan like me?

    Very worrying.

    1. Wow. Um. Hmmm…

      “This sanitising of this blog is a disgrace.”

      Because I won’t allow potty words? Dude, I’ve got a six-year-old. I used to be a disc jockey on the radio. I’m used to not using the F-bomb, and I kinda prefer it. I feel like, when profanity is allowed into a debate, the intelligence level rapidly descends like a hot air balloon with a hole in it. If you really want to type four-letter words on your keyboard for others to read, there are many places on the Internet where you can do so. Just not on my blog. Deal with it, you fargin ice haul. (Name the movie, folks.) 🙂

      “Why are you afraid of actual lawyers?”

      Because I’m married to one, and she can kick my ass in almost any argument we have! Wait, did I really just say “almost”???

      “Are you being paid by Peters?”

      I wish I was being paid by someone! But, alas, no. Alec is out of money, remember? Everyone is talking about it! Why would he throw dollars he doesn’t have at some random blogger when he could just do it himself? Alec could create an anonymous blog, pretend to be someone else, and write to his heart’s content about all things Axanar…and no one would ever know! Hey, maybe I AM Alec Peters!!! Maybe I just hired some fat guy to do those podcasts and wear the Fan Film Factor T-shirt I had made. Maybe I just grabbed a random video of some guy with an adorable son named Jayden and posted the video in the “Cadets” section of this blog to throw you all off the scent! Maybe I’m eating sushi at this very moment while I roll around in a pile of donor dollars and Kharn roast!

      Or not.

      “Why won’t you allow proper discussion on here?”

      Exsqueeze me? I don’t allow proper discussion? What the heck do I spend three hours a day doing with all these comments??? I approve nearly everything and respond to most things…occasionally even intelligently or at least intelligibly…considering I get about 4-5 hours of sleep a night. Just look at my recent responses to Sandy Greenberg earlier today. VERY intelligent on my part–three-dollar words and everything! If I can respond coherently to someone who calls my “Jonny,” I can respond to anyone!

      But hey, dude, I can’t always respond to everyone. I’ve still got a son to make dinner for in about 10 minutes. Then I do cardio while we watch Star Trek together (tonight we finish up “The Apple” and then start my FAVORITE episode of TOS, “The Doomsday Machine”). Then it’s a shower and bedtime (showers for us both in our respective bathrooms, bedtime for the kid). Then I have dinner and spend a little time with the missus. By 10pm or so, I head back to the computer to write tomorrow’s blog and maybe handle a few more comments.

      But I’m sorry, Neutral, you don’t own me or employ me. I write this blog as a courtesy and a hobby and because I love fan films and I love people (well, most people). But there’s no law or rule or even guideline that says I have to respond to everyone who posts something here. If I skip you or ignore you or just write some quick tongue-in-cheek remark with a smile emoji, deal with it. If you want more than that, my friend, then in the words of the Supreme Court of the United States of America: “Tough noogies!”

      “Why do you try and control the narrative like Peters?”

      Oh, I wish I could control the narrative, Neutral! But those darn detractors won’t let me!!! Every time I post something, they just have to argue with me! And you know what? GOOD FOR THEM! Yes, even Carlos Pedraza. Viva la debate! Granted, as I said, I don’t like the stupid and vulgar stuff. But hey, at least we all give a shat…whichever side we’re on! There’s an old joke about a reporter who asks a student, “What do you think is the greatest challenge facing your school today: ignorance or apathy?” The student responds, “Well, I don’t know…and frankly, I don’t care.” As soon as we stop caring about Star Trek and these silly fan films, as soon as we just tune out and let whatever happens happen…that’s when this beloved 50-year-old franchise truly begins to die. So yeah, let’s argue!

      “Very alarming.”

      Interesting sentence fragment. (See what I did there? I wrote a sentence fragment myself. I decided to be clever rather than confrontational. Try it at home, kids!)

      “Why don’t you have the bollocks to talk to another Trek fan like me?”

      Yeah, why DON’T I have the bollocks? (“Bollocks” means “cajones,” right?)

      “Very worrying.”

      And fragmented!

      And hey, Neutral, let me end this by stating the obvious: you don’t have to come here. There’s an old comedian’s retort to hecklers: “Hey, you in the audience. Yeah, you. I’m trying to do my job here, and you’re making it difficult. Do you see me walking into the bathroom at the bus station and knocking the mop out of YOUR hand???”

      Anyway, I’m not going to be quite that rude and nasty to you Neutral, but seriously: if you don’t like the show, then don’t buy a ticket and don’t watch it. Your visits earn me half a penny each time you come. I’m willing to sacrifice the revenue if it will raise the quality of your life even a little. Your happiness is worth at LEAST half a cent to me.

      Neutral, there’s lots of other places to waste your time on the Internet. Try…I’m told there’s some great Star Trek fan films there! (No, seriously–I couldn’t believe it myself, but someone IM’d me last week with a link to his results typing “Star Trek” into the Porn Hub search bar, and he asked–well, dared–me to do a feature on one. And, um, no. But…man, some of you guys!!!)

      Okay, back to Neutral. You’re welcome to go somewhere else, and you’re welcome to create one of these blogs of your own. Then I can stop by, criticize you, and you can show me how to write a proper response.

      [Drops mic. Walks off, stage left…]

      1. “Deal with it, you fargin ice haul. (Name the movie, folks.)”

        Johnny Dangerously! Although I think it was ‘fargin ice hole’ instead. 😉

        1. Yeah, it was “hole.” But I’ve become such a prude that I didn’t want to get that close to the real insult. I’m trying to follow my own rules here, folks. 🙂

    2. Wow! What an unmitigated load of BS that criticism was.

      What is your idea of “proper discussion”, pray tell? I see Jonathan allowing all sorts of differing opinions and he tends to rebut them intelligently. I know he’s responded to you in such a manner on several occasions. Do you think your comments are so supremely self-evident that his (or anyone’s) response should only be, “Well,gosh, Neutral, you’re so right I’m going to go self-flagellate for having been so stupid! “?

  20. “I happen to work in the IT department of a court”

    I am not a lawyer either….but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night so……


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