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.
Well, it looks like there isn’t a settlement yet in the AXANAR copyright infringement lawsuit. And how do I know this? Because I now have confirmation that the defense will be filing a motion for summary judgment with Judge Klausner of the Ninth Circuit Federal Court later on today. (I don’t yet know if the plaintiffs are planning to do likewise, but if a settlement hasn’t been reached, then it’s a pretty sure bet.)
And how did I get confirmation that the defense will be filing their motion later today? Because yesterday evening I was asked to sign this declaration:
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, I just couldn’t wait anymore! I had to know…was a settlement reached in the Axanar copyright infringement lawsuit????
If you read my previous blog on the subject, you know that the two sides–CBS/Paramount and Alec Peters/Axanar Productions–were ordered by judge R. Gary Klausner to sit down for one last-ditch attempt to work out a settlement before going to trial. Magistrate Judge Charles Eick was assigned to facilitate the discussions. There is a court-mandated gag order on all discussions of the content of the settlement talks, and so all we got from Alec Peters on Monday evening was this:
We did not reach a settlement, but we are close. We will know by week’s end, as the attorneys have a call with Judge Eick Friday.
Everyone needs to manage their expectations. A settlement means neither side gets exactly what they want.
That sounded promising–or so I thought. But as Friday (today) wore on and Alec wasn’t answering my texts of “So…any news yet?” I was getting antsier and antsier. Their Monday meeting had lasted past 9:00p.m., so I tried to be patient and not bother Alec over and over again. I failed.
Just imagine: going to FAN FILM FACTOR and not seeing the words “AXANAR LAWSUIT’ at the top of the home page…
It could happen! Yesterday, the two sides had a court-mandated meeting to discuss ways to settle the case before going to trial. Most lawsuits settle before ever reaching trial (like 90-95%, I’m told) because it’s usually not worth the cost and the risk of losing to ether side.
Also, full trials take up a LOT of time in court. So far, the Axanar case has required only a few hours of a judge’s actual time on the bench (plus some extra time in chambers reviewing filings). But an actual trial can take days or even weeks to finish, plus the costs of sitting and potentially sequestering a jury. So it’s often in the best interests of the legal system, as well, for cases to settle rather than coming to trial.
And so Judge R. Gary Klausner (the main judge in the Axanar case) ordered both sides to try–really try–to come to an agreement…a compromise where both sides give a little and get a little. Magistrate Judge Charles Eick, who had just made two major rulings in the discovery phase, was told to facilitate the settlement talks on Monday.
So my best one-sentence summary of Magistrate Judge Charles Eick’s ex parte order in the Axanar lawsuit would be: “Move along folks; nothing to see here.” In other words, nothing really surprising happened (at least if you read my previous blog).
In short, the plaintiffs asked for three main things and got two and a half of them…maybe two and a quarter. But the thing is, they got what the defense was already offering. You order a drink, the waiter brings it. Done. So it was kind of anticlimactic.
Remember back in the first half of this year when the initial documents were being filed in the Axanar lawsuit? Remember how each time one side or the other would submit their latest filing, it would suddenly look like it was “game, set, and match?” And then the other side would respond, and it would seem like a knockout blow for that side. And on and on.
Man, just when you thought we’d go at least a few days without a long AXANAR post! But hell hath no fury like a pair of studios compelled by a judge to produce a ton of discovery documentation and new witnesses to depose.
So what the heck just happened? Well, long story short, yesterday the plaintiffs attorneys in the case filed a 122-page ex parte (emergency) application for a judge’s order of relief while still in the discovery phase of the case. Time was running out (discovery ends on Wednesday!) and the plaintiffs couldn’t wait to jointly approach the judge for a fast resolution. And what are they trying to resolve?
Well, now it’s time for short story long. Strap in, folks–’cause a LOT has happened in the last seven days!