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Paramount, CBS Open Fire on Crowdfunded ‘Star Trek’ Film

trek-no man

Although Paramount Pictures and CBS have long tolerated fan-produced “Star Trek” short films and webseries, including “Star Trek: New Voyages” and “Star Trek Continues,” a crowdfunded movie prequel appears to be a bridge too far.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the companies filed a lawsuit last week to put a stop to “Axanar,” billed by its producers as the “first fully-professional, independent ‘Star Trek’ film.” The Indiegogo campaign raised more than half a million dollars.

Accusing the producers of copyright infringement, Paramount and CBS are seeking an injunction and damages.

“Axanar” takes place 21 years before the events of “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” the second pilot of the classic “Star Trek” series, which introduced William Shatner as James T. Kirk. The film is described as the story of legendary Starfleet captain Garth of Izar and his crew during the Four Years War between the Klingon Empire and the Federation.

Paramount will release its own movie sequel, “Star Trek Beyond,” on July 22. CBS is also plotting a television revival that will stream on its CBS All Access digital subscription service.

Comments

  • Count Geekula

    As long as this is non-profit and free to view then I don’t see Paramount’s problem. It is the same as any of the other ST fan projects…just maybe better made.

  • Misscar

    Since I have yet to receive a cease-and-desist letter from Paramount for all my Star Trek fanfiction, I’m going to assume that there’s more complex legal issues going on here and they may be going beyond the principle of fair use. Copyright and intellectual property rights is always a very complicated thing.

  • http://ambaryerno.wordpress.com ambaryerno

    Considering the way Paramount is wiping their asses with the franchise, I know *I’D* rather watch the fan film than Beyond.

  • Rob Murphy

    I think CBS should talk with them and use their ideas. They have great stories, CBS has great Tech to bring the movies to the people… Would make both a lot of money and give the people what they desire, more GOOD movies!!!

  • Uncle_Stan

    Those few minutes had more of a Star Trek feel than the whole last movie Paramount released. Visually it appeared more professional than Next Generation or anything currently airing on SyFy. I guess no dad wants to be beaten by their son in arm wrestling.

  • Mattchanning

    Aaaaaannnnnnnnd cue disgruntled fanboys with an unearned sense of entitlement using this as an excuse to diss the upcoming ‘official’ film they haven’t even seen yet…..
    ….now…!

  • https://marvel.com/universe/Moon_Knight Moon Knight

    Honestly, come on, damages? Shouldn’t the fans be suing CBS and Paramount for damages?

  • http://picklepuss57.tumblr.com/ Picklepuss Dill

    I liked the two Abrams Trek films but I’d never blame someone disliking them — or expecting to dislike the upcoming one — on an “unearned sense of entitlement”. That’s absurd.

  • Mattchanning
  • Mattchanning
  • Krazy Joe

    ^ lame reply.

  • http://ambaryerno.wordpress.com ambaryerno

    You say that as if they NEED this as an excuse, rather than dissing it because it actually looks like a piece of shit on its own merits.

  • Mattchanning

    Fandom would be great if it wasn’t for the disturbing number of fans…

    Everything Mr. Shives says is true, whether you like it or not.

  • http://www.putmeinstarwars.com Misty Mills

    As a producer of a fan project, any time a fan production comes onto their radar for violating the terms we’re supposed to follow, it bothers me and concerns me that even projects that play by the rules will get shut down. Though it is a complex situation that involves many things (more than just monetary, it also touches on production values having to be less than an actual movie/series, etc), there is a list of things you simply do not do. Raise money is top of that list. It puts all fan productions at risk for being shut down and/or removed from the internet.

  • Mattchanning

    Call be a bluff, old traditionalist, but I prefer to wait to say something looks like a piece of shit on its own merits until I ACTUALLY SEE THE FILM and can determine what it’s merits actually are.

    The proof of the pudding is in the tasting…

  • TheChanningView

    True…. from a certain point of view.

  • TheChanningView

    If you’re going to put all your time and effort into raising the money and producing a major film, put it toward your own original creation. Be the person who creates the next Star Trek. Not imitate it.

  • Gregory A. Swarthout

    Zing!

  • http://www.putmeinstarwars.com Misty Mills

    Yes, this. However, there are some productions that people do just because they want to play in that universe. Which is fine! *I* do it! Just don’t break the rules and make it hard for the rest of us who follow the rules.

  • mikeinmn

    Read the suit here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2660454-Startreklawsuit.html

    There’s nothing to gain by shutting down any fan production. It’s not going to cost them anything. Hell, they could just require Axanar be released via CBS online channels same as their upcoming revival and make some money off it if they really wanted to hold the production hostage.

    Only reason I can think of for going after Axanar and none of the other fan productions who also use the images, uniforms, character names etc that they cite here, is that they’re worried about losing revenue by having “Beyond” compared with a potentially superior production.

    #craptacular

  • Greg Kitchin

    As bad as it is, I can see some of the logic behind the cease-and-desist. What I don’t get is why it took so long to implement. I first heard about it at least 6, maybe more months ago. Why not try to stop it when it was first suggested, before so much time, money and effort has been made into making it?

  • Red_Five_Standing_By

    Holy crap, that looks amazing!!!!

  • Red_Five_Standing_By

    Could they have raised the capital for making a movie that is not-Star Trek related?

    There in lies the problem.

  • Red_Five_Standing_By

    You wait to ensure the movie is being made, then you wait a bit longer so you can financially ruin the producers.

  • Misscar

    Maybe there were some behind-the-scenes negotiations going on to try to resolve it with out giving the lawyers involved?

  • DRAKE_WANG

    Things like “fully professional” and “half a million dollars” will generally tend to get an IP holder’s attention.

    I think the fan film will have to prove that they aren’t *selling* anything to the funders in order to win a suit. Otherwise, CBS could be seen as tacitly allowing precedent for any other party to sell whatever Star Trek knock-offs they want.

  • derrrr

    Der, do you not understand what ‘copyright infringement’ means?

  • derrrr

    Der, do you not understand what ‘copyright infringement’ means?

  • Cheimerinos

    Well maybe if they had *actually* made Star Trek instead of generic shitty Sci-Fi action film #3908798723, this wouldn’t have even become a problem.

  • Larry Tate

    And that is why you are not a lawyer.

  • Larry Tate

    Not really. For creations that are not in the public domain if you don’t have a licence to use the characters then you are infringing on the rights of the owners of the intellectual property.

  • Larry Tate

    it’s simply about ownership.

  • Larry Tate

    guess you aren’t the fanboy he’s referring to

  • http://barryvevans.wordpress.com Barry V. Evans

    There is not much legally “fair use” with characters and situations owned by another entity. Parody is pretty much the only thing that is protected in such cases, and fan fiction usually has nothing marking it as parody (in fact, it usually tries its hardest NOT to be parody but to seem legitimate). In this case, they really put a target on their back by referring to it as both “professional” (meaning there is money involved, which doesn’t affect the legality but does make it less desirable in the eyes of those who own the property but are not making money on the project) and “independent Star Trek.”

    It can independently be SIMILAR to Star Trek, but the concept, races, situations, and characters of Star Trek do not exist independently. They are a property wholly-owned and controlled by Paramount (and CBS in the case of the original series).

    Also, this is coming hot on the heels of CBS announcing its own new ST series, so the radar is on a little higher for any project that could steal its thunder. A lot of what’s out there doesn’t get attacked by the owners just simply because it’s not worth their trouble, and it actually raises brand awareness, but they’re within their rights to stop anything that is an infringement on their IP, unless there’s a compelling case to define it as “parody.”

  • http://barryvevans.wordpress.com Barry V. Evans

    The new movie coming this summer and the new TV series coming out in a little over a year are likely prompting them to crack down on infringements right now. This one may just be higher profile than others that we don’t hear about.

  • http://picklepuss57.tumblr.com/ Picklepuss Dill

    I get that, my point was that even though I liked the films I think his blanket accusation against people who don’t is silly.

  • http://picklepuss57.tumblr.com/ Picklepuss Dill

    I get that, my point was that even though I liked the films I think his blanket accusation against people who don’t is silly.

  • Mattchanning

    In what way is withholding an opinion until I’ve actually seen the film a lame reply?
    It’s certainly a better way of going about things than saying something is a ‘piece of shit on its own merits’ before having a clear idea of what those merits might actually be.

  • Randall Miller

    I would think a franchise would embrace their fans. From someone who plays Star Trek online, has almost every Star Trek comic and every bridge officer autograph from the original and next generation series, I find it disrespectful. To think this fan spent a ton of time, and money to get the real actors and put together a major piece of work, only to have it destroyed because it simply got too big, They have allowed these to continue for years and never said a word until now. The almighty dollar. Only a true fan would understand the real irony in this, as this is everything that Star Trek stood against. Greed

  • https://marvel.com/universe/Moon_Knight Moon Knight

    A lot of the time the point isn’t to sell the film, it’s to sell yourself, to get your name out there so that you can be hired for more (legitimate) work. Trying to get people interested in your own original short film can be very difficult. If you tell people you just made, lets say… a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan film called Fight the Foot, or a Batman/Alien/Joker/Predator crossover called Batman: Dead End, well now you have a huge pre-installed fanbase that has interest in your movie. Plus, as Red-Five pointed out, it’s much easier to put together a budget when you have a huge fanbase that wants to see your movie.

  • https://marvel.com/universe/Moon_Knight Moon Knight

    A lot of the time the point isn’t to sell the film, it’s to sell yourself, to get your name out there so that you can be hired for more (legitimate) work. Trying to get people interested in your own original short film can be very difficult. If you tell people you just made, lets say… a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan film called Fight the Foot, or a Batman/Alien/Joker/Predator crossover called Batman: Dead End, well now you have a huge pre-installed fanbase that has interest in your movie. Plus, as Red-Five pointed out, it’s much easier to put together a budget when you have a huge fanbase that wants to see your movie.

  • AJ

    Did Paramount not hear them talking about this for like a year? It’s pretty lame of them to wait for these people to raise half a million dollars and make the film, and then sue them.
    Tell them ‘no’ beforehand, don’t wait until everyone’s put a ton of time, work, and money into this.

  • Christopher D Blue

    It follows the same rules that Paramount laid down; the same rules that every fan production follows. Paramount’s problem is that they see that the fans who love the show are now producing better content than the studio has been vomiting up since ’87. Renegades, Farragut, Star Trek Continues, New Voyages–all of them have been going on for YEARS without Paramount getting upset about “copyright infringement.” But now, with harsh criticism of the Abrams movies and lavish praise on the fan productions, the studio is worried that people will forsake paying for their efforts in favor of content that is better–and FREE. That people will turn their ticket money towards crowdfunding.

    Unless they settle this amicably, rather than poking fans in the eye, I’m thinking that fans might start getting pretty peeved at the studio. I also think that Axanar is only the first. If Paramount persists, it’s only a matter of time before they go against Continues and New Voyages and Renegades (which actually USE the characters and ships featured in the various series–not to mention in some cases, the actors), and Farragut as well.

  • Christopher D Blue

    Then why hasn’t it been about “ownership” for the past decade with Phase II/New Voyages? For the past several years with Star Trek Continues? With Farragut? With Renegades? Those were also pro-level fan productions, and several of them feature characters, hardware, and even actors from the original series! The problem isn’t ownership; it’s that the level of quality in the fan productions has started leaving the studio efforts behind in the dust.

  • Christopher D Blue

    So . . . how much does it cost you to watch EVERY MOVIE THAT’S RELEASED? Because, if you DON’T, then you are determining that some of them are not worth your money BEFORE YOU HAVE SEEN THEM.