Making plans for May is fun, especially with spring really coming into bloom in most parts of the world. But do you know what you’ll be doing May next year?
Well, if the current court schedule holds up — and there isn’t a settlement — both sides of a copyright infringement lawsuit will be gearing up for two weeks of court.
CBS Corp. and Paramount Pictures have filed a joint statement with the attorney representing Axanar Productions and Alec Peters outlining what a federal court can expect over the next 12 months. That includes the end of fact discovery in October, the end of expert discovery in January, and a potential trial start date of May 9, 2017.
That would be a year from an upcoming hearing next week where Judge R. Gary Klausner will consider a defense motion to dismiss. If at least parts of that motion is denied, it’s likely Klausner will agree to the trial schedule both sides put together, depending on Klausner’s own schedule, of course.
Before that, however, both sides in the lawsuit would undergo what is known as alternative dispute resolution — settlement talks — supervised by a magistrate judge. The plaintiffs and defendants have requested Judge Charles Eick, according to documents filed with the court, although final determination would be left up to Klausner.
Eick, according to AxaMonitor, has helped with other copyright cases in the past, including a case in 2014 that involved James Bond.
CBS and Paramount sued Axanar Productions and Peters last year for copyright infringement, claiming that its short “Prelude to Axanar” and the proposed “Star Trek: Axanar” feature-length film were ripped from the Star Trek property jointly owned by the two studios. CBS and Paramount are seeking up to $150,000 in statutory damages, or actual damages, for every infringement violation, as well as an injunction stopping production from moving forward.
Axanar had raised $1.3 million to produce the film, a good portion of that spent on commercial space in Los Angeles, the partial construction of set, and salaries to various people, including $38,000 plus expenses to Axanar’s principal, Alec Peters. It’s the first time CBS and Paramount have filed a lawsuit against a fan-film, and it hasn’t extended to any other productions. However, last month, producers of the “Star Trek: Horizon” sequel “Star Trek: Federation Rising” were reportedly asked to shut down before they could start $250,000 in fundraising.
Outside of whether the defense would win any portion of its motion to dismiss, the biggest question has been who might be added as defendants. CBS and Paramount left spots in the lawsuit known as “John Does,” where they could add other defendants involved in the production of “Axanar.” One of the biggest names mentioned by observers who could be added to the suit is announced “Axanar” director Robert Meyer Burnett, probably best known for his independent Star Trek-themed comedy “Free Enterprise” in 1998.
In the joint statement, the studios say they don’t expect to add any more defendants, which is a respite for those potential Does. However, the plaintiffs are giving themselves until June 8 to add more parties, if the judge approves the schedule both sides put together.
The hearing next week, on May 9, could determine what kind of position each side has in settlement talks. A decision on the motion to dismiss more in favor of the defendants could help Axanar and Peters. However, a primary denial by Klausner could give CBS and Paramount a superior position in the settlement talks, which would likely mean “Axanar” could never see the light of day.
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