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…
Yes, it’s that magical time again! Jonathan is going to play tour guide to take anyone who is interested on a journey through the latest two major filings in the AXANAR lawsuit, each submitted to the Ninth Circuit Federal Court this past Monday.
For a better idea of what is going on at the moment, check out my (not so brief!) four-part blog on the motions for summary judgment (start here). In that analysis, I flipped a coin and began with the defense. This time, to be polite, I’m going to begin with the plaintiffs.
First, I’d like to apologize if FAN FILM FACTOR seems like it’s turning into the ALL-AXAANR NETWORK.
Yes, there are still other Star Trek fan films out there, and I promise to get back to covering them. But the Axanar news these past two weeks (and for the next three weeks) is truly significant and could, very likely, affect ALL Star Trek fan films and series…in a good way, a bad way, or possibly even both. So in my opinion, this is news deserving of extensive coverage.
That said, shortly before midnight on Monday, both parties in the Axanar copyright infringement lawsuit filed briefs opposing the others’ motions for (partial) summary judgment. Monday was the deadline, and these filings were widely expected by those following the case.
The goal of each legal team is not to win the case here and now, however. In a situation similar to the old joke, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I only have to outrun you!” the idea is to simply torpedo the other side’s motion to get the judge to issue any ruling BEFORE the case goes before a jury. As such, if/when you read the filings, you’ll notice a tendency to argue that “the facts are still very much in question” rather than “they’re just plain wrong and we’re right.” As long as the facts are still in dispute, this case goes to court, and a jury gets to decide.
Here’s a link to the Plaintiffs Opposition filing and also a link to the Defense Opposition filing. And once again, they are both brought to you by the number 20…as there is a 20-page limit in how long these “briefs” can be. Some day, I am certain, all of this filings in this case will be required reading in law school courses on copyrights and intellectual property law. Yes, this case is THAT significant, and both sides are writing textbook motions that have a lot to teach future attorneys.
In a few days, I’ll try to provide my own “briefs” on these briefs…hopefully shorter than last week! Some things to notice if you do bother to read these:
The plaintiffs are back to using pictures again!
Now it’s the plaintiffs’ turn to bring up Star Wars…and Harry Potter!
On the other side, the defense points out that Garth of Izar and Soval are not James Bond and Godzilla!
Apparently, long-time Trekkie and director of Star Trek Beyond, Justin Lin, never heard of Garth of Izar!
Apparently, no, the studio (Paramount) never bothered to register a copyright on Garth of Izar nor on Ambassador Soval. (This could be problematic for the plaintiffs.)
If the judge grants the plaintiffs’ requested injunction against Alec Peters, it could violate the first amendment! (Hey, I’m just reporting the news, folks.)
This time, the plaintiffs used a proper redaction technique. Whew!
And yes, I’m also going to include some blogs about OTHER Star Trek fan films really soon…I promise!
The first question you might be asking is why the plaintiff’s motion is only for a partial summary judgment. The answer is actually rather simple. They aren’t asking for the judge to stop the entire case, only the parts where the plaintiffs could lose and the defense could win. In other words, they want Judge Klausner to say that the defendant Alec Peters infringed and shouldn’t be allowed to make any more Axanar anything. But, you ask, isn’t that all there is…is there nothing more? Oh, there’s one more thing still to determine…
The attorneys for CBS and Paramount also filed a PLAINTIFFS Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, and I look more thoroughly into that in my next blog. But the defense won the coin toss (yes, I actually flipped a coin to see which side would be analyzed first!).
When last we left off, we had just gotten to the “meat” of the defense’s motion:
It was the best of crimes; it was the worst of crimes…or was it even a crime at all? (Actually, this is a civil trial, not criminal…but I needed a word that rhymes with “times.”)
Looking at the two motions for summary judgment filed late Wednesday night by the two parties in the AXANAR copyright infringement lawsuit, one might wonder if he or she had just read a tale of two completelydifferent fan films. The defense, unsurprisingly, had that “What…little old us?” look as they discussed a mostly original piece of creative fiction that used just the smallest sliver of Star Trek–and only the “minimum” that was necessary to tell its story that was actually a “critical commentary and analysis” of “the present-day military industrial complex.”
Meanwhile, the plaintiffs painted a picture of a nefarious fan who maliciously tried to line his own pockets with ill-gotten gains taken from the good and just studios who have made Star Trek lo these 50 years. His fan film contains nothing original and was simply a “…copy from the plots, themes, settings, mood, dialogue, characters, and pace of the Star Trek works.” The very existence of Axanar in any way will “…cause irreparable harm to the market for the Star Trek Copyrighted Works…” and must be ended immediately “in the public interest.”
The following message was just sent to all AXANAR donors…
In light of information contained in the Motions for Summary Judgement filed by both sides in our continuing litigation with CBS Studios and Paramount Productions, we think it’s important to provide some information to our fans and backers to help put everything into context:
Yep, we can now safely assume that the two sides in the AXANAR copyright infringement lawsuit have NOT reached a settlement yet.
It came quite literally down to the wire! I checked with the court at 11:30 pm Pacific Time and neither side had filed any motion yet. I was wondering if they’d somehow managed to settle the case after all. But when I returned shortly after midnight, I found multiple filings from both the plaintiffs and the defense.
There’s a LOT to read through and analyze, but for right now, I just want to get the two main filings up for you all to look through. Please note, before anyone starts doing victory laps or predicting this or that outcome, remember that each side gets to respond to the opposition’s motion and then each side gets to then respond to that response. And finally, the two legal teams present oral arguments before Judge Klausner before he finally rules shortly thereafter. It is FAR from over, folks!
Each of these filings goes on for 20 pages, and they both reference other documents (including my own “History of Star Trek Fan Films”). However, there is a downloading/viewing charge for accessing each document (up to $3 per document), and I want to see if I can perhaps get the supporting evidence documents directly from the defense team (for free) before I spend all my Google Ad revenue for the year just getting PDFs for all of you (and me, of course).
And finally, yes, I intend to provide an analysis of both of these motions–their strengths, weaknesses, and any surprises I found (and there’s quite a few). But I’m traveling next week, so I don’t know if I’ll have enough down time to write up something thorough enough until after I get back. We’ll just have to see, but thanks for your patience and understanding.