Axanar Asks Star Trek Directors and Studio For Documents in Ongoing Lawsuit

The lawsuit brought by the owners of Star Trek, CBS and Paramount, against fan film Axanar and its creator Alec Peters has started to heat up once again. Axanar‘s lawyers have filed a Motion to Compel Discovery, which asks CBS and Paramount to produce documents including financial statements, salaries for actors and crew from every Star Trek episode and film ever produced, and statements in support of Axanar made by Kelvin timeline directors J.J. Abrams and Justin Lin.

Axanar’s attorneys sparred with CBS and Paramount Pictures’ counsel over documents relating to Star Trek fan fiction, and 50 years of financial and copyright ownership records, asking federal Judge R. Gary Klausner to force the studios to produce relevant witnesses and evidence. CBS and Paramount have returned fire saying that the motion filed by Axanar‘s attorneys is “self-serving and deliberately misleading,” and have characterized it as an “unnecessary and an unfortunate waste of the Court’s time.”

In a 62-page joint filing September 29, 2016, the two sides asked for an October 21 hearing before Klausner to make arguments.

Evidence for the Defense

Axanar‘s defense attorney has requested documents from CBS and Paramount that she hopes will bolster their defense, including contentions that:

  • Producer Alec Peters’ “20-minute mockumentary fan film [Prelude to Axanar] that was distributed, free of charge, on the Internet,” and the “non-commercial” feature, Axanar, posed no financial threat to CBS and Paramount.
  • CBS and Paramount have “long tolerated and encouraged … Star Trek-inspired works of fan fiction.”
  • The studios’ “tacit acknowledgement that works of fan fiction such as the Axanar Works have no negative impact” on Star Trek’s market.
  • The lack of market harm would be an integral part of the fair use defense Axanar planned in the case.
  • Little or no need for statutory damages from whatever copyright infringement the plaintiffs might prove.
  • The 50-year chain of title for Star Trek’s copyrights may have broken links imperiling the studios’ standing to bring suit.

Testimony and Records Sought

Axanar’s defense attorney Erin Ranahan outlined the defense effort to obtain information about:

  • Finances from all Star Trek copyrighted works going back 50 years, including five television series and 12 movies
  • Salaries Documents demonstrating how much the studios paid “every actor, director, and producer for every single Star Trek movie and television show.”
  • J.J. Abrams and Justin Lin Documents relating to Star Trek producer J.J. Abrams’ and director Justin Lin’s statements supporting Axanar
  • Fan Fiction Policies Documents and testimony about the studios’ attitudes and policies regarding fan fiction, including cease and desist letters (C&Ds) and takedown notices to websites found to be hosting infringing material.

“Self-serving and deliberately misleading”

The lawyers representing studios CBS and Paramount have called Axanar’s new motion “self-serving and deliberately misleading,” and have complained that the Defense is seeking documents that “don’t exist”. CBS and Paramount lawyers are asserting that the defense:

  • Wanted documents that don’t exist.
  • Asked for information and documents plaintiffs had already agreed to produce, or had produced two days before the motion was filed, yet still included in this motion.
  • Failed to meet with CBS and Paramount attorneys to resolve issues that didn’t need to be included in the motion.
  • Made requests, without legal basis, that were “extremely broad, unduly burdensome, and seek documents and information that are neither relevant to any party’s claims or defenses, nor proportional to the case.” They specifically referred to 50 years of CBS and Paramount’s financial and copyright ownership records.
  • Harrassed plaintiffs by seeking records about Abrams and Lin’s public statements, which occurred after the lawsuit was filed, therefore having no bearing on the infringement alleged prior to the suit.
  • Wanted “irrelevant” records, such as those relating to other Star Trek fan films, or whether the studios had pursued legal action against any other infringers.

The Role of Financial Records

Much of the defense motion revolved around Axanar’s request for the studios’ financial records, which Axanar’s attorney insisted were central to her case’s fair use defense, an important part of which is measuring what market harm was posed by the alleged infringement. And, in the event the studios could make their case, the defense claimed any damages should be minimal since a fan film given away for free could not have done much damage to “two huge corporations.”

Plaintiffs’ Refusal

Ranahan, of Winston & Strawn, complained her counterparts at Loeb & Loeb, the plaintiffs’ attorneys, “have refused to produce sufficient documents responsive to those RFPs [requests for production of documents] and Interrogatories.”3)

Loeb’s refusals, Ranahan said, asserted “unfounded and unavailing boilerplate objections,” or simply resulted in no documents being produced.

Moreover, the trade secrets, private and proprietary information, would remain confidential under the protective order already issued by the judge, Ranahan said, so there was no reason to refuse to turn it over.

Axanar’s ‘Not a Fan Film’

Much of the plaintiffs’ response to the motion was based on a firm assertion that Axanar is not a fan production at all — in Peters’ own words:

Defendants acknowledged, while they were engaging in their pre-litigation activities, that they were knowingly infringing Plaintiffs’ copyrights. Defendants also repeatedly pronounced that they were creating a “professional” and “independent” Star Trek film, starring actors (that were paid for their services) that have portrayed roles on Star Trek television series, and produced with professional crew members. Indeed, in spite of defense counsel’s recent statements to the contrary, prior to the filing of this suit, Defendant Peters and his colleagues expressly stated that they were not creating a “fan film.” This case is about a commercial enterprise designed to take money from Star Trek fans, which funds were used to pay Defendant Peters along with his friends and colleagues, to create, as Defendants describe it, “an independent Star Trek film.”5)

The plaintiffs go on to quote many instances where Peters publicly and explicitly disavowed Axanar‘s status as a fan film and instead described it as a professional production.

Commercial Endeavor

CBS and Paramount attorneys also pointed to “the commercial nature of [Axanar’s] endeavor, specifically calling out its:

  • Use of “donations to build out a ‘studio’ that is being rented out for other non-Star Trek projects.”
  • Accepting donations that resulted in providing perks that included infringing Star Trek-branded merchandise.
  • Paying “Peters himself and his girlfriend tens of thousands of dollars, and used the funds obtained from Star Trek fans’ donations on travel expenses, tires, car insurance, and gas.”6)

Gene Roddenberry

The defense asserted throughout its motion that Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had originally owned the copyright. By all accounts, Roddenberry never possessed the copyright; he created Star Trek as a work-for-hire under Desilu Productions, and then for Paramount. Indeed, the plaintiffs observed, “Ms. Ranahan does not explain what basis she has for assuming that Gene Rodenberry ever owned the rights to Star Trek.”8)

Another View of Market Harm

The defense spent a great deal of time describing the many and varied ways it wanted to assess whether Axanar had or would cause any harm to the market for Star Trek. The plaintiffs, however, pointed out that financial records aren’t the only way to assess harm:

To the extent that Defendants are asserting that this [financial] information is relevant to the market harm element of the fair use analysis, this is not an accurate statement of law. As the Supreme Court held in Harper & Row, Publrs. v. Nation Enters. … for the plaintiff to negate the element of market harm, it “need[s to] only show that if the challenged use should become widespread, it would adversely affect the potential market for the copyrighted work…This inquiry must take account not only of harm to the original but also of harm to the market for derivative works.”9)

In other words, CBS and Paramount maintain that if “professional, commercial ventures” like Axanar were permitted to create Star Trek works, the widespread use by other “fan” productions would damage copyright holders’ “potential market for derivative works.”10)

Interestingly, the case cited for potential harm to future derivative works was a 1998 case won by Jonathan Zavin, Loeb’s lead attorney for the plaintiffs.

Personal Profits

The plaintiffs tried to turn the tables on the defense, questioning how the defense could use “the financial performance of hundreds of [the studios’] works over the course of the last decade to demonstrate that they are not liable for copyright infringement.”11) Instead, the studios attorneys wrote:

It is Defendants’ expenditures that are relevant here, not Plaintiffs’. Defendants’ documents show that they have spent tens of thousands of dollars, raised from Star Trek fans, on personal expenses and salaries, including car insurance and tires. This is the financial information that is relevant to this case, as well as the profits of Defendants.12)

Other Fan Films

The defense also asked for documents relating to CBS’ relationship with fan films, especially whether it ever issued takedown notices for Star Trek: Hidden Frontier, Starship Exeter, Bring Back Kirk, Star Trek: New Voyages / Star Trek: Phase II, Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning, Star Trek in Lego, Star Trek: Aurora, Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, Starship Farragut, Star Trek: The Next Animation, Dan Hauser’s Animated Star Trek, Star Trek: Phoenix, Star Trek Continues, Star Trek: Specter, Star Trek II: Retribution, Star Trek III: Redemption, Star Trek: Reunion, Star Trek: Secret Voyage, Star Trek: Dark Horizon, Star Trek: Absolution, Star Trek: Renegades and Star Trek: Horizon.13)

Ranahan sought records about how or whether the studios enforced their copyright against other fan productions. CBS and Paramount’s lawyers claimed such documents were shielded by attorney-client privilege.

Takedown Notices

The defense also asked for documents and communications about whether to take down either Prelude to Axanar or the “Vulcan Scene” on YouTube. (Ironically, Axanar removed the Vulcan Scene from public view after the lawsuit, and issued its own takedown notices against copies posted on YouTube and Facebook.)

Selective Enforcement

The plaintiffs attempted to forego Axanar’s appeal to how other fan films have been treated by the studios, singling out only Axanar for legal action. Again, citing Zavin’s earlier case:

Failure to pursue third-party infringers has regularly been rejected as a defense to copyright infringement or as an indication of abandonment. … A self-avowed substitute for other Paramount licensed products adversely impacts the market for derivative works.14)

Star Wars Fan Films

Curiously, the motion includes a request related to Star Wars fan productions, fan film guidelines used by Lucasfilm, and any communications between studio personnel and Lucasfilm employees. The plaintiffs argued this request was overly broad and irrelevant, particularly since Axanar is not a fan film.15)

This article was originally posted at Axamonitor

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In his zeal to get Axanar made, regardless of whether he’s receiving any financial benefit, Peters has overlooked (or ignored) one thing: he has done so much fundamental damage to fan-made productions that he’s quickly becoming something of a pariah among large sections of fandom. Even if he gets Axanar made, will fans really bother to support it? I for one have no desire to see it at all.

I do not agree. From what I saw of Axanar, it looks great! It fits the prime-line well.

But you haven’t seen Axanar, you saw prelude which was made by people who are now not apart of Axanar Productions for what ever reason ( cough Alec cough cough )

You haven’t seen Axanar yet.

No i haven’t because instead of knuckling down and doing what was promised Alec was more concerned with building his little thiefdom.

You don’t agree that he’s damaged fan productions? What planet are you from? we’re going to lose Star Trek Continues and Star Trek New Voyages because of that asshole.

not lose…just delay.

for three decades now, folks have been saying every new version of star trek was going to kill the franchise. star trek kept going. it’s grown beyond a mere franchise, becoming a legacy or immortal iconography; it cannot die.

now, there are a LOT of really good fan films out there, and of those, ‘Continues’ and ‘New Voyages’ were some of the best at capturing the essence of trek. i’m starting to think that trek’s immortality is a part of that essence…those shows cannot be destroyed or lost. they will return, one way or another.

You don’t agree that he’s damaged fan productions? What planet are you from? we’re going to lose Star Trek Continues and Star Trek New Voyages because of that jackass.

@Al – Have you been crank calling my bar?

And yet Continues just released another episode… argument = nullified

I don’t think that was his point. It’s not a question of whether it looks good, it’s about how by going over the line with how he’s solicited funds and used Star Trek for personal profit, Peters has poisoned the well for other fan films. You can certainly be angry with CBS/Paramount for coming down hard in the wake of this, but I absolutely blame Peters for pushing them to this point.
If you can’t make a fan film that looks like it cost millions of dollars… then don’t f’ing make a fan film for hundreds of thousands of dollars you don’t already have in funds or donated skills and facilities. Don’t poke the bear by using fan money earmarked for your ridiculous project to build an all-new studio you can use to make more money.
It just seems so silly to think that anyone would go to this much trouble because he asked the question, “Why can’t we just spend a lot more money to make FAN FILMS look like the shows that cost millions and millions of dollars?” I’m already biased against a lot of silly fan films, but their charms suddenly get erased by turning them into this kind of a glossy enterprise.

He;s not trying to get Axanar made anymore. He’s just trying not to give any of the money back. If he spends it all on “legal fees” then he won’t have to explain to fans why there’s no money to give back, or that he spent it on himself and his commercial studio.

Curious Cadet, seriously, After various legitimate news agencies have proven for months Alec Peters is receiving “pro bono” for the case, why would you make this statement? Are you pushing Carlos Pedraza’s agenda, or you just a complete moron?

Pro bono is not 100% free stop peddling miss information.

Unless you can prove otherwise they do not cover every single thing.

Axanar and Alec Peters are responsible for reasonable costs.

*Misinformation

Pretty much this. He needs to be lynched.

That’s an abhorrent statement. Racist much?

TonyD, when you speak of the fundamental damage, what are you talking about? The fact that all fan films have been put on notice that the studios will no longer allow them to do what Axanar was trying to do? Make a decent fan film? When you talk about support, are you talking about the 14,000 plus supporters, and over 2.6 million views on youtube? Or a couple of dozen haters who have taken to attacking Axanar and Alec Peters at every opportunity? Seem to me you’re wrong on both counts.

He’s talking about the FACT that productions like Continues and New Voyages were perfectly fine before Peters decided to try to make a profit train from his appropriation of the Star Trek property.

Supporters and views mean nothing. I have no alternative but to assume you’re in Alec Peters’ employ to be so defensive of his indefensible actions.

He destroyed fan productions, and he’s going to pay for it.

Al Jalaikakik,

Re:perfectly fine before Peters

Peters is no prize but this is utter bull that things between old Paramount (Now CBS) and the fans were not litigious prior to his arrival on the scene. Also flies in the historical facts of legal actions taken against fans that Paramount initiated almost immediately after being forced by Bludhorn to take on the administration of STAR TREK.

Al Jalaikakik, I’m assuming since you treat Fantasy as fact you are one of the infamous haters hiding behind a fake name so you can claim anything you want without having to prove it or look like a fool. Too bad I don’t know who you are so I can rub it in your face when Axanar wins the court case. But then again, that’s why you have the fake name…lol

14, 000+ Supporters and 2.6 views mean nothing? I suppose you think your opinion and a select few of haters means something then? I say opinion because that’s what’s it called when you don’t have any facts.

If you stated facts you would admit both those productions where doing the same thing haters have claimed Axanar did. In fact at least one production said it will continue to make shows in spite of those shows breaking the new Guidelines.

If that doesn’t destroy fan films by pushing the studios to close all fan films down for good, I don’t know what does. But hey, I know you haters think thats ok.

Fact: None of the other productions built a commercial film studio with money donated by Star Trek fans for a fan film.

Fact: None of the other productions said that they were creating a “fully-professional, independent Star Trek film.”

Assumption: That Axanar Productions has 14,000 or more supporters.

Fact: STC and NV both rented space, built their own studio with sets and rented them out to other productions. Same as Axanar had planned. Only Axanar was openly talking about it to keep the donors informed.
Fact: STC did not close down, they are still producing episodes
Fact: NV team was thinking about ending production and turning the sets to a museum even before the lawsuit hit. The lawsuit may have sped this process up, but it probably would have happened anyways.
If it wasn´t for Axanar, some other production that would have stepped too far in the eyes of CBS/Paramount would have been the target. They were eyeing the fanfilm scene for quite some time.

northstar,

Re:Fact: NV team was thinking … turning the sets to a museum even before

You skipped over the part that that was because NV were planning to to move the production to SoCal and would have had to redesign and build the sets there anew anyway to bring them up to CAL-OSHA and current industry standards.

Fact: Axanar declared their studio was “for-profit” funded by misappropriating the Star Trek IP.

helenofpeel

Fact: New Voyages/Phase II’s Retro Studio actually sells tickets to tours of its sets which were constructed by infringing on the copyright for STAR TREK acquired by CBS and were maintained by donations raised doing likewise. The Studio, its sets, and tours have also been used in convention advertising and promotion.

Get a job, Peters.

That’s an idiotic statement. It’s 14.000+ victims, formerly known as supporters.
And: 2.6 views? I know what you meant, but even in the millions it’s ridiculous. Horizons did better in a much shorter amount of time, as you know.
And: AxaMonitor always present “documented” facts, not assumptions. I’ve seen no document link provided with your so called “facts”.
And no, I’m no hater. I’m just an observer who has no dog in this fight, as I’ve never supported ANY fan films. But the facts, Alec and Axanar (and his supporters) have brought down fan film productions to their knees is a fact. Now everyone regards those “guidelines” as a “no no”. Hint: It’s been a “no no” before – and Peters cried “GUIDELINES”.
Don’t screw with the facts, Charles as you already know it better, but are too afraid to admit.

Per

Charles: The restrictions now placed on fan films have absolutely neutered them. One of the things productions like Star Trek Continues were trying to do was essentially finish out the 5 year mission thru a series of presentations that looked a lot like the original series – not just sets, props and costumes but also length of the episode, opening and closing credits and other little things like that to make their productions feel as much as possible – for an amateur presentation – like the classic episodes. The new guidelines, which were a direct result of this lawsuit, pretty much have made continuing to make shows in that vein all but impossible. That’s upset a lot of fans.

Let’s be even-handed about this. Yes, Peters took too much candy from the bowl. Yes, he comes across as obnoxious and overweening. But, CBS did NOT—I repeat—did NOT have to put the hammer down arbitrarily on all fan productions that were being nice and respectful, and staying in their place. CBS took advantage of Peters’ transgression by using it as an excuse to kill “the golden age of fan films.” So, let’s try to retain a little perspective here, and not just play into CBS’s strategy like we don’t know any better.

I have no interest in seeing it either Tony D.

Regardless of Alex Peters being right or wrong, Star Trek fans such as myself will not be able to see a good movie. The first two re-boots were awful and so I avoided the third. Be that as it may, too bad some bad planning is making me miss out on what Axanar could have been. Guess I’ll never know…

P.S.- I am avoiding ST:Discovery on principle. Also, some of the best movie people were a**holes, look at Alfred Hitchcock. ’nuff said.

It almost sounds like Coca Cola suing Sam’s Club for making their own brand of cola. :)

It’s more like Coca-Cola suing Sam’s Club for making their own soda and calling it Coca-Cola. :)

No… the original statement is correct. Except adding that in this hypothetical scenario, Coca Cola is the only licensed dark cola producer…

Sorry, not following your line of thinking. The creators of Axanar are free to make movies, they just can’t use intellectual property that belongs to someone else. Sam’s Club is free to make soda, they just can’t use Coke’s name, logo or recipe.

I was trying to make the same point that David elaborated upon. I would argue that some of the fan made
movies use different characters, star ships. story lines, etc. and relies upon fair use for the rest. I think the
fan made films are going to be okay in the outcome of these lawsuits.

@kirkunit And saying it’s truer, realer Coca-Cola.

@Jack
Which might be the case. If today’s copyright laws existed in earlier stages of human history, some of the greatest works of literature (for example Shakespeare’s Hamlet) wouldn’t be made. Just because you have law on your side, don’t mean you have a moral high ground. Paramount’s treatment as it’s license leaves a lot to be desired, I haven’t seen last ST movie and I couldn’t give les of a shit about their new series, as far as I’m concerned, it’s just average SF flick wearing what’s left of Star Trek’s skin.

Finn,

Re: today’s copyright laws existed in earlier stages of human history

Present day English copyright law whose origins predate the American copyright system of laws by at least a century doesn’t match the current American version as it is.

But even if such a thing as you try to imagine did exist, it is very doubtful Danish Royals would deign to seek a copyright from the English crown with which to legally throttle old Bill in England. And they’d just ban Hamlet in their own. I just don’t think most of my fellow US citizens quite grasp the limitations of copyrights. It doesn’t help with the various publishers selling this new legal philosophy baloney of “intellectual” property enjoying absolutely all the legal precedents of real property making all learning theft.

Besides its existence in Shakespeare’s time is largely immaterial as it is not as if Bill could enjoy the success that he had if he didn’t curry Royal favor. So it is not as if he had a free hand in all things on stage as it was.

Like a successful court jester that gets to keep his head, he had to be clever in playing to his public.

This article appears to use language from the motion or its response. Without contextualization, this could be at first glance confusing.

That aside, my overall point is that it appears the parties have wandered far afield from a point of settlement which fans were wont to believe was to occur months ago.

I agree. Too much grandstanding.

Any room for infinite diversity for Axanar? Why can’t the plaintiffs let them play in this ‘space’? Just settle this case!

They have tried as far back as Mach of this year and Axanar Productions refuse to settle for what they are being offered to settle.

James. What are these “settlement offers” that Axanar seemly refused that you seem to know about that no one else does? Please, if you know so much, here is your chance to share.

Because the plaintiffs have said publicly they have made settlement offers. The fact that the case continues is proof Alec has refused the offer. I suspect the terms are too onerous, but probably far more generous than he’ll get when he loses the case.

In other words, you have no knowledge of this case whatsoever, and thus have no place commenting on it.

sargon,

It is a mystery as to why CBS and Paramount’s experienced legal beagles are suddenly “shocked” that a defendant in a lawsuit would make ““self-serving” motions and NOT plaintiff-serving ones?

Also, why haven’t the plaintiffs abandoned this line of reasoning?:

* Use of “donations to build out a ‘studio’ that is being rented out for other non-Star Trek projects.”

Now that they’ve licensed New Voyages’ sets that were also built out and maintained with donated funds and labor and unauthorized into what eventually became licensed by CBS PAID tours?

And let’s not forget NEW VOYAGES own director Jack Marshall’s contention in December of 2005’s WIRED that the NEW VOYAGES episodes were NOT fan films but “independent film”.:

https://www.wired.com/2005/12/to-boldly-go-where-no-fan-has-gone-before/

sargon,

It would also be nice if someone could explain why if this:

* Accepting donations that resulted in providing perks that included infringing Star Trek-branded merchandise.

is wrong then why does these from 2015 get your sets a license?:

http://www.imgrum.net/user/stnvfez/186810431/1003271968860324254_186810431

“New Perk LIMITED TO ONLY 30 donors: FULL SIZE copy of the ACTUAL DESILU SETS from 1966 from JAMES CAWLEY’s PERSONAL COLLECTION. THESE ARE THE 49 YEAR OLD BLUEPRINTS.”

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2075083284/star-trek-new-voyages-phase-ii-2015

” Discount on the Uhura and Spock stations!

Hello Everyone!

You may not have noticed, but we lowered the price of the Communication and Science stations in our perks list! ”

“NEW PERK ADDED DUE TO MANY REQUESTS! Many have asked about a digital download that they can print themselves so we have added this Newly created High resolution render of The U.S.S. ENTERPRISE by our own VFX Genius, Tobias Richter. Suitable for printing in large format and framing! And we have kept this at a VERY low perk rate!”

“It has been called to my attention that I forgot to add a couple clarifying details to the $400 level perk (DVD/Blueray boxed set).

1. This set DOES include all perks below it (awesome flash drive etc).

2. Upon checkout you will have the option to get Bluerays for an extra $25.”

This lawsuit could soon be seen as a self-inflicted wound. Two large law firms are duelling it out for their clients.

But who represents the fans?

Who is the ultimate loser here?

Could it be that all will lose?

Who then, will weep for Adonais?

There’s only one thing that matters here: Paramount and CBS own Star Trek. Peters doesn’t. He infringed on their copyright and pocketed $38,000 of donations into his own pocket. They HAD to sue him. It’s as simple as that.

@Dandru
Completely agree. As an owner of my own IPs, this is all very cut and dry. Axanar doesn’t fall under fair use, and dragging the other productions that ostensibly ARE (some of which are, admittedly, in a gray area) is what the Klingons call a “dick move”.

Of for crying out freakin’ loud. Peters is an asshole. It’s that simple. Just end this already. It’s not like Peters has ANY legal standing here. He will lose. This is all just a delay tactic.

Seriously Dandru, where did you get your law degree? K-Mart? You have no idea what you are talking about. You don’t understand the concept of Fair use, fan films, or the legal system. Explain simply why Star Trek Continues, and Star Trek New Voyages who did everything Axanar did, isn’t being sued for Infringement? You can’t.

Yep. You definitely work for (or ARE) Peters. DIAF.

Charles, those other productions did NOT do “everything Axanar did,” and you repeatedly saying so doesn’t make it true. Axanar crossed a line with money, with building a studio and going far beyond just fan-film productions.

Either you don’t already know that, which means you’re too ignorant of this case to comment on it, or you DID already know that and you’re intentionally ignoring that to push your pro-Axanar bias. Either way, your repeated comments here are wrong. Period.

The FACT is that Axanar (specially Peters) has done immense damage to ALL fan films. That fact is that AXANAR is in the lawsuit, not those other productions.

Trying to say other fan films did “everything” the Axanar people did is utterly, factually WRONG.

Charles, a copyright holder can sue or not sue an infringer as they please. “They’re not suing the other guy” means nothing, and holds zero legal value as a defense. They don’t have to explain jack sh!t to anyone or justify themselves to you. Also, Fair Use doesn’t allow you to raise a million dollars using someone elses property so that you can build a for profit business.

Charles is pretty hilarious–he shoots down others, claiming they have no knowledge of how the law works, then says things that are ridiculously off the mark in terms of how the law works. He’s clearly either Alec Peters or someone who works for him. Either way, he’s a big joke.

Charles: You have no idea what my background is, and are thus talking out your rear. I have a great deal of knowledge about those subjects, actually. Axanar in no way falls into “fair use.” Where did you get YOUR law degree?

None of the other fan films are fair use. They weren’t sued because they were tolerated. The copyright owner can enforce his copyright at his discretion, and that has no effect on other cases. That’s the law. You’re the one that understand how any of this works.

“Charles” – nobody else ever paid themselves a salary taken from donor funds. That alone is what will take you, er, I mean Peters, down….

Interesting – how do you know that no one else from other productions took donor funds?

I don’t care about Axanar, but would like to see Continues continue unimpeded.

i couldn’t agree more. Peters has ruined his own venture and we just want him to sink already without dragging any innocents down with him. Fan films are great, but he’s giving them a bad, bad name. Shame on him.

Herbert, who are these innocents you speak of? Star Trek Continues, and Star Trek New Voyages who did everything Axanar did, but isn’t being sued for Infringement? Axanar fans who are being kept from seeing a great fan film because the studios decided to sue ONE filmmaker? You really think getting fan films at the forefront of a fair use lawsuit is a bad thing? Have you ever read about what Disney has done to control copyright? Do a little research please.

You’re a complete imbecile.

Continues and New Voyages did not do EVERYTHING that Axanar did, and they both further have the blessing of Rod Roddenberry. Go shoot yourself Alec. You’re a piece of garbage and astroturfing here will get you nothing. We’re not morons. I hope CBS/Paramount take everything you have.

Rod Roddenberry is not Paramount or CBS He does not own the IP. His blessing means nothing.

And don’t tell people to shoot themselves, no matter what they do or who they are. It makes YOU look just as bad as those you argue against.

‘Drew,

Re: He does not own the IP.

Neither does CBS. Ownership of intellectual property has never been a part of US copyright law. It is a LIMITED monopoly granted to encourage the advancement of knowledge in the sciences and the arts for the benefit of the public as a whole and not a select few.

But that’s not even the phase of legal proceedings that the two parties are engaged in at this moment. At this point, the judge has induced in the pretrial preparations that the two parties enter into good faith out of court settlement negotiations. The two so agreed and are engaged in such.

If Peters can show that CBS never intended to enter the settlement negotiations in good faith with their bad faith demonstrated by their refusing to agree to reasonable terms of settlement, such as say offering a tour license, that they didn’t have problems entering into with other infringing parties, then CBS can have their trial and they can even win it but the judge is NOT going to be moved to impose the severest form of penalties upon Peters that the plaintiffs sought.

None of the fan films claimed to be a “fully professional, independent Star Trek film” – i.e. NOT A FAN FILM. None of them paid the producer a salary, either. That’s why you are being sued, Alec.

Charles stupidly wrote:
“Star Trek Continues, and Star Trek New Voyages who did everything Axanar did, but isn’t being sued for Infringement?”

Oh, really? They pocketed $38,000 of donations into their own pocket? They tried to sell products based on Star Trek IP for money? They used a ton of donation money to fund a film studio?

No, they didn’t.

Give it a rest, Alec Peters. We know it’s you. You’re fooling no one, and your tactics are ineffective. Obvious plant is obvious.

Dandru,

Re: They used a ton of donation money to fund a film studio

http://www.trekonderoga.com

” August 13, 2016 – James Cawley, the driving force behind the creation of the Studio and of the Trekonderoga convention”

# Disinvited

http://www.trekonderoga.com

It doesn’t sound like it is a real studio, where they also produce other things than the Star Trek films to earn money.

Mel,

Re:It doesn’t sound like it is a real studio

Neither does Ares Studio. Name one “other” NON-fanfilm thing actually done there to earn people money and please remember that some performers and other entertainment industry personnel were paid in RETRO STUDIO’s productions. On the other hand Retro, which accepted and used donations to build it out and maintain it as various episodes required for “independent film” quality, has “actually” been making Cawley both tour and convention cash which is NOT in any way, shape, or form a fan film for which those funds were solicited.

The level of “proof” being accepted here is merely that someone in the production talked about doing something, i.e. NOT that it was actually done.

Ergo, calling the NEW VOYAGES sets ‘RETRO STUDIO” makes it every bit a one as Ares, the NEW VOYAGES director saying the episodes are “independent film” makes them so, etc.

I was going to respond to Charles but others beat me to it. You work for Peters, Charles?

What great fan film? Nothing, other than Gary Graham giving exposition in a parking lot, has been filmed.

Not to mention that it’s apparently Not a Fan Film but a Professional Production.

Agreed, Stanky :-)

Alec Peters?

I literally read about 5 lines and got the just.

Give it a rest. Sheesh.

“Got the just?”

Going through all of that proves one thing: Alec Peters is more insane than both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump combine… maybe if he just made the movie instead of trying this get rich quick scheme he wouldn’t be trying to make a martyr out of himself.

Hillary Clinton is not insane.

Frankly they’re all as bad as each other at this point. Axanar were obviously taking the piss, going that one step too far. And CBS/Paramount have used this as an excuse to stamp on fan productions, something they’ve obviously wanted to do for a while but weren’t able to (due to the lack of any apparent harm being done, and a desire to aoid appearing draconian and vindictive).

I’ve never watched ANY fan-produced stuff. It’s really not my thing. But I don’t object to their existence either. The franchise has had a lot of money out of me over the years (including the amount paid by the BBC for the shows, paid from the licence fee) despite a LOT of it actually being sh- er, rubbish. This farago is just a lot of money and time being wasted by a lot of people who could probably find much better ways of spending their lives.

I previously speculated the draconian fan film rules was evidence that Paramount/CBS wanted to pull the plug on everything, but until Peters came along they didn’t have a target that was unsympathetic enough to be a lightning rod for fan backlash.

The rules could easily have been written in such a way as to prohibit only Axanar (and future productions similar in design) but permit all previous productions to continue; while they were only suing Axanar, I thought this made it clear they already wanted to kill fan films. That’s not collateral damage. That’s taking advantage of an opportunity.

Everybody thought I was a loon (and several other less-kind terms) for that idea.

Draconian my as**

Frankly they’re all as bad as each other at this point. Axanar were obviously taking the piss, going that one step too far. And CBS/Paramount have used this as an excuse to stamp on fan productions, something they’ve obviously wanted to do for a while but weren’t able to (due to the lack of any apparent harm being done, and a desire to aoid appearing draconian and vindictive).

I’ve never watched ANY fan-produced stuff. It’s really not my thing. But I don’t object to their existence either. The franchise has had a lot of money out of me over the years (including the amount paid by the BBC for the shows, paid from the licence fee) despite a LOT of it actually being sh- er, rubbish. This farago is just a lot of money and time being wasted by a lot of people who could probably find much better ways of spending their lives.

a guy that single handedly ended trek fanfilms … nice one ALEC.

Axanar is wrong for impeding on the copyright. CBS is wrong for not applying equal scrutiny to all productions. It’s basically a smaller version of our current presidential election in which the common defense is – “Hey that guy over there is doing it too!” I just don’t know what the value of this continued coverage of the case is other than to insight a bunch of unsolicited opinions (my own included) and to create the same forum flame wars every few months. Can we move on from this yet?

They should, but are not required to, apply equal scrutiny to all productions. Apparently, the dividing line for Paramount is whether it is a fan production or an independent production. It was Peters himself on numerous occasions who said that it was an independent Star Trek film and would be completely professional unlike any fan production.

Both sides need to just get a room and boink already. NO, I cannot see any judge ordering Paramount/CBS to disgorge 50 years worth of documents. NO, I don’t think fan productions should suffer. I DO think Peters mucked this up big time. Considering the talent tied to Axanar, I kinda wish Peters would step down and let someone else take it.

There is no talent left at Axanar productions.

Everyone who was attached to prelude bar a select few (4 or 5 people) have left.

Pass me the club. This dead horse isn’t tender enough.

This seems like a massive waste of the courts time. Axanar is a joke. I’m embarrassed I ever bothered to support it. I will never support a fan production again because of it.

The biggest issue here is not whether Axanar is right or whether CBS is in the right. The issue is that CBS and Paramount are not doing any justice to the copyrights since the fans have to send their money to someone to make what they want to see. There has not been any new Trek on TV in 10 years and the last series was a joke. Then the movies where doing just fine until they allowed the timeline to get all jack up by a director that didnt seem to know enough about Trek to play in the current timeline. The fans have been wanting new Trek for a long time but the studios are not willing to listen to the ideas that the fans have because their idea of what the fans want is what they tell them they want.

And what has Peters made that fans want to see, other than a teaser?

Like con artist, like con artist’s lawyer. More bs smoke screens and delays. The guy violated intellectual property big time, boasted about, bullies anyone who disagrees with him, and has the audacity to talk smack to anyone that points it all out. Would love to see his movie made but he’s shown himself to be nothing but a crooked pariah asshole.

Bottom line – for some of us Axanar was a chance to see some old school Trek that Paramount has refused to make. We might have actually finally saw a Connie take on a D-7… can you believe after 50 years of Trek we have yet to see how that would play out?!?! The real story here is how the exciting TOS universe – as explored through FASA RPG manuals – continue to be over the post Star Trek IV Trek years later after TV shows, etc. Wagon Train to the Stars is fun and exciting. The real underlying question isn’t when will we get that Trek back but how – will we get that “Trek” through the TOS reboots (concept once dead after ST:ID revived with Beyond?), the fan-films or do we need a whole new franchise (unfortunately minus the Vulcans, Andorians, Klingons, Romulans, Orions, etc)? The concept of today’s flawed humans exploring the galaxy to find our place in a cold hard universe – “wagon train to the stars” clearly trumps holodeck utopia (look how much excitement this Axanar team has generated from little to no capital; a way better value proposition then what Paramount is putting out).

I think it’s time for us to distance this whole Axanar thing from Star Trek itself. Seeing it pop up on Trekmovie all the time is depressing enough, especially considering this is the 50th anniversary. Fan films have their place and their loyal fans, but one primary responsibility of those who make them is to make sure the ‘Star Trek’ name never becomes associated with events such as this. “Star Trek” as a brand and viable property is severely diminished these past years, and the Axanar fiasco is an unhelpful diversion which serves no one but those listed as defendants.

Oh for goodness’ sake, behave yourselves.

I guess this will be remembered as “The Axanar Maneuver”.

Finally a well written and balanced article! I think the most important thing to take from the latest court filing is that while as part of their defence Axanar is trying to still portray itself as a fan film while the plaintiffs keep pointing out that it is an “independent Star Trek production” using Alec’s own words. I personally think this is the crux of whole case.

One a side note, I’m glad I was able to fight both the Facebook and YouTube takedown notices so you could link to the Vulcan scene in your article.

If CBS was smart, they would allow for monetization of fan films, with the stipulation that they have final approval of the finished product while taking a cut of money raised from crowd-sourcing. Then, they can host the fan film on their all-access site with the stipulation that any “hits” that can generate additional money goes to CBS. In return, CBS can advise the production on what they can do to improve the film for a small consulting fee. The return for the production would be that they have a resume enhancer under their belt, which can lead to better opportunities for employment within the industry. IMO.

But why would they want to water down their brand with substandard productions? I’m sure they have no desire to create a department to manage what you are suggesting either.

The only way CBS could monitize fan productions would be to host them on their own website. And that would equate them with professional product. Frankly, fan productions are pretty cheesy for the most part. Bad acting, bad stories, bad effects, with little appeal to more than the hard core fan base. The more CBS legitimizes them, the more they have the potential to affect the studio’s ability to attract new audiences. They don’t really help the perception that Trek is a geeks only kind of franchise. Legitimizing these films on a monitized website would only call attention to them for the main stream audience Trek needs to succeed. Things were fine the way they were until Peter’s decided to spoil it for everyone.

Mr. Universe, Re:But why would they want to water down their brand with substandard productions? Because they already have in other areas for the sole motivating reason Old Paramount ever had when it was forced to get into the STAR TREK biz’ in the first place: for the money. I don’t know where this fiction arose that when old Paramount, which became the current CBS, was forced to administrate the first STAR TREK series that all they cared about was its “professional” quality. BULL! If maintaining their professional quality image was ever a major concern of theirs, they never would have licensed those sub-standard Kelvin Timeline toys, action figures, video games, etc. They wouldn’t hesitate to Transformerize STAR TREK if they thought they could squeeze a billion dollars out of it in the doing. Curious Cadet, Re:The only way CBS could monitize fan productions You are approaching this as if it were untested copyright waters when it is just a variation on what old Paramount, i.e. CBS, has successfully done with printed STAR TREK. They’ve monetized unauthorized fan publications and their authors, both fiction and non, and fan art as well without diluting any of their “professional” published Trek or filmed for that matter, confusion or no. I mean, seriously, the outfit is responsible for the third season clunkers of the first series, and the film NEMESIS and you want us to believe that they are all THAT worried about STAR TREK losing the “professional” veneer they’ve meticulously built up… Read more »

Right, but I have yet to see any fan fiction that measures up to the same quality as the professional productions, even the worst of them. In fact, even the worst of them still starred William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy and Patrick Stewart, et al. Also, nobody but the fans read novels and buy art. Movies — Hollywood movies in particular — draw in the masses, and affect the perception of the brand. Promoting substandard amateur efforts only amplifies the professional’s mistakes, and taints the brand for the new audiences the studio hopes to build. And it creates an incredibly complicated royalty participation scheme, unlike novels and artwork which are typically created by one person, maybe two. Who is going to pay for all the on and off-screen talent it took to make the fan film — and who’s going to make sure that all the legal rights and releases have been obtained? This is a recipe that threatens to needlessly complicate the brand.

You tried to make a movie with copyright material and the owner’s of that material stopped you to protect their property. Move on, create something original, and let this go. Star Trek is not yours to do with as you please. Why is this so hard to understand?

This. Use what’s left of the money and tell this as an original story – with few changes other than costumes, names and ship designs.

Peters is sure taking this whole megalomaniacal Garth of Izar method-acting thing seriously.

Jack, takin’ it right to Crazytown!

Everyone here’s over reacting one way or another. However, every once in a while, one of these cases need to happen, to test the boundaries of the legal system. Every now and then, some small person needs to stand up to large corporations so that we test the rule of law, or is it just rule of money.

I think “Axanar” is a brilliant way telling a story, and no matter what Alec Peters say, verbatim or not, it’s a Fan based story and production. So, he monetized. And the Studios feel threatened. That’s why they’re taking action, not because it violates their IP or Copyrights, because there are MANY more fan based productions, and they haven’t taken such legal actions.

The Studios should collaborate and I hope this matter ends in a collaboration, then we can see the evolution of one new Star Trek story “going where no one has been before”.

Talk about confusing the issue just to get kneejerk support!

And your use of ‘brilliant’ is hyperbole on a scale I would associate with … well, Peters. And Trump.

Good! It’s about time someone stands up to CBS. So excited to see this project completed. #TeamAxanar

Then move to Talos IV, cuz that is only going to happen in your dreams.

Is anybody on trekmovie actually checking addrsses on the posters to find out how many of them are actually axanar-affiliated?

Is the Axanzr lawyers trying to ask for tons of discovery so that CBS/Paramount will drop the lawsuit because it is costing them too much in lawyers fees? Yeah, that won’t happen so Axanar will be charged legal fees on way more work when the settlement comes. As a former writer, I know that it is highly doubtful that Gene Roddenberry filed a copyright registration for Star Trek ever. I am not sure that the Writer’s Guild Registration service was in effect at the time, but to affix a copyright to a work dates it, as you need to mark the circle C and the year of its creation. So, if someone gets the script three years later it is possible they will not consider it because it is already getting old. So there is probably no copyright transfer because Desilu would have been the first to copyright it. There should be a contract with Gene Roddenberry stating it is a work for hire and the creation is theirs, but Roddenberry will be paid and get royalties for it, but that is not what they are asking for. They want a contract that transferred the IS Copyright which wold not have been filed. The idea that not actively defending the work lessens the copyright. Thar is how trademarks work, not copyright, and it seems the difference is lost on the Axanar legal team. To keep a trademark valid you need to take action against anyone who does it or the… Read more »

Setting aside Peters’ half truths, falsehoods, lies & idiocy for one second and not to defend the emotionally immature individual that he is, Axanar wouldn’t harm Trek for CBS/Paramount. Fans are obviously well aware it isn’t an official release. What they could do is in some capacity endorse the project without making it “official”.

Oh, and are they actually suggesting that professionals in the industry can’t also be fans of Star Trek?

The three points under commercial endeavor (studio, merchandise, and paying themselves a lot) just show how impudent they were. No wonder CBS and Paramount got angry.

The last point clearly shows, that they were even scamming Star Trek fans. The people funding Axanar paid to get a fan film and not to make Peters and his girlfriend rich. They even used the funds for car related costs!

It really annoys me, that those guys have threatened the peace other fans, who create fan works, had with CBS/Paramount. It all was fine for tons of years and then came moneygrubbing Peters along and it might all go downhill now. CBS/Paramount already posted fan film restrictions. Who knows what comes next? Forbidding fanfiction, too? Fan vids? Fan arts?

Mel,

Re:The three points under commercial endeavor

For NEW VOYAGES,

* studio: RETRO STUDIO used by performers and miscellaneous other union entertainment personnel to earn money, now licensed for commercial tours and used as commercial convention ticket sales draw.

* merchandise:

http://www.imgrum.net/user/stnvfez/186810431/1003271968860324254_186810431

“New Perk LIMITED TO ONLY 30 donors: FULL SIZE copy of the ACTUAL DESILU SETS from 1966 from JAMES CAWLEY’s PERSONAL COLLECTION. THESE ARE THE 49 YEAR OLD BLUEPRINTS.”

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2075083284/star-trek-new-voyages-phase-ii-2015

” Discount on the Uhura and Spock stations!

Hello Everyone!

You may not have noticed, but we lowered the price of the Communication and Science stations in our perks list! ”

“NEW PERK ADDED DUE TO MANY REQUESTS! Many have asked about a digital download that they can print themselves so we have added this Newly created High resolution render of The U.S.S. ENTERPRISE by our own VFX Genius, Tobias Richter. Suitable for printing in large format and framing! And we have kept this at a VERY low perk rate!”

“It has been called to my attention that I forgot to add a couple clarifying details to the $400 level perk (DVD/Blueray boxed set).

1. This set DOES include all perks below it (awesome flash drive etc).

2. Upon checkout you will have the option to get Bluerays for an extra $25.”

* paying themselves a lot:

See hard cash generated from museum tours and convention ticket sales generated from converting donations of both funds and labor used to manufacture and maintain some sets, costumes and props to this new revenue generating purpose.

Do the records from Desilu and even Gulf+Western still exist?

The records of transfer of title of anything have to exist and be properly executed, as the Banks found out in the recent mortgage crisis.

And the chain of custody of STAR TREK is challenged by legal reports such as this:

http://www.courthousenews.com/2008/08/29/Harlan_Ellison_Wants_Paramount_To_Beam_Up_Royalties_For_Star_Trek_.htm

“Ellison signed a contract with Paramount’s predecessor in interest, DesiLu Studios, when he wrote the 1967 screenplay. However, DesiLu never registered its copyright of the episode, and didn’t even register the episode as having been broadcasted. After Paramount took over the rights to “Star Trek,” it registered a significantly edited copy of Ellison’s episode as having been produced in 1975. But Ellison had already registered his own copyright, using the original screenplay without editing.” — KARINA BROWN; “Courthouse News Service”; Friday, August 29, 2008

Here’s what Ellison himself says about his STAR TREK episode’s copyright:

https://books.google.com/books?id=4MYqAwAAQBAJ&pg=PT15&lpg=PT15#v=onepage&q&f=false

“Because this is not the script that is the property of Desilu-Paramount.

It is the original version. The version they returned to me. It is also the version that was copyrighted by me in 1975. It is the version that was mine from the git-go by the “separation of rights” clause in the Writers Guild of America contract we lovingly call the Minimum Basic Agreement. And it is the version that was published in January of 1976 in the Washington Square Press paperback volume, SIX SCIENCE FICTION PLAYS. Had Paramount wished to do anything about my claims to this property, they should have (and certainly would have) done so more than twenty years ago. But since they didn’t, even the dullest attorney over at Paramount Legal would have to represent to anyone intent on “punishing” me, that you can’t make a case when you haven’t done shit about the matter in two decades. Statute of limitations, that sort of thing.” — “Perils of the ‘City’”; 1995; “The City on the Edge of Forever” By Harlan Ellison; Open Road Media; Apr 1, 2014 edition; pp 14-15

That starship is upside-down, IMO.

kitbash canon,

There is no upside down in space. In space, everywhere is up. But you can accuse the photographer of poor composition.

Yeah, but that part of my mind wherein is located the aesthetic function is engaged (as a stream-of-consciousness). It is saying “dude, that ship is soo upside-down”. The rationalizing function is not engaged at the moment. Not interested enough to do so.

This is just a fishing expedition. Whether one makes money or not is not the definition of harm. A copyright holder does not surrender the copyright because some other person makes a film about the copyrighted material and doesn’t make money doing it. This is a stupid, stupid argument.

helenofpeel,

Re:a fishing expedition

It’s nothing of the kind. In Paramount Pictures Corp. vs Leslie Rubinowitz, et al
USDC E.D.NY (6-26-1981) ¤ 217 USPQ 48 Paramount persuaded the court to apply new copyright law enacted in 1976 to give them a retroactive 1975 copyright by swearing that up to that point STAR TREK was an unpublished work and therefore there were no federally granted copyrights to protect necessitating adequate copyright marks on the episodes aired from 1966 to that year. They made that contention despite the fact that starting from 1967 with Desilu and continued on by Paramount until his death in 1975, copies of the scripts of each of the filmed episodes were sent to the author James Blish for transformation into the Bantam PUBLISHED works STAR TREK 1 through STAR TREK 11 each giving Paramount published federally protected copyright for episodes they claimed were unpublished prior to 1975. Also in 1975, the original author of the script THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER successfully published and was awarded a copyright for his original script to the episode of the same name which he retains to this day.

It needs to be litigated as to exactly which era of copyright law Paramount was actually entitled to apply to determine whether Desilu’s 1960s bankrupt mismanagement of its copyrights denies CBS and Paramount many of the modern copyright law protections that CBS claims in its copyright of Axanar and many other episodes being used against the defendant.

I think CBS and paramount should reconsider and let axanar proceed or risk a boycott from the fans. I for one saw the original Star treks when they were first aired and have made many many friends over the years it wouldn’t take me no time to plead my case to all of them who would in turn pass it on and on and on.

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