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The question of Klingon copyright

by FilmWeek

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David Hogue/Flickr

A copyright battle between “Star Trek” rights holders - CBS and Paramount - and a fan-fiction movie production have caused another rift in the federation: a third party is challenging CBS and Paramount's claim to ownership of the Klingon language.

The Language Creation Society submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the presiding federal judge. They argue that the Klingon language took on a life of its own after its humble beginnings as mere guttural noises on the television show. While “Star Trek” producers indeed hired a linguist, Mark Okrand, to expand the language for “Star Trek III,” Trekkies have made it a real-world tongue with a bigger vocabulary.

What goes into creating a fictional language for television and movies? Are fictional languages “living languages” despite absence of a real community? How has Klingon been changed by Trekkies?


David Peterson, Language Creator for “Game of Thrones;” the Dothraki language is copyright HBO. The show Game of Thrones and the Dothraki language were inspired by George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.

Jay Dougherty, Professor of Law & Director, Entertainment & Media Law Institute and Concentration Program at Loyola Law School in L.A.; Previously Dougherty worked as counsel for United Artists Pictures, MGM, Twentieth Century Fox and Turner Broadcasting System

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