T-Shirt Forums banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Let me pose a hypothetical scenario:

Say that I am a Star Trek fan and I wanted to create a t-shirt using different phrases of the "Klingon Language." Would that be considered copyright infringement?

Interested to see your comments.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,555 Posts
Hi. Normally people wouldn't be able to give you specific legal advice on this forum, but this is an interesting one.

Now I used to like Star Trek, but I honestly wouldn't know what Klingon phrases would look like, if I tripped over one. I personally think that anyone who has a few too many beers, can end up talking like a Klingon anyway.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,008 Posts
Will is right, but legal advice is best left to the attorney. I would venture to say anything connected with anything owned by someone else would be affected by copyright law. I suggest taking your questions to someone who's advice stand up in court. ... JB
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
926 Posts
You would have to be a die-hard, Star Trek fan to recognize how to spell in Klingon - so IMHO it would be copyright infringement.

But you better check with an attorney who is skilled in intergalactic law to make sure - good luck, and live long and prosper :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,074 Posts
The heart of the question is: Can you copyright a language? Language is a system of communication composed of words and rules; neither of which can be copyrighted individually but can the whole language be copyrighted as a work of art? More to the point, wouldn't copyrighting a language defeat the purpose of having a language, so that it is no longer a language if copyrighted.
Fascinating.

A bit of Googling finds that Paramount believes it holds a copyright on the language but that copyright has never been challenged. And it seems unlikely that anyone will spend thousands in legal fees to challenge the copyright so legal or not, they have a defacto copyright.


DaHjaj 'oH QaQ jaj Daq Hegh
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,512 Posts
And it seems unlikely that anyone will spend thousands in legal fees to challenge the copyright so legal or not, they have a defacto copyright.
What about the reverse: have they sued anyone over the use of just the language? Is it possibly defacto public domain?

Who came up with the language anyway? I'd be surprised if it was Paramount. Obviously they invented the concept and a lot of the key vocabulary, but I doubt they had anything to do with producing the Klingon Shakespeare translations, etc.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,074 Posts
It was a work for hire by Paramount. According the Wikipedia, James Doohan began the work and Marc Okrand made a complete language out of it.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,512 Posts
Fair enough... in that case, I think things are thoroughly in their favour. While the whole "Can you copyright a fictional language?" thing is an interesting question, I'm guessing the answer is just "Yes." :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
141 Posts
You would have to be a die-hard, Star Trek fan to recognize how to spell in Klingon - so IMHO it would be copyright infringement.

But you better check with an attorney who is skilled in intergalactic law to make sure - good luck, and live long and prosper :)

but wouldn't the only people getting the phases have to be a die hard star trek fans?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
141 Posts
Fair enough... in that case, I think things are thoroughly in their favour. While the whole "Can you copyright a fictional language?" thing is an interesting question, I'm guessing the answer is just "Yes." :)

How many people have to use it regularly for it to not be considered fictional?...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,555 Posts
If I were a judge presiding over this case in a court, I would be struggling to contain my amusement.

You would have Paramount contesting that their incoherrent 'Klingon' phrases that were seldom used and which probably only the real die hard fans would ever even notice, has somehow undermined their alleged copyright. I doubt if even the actors that uttered the phrases could even remember what exactly they said now.

Irrespective of any legal issues, I somehow couldn't see Klingon type phrases on tees, being commercially viable. You would have to explain to observers that no, the printer wasn't dyslexic, or drunk when they made them. To younger observers you would have to explain what a Klingon actually was.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,074 Posts
As an aside, Klingon isn't fictional but a fully thought out and functional language. The only downside is that it doesn't have many words for mundane human stuff. You can converse freely about destroying the Federation from the bridge of your battlecruiser but asking someone to pass the salt may present a problem. There are people who speak it, Trek nerds of course, and the language is gradually growing as new words are added each year. Artificial language is a better description. And of course, there are people already selling shirts with Klingon phrases written in the Klingon language (most likely unlicensed).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,056 Posts
J. K. Rowling is or was suing a small publishing company for creating the Harry Potter Lexicon book.
The biggest factor in the book was the definitions or whatever they are were EXACTLY as they were in the books. There was no variations or his own wordings.
Thats what the news article said that I read.
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top