Okay, so everyone is talking about, cheering about, cursing about, and analyzing Friday’s ruling by Magistrate Judge Charles Eick after the hearing to determine Axanar‘s motion to compel discovery from the studios.
Rather than summarize exactly what just happened, I am going to humbly direct you to the blog website of my delightful counterpart over on the other side of the Internet fence, Janet Gershen-Siegel. Unlike me, the Boston-based Janet actually went to law school, graduated, and practiced insurance defense law for a few years back in the 1990s. She’s been analyzing and writing about the Axanar lawsuit in painstaking detail almost since it was filed. And while we all have our little biases (yes, even me!), Janet’s meticulous reviews are sprinkled with a generous helping of comedic flairs to be very accessible for the lay-person. And when I say I do my research before writing these blogs, hers is one of my never-miss sources of information and insight.
So instead of reinventing the wheel, I’m going to send those of you who are curious over there to Janet’s blog to read more about what the judge actually ordered the studios to do…and then come back here for the follow-up. What I’m going to talk about is how the defense is planning to use all of this newfound “bounty” (an amazing amount of new discovery documentation and verbal/written answers to defense questions ordered by the court) to try to win their case…or at worst, not lose too badly.
Yesterday, we began discussing the two documents filed by the opposing parties in the Axanar copyright infringement lawsuit last Friday. (There’s actually three documents, but more on that later.)
Both of the new documents are significantly shorter than the 60-page Joint Stipulationdocument from the previous week that argued for and against the court to compel the studios to produce a boatload of documentation related tot he case.
Did you hear the fireworks last Friday afternoon? If you were in the Central District Federal Courthouse of the 9th Circuit, you might have!
As expected, both the Axanar defense team at Winston & Strawn and the CBS/Paramount legal team at Loeb & Loeb filed their brief supplements to their recent 60-page Joint Stipulationdocument to compel discovery that was filed on September 29th. The deadline for adding anything to the original filing was the end of business last Friday, and things came right down to the wire!
Y’see, both sides wanted to get the last word in, so each waited as long as possible to file their supplemental memorandum. But in the end, Winston & Strawn waited just a teensy bit longer and managed to adjust their filing slightly to address a couple of the points that the plaintiffs included in their supplement.
I’m going to save some time and instead of summarizing Part 1, I recommend you read it, if you haven’t already. You can also link to the 60-page Joint Stipulationdocument that contains both Axanar‘s Motion to Compel the studios to deliver the remainder of the documentation they initially asked for, and also the studios’ responses to those requests.
When last we left off, we were up to the third category of documentation requested by the defense (and not fully provided by the plaintiff)…
It’s “High Noon” in the Axanar lawsuit…and we haven’t even gotten to trial yet! But that ominous background music is playing, and the two gunfighters are facing off for a showdown in the middle of a dusty street in a western town. More specifically, the CBS and Paramount lawyers at Loeb & Loeb are facing down the Axanar lawyers at Winston & Strawn (and vice-versa!), and the entire case could be won or lost right now by either side–months before trial even begins–and both teams of lawyers know it!
Have you ever sat in the audience for something–a concert, a stage play, or a seminar–and there was an unexpected delay? Maybe there were technical problems, or maybe someone was stuck in traffic. Whatever the reason, as things took longer and longer to get started, was the audience becoming impatient?
Maybe you were lucky and there was a host or a warm-up act who could keep the audience engaged and entertained during the delay. Or maybe you weren’t lucky and just sat there waiting…and waiting…and waiting. Maybe some people even got frustrated and walked out before the show started.
What does any of this have to do with Star Trek: Discovery and fan films? Glad you asked!
You might not consider the new “Spockumentary” from Adam Nimoy to be a typical fan film, but I think it very much qualifies. Sure, it might not have needed to follow the fan film guidelines, but FOR THE LOVE OF SPOCK still managed to raise more than $662,000 from nearly 10,000 fans! It was, for all intents and purposes, a labor of love and a product of love…not just of a son for his father but also of fans for a beloved character and actor.
As Adam Nimoy explains in the opening of the film, the original idea had simply been to produce a documentary film to be released for the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, looking at the origins and the impact of the character of Mr. Spock on society and culture. Adam’s father, actor Leonard Nimoy, insisted the film be only about the character and not the actor himself. Leonard was always very humble and felt that his own life was hardly worthy of a full documentary–or even part of one. So Adam agreed to focus his film exclusively on the character of Spock and not on the actor who played him. The two Nimoys began their work.
I wasn’t sure what to write on this incredible day when Star Trek turns FIFTY YEARS OLD!
I didn’t want to let the moment pass without saying at least something. But what? Then a few days ago, I received a message from a podcaster who was still working on an interview I’d done with him:
To be honest with you, I’m pretty much over Star Trek at this point. When I can finally bring myself to finish this episode I’m gonna upload it to the network and then I’m done with Star Trek fandom. There’s plenty of stuff to spend my time and money on. I’ll post you as soon as the episode is up.
This really broke my heart, mostly because it wasn’t the only message like this I’d seen recently. Some members on the SMALL ACCESSgroup had expressed similar sentiments, as had others here and there.
I understand the reason for being frustrated or even angry at the moment–with the studios, with other fans, with Star Trek in general. But then I started remembering all the reasons I chose to become a Trekkie in the first place. Heck, I sometimes wonder if it was actually the other way around and Star Trek chose ME! But however I got here, I can’t quit you, Star Trek! I can’t even imagine doing so…no matter how many lens flares I see or how many fan film guidelines I read.
Last time: well, last time there was just way too much to summarize, so just click here to read it if you haven’t already.
Basically, with a trial date set for January 31, 2017 and no settlement announced yet, the case has entered the discovery phase. (So yes, “Star Trek: Discovery” now means two totally different things to CBS!)
During discovery, both the plaintiffs and the defendant must provide the other side with any piece of evidence they ask for that is relevant to the case. Witnesses are questioned (deposed), documents are collected and shared, and queries are submitted in writing requiring honest and open answers…and all this months before a jury is ever seated and the clerk says, “This courtroom will now come to order.”
It’s time for Star Trek discovery! No, not the new TV series. I’m talking about the next phase of the Axanar copyright infringement lawsuit: legal discovery.
Last week, former Axanar marketing director and tech guru, Terry McIntosh, posted on Facebook that he had just been subpoenaed by CBS and Paramountto be deposed as part of the copyright infringement lawsuit against Alec Peters and Axanar. Terry is not in any legal peril himself, as no other defendants other than Alec Peters were named in the lawsuit. Instead, the studio lawyers will probably just ask for copies of all of Terry’s correspondence (e-mails, IMs, chats) with members of the Axanar team, and the studios might set up a deposition to ask Terry some (maybe even a lot of) questions either in person or over the phone.
And this means that the (coincidentally named) DISCOVERY phase of the lawsuit is now in full swing. So what does that mean?