LAWSUIT: The Klingon Language Can Be Copyrighted Because There Are No Real Klingons That Speak It

Paramount is suing the makers of a crowd-funded Star Trek fan film on multiple copyright grounds. But what’s got the Trekkie world buzzing is Paramount’s claim on the Klingon language, which the defendants say cannot be copyrighted because no language can be. From the response filed by Paramount:

“This argument is absurd since a language is only useful if it can be used to communicate with people, and there are no Klingons with whom to communicate,” stated a plaintiffs’ brief authored by David Grossman at Loeb & Loeb. “The Klingon language is wholly fictitious, original and copyrightable, and Defendants’ incorporation of that language in their works will be part of the Court’s eventual substantial similarity analysis. Defendants’ use of the Klingon language in their works is simply further evidence of their infringement of Plaintiffs’ characters, since speaking this fictitious language is an aspect of their characters.”

An amicus brief in support of the defendants has been filed by the Language Creation Society. They say:

“Given that Paramount Pictures commissioned the creation of some of the language, it is understandable that Paramount might feel some sense of ownership over the creation. But, feeling ownership and having ownership are not the same thing. The language has taken on a life of its own. Thousands of people began studying it, building upon it, and using it to communicate among themselves.”

See the brief and much more at the link.

  • Pollos Hermanos

    toH vISoppu’.

    (thanks handy dandy Klingon translator!)

    • guest

      “Why eat it” is a funny thing to type?

      • BobSF_94117


      • Pollos Hermanos

        Actually it was “well that sucks”

  • aar9n

    Can religion be copyrighted since it’s not real?

    • safari

      Ask Scientology?

      • bkmn

        Or the Mormons?

        • Baby Dave

          The problem with Mormonism is, there are exactly one too many M’s in it.

          • bkmn

            If he could make money selling an M, Mitt Rmoney would do it.

          • Better?

          • Baby Dave

            yes, much

          • geoffalnutt

            How ’bout Mormonity?

      • Acronym Jim

        I could be wrong, but I believe the church of Scientology has actually sued for copyright infringement when ex-members released the some of the text of the higher levels.

  • Gustav2

    Since the peace, the Klingons have been nothing but trouble.

  • Paramount used to be very fan-friendly when it came to Star Trek, which helped build and maintain its fanbase. I cannot imagine that their sue-happy attitudes will serve them well long-term.

    • Carl

      Unfortunately I think fans were given an inch and took a mile. When somebody crowd funded a million for a star trek fan film and intended to use it to promote their own business, the game changed.

      • motordog

        Fair point I guess…making enough to support the project is one thing, but using proceeds for personal gain could be seen as something entirely different.

  • motordog

    As my Klingon granny used to say, “Klakh’bragh ftha’kh Gukhragha'”…though she might have just been coughing…sadly, she was a heavy smoker.

  • AW

    Well, the Klingon language was created on behalf of Paramount. So sure? I’m a big Star Trek fan so all I want from this is a return to the old Star Trek universe.

    • no, thanks. i’m a next gen universe person for many reasons, not the least of which is that the sexism so common on the old series is mostly wiped out. thanks, but if i’m a starship officer, i deserve to wear the same uniform as the male officers do. i’m not on the ship so the captain can stare at my nearly exposed ass when he’s bored.

      • motordog

        As a true Trekkie, I’m sure you remember the (one and only appearance of, IIRC) Federation manskirt?

        • hee. i do.

          but i was actually thinking of an old TOS book, a sci fi paperback i used to have. in it, Kirk silently enjoys the fact that Uhura is so attractive wearing her micro dress, during a quiet moment between the action sequences. it was published in the 70s, iirc.

        • David F.

          I think there was another – much shorter scene with the crewman in the background during an alert, and the uniform was blue. I just may have to rewatch all the episodes now.

  • Michael Smith

    Paramount has generally been OK with fan productions, so I can only assume it’s the crowdfunding they have a problem with.

  • Treant


    • BobSF_94117


      • JCF


  • PickyPecker
  • bkmn

    It reminds me of the good old days when Disney would sue children’s hospitals that had murals on walls with Mickey and Minnie.

    • Phillip in L.A.

      bkmn, there is a valid legal reason for some suits, at least in the realm of trademark protection–marks can become “diluted” and will be invalidated by the courts if the mark has become “generic” (e.g., Kleenex for “tissue”; Xerox for “photocopy”; etc.) (See, e.g., Anti-Monopoly, Inc. v. General Mills Fun Group [9th Cir. 1982] 684 F.2d 1316, cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1227) (holding that “as applied to a board game, the word ‘Monopoly’ has become ‘generic,’ and the registration of it as a trademark is no longer valid.”); Miller Brewing Co. v. G. Heileman Brewing Co., Inc. [7th Cir. 1977] 561 F.2d 75 (holding that “the word ‘light,’ including its phonetic equivalent ‘lite,’ being a generic or common descriptive term as applied to beer, could not be exclusively appropriated by Miller as a trademark”).

      Thus, IP owners must often “police their marks” by suing to avoid dilution and genericization (e.g, the “Coke”/”Pepsi” police). However, this does *not* apply in the realm of copyright, afaik!

  • motordog

    Now that I think about it…couldn’t the fan film just ‘make up’ their own Klingon language? I mean, I know how hard-core the fans can be, and I’m not at all surprised that some of them can even understand the language…but it IS a fake language to begin with, and I’d imagine most people wouldn’t know the difference anyway. All they’d have to do to appease the hard-core is put in a disclaimer saying they can’t use ‘real’ Klingon due to copyright. They could say their version is like the Klingon ‘Spanish’ to the standard Klingon’s ‘English’…infinite diversity in infinite blah blah blah…

    • Harley

      Like the many different languages among humans, Klingon has many dialects as well. Yes just make up new words.

    • I think the people watching a film in Klingon are likely to know Klingon and thus not understand if it was faked. I’d need English subtitles.

  • Octavio

    1985 book The Klingon Dictionary by Marc Okrand

    • Phillip in L.A.

      Wonder if Mr. Okrand was a Paramount employee when he authored this book?

      • Octavio

        From the all-knowing Wikipedia:

        “He was then hired by Paramount Pictures to develop the Klingon language and coach the actors using it in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

        He is the author of three books about Klingon – The Klingon Dictionary (first published 1985), The Klingon Way (1996) and Klingon for the Galactic Traveler (1997). He has also co-authored the libretto of an opera in the Klingon language: ’u’, debuting at The Hague in September 2010. The tlh sound that he incorporated into Klingon, unusual to speakers of North American English, is common in other English dialects, and North and Central American indigenous languages, in which it is usually transcribed as tl, tł or ƛ (a voiceless alveolar affricate with lateral release); this is the sound at the end of the word “Nahuatl”. He speaks Klingon, but notes that others have attained greater fluency.”

        But it appears his publications have all been independent of Paramount Pictures. Maybe Paramount will sue him, as well. 😐

        • Phillip in L.A.

          That answered it, thx! It bugs me that Paramount could almost certainly shut down (via injunction) these fan-flix on numerous grounds, including copyright infringement, trademark infringement, unfair competition; etc., *but that’s not what they’re trying to do!* (At least according to Joe’s post). I think this is some kind of test-case

          • Octavio


  • bkmn

    I wonder if any of the GOP convention attendees will bring their bat’leths since they can’t bring in their guns.

    • Acronym Jim

      Please, Klingons wouldn’t attend a GOP convention; you’re thinking of the Ferengi.

      • Sounds like a good reason to go pick some fights.

        • Acronym Jim

          Klingons prefer to pick fights with people who fight back, not with people who have no honor.

          • I’m sure there will be body guards to go through.

      • motordog

        …and Borg.

  • Paula

    Smome nuvpu’ havetoo mamej tlhab poH
    (some people have too much free time…)

    • Christopher

      Totally reminded me of Mushmouth from Fat Albert.

  • DaveW

    Ignorance and floury of copyright laws is of epic proportions in the US. People steal music, movies…… And I assume, support Betnie because free stuff!

    • example #14593 of yet another Bernie hater who just can’t help himself, and feels compelled to insult him on a thread that had NOTHING to do with politics or the election.

      keep it up Dave! you’re really helping your candidate! /s

    • JesterRedPanda


    • Fingers too pudgy there to hit the right keys on the keyboard? Or did you start in on the Thunderbird early today?

      • TheManicMechanic

        “To continue, please mash any key.”

  • bkmn

    I’m surprised they didn’t go after the folks behind the online Klingon translator –

  • coram nobis

    We never had that distinction for, say, Esperanto, since there seems to have been no one of that ethnicity. You find Latin in a number of different venues, e.g., the Vatican and certain British schools and universities, but there’s no Roman empire left to claim it as a national or ethnic asset. And if Klingon, like Afrikaans, can translate versions of Shakespeare, then it suggests a certain universality.

    See, e.g., the Klingon Hamlet at

    “You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.” — Star Trek VI

    • BobSF_94117

      Back in the day at Classics Camp (and you thought band camp was full of nerds) the public school kids filed a formal complaint because we used the Catholic pronunciation instead of the the formal British absurdity. We wiped the floor with them.

      • coram nobis

        I suppose this Latin lesson from “Life of Brian” makes more sense if you were once a British schoolboy.

        • Acronym Jim

          My favorite scene from that movie continues to be the one where a completely nude Brian wakes up and throws open the window to get some fresh morning air.

          • coram nobis

            There’s that, and also the moment when he’s fleeing and his followers find one of his sandals. “His SHOE! He left us HIS SHOE!”

  • motordog

    Damn Ferengi lawyers!

    • Giant Monster Gamera

      The 192nd Rule of Acquisition clearly states: “Never cheat a Klingon… unless you’re sure you can get away with it.”

  • rabbit_ears

    Paramount has gone loopy suing all kinds of fan films lately.

    • motordog

      I guess they don’t appreciate the value of people attempting to expand the fan-base and give them what amounts to loads of advertising…at no cost to the studio!

      • Reality.Bites

        They’re not expanding the fan base. They’re aiming at a small, already committed subset of it.

  • Cuberly

    There are some surprisingly well made fan episodes online. A couple even had appearances by Walter Koenig and George Takei. Have watched a few over the years and they’re worth checking out.

    But, if Paramount goes the sue happy route, the fans will NOT be amused. Especially considering the ambivalence Paramount had shown Star Trek for years and years.

    • rabbit_ears

      Those reboot films are just awful. I got half way through the first one and gave up. Never looked at another one.

      • The first one was the worst. “World Enough and Time” with Takei is much, much better.

      • Cuberly

        The fan made ones?

        • rabbit_ears

          No, like Star Trek Into Darkness etc.

          • Oh, those ones, sorry. We’d been talking here about fan films. Not the reboots.

          • rabbit_ears

            The fan ones are actually awesome. WAYYYYYYYYY better than the reboots.

          • rabbit_ears

            Prelude to Axanar is one of the ones up being sued. Shame on Paramount!

          • Prelude was actually intended to be just the teaser — and they really managed to land some major actors for it.

            “Star Trek: Axanar” itself was supposed to be a feature-length fan film, depicting the battle in which Captain Garth performed some miraculous war-winning strategy which Kirk would later cite to him (in “Whom Gods Destroy”) as being required study at Starfleet Academy.

          • Phillip in L.A.

            Like the Picard Maneuver!

          • Cuberly

            Oh lordy I almost rioted after watching into darkness. What a horrible movie.

            I may be alone in this but I liked the first of the JJ Abrams reboots. The freshly cast characters are what did it for me. But yeah, the second one, bleh! And seeing the trailer for the new one coming out, not impressed.

          • Destroying the Enterprise = What Trek writers do when they’ve run out of ideas.

            Well, except for the TNG episode “Cause and Effect.” That one was way cool. 😉

          • Cuberly

            Even ST3, the lesser of the old cast movies if you as me, it was for a reason, and it had a LOT of emotional heft.

          • Reality.Bites

            You’re not close to being alone in it. The movie had (according to Wikipedia) a 95% approval rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 329 reviews, with the consensus: “Star Trek reignites a classic franchise with action, humor, a strong story, and brilliant visuals, and will please traditional Trekkies and new fans alike.”[152] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score, gave the film an 83 out of 100 based on 37 reviews from critics.

            This is slightly higher, BTW, than Star Wars part VII, The Force awakens. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 92% approval rating, based on 349 reviews, with a rating average of 8.2/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “Packed with action and populated by both familiar faces and fresh blood, The Force Awakens successfully recalls the series’ former glory while injecting it with renewed energy.”[344] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 81 out of 100, based on 52 critics, indicating “universal acclaim”

            The sequel did not do as well, but was still positive with an 87% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 246 reviews, with an average score of 7.6 out of 10. The site’s consensus reads, “Visually spectacular and suitably action packed, Star Trek Into Darkness is a rock-solid installment in the venerable sci-fi franchise, even if it’s not as fresh as its predecessor”.[112] On Metacritic the film has a score of 72 out of 100, indicating “generally favorable reviews”, based on 43 collected reviews.[113] It received an average grade of “A” from market-research firm CinemaScore.[114]

            The films are not made to please the original fanbase who, by and large have aged out of the movie-going public and are, needless to say, notoriously difficult to please.

          • Marti386

            I actually liked the first reboot film. I didn’t really care for Into Darkness. It depended WAY too much on residual warm fuzzies from Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. Plus Bindersnatch Cumberbund made a terrible Khan.

    • Those are the Star Trek Phase II episodes (aka Star Trek: New Voyages), by James Cauley. I agree, they’re pretty good, especially the one with Takei, although the more recent efforts since Cauley gave up being Kirk haven’t been as good. On the other hand, their bridge set reconstruction was so well done, it was even used in the broadcast episode “In a Mirror Darkly” during the Enterprise show run.

      Another one you might want to look into is Star Trek Continues, with Vic Mignognia. Rather than being set in the post-original series timeframe, this one seems most often to start with the ending scene of an original series episode, and then tell a new story immediately after.

      • Cuberly

        I only found out about them when the Rifftrax guys riffed two episodes. I found myself watching most of the non-riffed episodes as well.

        However, for the World Enough and Time episode I found myself giggling uncontrollably at the bad wig they put on Sulu.

      • I got to tour the Excalibur/Continues sets last year. It was *awesome*. Especially the bridge. Even with all the other people there walking around, and the open ceilings, being able to walk through and interact with the bridge, transporter, auxiliary control, and quarters was fantastic. (They even had a TOS Romulan bridge, which was a surprisingly small and simple set – which makes sense when you think about it, as you only ever see it shot from one angle.)

    • Paramount and CBS have been turning a blind eye to these shows for years. The difference with Axanar is that the producer is both openly antagonizing them (“Axanar is the REAL Star Trek”) and selling everything from scripts to model kits to coffee based on the production *that hasn’t even started shooting yet* because they redirected the Kickstarter funds into building a for-profit studio. So yeah, the Trek rightsholders are rather pissed.

      Unfortunately, the fan productions like Star Trek Continues, Phase II, Excalibur, and half a dozen others I can’t think of at the moment are going to be caught in the crossfire.

  • Tor

    All I have to say about that is, “Klaatu barada nikto.”

    • Sk3ptic

      Oh great. Here come the demons. Or the Jabba minions. Whichever.

    • Treant

      Yeah, well, your dad klattud my barada last nikto. So there.

    • sherman

      A long, long, long time ago I would confuse Michael Rennie with Ronald Reagan.

      I can only wonder now if we might have a much better world if Rennie had been elected president.

      • guest

        Well, Rennie was the far, far, far better actor, so he probably would have been a far, far, far, far, far, far better President.

  • Circ09

    Worf! Did Michael Dorn ever come out of the closet?

    • motordog

      Hmm? I have not heard this rumor…

      • Carl

        Neither have I. Dorn loves women.

        • TheManicMechanic

          Well, Worf did protest that he “was not a merry man.”

  • Missing some words in the title there!

  • Rex

    I have searched high and low, however, I cannot find a fuck to give about this.

  • like i just said elsewhere, our copyright laws are fucked and always seem to favor the rich. it’s very annoying.

    • Tor

      I know I don’t have to point this out to you, but we all know who makes our laws.

  • AJD

    Sentence them to 10 years hard labor at Rura Penthe!

  • Lazycrockett

    Qu’vatlh Paramount.

  • D. J.

    Language students always want to learn the curse words first….

  • Baby Dave

    Copyright is intended to encourage innovation by making it profitable.

    However, the profit motive usually leads to perversions such as those which have caused copyright law to stifle rather than foster growth.

    At the outset of this country, copyrights were to last seven years. This expanded, to the point where now a copyright can be renewed for decades after the creator’s death in some cases.

    Now, most innovation occurs by making slight variations to previous attempts. The Wright Brothers took ideas based in gliders created by others prior to them and tweaked them slightly to come up with the airplane, for example.

    However, when you cannot make that variation, as you’d have to wait for a hundred years before any slight tweak could be made, lest you violate copyright, your innovation is effectively killed.

  • coram nobis

    There’s been a lot of name-grabbing of late, note, e.g., the Park Service trying to recover the Yosemite place-names from the previous concessionaire.

    The company has since sued the Park Service for not requiring the new operator to buy its intellectual property [for $51 million]. The Park Service contends the value of the property is contingent on Delaware North having the contract and is now worth no more than $3.5 million.

    To prevent further legal tangles, the Park Service announced last month that five sites trademarked by Delaware North will be renamed after the company departs on Monday.

    The Ahwahnee Hotel will be changed to the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, Curry Village to Half Dome Village, Badger Pass Ski Area to Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area, Wawona Hotel to Big Trees Lodge and Yosemite Lodge at the Falls to Yosemite Valley Lodge.

    (I suppose it was better than my idea, to rename it as the Ahwannalottamonee Hotel).

    • Christopher Smith

      Your idea is perfect. I want THAT for its name.

    • Truth be told, I think I prefer the new names, seeing as how they’re much clearer about where they’re located and what they are.

      • coram nobis

        Yes, although they also trademarked “Yosemite National Park.” What else are we going to call it after all these years? East Fresno National Park?

  • The language was invented in 1984 for the film ‘The Search for Spock’ by Marc Okrand.

    So, basically, more than 30 years ago. And during that time, Paramount never filed a copyright specific to the language or attempted to assert a copyright despite many, many individuals and companies making money off it.

    In publishing and intellectual property rights, when one fails to defend a copyright despite having the means and opportunity to do so, those rights are said to have been abandoned.

    Now then, the real problem with this stuff is Paramount (and CBS, who owns the show) had been pretty forgiving of the fan film efforts over the years, subject only to the proviso no money is made off the production. Also the actors aren’t supposed to be compensated for their performances. The problem with this new crowd-funded one, Axanar, is it does seem to be edging close to that “it’s making money” line.

    Here though, it looks like Paramount and its lawyers are throwing everything at the proverbial legal wall to see what sticks. This particular Klingon language angle is one that’ll probably be among the first to be thrown out.

    It is a shame though the Axanar folks are going to have to spend some of that crowd-funding money just to assert the right to make a fan film.

    • “In publishing and intellectual property rights, when one fails to defend a copyright despite having the means and opportunity to do so, those rights are said to have been abandoned.”

      Are you sure about that? I know that’s true with trademarks, which is why there are so many cease-and-desists over seemingly trivial things. But my understanding is that copyright is different and remains protected even when it hasn’t been defended in the past.

      There are lots of other complex issues with this particular case, to be sure.

      • Yes, I’m sure about it. I’ve been in publishing for decades.

        • Natty Enquirer

          I’ve never read anywhere than failure to defend copyright constitutes abandonment. Let’s have a citation.

          • Y’know, you could just plug those words into Google and find your own results.


          • Natty Enquirer

            Thank you. “Failing to enforce a copyright against known infringement over a period of time may show an intent to surrender rights in the copyrighted work.” [emphasis added] Doesn’t sound like a certainty to me.

          • Randy Ellicott

            In this case when they have not defended it over the last few decades when it has been used by others and has become a form of living language that has changed and grown from the original publication date it can be argued very easily that it was abandoned. I think they would have to prove they were unaware of any use of the language since the publication date to make this claim stick.

          • Exactly. And furthermore would no doubt be asked in court, “Why did you not object when people were making money off the fictional Klingon language?”

            As it is, Paramount & CBS have been quite aggressive in protecting certain aspects of the Trek universe. You write a fan story featuring Kirk and the Enterprise and post it on your website, they’ll probably leave you alone. Ask people to give you money for that story, and as soon as they notice you, a cease-and-desist letter will be coming.

          • Tigernan Quinn

            And you managed to do all of that without once posting a tweet. That’s amazing.

          • Why would I post tweets? I very rarely do. Can’t even remember the last time I tweeted anything.

          • Acronym Jim

            I think he has you confused with Rebecca Gardner (BikerBecca).

          • Ah, that makes sense.

      • lymis

        I’d be interested to know if Paramount demanded (or got) royalties when, for example, the TV show Frasier did an episode that included Frasier giving what he thought was a Bar Mitzvah blessing in Klingon. No question that was a for-profit situation. Different network, too.

    • Tigernan Quinn

      It was actually “invented” for Star Trek 6 – before there were a few phrases in Klingon that were canon, but not an entire language. Then when that whole Shakespeare thing happened in the movie, they came out with a language guide.

      • Be pedantic if you like, but the first time a Klingon said something that wasn’t just a grunt or in English — actual dialog requiring subtitles — was for Trek III. Hence the initial invention then.

        • Reality.Bites

          The Klingon Dictionary was published in 1985. Now I know that something isn’t canon if it doesn’t appear on screen, but the whole language will never appear on screen for obvious reasons. At the time the book included a list of about 1500 words, and information about grammar, etc.

          Anyway, I doubt the success or failure of the suit will depend on this aspect.

          • Yes, you’re right. This here is an interesting angle to try, but the case is really going to hinge on the Kickstarter and whether or not there are profits associated with the Axanar project.

            From some of what I’ve been reading, the plaintiffs (Paramount) might have a case on that basis.

    • Phillip in L.A.

      Who owns the copyright in that 1985 book? If it is Mark Okrand, was it a “work for hire”? I’d want to at least know the answers to these questions first

  • Necessitas

    Ah, Paramount, the fine folks who brought us Dr. Laura.

  • oikos


  • Alan43

    Wouldn’t it be more traditional to settle this with a bat’leth and single combat?

  • David F.

    Paramount has officially become the Ferengi Alliance – he who dies with the most Gold Pressed Latinum wins!

  • Friday

    Paramount really needs to get a clue about what’s even good for them. These efforts against their own fandom are …basically destructive of the thing that makes fans fans. And Axanar in particular is something they ought to have embraced, especially as it’s been something keeping people enthusiastic while all they’re doing is those reboot movies.

    They’ve historically made these kinds of mistakes in other areas: games, merchandising, costuming, …stuff they barely make an effort at and have too often targeted fans filling those gaps as ‘competition,’ when they’d generally do better to encourage that and take a cut. It’s not just an intellectual property: it’s got a life of its own.

    • Lazycrockett

      Paramount doesn’t care bout fans and their silly little cosplay. Paramount cares bout the money. Same thing is going on over at WB with their tv. vs movie superhero crapfest.

      • Friday

        I’m even talking about the money: keeping fans involved and enthusiastic is good for their bottom line, too, whereas cheesing them off is known to not be.

  • Xuuths

    Very interesting. I’ve been to several performances of A Klingon Christmas Carol, which is performed in spoken Klingon with screens showing the English translation. I’m wondering how that was handled, since clearly I paid for tickets to the performances.

  • A courtroom full of Trekkies and their lawyers. I pity the judge who got through the appointment process and gets to hear this mess.

    • Tigernan Quinn

      It’s fun how gays are the most judgmental, snotty pricks alive. I mean, good thing we learned something from all that crap that was done to us, right?

      • Oh, for fuck’s sake. Climb down off the bat’leth, Kahless needs the lava.

    • chris10858

      Hopefully they’ll have the trial in someplace where there are lots of sci-fi nerds.

  • Tigernan Quinn

    When I was at the Defense Language Institute in 1989 learning Russian, we also all decided to learn Klingon because we were dorks. There’s no point to this story, it was just great fun puzzling our Russian instructors and superior officers with a year long Klingon course.

  • FreeCandyVanDriver

    You can’t copyright a language. A language is a specification. It’s a list of facts done by “sweat of the brow.” and not much creativity (you know, it’s only a building block for literature and speech, and computer languages are building blocks for software, but they can’t be copyrighted (though they can be trademarked, i.e., Java).

    It’s like a phone book. It’s like recipes. You can’t copyright either of them.

    You can, however, copyright the layout and artwork of a phone book and cookbook. You can copyright software, and you can copyright literature written in Klingon. You can copyright the layout, artwork, and construction of a dictionary of Klingon as a whole.

    But you can’t copyright the language itself. That’s like putting a copyright on English words – you can’t. Ever. Even if you come up with a huge list of “my special additions to English and definitions” with thousands of entries. You can’t copyright mere functionality.

    Paramount is on the wrong side of hundreds of years of law.

    SCO tried arguing this in their lawsuit against IBM by claiming that their Linux/Unix compatibility API was copyrighted.

    Guess how that turned out. Go ahead, guess.

    “To our utter destruction” indeed.

    • Yeah… I worked for SCO a long, long time ago. It was sad to see a company that actually produced stuff devolve into a lawsuit machine.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    I get why we need copyright laws, but things like this and the abuse of the DMCA just shows how fucked up and archaic the system is. Are there now going to be lawsuits over fanfictions or sites that host fanfiction because Paramount says it infringed on their rights?

    Just to say how bad it’s getting the RIAA and MPAA are trying to get a law passed that would basically say if something is removed once from a site it has to be permanently blocked. I understand wanting to ban people from uploading entire movies/episodes to a place like youtube, but it could mean that even using a clip would get a video deleted. These assholes love to abuse the system that they claim is the only thing that keeps them making money.

  • TexasBoy

    Paramount is upset because some of these fan films are better written story lines than the last few Star Trek films in the theaters, they star some of the original cast members, like Walter Keonig (Chekov), Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) and Tim Russ (Tuvok from Voyager)

  • chris10858

    It’d be like the Spanish government telling say Mexico that it doesn’t have copyrights to the Spanish language and therefore cannot use it in film.

  • CottonBlimp

    Legal specifics aside, can we all agree that Paramount is being pretty idiotic in suing people for loving their franchise?

    • Kevin-in-Honolulu

      I completely agree, so much that I have personally banned going to all movies because…I have better things to do with my time other than see sub-part acting.

  • sword

    If Pebble Beach can copyright all photos of their famous cedar tree…then Paramount should be able to copyright all images of snow capped mountains!

  • Kevin-in-Honolulu

    Big business at work here. As others have said, perhaps Paramount is incensed that fans have created better storylines using Klingon than they. As a librarian and linguist for over 30 years, the idea of ‘copyrighting’ a made up language is completely absurd.

    Wouldn’t the creator(s) be amazed at what others might do with it, other than think others might make money from it? As if that would happen, and in numbers to be noticeable, but I don’t know about Klingon fandom.

  • Phillip in L.A.

    If Paramount had “authored” a work on Klingon grammar, and filed for copyright registration on that work, their argument might not sound so silly.

    Otherwise, Loeb & Loeb is a very-well-known and almost-venerable law firm as far as IP and entertainment go, but this position sounds disappointing–I will make some inquiries!

  • Somebody outside of Paramount invented the language and called it Klingon. I kid you not, there are people who have conversations with each other. I don’t think copyrighting this creation is ethical, though it’s probably in the best interest of Klingon speakers. It doesn’t seem like a healthy pursuit.

  • J Ascher

    Paramount has no honor! In Sto’vo’kor they will find no rest for the p’taghs they are!

  • Nope. A spoken language cannot be copyrighted. Deal with it, assholes.

  • juanjo54

    there are people who speak Klingon and they do so with each other.

  • Halloween_Jack

    toH, jIH trekkie qaSchoH reH, ‘ej vay’ tlhIngan jatlh batlhchaj fluently je daily basis ‘Iv ghom vIghoSnIS ‘ach. ‘ach chaq ‘e’ neH.