We have another example of copyright and trademark laws have boldly going with no logic has gone before. The latest lawsuit is by two movie studios which contend that a crowdfunded Star Trek fan film has violated copyright law by using the Klingon language, among other alleged violations. To use the Klingon profanity (which cannot be translated on a family-oriented blog): QI’yaH!
The legal action have been taken by those ghuy’cha executives at Paramount Pictures Corp. and CBS Studios Inc. against Axanar Productions Inc. lead producer Alec Peters. They also allege violations for depicting characters with the “Vulcan appearance,” including pointed ears, and wearing gold uniform shirts. However, it is the claim to own a language that is most interesting and chilling.
We have been discussing a disturbing trend in copyright and trademark claims over things occurring in public or common phrases or terms. (For a prior column, click here). We have often discussed the abusive expansion of copyright and trademark laws. This includes common phrases, symbols, and images being claimed as private property. (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). This included a New York artist claiming that he holds the trademark to symbol π and efforts to claim the rights to yoga poses.
The plaintiffs insist that “Klingonese or Klingon, the native language of Qo’NoS, was first spoken in Star Trek—The Motion Picture in 1979. It was used in several works moving forward, including Star Trek III The Search for Spock.” Frankly it is the type of dishonorable and cowardly lawsuit that would fill a true Klingon with rage. Indeed, I suspect that Paramount and CBS Studios is a front from a nest of Ferengi.
Indeed, this video appears to be a litigation making of studio counsel: