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Maybe Axanar Could Klingon To Its Fair Use Defense In A Parallel Copyright Universe

rtzw4f02zy8-nasaOn January 3, 2017, in Paramount Pictures Corp. v. Axanar Productions, Inc. et al., a United States District Court held that Axanar could not rely on a fair use defense during the upcoming trial over whether Axanar infringed Paramount’s copyright in the popular Star Trek television and motion picture franchise.  Axanar has an existing twenty-one minute film Star Trek: Prelude to Axanar (“Prelude”) and at least two trailers for a planned full-length feature film (the “Axanar Motion Picture,” and, collectively with Prelude, the “Axanar Works”).  Central to the Court’s rejection of that defense was Axanar’s inability to convince the Court that the Axanar Works had the characteristics of the sort of works, such as parodies, that are recognized as deserving of a fair use defense under 17 U.S.C. § 107, as further explained by the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569 (1994).  While seemingly a solid analysis under the applicable U.S. copyrights laws and cases, one perhaps should ask whether a different result could be supported in a parallel copyright universe.  (This does, after all, involve Star Trek, where, since the Original Series episodeMirror, Mirror” episode, examples of parallel universes have existed.)  But to get to that parallel universe here, one need not experience a transporter malfunction, nor travel multiple parsecs—one perhaps need only look the United Kingdom (not to be confused with the United Federation) and Section 30A of its Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.  Understanding more fully the Axanar case and the Axanar Works will help the parallels emerge.

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