Helpful CBS Lawyers Explain The Many, Many Ways A Star Trek Fan Film Is Ripping Them Off

Helpful CBS Lawyers Explain the Many, Many Ways a Star Trek Fan Film Is Ripping Them Off

You might have heard that CBS is suing to prevent the crowdfunded fan film Axanar from being completed. Now the channel is suing the filmmakers even harder. CBS's lawyer have submitted 28 pages of documents detailing every possible thing that they claim Axanar infringed on, alleging basically every type of copyright infringement known to man. After CBS originally filed its motion last December, the defendants -- the makers of Axanar -- asked for more specificity. Which of the many, many copyrighted parts of Star Trek material were they being accused of infringing on?

Since lawyers love nothing more than responding to those kinds of queries by throwing a giant pile of documents straight into your face, that's exactly what happened. Twenty-eight pages show original the Star Trek on one side and Axanar on the other, so that even a judge who has managed to never even heard of Star Trek could understand their claim.

The 28 pages of examples range from specific names to broad conceptual notions of Star Trek. I don't know many legal documents that have a side-by-side comparison of Vulcan ears, for example:

Helpful CBS Lawyers Explain the Many, Many Ways a Star Trek Fan Film Is Ripping Them Off

The costume bits don't sound too damning, until Axanar's perfect replicas are placed next to stills from the shows. "Uniform with Gold Shirt" sounds like a pretty basic concept, but the outfits worn in Axanar outfit still look a lot like the uniforms worn by Kirk. The most weirdly specific costume bit has to be "Triangular medals on uniform":

Helpful CBS Lawyers Explain the Many, Many Ways a Star Trek Fan Film Is Ripping Them Off

More than once, CBS lists stardates as a copyrighted element. And, of course, how can else anyone speak Klingon, since CBS owns the copyright on the language? (By the way, this lawsuit should be read in the original Klingon, for full effect.)

In case you were wondering what the legal mood and theme of Star Trek was, the amended document describes it as a "science fiction action adventure", defined thusly:

The mood and theme of Star Trek as a science fiction action adventure first appeared in The Original Series episode "The Cage" (Reg. No. PA 314-430), and has appeared in all subsequent episodes of The Original Series and other derivative Star Trek Copyrighted Works

Honestly, I'd take someone to court over the assertion that the mood and theme of Star Trek is anything that simple.

You can read the whole amended complaint here.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

Top image: Axanar

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    I'm sorry but the pointy ears were stolen from JRR Tolkien. So they lose on that count.

    Last edited 15/03/16 8:06 am

      Wait... Does that mean Vulcans are the descendants of elves who developed the technology (or magic) to escape Middle Earth and colonise other planets? Whoa!

      One does not simply live long and prosper.

    The tone of the article makes out like CBS are being dicks here, but how is this move at all surprising? Axanar is very clearly set in the Star Trek universe, money is changing hands to produce the film. Why they thought it would be okay to use someone else's IP without permission is beyond me. CBS is obliged to act to defend its rights.

    I love Star Trek, but this course of action was obvious from the start.

      While I would agree with you on merit, I admit I do not understand what parts of Star Trek (if anything at all) CBS owns. I have a inkling they actually do not own all Star Trek related IP. Only the parts that they created and bought.

        CBS owns the full production rights to Star Trek. It's a result of the merge between Viacom and CBS that took Paramount Television with it, about 10 years ago. At that time Paramount Television and Paramount Pictures split up, with the Star Trek rights held by the former. Paramount Pictures, the movie side of things, licensed Star Trek from CBS to make the reboot movies.

        Last edited 15/03/16 3:04 pm

    Is anyone actually getting rich from creating a fan film? Is there actually that much profit involved? If not, then wtf is the point?

      They raised $600,000 on KickStarter, so potentially, yes.

    They pulled their description of Dilithium from a 2005 forum post which answered "what the hell is Dilithium anyway"?

    Lawyers are just overpaid googlers.

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