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Axanar Plaintiffs Summary Judgment Motion
So I have the plaintiffs summary judgment motion in my hot little hands.
However, the motion is actually for what’s called partial summary judgment.
I have a ton of documents. And it will not do anyone any good for me to go through every single one of them. Because if I went through every single page, I would end up writing a good ten or so blog posts. And I would split them in order to keep from writing huge blog posts that would never see the light of day. Hence I’m just happy the hearing won’t happen until December 19, 2016. However, the matter could still settle before then. Yet either way, I paid a good $80 or so for all of these documents (no lie!) and so I will blog about them. In addition, I feel they interest you, the readers. Still, I will do my damndest to keep these blog posts short. Because, let’s face it, a lot of trees died for this.
And that means few images. However, you can click on whatever you like. Because I have paid for these documents and they are a matter of public record. And you, a member of the public, have the right to know.
A Word About Redactions
Furthermore, three of the documents were originally incorrectly redacted. Hence I am only going by redactions (and have created properly redacted versions thereof). Because there is plenty to go over without peeking under anyone’s skant. Furthermore, plaintiffs’ counsel already petitioned the court to re-redact the documents and correct their error (and their motion was granted, so the newly, correctly redacted documents are what’s officially in the record now). So as a professional courtesy to my fellow attorneys (I would do this for defense counsel as well, folks), I will not reveal what was under the redactions.
The Motion Itself
So we start with the actual motion (27 pages already!).
Plaintiffs are moving for:
- partial summary judgment as to liability on the claims for copyright infringement
(direct, contributory, and vicarious) against defendants Axanar Productions, Inc. and
- and for an injunction
First of all, the partial summary judgment is to have the defendant declared to be infringing. And the injunction is to essentially get defendant Peters and Axanar to stop trying to make Star Trek.
Alleged Grounds for Partial Summary Judgment
This Motion is made on the grounds that: (1) Plaintiffs own the copyrights in
the Star Trek works at issue; and (2) Defendants infringed on the Star Trek works by
creating works that are substantially similar and that copy protected elements of
Plaintiffs’ works, including specific characters, settings, themes, mood, tone, plots
Defendants are also liable for contributory infringement, as
Defendant Peters, in his personal capacity, and as sole shareholder of Axanar
Productions, Inc.: (a) knew of the direct infringement of Plaintiffs’ works and; (b)
materially contributed to that infringement. Further, Mr. Peters both personally, and
on behalf of Defendant Axanar Productions, is liable for vicarious infringement as
he had the right and ability to supervise and control the infringing conduct, and he
obtained a financial benefit from the infringing acts.
So in the first part, above, plaintiffs lay out the elements of a copyright infringement cause of action, that they own the IP and that defense infringed, and then they explain why.
The second part is mainly for damages’ sake, because willful infringement brings with it higher penalties.
Fan Film vs. Independent Star Trek Film
On page 7, plaintiffs say:
Although Defendants’ counsel has repeatedly
referred to the Axanar Works as “fan films,” this is a legally irrelevant designation,
as there is no special treatment afforded to fan films under the Copyright Act.
Moreover, the Axanar Works are not “fan films” (amateur works created by fans
simply for the fun of it).
Rather, the Axanar Works are exactly what Defendants
proclaimed them to be prior to this litigation – professional productions that are
intended to be unlicensed “independent” Star Trek films for which Defendants
received financial remuneration, and which were targeted at the same audience as
Plaintiffs’ Star Trek movies and television programs. Defendants’ Axanar Works
fail completely under all four factors of the fair use test and there is no precedent for
a finding of fair use under these circumstances. As a matter of law, Defendants’
Axanar Works are infringing unauthorized derivative works.
What Summary Judgment Means
First of all, note the term ‘as a matter of law’ – that is the standard for summary judgment. So essentially, the movant must prove there are no material facts in dispute (e. g. it doesn’t matter which day filming started, but it does matter if defendant Peters said he was knowingly making a copy of the IP) and that the undisputable facts support a finding for the movant as a matter of law. Because if the motion laid out a bunch of undisputed facts but they didn’t amount to a case, then the court would shrug and the whole thing wouldn’t matter. However, that’s not what’s going on here.
So let’s look at some highlights, shall we? Because I have blogged a lot about the facts of this case already. No sense in repeating all of that. In addition, I won’t comment much, as a lot of these statements pretty much speak for themselves. However, if anything is unclear, feel free to go to the Contact page and I’ll answer what I can or will elaborate.