Lawsuit Over the Giant 'Star Trek' Fan Film Has Been Settled

Saturday, 21 January 2017 - 2:04PM
Star Trek
Saturday, 21 January 2017 - 2:04PM
Lawsuit Over the Giant 'Star Trek' Fan Film Has Been Settled
For the past year, the fate of the would-be feature length Star Trek fan film has been up in the air. The film (called Axanar) follows a Starfleet captain fighting in a Federation-Klingon war that was obscurely referenced in an episode of the original Star Trek series. More so than other fan films, Axanar drew attention for it's impressive twenty minute "prelude" and a large budget that creator and Star Trek fan Alec Peters crowdfunded himself.

But more so than Klingons, the film's biggest obstacle was the giant lawsuit CBS and Paramount threw at it in December 2015. But it's finally been settled with some wins and losses for both sides, and Axanar's fate won't have to be decided by jury. According to the Hollywood Reporter, a joint statement claimed the following:
Opening quote
"Paramount Pictures Corporation, CBS Studios Inc., Axanar Productions, Inc. and Alec Peters are pleased to announce that the litigation regarding Axanar's film Prelude to Axanar and its proposed film Axanar has been resolved. Axanar and Mr. Peters acknowledge that both films were not approved by Paramount or CBS, and that both works crossed boundaries acceptable to CBS and Paramount relating to copyright law."
Closing quote


U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner decided last month that a jury would decide the case, after Peters and his Axanar Productions unsuccessfully argued it was fair use to include Vulcan ears, minor characters from the lore, the Klingon language, etc. During the proceedings, CBS and Paramount released some strict guidelines for future fan films, including that they can't be over 15 minutes, can't use the name Star Trek, and of course cannot make a profit.

So what's next for Peters and Axanar Productions? Essentially, they can keep going but only if they follow those guidelines. The Axanar Productions website declared that their "Prelude to Axanar" short is allowed to stay up on YouTube (even though it runs a bit long), and that they'll be permitted to cut their feature length film into "two fifteen-minute segments that can be distributed on YouTube."

So a full fan movie isn't going to happen, but since past Star Trek fan projects have never been sued or targeted like this before, it doesn't seem like CBS and Paramount aren't concerned about fan works that stay small. For better or for worse, the story of Axanar seems set to boldly go on... in smaller doses.

Image: Axanar Productions
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