Language society disputes Paramount Pictures copyright of Klingon language

By Daniel Uria  |  Updated May 3, 2016 at 1:54 PM
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LAS VEGAS, April 28 (UPI) -- A group called the Language Creation Society has filed a complaint against Paramount Pictures in federal court over its copyright of the Klingon language from the television series Star Trek, arguing that it is a real language and therefore not subject to copyright.

The Language Creation Society sought permission to review a friend-of-the-court brief in regards to a copyright claim on the Klingon language by Paramount following a lawsuit surrounding "Axnar" a fan-made Star Trek film.

The brief {link filed by Marc Randazza and the Language Creation Society,: "" target="_blank"} argues that while Paramount Pictures created Klingon, the language has "taken on a life of its own."

"A group called the Language Creation Society claims in U.S. federal court that Paramount Pictures lacks the 'yab bang chut' or 'mind property law' necessary to claim copyright over the Klingon language," Randazza wrote in the brief's description.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the issue had previously been brought up in a lawsuit between Paramount Pictures and CBS over "Axnar", the crowdfunded Star Trek fan film which made use of the language.

Paramount countered CBS's claim that Klingon was not copyrightable as a "useful system" by arguing that the language was entirely fictitious and did not have a practical use.

"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," attorney David Grossman wrote. "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."

The Language Creation Society sought to counter this thinking by noting that the Klingon language was used to replace the use of English or a series of "guttural sounds" in the second season.

"What is a language other than a procedure, process, or system for communication?" They asked. What is a language's vocabulary but a collection of words? The vocabulary and grammar rules of a language provide instructions for a speaker to articulate thoughts and ideas. One cannot disregard grammatical rules and still be intelligible, and creating one's own vocabulary only worked well for the Bard."

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