CBS and Paramount Studios filed a lawsuit on Christmas day against the producers of Star Trek Axanar, a fan made feature film that utilized crowd-finding campaigns to raise over a million dollars for the production. This project touts professional actors and crew, many of whom have worked on the various Star Trek series in the past. The two giant entertainment companies aimed their phasers at the fan-film’s producers, claiming that Axanar, “infringes on Plaintiffs’ works by using innumerable copyrighted elements of Star Trek, including its settings, characters, species, and themes,”
Last year the team at Axanar Productions produced a 20 minute primer called Prelude to Axanar. This sets the tone for the film they would like to make. you can view the video in it’s entirety below:
They have also produced a short clip featuring the first scene from the proposed film. That video can be seen below:
A description of the film from Axanar’s website says:
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. … 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.
In one of the initial pitches to investors, producers said,
While some may call it a ‘fan film’ as we are not licensed by CBS, Axanar has professionals working in front and behind the camera, with a fully-professional crew — many of whom have worked on Star Trek itself — who ensure Axanar will be the quality of Star Trek that all fans want to see.”
CBS and Paramount see it differently.
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.
The two companies are represented by attorneys at Loeb & Loeb, and are now demanding an injunction as well as damages for direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. The whole complaint can be found by clicking the link HERE.
Here is the official statement by Axanar Executive Producer Alec Peters in response to the litigation. Below is Peters’ full statement:
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.
More on this story to come as it develops.
What are your thoughts? Please like, share and comment to encourage open and honest dialogue. Remember, this will be a very heated topic among fans, and they will feel very deeply about it. This writer is one of the biggest Trekkies around and he is VERY conflicted about this. Let’s keep the discourse civil and respectful please.