Paramount Brings Down The Hammer On Million Dollar Star Trek Project

Star Trek: Axanar is a crowd-funded prequel. It's a big deal — raising over $1 million in crowdfunding. But despite a history of leniency on fan projects, Paramount and CBS have launched a bid to shut down production, claiming it infringes on their intellectual property.

Which, being a fan film, it obviously does.

But Star Trek: Axanar is no ordinary fan film. It's stated goal is to be a Star Trek fan film that is indistinguishable in quality from other official Star Trek works. It's backed by a fully professional crew, including some that have worked on Star Trek shows before, that might have raised the eyebrows and ire of the lawyers over at CBS and Paramount.

The full complaint, via The Hollywood Reporter, can be read here.

And according to the complaint, it seems like the scale and professional nature of this production could have pushed Paramount and CBS over the edge. It makes reference to the size of the project and the money involved multiple times.

"Star Trek is a treasured franchise in which CBS and Paramount continue to produce new original content for its large universe of fans," said Paramount and CBS, in a joint statement. "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."

Crowdfunded 'Star Trek' Movie Draws Lawsuit from Paramount, CBS [THR]


Comments

    I'm not usually on the Studio's side, but this seems fair enough really.

      My thoughts exactly. There's a clear difference between 'let's let the fans make their own projects because we have one of the most dedicated fan communities of all time' and 'let's let other professionals mooch off our IP'.

      That being said, it is a fan project, and it's going to be entirely self-funded. Surely they could have come to some sort of arrangement rather than trying to shut it down?

        I think it depends where the profits wind up going. If it's into people pockets there's no surprise it's being shut down. Maybe if all profits were going to charity or something they might let it slide.

        It'd be cool if the studio came to a some sort of profit sharing agreement. letting these guys effectively license the IP and produce their own work. But I can't imagine that happening, they'd probably want to keep a grip on the IP and I couldn't see them being "generous" when it comes to terms. They'd probably be asking for a (large) percentage of the gross before profits, if not (also) an upfront fee.

          If it were any other IP I'd totally agree with you - however, we're talking about Trekkies; one of the most dedicated, long lasting and (I'm guessing) profitable fan bases in history. As they pointed out in the article, there's a long history of Paramount being pretty lax with the IP, which has led to a lot of fan-built content. Obviously the professional nature of this one has crossed the line, but given that this movie isn't costing Paramount a dime to create, surely a small piece of the pie is better than no pie for anyone.

            True, but I'd guess the big concern is exactly what you've mentioned - the professional quality of the film. IIRC there is an obligation for an IP owner to defend their IP or they risk losing control of it. I'll admit I'm a bit hazy on this (it's been awhile since I read about it) but I believe not taking action against someone infringing their copyright weakens them in any future cases. So if they don't take action they could wind up with Star Trek movies coming from anyone.

      I agree, a low budget, fan film i see no harm in, but a big budget, professional crew really needs to have a license/approval of copyright holder. THAT is what copyright was meant to protect against.

      Would it be nice if the studio worked with them to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement, yes, but they are well within their rights to deny them.

    I wouldn't be surprised if JJ had something to do with this. He knows that fans generally don't like his versions (I don't mind them, but prefer Jonathan Frakes' style) and he doesn't want to compete with one that is made in a modern and professional manner in the style the fans do like.

      Bad Robot productions aren't involved in the law suit

      It's down to the fact that Axanar productions has built a whole studio/production house off the back of their kickstarter, which is effectively off the back of CBS/Paramount

    So it looks like the fan film will be up for paying a lot of money if Paramount win. I am guessing they will...$150,000 per infringement and there are about 30 infringements listed...

    I say screw em.. Perhaps Hollywood ingenuity should be taken to places like China, I'm sure they would embrace the market and no ones going to challenge the chinese on intellectual property...share everything, reinvent the world.
    It the same stupid argument of how individuals are prosecuted for downloading films /music.
    And yet none of these companies are prosecuting states such as China or Indonesia that have been breaching IP for years.

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