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Paramount & CBS start legal action against Star Trek fan film (updated)

Axanar_Logo_ret-smallIt looks as if the days of the Star Trek “fan” film may be numbered, after Paramount and CBS issued proceedings against the producers of the Star Trek movie, Axanar.

“The Axanar Works infringe Plaintiffs’ works by using innumerable copyrighted elements of Star Trek, including its settings, characters, species, and themes,” states the complaint. “The Axanar Works are substantially similar to, and unauthorized derivative works of, Plaintiffs’ Star Trek television series and movies, in contravention of the copyright laws of the United States.”

The team producing the movie have already created Prelude to Axanar, and have raised over $1 million through crowdfunding.

“Axanar takes place 21 years before the events of “Where no Man Has Gone Before”, the first Kirk episode of the original Star Trek.  Axanar is the story of Garth of Izar, the legendary Starfleet captain who is Captain Kirk’s hero.  We met Garth in the third season TOS episode Whom Gods Destroy.  Kirk called Garth the role model for all future Starfleet Officers.  Garth charted more planets than any other Captain and was the hero of the Battle of Axanar, the story of which is required reading at the academy.  This is that story.

“Axanar tells the story of Garth and his crew during the Four Years War, the war with the Klingon Empire that almost tore the Federation apart.  Garth’s victory at Axanar solidified the Federation and allowed it to become the entity we know in Kirk’s time.

“It is the year 2245 and the war with the Klingons ends here.”

The full affidavit can be read here – and it would seem as if all intellectual property rights are being asserted…

UPDATE: 31 December:

Alec Peters, the producer of Axanar, has issued various comments regarding his feelings on the matter. The following was posted to the Facebook page: “Well, it appears CBS knows that Axanar is exactly what fans want, because they are trying to shut us down! While Team Axanar will have a response shortly, know this DOES NOT deter us from what we are doing! Delivering to fans exactly what you want.

“Goliath, meet David (and his thousands of screaming fans)!”

and a full statement was issued later in the day:

“This morning, I was greeted with news that our production company, Axanar Productions and I, personally, am being sued by CBS Studios, Inc. and Paramount Pictures Corporation for copyright infringement of Star Trek.

“First of all, I was disappointed to learn about this through an article in an industry trade. For several years, I’ve worked with a number of people at CBS on Star Trek-related projects, and I would have hoped those personal relationships would have warranted a phone call in advance of the filing of a legal complaint. Nevertheless, I know I speak for everyone at Axanar Productions when I say it is our hope that this can be worked out in a fair and amicable manner.

“Axanar is a fan film. Fan films – whether related to Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Power Rangers, Batman or any other franchise – are labors of love that keep fans engaged, entertained, and keep favorite characters alive in the hearts of fans. Like other current fan films, AXANAR entered production based on a very long history and relationship between fandom and studios. We’re not doing anything new here.

“Like all fan films, AXANAR is a love letter to a beloved franchise. For nearly 50 years, Star Trek’s devotees have been creating new Star Trek stories to share with fellow fans. That’s all we’re trying to do here.

“Since the original Star Trek TV series, when the letter writing campaign by fans got NBC to greenlight a third season of Star Trek, fan support has been critical to the success of the franchise. It is the Star Trek fans themselves who are most affected here, for by suing Axanar Productions to stop making our movie and collect so-called damages, CBS and Paramount are suing the very people who have enthusiastically maintained the universe created by Gene Roddenberry so many years ago.

“The fact that many of the fans involved with Axanar Productions are also industry professionals speaks volumes to the influence of Star Trek in the entertainment industry. Not surprisingly, these fans want to give something back. We’re very proud that the work we’ve done to date looks so good. That is also a reflection of the devotion of Star Trek’s fans.

“Like everything related to Axanar Productions, we take this matter very seriously and remain open to discussing solutions with all parties that can be mutually beneficial.”

Paramount told the Hollywood Reporter: “Star Trek is a treasured franchise in which CBS and Paramount continue to produce new original content for its large universe of fans. The producers of Axanar are making a Star Trek picture they describe themselves as a fully professional independent Star Trek film. Their activity clearly violates our Star Trek copyrights, which, of course, we will continue to vigorously protect.”

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