Even though it sounded like we may be getting close to ending the battle between the fan film Axanar and the studios that own Star Trek, the latest court action hints that it's just starting. Image: Star Trek, CBS
Last month at a Star Trek fan event, J.J. Abrams indicated that he believed that CBS and Paramount's lawsuit against the fan film Axanar would be settled. At the time, he said that Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin was "outraged by this as a longtime fan" and that they both realised "this was not an appropriate way to deal with the fans".
Except that the legal proceedings haven't stopped yet. The parties were back in court today, with CBS and Paramount (the plaintiffs) taking centre stage. The state of the case is this: Paramount and CBS sued Axanar Productions for copyright infringement in late 2015. The judge rejected the defendant's motion to dismiss the case, finding that the studios had sufficient cause and provided enough notice to the fan film to proceed. He also dismissed a separate brief, refusing to decide on whether Klingon as a language was copyrightable.
On 23 May 2016, Axanar Productions filed a counterclaim, asking the judge to declare that their film didn't infringe on Paramount and CBS' copyrights. In the counterclaim, Axanar Productions produced Abrams' comments and a statement from Paramount and CBS confirming settlement discussions and work on fan film guidelines.
As a result of that move, CBS and Paramount gave their response to Axanar's counterclaim to the US federal court yesterday. Instead of asking for an extension — perhaps as a sign that they thought the settlement negotiations would bear fruit — the studios have acted as though the suit will continue. They admit that the statement is about the talks, but say they speak for themselves and maintain that Axanar is not protected by fair use.
So, even though we may have thought this was all coming to a close, the battle of the studios and the fans is not nearly done.