Star Trek Fan Film Settles Lawsuit With Paramount and CBS

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For well over a year now, Axanar Films has been in a legal dispute with Paramount and CBS over copyright infringement. Axanar Film produced and released a prequel film called Prelude to Axanar, which was based on a battle that was mentioned in the original Star Trek television series back in the sixties. It seems that all that has come to an end.

Due to the popularity of the fan-film, Axanar, headed by producer Alec Peters, decided that he was going to make a feature-length version that was going to focus on the canonical battle. After raising nearly $1 million on both Kickstater and Indiegogo, as well as using costumes very close to the original concept designs.

The case has been settled between Axanar Films, Paramount and CBS on Friday. In the statement, reported by Polygon, stated that there is no monetary settlement, but they have to make some major changes to the project in order for this matter to be resolved.

“Any future Star Trek fan films produced by Axanar or Mr. Peters will be in accordance with the ‘Guidelines for Fan Films’ distributed by CBS and Paramount in June 2016,” according to a statement from Paramount.

Furthermore, Paramount and CBS have added that they have no intention of stopping fan films or fan-fiction, as long as the films follow the proper guidelines set forth by the two companies. Which include, fan films can’t exceed 15 minutes (30 minutes if it’s a digital series), can’t use clips from any of the Star Trek films or series, can’t use official costumes, can’t use the name Star Trek and can’t be made for profit. Essentially, filmmakers can use the idea of Star Trek, but they can’t use anything that’s already been published.

“Paramount and CBS would like Star Trek fans, with their boundless creativity and passion, to ‘Live Long and Prosper.’”

The major source of concern for the two studios is that Axanar was receiving this money and was not be accountable for the $1 million they collected and didn’t want fans to be confused that the film was an actual production of the studio. However, in more greater concern, how were they planning on distributing the film and recoup the expenses.

  1. Actually, the official concern and the reason CBS and Paramount sued Axanar Productions was, as you noted, for copyright infringement, something they have not elected to do to any other Star Trek fan production (going all the way back to the 1970s) including ones that use(d) much more CBS-owned IP than what was in “Prelude To Axanar” or what would have been in the Axanar movie. While the money raised in crowdfunding by Axanar Productions was brought up in court documents by CBS and Paramount, and defended by Axanar Productions, it was not the main stated concern of the case. Going forward, while Axanar Productions will not be able to use crowdfunding under their agreement with CBS, they are allowed to raise funds through private donations.

  2. The concern of CBS and Paramount, at least officially and as far as the court documents are concerned, are as you noted at the beginning of the article, was copyright infringement. The crowdfunding money was brought up in the complaints and various motions along the way, but the basis of the suit was the very thing that every Star Trek fan film going back to the 1970s has done, some more than others, but the first to actually be taken to Court for it was Axanar.
    Also, a mistake in your interpretation of the Guidelines, it’s not that fan films can’t use official costumes, the rule is you can still make your own, but if you buy Star Trek costumes to use in your fan film, they must be products licensed by CBS.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Yeah, it was never about the movie being made but the money they were taking in. Also, that people don’t confuse it with something from CBS or Paramount.

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