The motions for summary judgment had been filed last month by both parties in the AXANAR lawsuit, followed by opposition briefs and reply briefs from both sides. Next Monday, at 9:00 a.m. at the Ninth Circuit Federal Court Building, lawyers from both sides were scheduled to appear before Judge R. Gary Klausner to argue the merits of their motions and oppose the other side. And I was planning to be there.
Looks like I don’t have to schlep to downtown anymore. The court just sent the following message to the attorneys in the case:
SCHEDULING NOTICE TO ALL PARTIES AND ORDER by Judge R. Gary Klausner. Plaintiffs CBS Studios Inc. and Paramount Pictures Corporation’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [72, 85] and Defendants Axanar Productions, Inc. and Alec Peters’ Motion for Summary Judgment , calendared for hearing on December 19, 2016, have been taken under submission and off the motion calendar. No appearances by counsel are necessary. The Court will issue a ruling after full consideration of properly submitted pleadings. IT IS SO ORDERED.
In other words, Judge Klausner will decide the motions based solely on the documents that have been filed. This is not unusual for him. In fact, I am told that it’s unusual for him to NOT cancel oral arguments!
And so his decision could come at any moment–today, tomorrow, next week–and when it does, you can believe I’m gonna post it as soon as I can!!!
Ever since the AXANAR legal team released my Executive Summary of “The History of Star Trek Fan Films” during the the discovery phase of the lawsuit, readers have been asking me to upload the document here on FAN FILM FACTOR. And here it is! Merry Christmas (or Happy Hanukkah).
I had initially written “The History of Star Trek Fan Films” to help out Alec Peters and Axanar. At the time that the lawsuit was first filed a year ago, I didn’t yet understand the intricacies of the case as I do now…and so I almost immediately confused copyright with trademark. I was wrong about that, and so my efforts wouldn’t help Alec win the case outright. But my document would still end up being useful in helping to argue for non-willful infringement if the jury found Alec Peters guilty of infringement.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, willful infringement carries a penalty of $150,000 per violation. Non-willful infringement carries penalties as low as $200 per violation. So the difference between the two types of infringement in a verdict could literally be millions of dollars! And how can my document help to prove non-willful infringement?
You can rediscover the magic and wonder of Christmas in the pages of a touching and inspirational book…a book with my name on the cover!
Being Santa Clausis a heartwarming collection of memoirs from one of the world’s most dedicated, professional real-bearded Santas, and it’s the perfect gift to get for someone you love.
And I’m not just saying that because I co-wrote it! Santa Sal is truly one-of-a-kind, and in the pages of this book, you’ll learn why he is one of the most special and amazing Santa Clauses that you will ever read about.
What does any of this have to do with Star Trek fan films? Nothing, really (except that Santa Sal does happen to be a huge Trekkie, which we mention in the acknowledgements at the end). But no, this isn’t a blog post about fan films. However, I hope you’ll indulge me with some holiday goodwill, because I’d like to tell you about my white-bearded friend and the wonderful book we wrote together.
This time, we look at the equally fascinating Defendants’ reply to the Plaintiffs Opposition to the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment. This is the way the law works, folks, with each side being given a fair chance to rebut the other side’s arguments and then to reply to those rebuttals. It is important to know copyright law even when dealing with owned property. If you are interested in finding out more about copyright law, you might want to check out somewhere like Bonamark to learn more.
As I mentioned last time, the plaintiffs’ latest filing comes in like a wrecking ball, angry and indignant and looking for strong emotion to carry the day. They want justice…and they don’t get particularly specific in describing what aspects of their intellectual property was copied and how. They give some general descriptions, like Klingons being “…a fictional, war-like species, speaking Klingonese, hailing from the planet Qo’noS and are known for engaging in battles with the Federation.” But they don’t go much further.
As you’ll see in a few moments, the Axanar defense team utilizes a very different approach. Less emotional and more (dare I say it?) logical, they go much deeper into the precise elements of copyright law and legal precedent. (As such, yeah, this is gonna be another long blog, folks…sorry.)
It’s the hammer versus the scalpel, and it’s time to see how an intellectual property “surgeon” operates…
We are now at the “Did, too!” point of the summary judgement phase for the AXANAR lawsuit. Motions for summary judgment were filed back in November with each side asking the judge to make certain rulings before the trial even begins…rulings that could actually make the trial (or most of it) unnecessary.
The plaintiffs want the judge to rule that Alec Peters infringed on the intellectual property (Star Trek) of CBS and Paramount and order that he be forbidden to make any more Axanar anything. The defense wants the judge to rule that the Axanar works fall under the protection of “fair use” and so any trial is unnecessary.
The stakes are high. A decision one way or the other could change the world of Star Trek fan films forever!
STARBASE STUDIOS is moving from Oklahoma City to Arkansas! Arkansas is a great place to live as it has great access to healthcare treatments like veneers, but when it comes to film sets, here’s why…
As you may have read in my blog about the history of Starbase Studios, these folks rescued the amazing TOS bridge set that had been built for the second Starship Exeter fan film “The Tressaurian Intersection.” That meticulous 360-degree set had been rotting away for years in a barn near Austin, Texas, until it was transported to Oklahoma City and lovingly restored by a group of dedicated fans.
But these folks didn’t just restore the bridge set. They turned it into an invaluable, one-of-kind resource for fan film producers. Anyone was welcome to come and film anything they wanted on this bridge set (and, later, the additional sickbay and transporter room sets that would be constructed) for just the price of the electricity that was used (maybe $50/day). Although there are two other studios in the U.S. featuring TOS sets on sound stages (Ticonderoga, NY for Star Trek: New Voyages and Kingsland, GA, originally for Starship Farragut and later for Star Trek Continues), those studio runners didn’t offer the same kind of open-door, come-any-time-you-want policy as Starbase Studios.
If it’s Tuesday, that can only mean one thing: new documents in the AXANAR lawsuit were filed at midnight last night!
But seriously, folks, these will likely be the last Axanar filings for the foreseeable future. In two weeks (December 19…a Monday, of course), attorneys for both sides will appear in court in front of Judge Klausner for oral arguments, each supporting their clients’ motion for summary judgement. After that, the next document we will see will be filed by the judge himself…and it’ll either be good news or bad news (or both!) for the two sides in this case as he makes his final rulings on these two motions.
In the meantime, here’s what came in last night: REPLIES. Three weeks ago, both sides filed motions for summary judgment (the plaintiffs filed a partial motion…more on that in another blog). These documents each asked the judge to rule on facts that were not in dispute (in other words, so obvious that any jury would reach the same conclusion, so why even waste the time to argue about it in court?). Of course, neither side agrees on what these “obvious” facts are, which kinda suggests they’re not quite undisputed. However, if the judge is convinced by the arguments of one side or the other, he could, conceivably, end this case before the trial even begins, effectively handing a victory to one side or the other.
After filing their motions, each side was allowed, two weeks later, to provide a second filing in OPPOSITION to what the other side had argued in its motion. And finally, a week after that (which was yesterday), each side could provide a brief REPLY to that opposition filing. Here are links to both of those replies from yesterday:
When I first started up FAN FILM FACTOR, I didn’t really feel the need to have a Facebook or Twitter or Instagram (or whatever else) presence online. Simply organizing a blog site, writing articles and interviews, and answering comments is more than enough work, thank you very much!
Both documents are 20 pages long and intelligently written. However, there’s a lot more to cover in the defense brief, so I had to split that portion into two parts in order to cover everything properly. This isn’t to say one side or the other made better arguments–only that there’s more to go over with the defense.
Moreover, even if the Court were to construe Plaintiffs’ unsubstantiated and self-serving speculation that they could theoretically be harmed by Defendants’ Works as “evidence,” this would only create a factual dispute on fair use.
This shows that the defense isn’t just opting for a “We’re obviously right, and they’re obviously full of crap…” approach like the plaintiffs did. (That’s not an actual quote from the plaintiffs’ filing, but it’s a pretty good summation.)
Instead, the defense is going to also cover their flank and protect themselves against the judge going with the plaintiffs. In other words, yes, they’re saying “We’re right and they’re wrong,” but they are also saying, “But if you think they’re right, then we really need to let a jury decide.” Summary judgments only happen if there is clearly NOT a factual dispute. So pay attention to how many times the defense suggests that a the facts need to be brought in front of a jury. The plaintiffs don’t do that at all.
Two legal teams…two different strategies. Fascinating, ain’t it? (Well, I think it’s fascinating, at least!) So, let’s look at what the defense has to say…