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Are CBS and Paramount Shooting Themselves in the Foot?


For the last two and a half months, I’ve been trying to think of an analogy that would explain to CBS and Paramount that fan films like Axanar aren’t the enemy. But it’s gotta be quick and pithy because Hollywood has a short attention span. Pitches are supposed to go something like, “Okay, it’s Oceans Eleven meets The Lord of the Rings!” (Hmmm…not a bad idea!)

This morning it hit me: fan films are like free commercials for the Star Trek franchise!

Think about it. In this media-saturated world, there’s a crazed competition for eyeballs to be watching and interacting with your product. CBS and Paramount would love for Star Trek to be the “hot” content on social media, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, etc…especially come July with the release of Star Trek Beyond and in January of next year when the new TV series launches. And I’m certain their advertising and marketing blitz will be quite impressive as the premiere dates approach.

But let’s face it; Paramount and CBS can’t afford to advertise like that 365 days a year, every year. No one can. And so, during those “gaps” between major Star Trek media launches, eyeballs start wandering over to other hot properties like Star Wars or Deadpool or Batman/Superman or X-Men or Captain America or…you get the idea.

In today’s cluttered and chaotic media environment, thoughts of Star Trek can all but disappear from the minds of fans for months or even years on end. The last major Star Trek media blitz was in 2013. And Paramount and CBS have to hope and pray that interest in their tent-pole property has only gone into hibernation rather than faded away completely.

If only there were a way to keep Star Trek alive and exciting during those “gap” months and years. If only the studio could find a way to keep fans loyally talking about Star Trek rather than just getting distracted and moving on to some other media franchise.

Enter: the Star Trek fan film! It’s not just a free commercial for Star Trek; it can be a social media explosion that can last a few weeks or even months until the next fan film release starts the cycle all over again. Look at Star Trek: Horizon. It has nearly a half million views on YouTube in just 17 days! Tommy Kraft is doing dozens of interviews and podcasts. Horizon reviews and articles are all over the Internet, and links to his fan film have spread across Facebook and Twitter. And what are all these fans getting so excited about? Star Trek, that’s what!

How much would it have cost for Paramount and CBS to generate this kind of grass-roots social media buzz for their star franchise? Actually, it doesn’t matter what it would have cost them because I’m going to tell you what it did cost them: absolutely NOTHING!

Now, Paramount and CBS are probably worried that a great-looking, professional-quality fan film like Axanar (or Horizon or Renegades or Star Trek Continues or New Voyages) will somehow “damage” their property by being mistaken for “real” Star Trek. Of course, if one follows that trail of logic, where exactly would the damage come from? Are they thinking that a fan would watch Axanar, suddenly have their fill of Star Trek, and decide not to watch Star Trek Beyond or subscribe to the new All Access Trek TV series?

That seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? After all, for fans to even find these fan films, they need to already be pretty well engaged in and loyal to the franchise. If anything, a fan who watches a high quality fan film is more likely to get really amped up about Star Trek in general, talk more with their friends about it, and share the excitement when the next big Star Trek release premieres. It’s hard to imagine a fan watching Axanar or Renegades or Continues and then thinking, “Okay, well that’s enough Star Trek for me! Time to find something else now!”

It doesn’t really matter if these fan films look as good as the real thing. In fact, it’s even better if they do! These are free commercials for Star Trek that get fans engaged and excited. And the better they are, the more fans will check them out and share them with others. Hundreds of thousands of engaged fans? Millions? How much is that worth? And remember: it’s costing the studios nothing! And if Paramount and CBS are really afraid of fan films being mistaken for the real thing, then just require them to carry a 5-second disclaimer at the beginning and the end of each fan film. Problem solved.

The last thing a studio should do right now is to sue the folks who are making free commercials for them…especially 6-figure and 7-figure commercials. And let’s take a look at how the other studios are handling this. Disney is embracing Star Wars fan films and reaping all the benefits while not suffering any kind of loss of interest or perceived value of their intellectual property. Warner Brothers is happy to have fan-made Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Nightwing videos on YouTube. If CBS and Paramount remove Star Trek fan films from the online social media equation, they’re just leaving more room for the competition to expand into that vacuum while Star Trek goes dark and silent.

Unless CBS and Paramount have a better and less expensive (like, less than zero dollars) way of generating excitement and fan engagement for Star Trek during the “gap” periods, they should really embrace this amazing trend of the future (fan films) rather than trying to stifle and kill it.

Jonathan Lane

Join the discussion 46 Comments

  • Bob Franklin says:

    Well said! They should be jumping on the bandwagon, instead of wasting money trying to saw the wheels off!

  • Duane Bruner says:

    I hadn’t previously thought of this way but I think you are right, Jonathan.

  • Mickey says:

    Speaking as a fan and an interested observer, I’ve read the complaints, and the counter complaints. I’ve even tried to see the other sides point of view.

    I’ve seen a number of fan films of varying quality and one thing I can tell you is that you don’t embark on a project like this without love for the source material. You can see that in both of the Axanar films. Much of what’s been said that got the producers of this thing in trouble (professional quality, and all that) I’d chalk up to the rivalry between fan film productions. Or enthusiasm for what they are doing.

    It’s not like they are coming in to kick dirt on the Enterprise.

    Depending on your definition, all of these fan films profit. Sometimes the profit is in friendship, notoriety, improving your, storytelling or technical processes.

    I’d wager that as surprised as you are that they raised a million bucks, that the producers are just as surprised, and are doing everything to make this the best fan film it can be. If they had raised less I am sure the studio space and equipment would have been scaled back accordingly. (and thanks to this may still have to be. )

    Claiming that elements like Earth, or costuming, or pointy ears, are their exclusive right is plainly ridiculous, in fact I’d like to see you hold a convention without them. But then CBS doesn’t actually produce TV, they farm it out… So I may as well tell it to the Elves…. Oh wait…

    So yeah Believe me we are paying attention CBS. And right now I view you guys as the big kids, who are trying to kick the little kids off your playground.
    But I hear the Star Wars Playground is really nice this time of year.

  • Dave Paxton says:

    Only the foot? My thought is that they are cutting off the fake nose despite their face. Fan backlash on this will run for a very long time. I am not sure why smarter heads did not intervene at these studios over the vampire lawyers. I get a mental image of a hive of Ferengi. Sorry, copyright name. These people should not only drop this but help out at this point. We have a summer release that will be out to disc by Christmas. Why not get this movie finished, help out with a professional post production and do a full spectrum Christmas release on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon? The only disclaimer should read ” Paramount and CBS greatly appreciate all of the multi generational Star Trek fans with all of their work and support”

  • ACEscher says:

    To be perfectly honest I do not plan on seeing either Star Trek Beyond or event he new series. For the movie it just looks like another action fest, and as much as I like Simon Pegg I do not think the movie or even this iteration of the franchise water’s down what Star Trek is and should be. As to the new web series, calling it a new TV series is being generous, having to pay just to watch one show no thanks I will watch something else. And that is what I think both CBS and Paramount fear. That fans of Star Trek will stop watching their version of Star Trek if other fans create something that rivals and even surpasses what they put out.

    I hope for the best with the lawsuit and can’t wait to see the final product once it is comes out.

  • Chip says:

    While I certainly agree with your point, there is another point to be made; Axanar is crowd sourced. So some of the core fans of the CBS and Paramount productions are the ones that have contributed out of their pockets to make Axanar a reality. Why would CBS and Paramount anger the fans, who contributed to Axanar, by making a money grab? Aren’t CBS and Paramount destroying their own brand? CBS and Paramount make your money by generating content for everyone, instead of hiding behind lawyers.

  • Raggedy says:

    Greed blinds Logical thought, it’s beyond them in darkness to see time or others efforts as riches to them but as thievery, others have copied them but there friendship voids greed in there darkness beyond Logic and thievery, they are blind to your logic though completely sound and reasonable it’s the opposite of how there reason works, they’ve been raped in there minds…

  • Ed Cox says:

    So well said and thought out. Indeed the studios might drop some of their advertising into a trailer on Axanar…

  • MsMariel says:

    Thank you!
    This is the fundamental argument: Star Trek is not diminished through “use.” It is only nurtured, strengthened, enlarged.
    CBS/Paramount’s view of reality here is crippled, cramped, and small. They can’t see their own enormous benefit in loosening “control,” which they have never truly had since millions of Star Trek afficionados have steeped their lives in the Star Trek mythos.
    Yet they persist in trying to keep and control it all.
    Yes, yes–copyright law, etc.,etc. But what have they lost? That is the argument: there is no loss; it’s all gain.
    Star Trek Beyond’s trailer looked like a cartoon to me.
    Perhaps they are aware that many other fans felt this too and are feeling less than optimistic.

  • …i agree with you Jonathan, in theory

    however, it won’t work because Paramount’s product (nu-trek) SUCKS. =(

    when u see Axanar, your heart soars; when u see nu-trek, you feel angry and ripped-off =(

    in a perfect world, yes… but Paramount’s strategy is: fool people into buying flashy crap =(

    with CBS’s new show, it remains to be seen… but Kurtzman will probly screw it up (again) =(

  • Scott Sweeten says:

    Its sad that CBS/Paramount are doing this, and ironically their current actions against Axanar I find completely opposite of the Star Trek ideals. Star Trek, at least to me, has always been about imagining a time in our future where we work together to move past things like greed, oppression, money, corporate/governmental corruption, ect. And what they are doing to prevent/supress this work of art being made for the sake of just that, art, for anyone to enjoy, is going against these exact ideals they present with their franchise.

  • Lance Ripplinger says:

    We as fans will probably never still know who got the bright idea at CBS or Paramount to sue a fan film production of a beloved franchise. We Star Trek fans are starved for what makes Trek great: an engaging story about amazing characters on an amazing journey to the betterment of mankind. Star Trek wouldn’t be alive without the fans, and the enthusiasm for Star Trek. I just am baffled as to why CBS and Paramount don’t embrace the fans. Instead they waste money suing them, seemingly hoping to shut them up with lawyers. At this point, what has CBS and Paramount, who claim copyright holdings for “Star Trek” even shown to be considered copyright infringement? It feels like they are just trying to kill Star Trek. Why don’t they embrace the fans like many other franchises have, such as Star Wars? Disney seems to celebrate the fans of Star Wars and encourages them, and even clearly states what is allowed and not allowed. Come on CBS and Paramount, this is a changing world. Get with the times. As I think Spock would say: “To sue the fans is illogical.” You are spot on in your column here Johnathan!

  • JR says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. And not only is it free advertising, it is also a free pool of amazing talent that the industry could pick up. Talent with a dedication beyond monetary gain!

  • KosstAmojan says:

    I have a question. Star Trek rights are owned by CBS and Paramount… but… what, in detail, is owned by CBS, and what is owned by Paramount? James T. Kirk character is CBS’ or Paramount’s? Klingon language is CBS’ or Paramount’s? “Star Trek” name is CBS’ or Paramounts?

    • KosstAmojan says:

      I ask for that, because is no one know whos particular IP is, talking about infringment is rudiculous (Loeb & Loeb, I’m talking to you).

    • Jonathan Lane says:

      According to the amended complaint, CBS owns all things associated with Star Trek episodes that were made specifically for television, and Paramount owns all films that were produced specifically for an initial theatrical release. Is there overlap? Of course. Jim Kirk in a gold command tunic from TOS is obviously CBS while James T. Kirk in a monster maroon is obviously Paramount. Of course, you could say, “What about Sulu on the bridge of the USS Excelsior?” Obviously, that was from Star Trek VI, but that same character ad setting was also seen on Voyager. Fortunately for the judge and legal teams, Captain Sulu isn’t cited in the lawsuit!

      As for the Klingon language, that’s what’s getting a lot of attention from the media as a ridiculous claim. Why? Well, the question is: can a private entity copyright an entire language or just specific phrases from it? For example, Stephen King writes some excellent novels. He writes them in English. Can Stephen King copyright the entire English language or simply the sentences he created using English words? It could be argued (and I am no lawyer, so take this with a giant grain of NaCl) Paramount owns any Klingon words or phrases spoken in the movies (specifically ST:TMP, STIII, STV, STVI, STG, and STID) and CBS owns any Klingon sentences spoken verbatim on TNG, DS9, VOY, and ENT. But do Prelude to Axanar’s Klingon phrases count? Were they ever heard specifically in that way on TV or in a movie? If not, then it’s hard to prove that they were officially even Klingon. I could say, “Goony-goo-goo!” while dressed as a Klingon. Does that mean I’m speaking Klingon? Prove it.

      That said, there’s a lot of specificity in that lawsuit, and I won’t pretend to know or predict how the Axanar legal team will respond. That wasn’t the point of this blog op-ed. It was more of a message to CBS and Paramount that, even if they do manage to win this lawsuit, they risk losing so much more in terms of goodwill from the fans and free advertising and engagement with their media property. The prudent business move would not be to publicly sue fans of your franchise (and endure the bad press that comes from it) but rather to quietly set some ground rules directly with the fan filmmakers so you can most effectively exploit this amazing trend of the future (fan films) that in the end helps your property WAY MORE than it could ever harm it. I just don’t think the folks at CBS and Paramount get that.

      Perhaps as word spreads and folks keep laughing at the claim that CBS and Paramount own the Klingon language (wait till it hits Jimmy Kimmel!), those at the studios who are pushing to go to court will instead finally sit down with Alec and his team and figure out a way that both sides can win and win big rather than both sides losing even if one side does win.

  • Rob MacLennan says:

    How do you advertise for less than zero dollars? Easy. Settle the suit against “Axanar” in the following way.

    Allow production on “Axanar” to continue. Permit fulfillment of the existing promises to the backers, who funded the movie through Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Once that is complete bring the movie in-house, making it a CBS/Paramount property to satisfy copyright. Release it to the world via an on-demand site like Vimeo on Demand for a nominal charge, like $5.00 per rental. Twenty percent of generated profits would go to Axanar Productions, which was not slated to make profit at any rate, with the remaining 80% going to the IP holders. A similar deal could be worked out for DVD/Blu-Ray distribution.

    Copyright is satisfied. The backers are satisfied. The production gets to see the light of day.

    • Mike Snyder says:

      Hey Rob,
      umm, NO! and i’ll tell you why it’s no. I am a donor and i really want the movie that i’m paying to get made finished.

      Now, the fascists at CBS/P can got F**k themselves. This movie is FREE good natured publicity for them. NO, THEY SEE IT AS AN INFRINGEMENT OF SOMETHING THAT they HAVEN’T worked on as a TV series in a decade and they expect the movie fans to watch anything that the crazy lawyers put out. I call BULL S**T on that because the majority of Star Trek fans are very intelligent humans. Probably more intelligent and thoughtful than the idiots at CBS/P calling for this stupidity and yes that is exactly what this is.

      Yes, the Corp should settle and allow our Producers to finish the work that WE the DONORS have commissioned!!!!
      But emphatically HELL NO does CBS/P get your lion’s share of 80% for distribution of OUR production.
      Oh and by-the-way, donors have already paid for a copy of the production. If there is a need to make more dvd’s of OUR combined Production then we can raise more money to pay for the extra number of dvd’s to be produced.
      This very high quality production is worth millions and millions of advertising for CBS/P and it’s all for FREE!!!!

      CBS/P are well on their way to getting millions and millions of dollars worth of very negative publicity also for FREE.

      SO they don’t get controlling share of anything. Even if there were 100,000 dvd’s need for customers outside of the Axanar donors… the “Distribution costs” that you are talking about should amount to less than $125,000.00 and that’s because it costs LOTS less than a damn dollar to make a dvd! Again, you are greedy and want to feed the GREED COW named CBS/P
      The copyright was never harmed until the greedy suits brought up this stupid lawsuit!
      The “Backers”, ummm the backers of this production are the god damn donors, MOST certainly NOT the thiefs at CBS/P. I and my fellow donors are the backers and we’re already gonna be satisfied when we get to see what WE paid for!

      You most certainly DO not sound like you are on the side of the people who have ALREADY PAID FOR THIS PRODUCT at all. YOU sound like your either a troll or staff of the asinine corp that has screwed it up by the numbers in an unimaginably horrendous way 🙂

      • Rob MacLennan says:

        Well, Mike, I’m also a backer of both the Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns. If you care to go through the backer list on Indiegogo, you’ll see my name and support amount clearly listed. I guess that kills *that* argument for you.

        As a not-for-profit fan production, Axanar couldn’t market DVDs for profit after production, without running afoul of prior claims to the contrary. I tossed that in because if Axanar came under the CBS/Paramount umbrella, it could then legitimately make a profit from after production sales. Otherwise it would be produced, fulfill the backer perks, then likely be posted openly on Youtube, Vimeo or the like, as was “Prelude.”

        As a backer of Axanar, I want it to see the light of day. Negotiation tends to be preferable to war. That’s the Federation way. In war, everyone loses. Getting your back up and taking shots at fellow fans and backers does nothing to get Axanar produced. Slinging insults does nothing to foster an amicable resolution. Reason might. My suggestion is better than Axanar falling to a lawyer’s axe.

        • Mike Snyder says:

          since when are we, the donors and the production staff, doing Axanar to make a profit???? That is part of the idea behind why i donated in the first place, because Alec and his team aren’t making a profit. THEY wanted to make something just for us. it’s an “At cost” kinda thing.

          WHY can’t we, Alec and the donors, make and sell the extra dvd’s “At Cost”? If anyone likes the project outside of the donors who get a copy. Why does what your talking about having done need to “have a profit side” ?

          Oh, wait, i know i’m NOT talking about making a profit off of this. Oh and YES selling something “at cost” is Soooo UN-american huh?

          But it’s not un-Star Trek at all. Remember Star Trek and UFP doesn’t have GREED, an essential corporate item in the here and now world 🙂

          And to be honest, CBS DIDN’T CREATE anything star trek originally, THEY acquired it from Desilu studios. They are only the custodians and they are terrible custodians as a matter of fact. The FANS, the old time fans are the true custodians of Star Trek. The Studios, which they ONLY distribute what others create in the Star Trek universe, every so often.

          CBS isn’t much different. Enterprise, case in point, was supposed to be about the formational years of the UFP. It was when they had a show about earthers , or “pink skins” visiting Andoria and the Andorians problems with the Tellerites. But then the series “From upstairs from the nutjobs in suits” changed the premise and the series spiraled down the time bull crap worm hole and we got the laughable aliens from the future helping Hitler in ww2. THAT right there is SO damn stupid because the nazi’s were so damn fundamentalist there was NO damn way any nazi would work with an alien species, EVER. But that’s the CRAP the studio heads at CBS forced down star trek fans throats in the last years of Enterprise.

          Enterprise should have started where it did and shown all the signing races who became the federation. then it could have ended with the first Romulan war being decided in the Federations favor. That would have been a worth-while show arc for the series Enterprise.
          Oh wait CBS doesn’t do story arc’s for star trek. 🙂

          What i didn’t like about your comment is that Axanar and the donors do all the work and they only get 20% whilst the greedy CORP just cheaply makes the dvd’s and sells them AT A PROFIT, cause they are a corp and have some copyright crap…. Yes, next thing CBS will want to copyright air!!! and anyways, NO WAY would they be eligible to get the large share you’r talking about just for having some company copy a million, ok that’s probably an exaggeration, dvd’s and then sell them for a large profit. CBS didn’t take the time to make anything! SO they can have maybe 35%. they are only distributing the dvd’s and dvd’s are very cheap to make 🙂

          NO wonder fan’s haven’t been clamoring for a new Star Trek TV show. THEY don’t want to see more stupid corp crap.

          • …well yes, this *IS* all about profit, but not on the Axanar side

            distribution is a little too hypothetical for me, but this *IS* ultimately driven by greed for gain / fear of loss =(

            corporations (organized greed) (like paramount / cbs) *ARE* ultimately evil =(

            BTW: our corporations *WERE* infiltrated by nazis, just the same as our security netwerk… also, the nazis *DID&DO* have ET allies/helpers…

            Star Trek, really was made to prepare you for the truth… 😉

        • Mike Snyder says:

          Sorry i missed the last paragraph that you wrote.

          Well, it’s clear that CBS thinks they would actually win. I don’t see them wining anything even if they win the lawsuit. all i see them doing is getting a whole bunch of very negative publicity from their stupid lawsuit.

          I also greatly want to see Axanar made, that’s why i an a donor for it. I’m also very very much against GREEDY corporations and persons, period.

          again, i’m only commenting because of the lines where you talked about who should get what share amount. the Corp certainly didn’t do anything for the creation of the project. Therefor they should if anything get minimal. Plus you seem to forget that the Axanar project is NOT FOR PROFIT in the first place 🙂

          It’s a bunch of citizens of the planet DIRT, yes that’s what the word Earth means. lol they are coming together to create a film production in the original Star Trek timeline during the Four years war time frame. It’s not a for profit endeavor 😀

          • Rob MacLennan says:

            No, I didn’t forget that Axanar is not being made for profit. My post is a suggestion about how a settlement could be made palatable to all involved. Got a better suggestion? Then I recommend that you make it and be positive about the issue rather than just taking shots at what someone else, in good conscience, has suggested. The issue at hand is about intellectual property law. Calling CBS/Paramount bad custodians of the IP is rather immaterial to that and in no way moves the conversation forward.

            Sit back, take a breath, and consider the entirety of the situation.

            • Mike Snyder says:

              absolutely NOT. CBS/P getting anything for them doing NOTHING is unpalatable to me in any way. THEY are a greedy fascist corp that usually does nothing and thinks they deserve everything for free. 🙂

              YOU clearly stated that they should get 80% of anything. wtf for? just cause they are some stupid damn greedy corporation? Absolutely NOT.

              Sorry Rob, but i’m absolutely sick and tired of greedy corps cheating the people who actually work for a living. I’m not talking about myself either. i’m retired with a nice staple forever. BUT then i’m NOT a greedy person.

              THAT is the only thing that i have a problem with what you wrote.

              YES they should come to an acceptable settlement, but it’s got to be agreeable to MY standards, obviously not yours cause apparently you’d side with CBS/P just cause they have some vague thing called “Copyrights”. They seem to think that that word gives them carte blanche to anything and everything not already done in stone and it DOESN’T.

              • Jonathan Lane says:

                Mike, it’s obvious that you feel very passionately about this. I think we all do. Believe it or not, so do CBS and Paramount. The difference is that they have filed a potentially multi-million dollar cause of action, and they’re willing to go to the mat in a big way.

                However, if there is a way to settle this beforehand, everybody could win and no one would lose. But remember that, assuming CBS/P come to the negotiating table with Alec, the primary goal is for the Axanar movie to get made, NOT for Alec and the team to make ANY revenue from it. Oh, sure, if there were a deal where CBS/P offered something, I’m sure Alec wouldn’t say no (maybe he would!). But the original plan was to release this for NO profit whatsoever. It is simply a labor of love. So whether it’s 20% or 50% or 80% you want, the fact is that Alec was expecting ZERO. And if CBS/P agrees to let him finish and release this passion project, then that’s all the payment any of the team needs.

                Let the corporations have their greed. Ironically, I think that’s one of the reasons they filed this lawsuit in the first place–they don’t understand that Axanar Productions literally wants NOTHING from this–no money, no profit, nada. CBS/P can’t understand how so many industry professionals would put in this much time, effort, and raise this much money with no anticipation of anything on the back end.

              • Mike Snyder says:

                Jonathan, I wasn’t the one saying that CBS/P should get a percentage. That was the guy that i first replied to. He brought up the 80% percentage that CBS/P should get if the project that you and I and others have paid to have made and we know that it’s supposed to be made without Profit.

                Yes, i totally agree that the people in CBS/P bringing this suit do NOT understand what a labor of love is without a profit margin. THEY are idiots.
                The Entire reason why i replied was that another donor thought it was OK to dell the finished product to non donors for a PROFIT and then give 80% of that profit to the GREEDY BASTARDS at CBS/P…. I guess so that the greedy money cow GOD that they worship would get it’s profit margin.

                IF non donors want a copy of the project when ti gets finished. I say SURE you can buy it for cost! NO PROFIT.

                Isn’t it said that in the star trek universe that in the UFP that greed, corruption, poverty and sickness have been ended.
                I think it would be the greatest honoring of Gene Roddenberry’s IDEAS of Star Trek is we did this as we intend to as a Not for profit venture.

              • Rob MacLennan says:

                Mike, I think you”ll find that, historically, the “my way or the highway” style of ‘negotiated settlement’ only occurs in situations where one party has an overwhelming advantage over the other. The reality is that negotiated terms require exactly that; negotiation. And as I said if you’ve got a better idea, that the owner of the IP might find palatable, I’m all ears (or rather eyes, as the case may be). I came up with something that I thought would be, which would could see Axanar being made. It sounds like something ‘agreeable to your standards’ would not meet that criteria.

                And you seem to keep implying that I’m on the side of CBS/Paramount. I’m on two different sides here at the same time, neither of which are CBS/Paramount. They are called “reason” and “me being able to watch a completed Axanar.”

                Having dealt with the IP thing on a massively smaller scale, I’ve got at least a vague idea about it. You might want to read up on it a little. While you’re doing that I’m going to take that car you’ve been leaving in your driveway, dirty and unused. I’ll clean it up a bit, put some gas in it, and use it for a while. Let me know when you notice it’s gone.

  • Finnigan says:

    The Axanar production is awesome, it is quality stuff. There is obviously a huge fan affection for it and the support is great. But, at the end of the day, Paramount owns the Star Trek intellectual property. They paid for it from the very beginning and the laws will support their claims. I see lots of responses by fan saying that Paramount lets other productions use Trek without their being sued, well, that does not grant Axanar a license. I believe that the quality and scope of Axanar is what got the Paramount lawyers attention. That and the fact that crowdsourced money is being used to build a studio that could be used to produce many productions beyond Axanar for profit, the fact that merchandise related to Trek is being created such as model kits and such, and you can see that Axanar is beyond the average fan production. You can claim like Justin Lin that Trek belongs to the people, but that emotional attitude will fail in a court of law. The whole “Stand with Axanar” movement seems like it is ready for a fight when fighting is probably not the best tactic here. Cooperation is the only way Axanar is going to survive. Putting the desire and emotion aside, do any of you really believe that Paramount doesn’t have the right to protect intellectual property that it has a documented history of creating, financing, and utilizing for decades? The Axanar lawyers challenged Paramount to be specific on their copyright claims for Trek and the Paramount lawyers did just that with their amended suit. Reading it makes it very clear that Paramount is very much aware of what components of Star Trek are being used by Axanar. It would be unfortunate if Axanar is never made, but it is even more unfortunate when those fans who make the case that the law is on Paramount’s side are ostracized, vilified, censored and banned on Axanar FB pages, and generally abused online. That’s not the behavior that Roddenberry, Coon, and Fontana advocated for our society in Star Trek. Opposing views and opinions are part of the diversity that Trek is all about. Many of you realize this but you let your emotions and disappoint get the best of you and you lash-out at others who have differing views. That is unfortunate and does not help the Axanar cause.

    • Jonathan Lane says:

      Finnigan, while you make some excellent points, I’d ask you to please read my op-ed again. I’m not arguing that Axanar should or will win this lawsuit (although I wouldn’t mind if that were the outcome). I’m simply pointing out that this is a LOSE-LOSE scenario for CBS and Paramount if they move ahead…and a WIN-WIN if they settle.

      Let’s say CBS and Paramount continue with the lawsuit. There’s two possible primary outcomes: they win the case or they lose it. Now, obviously losing the case is a LOSE for them, but let’s assume they win, shall we? Then they still LOSE because 1) the media will be covering this “David and Goliath” story at the exact time when there’s a huge marketing push for the 50th anniversary, the release of “Beyond,” and also the debut of the new series (worst…lawsuit…timing…ever!) and the media is seldom sympathetic to Goliath. And 2) they lose the potential of Axanar having millions of views and getting fans excited about Star Trek, talking about Star Trek, and actively engaged with Star Trek. As I said, it’s unlikely that Axanar by itself will make a Trekkie decide NOT to go see the new film or watch the new show. So a few thousand folks have Axanar patches and a few hundred have miniature starship models that don’t even look like the Enterprise. PBS offers free handbags and civil war chess sets in exchange for donations…and no one complains about that.

      Now, let’s assume that CBS and Paramount come to their senses, call Alec and/or his legal team, and sit down and settle this. It’s a WIN for CBS and Paramount because of four reasons. 1) They no longer risk being the laughing stock of late night comedians by claiming that they own the concept of pointy ears. 2) They don’t risk losing the case and then having no control whatsoever over fan films and their content. 3) They would establish a precedent where a fan film could get approval beforehand to produce and distribute under tightly defined requirements (something that CBS and Paramount should have done a decade ago!). 4) The Star Trek property would continue to enjoy heavy fan engagement and potentially viral popularity on social media without the studios having to spend a penny.

      So no, I’m not arguing that Axanar will win this case. I’m arguing that even if CBS and Paramount win this case, they will still lose in ways much more significant both in terms of financial resources (turning their back on invaluable free advertising) and also bad publicity. It’s already beginning to happen as the media gets a whiff of this story, and the best move for the studio at this point is to make this whole lawsuit go away before they have to do damage control DURING their push for the new film starting in another month of two. The clock is ticking…

      • …in a perfect world, maybe? =P

        however, the problem is: that paramount is going to have to heavily market their latest steaming pile of nu-trek… *any* “distraction” from polishing that turd is not going to help… =(

        unfortunately, Paramount *has to* try to kill the competition that is Axanar =(
        (with hundred$ of million$ at stake, they couldn’t care less about “the fans”, or what they like)

        you can’t get people all excited over awesome Axanar, and then give them a Debbie-Downer “wha-whaaa…” with shitty nu-trek… sorry =(

  • Dave Allen says:

    Very good points..
    I am also reminded of these analogy’s..

    Never look a gift horse in the mouth..
    Don’t bite the hand that feeds you..

    It also saddens me to see such “Hero Worship” that Fan productions do to the Star Trek franchise (and hense to CBS & Paramount) being stampped into the ground instead of being appreciated for the enormouse compliment that it is.

  • Dave Paxton says:

    People can sit around for years debating copyright issues on this. This is probably what they want. It is a Ferengi trap. Do not fall for these mind games. If fans can raise this type of money for an independent project then they can do much more. ORGANIZE. Get a list of all of the convention attendees worldwide for the past few years. Get a list of all of the vendors and game developers. General boycott. See the upcoming movie when it hits the dollar movies. Trash these guys on social media. Shaming works. If these two companies are not willing to help out with projects like this then they should not own the franchise.

  • D.Malone says:

    As with every major entity, they want to prove to themselves (and usually show off to everyone else) that they are “in control!!”.
    paramount/cbs know the score, they are most definitely NOT in control, that scares them, when all the people who ACTUALLY create entertainment (let’s face it, a studio does little to nothing but host the production and make money from it) go off on their own and prove they can do better than a “professional” production, it really shows how useless the studios actually are (get rid of the studios and not only will we still have decent entertainment…but projects like Axanar prove we can have BETTER entertainment).
    This, intellectually, can only be the reason for what is happening now.

  • Jodie says:

    This is like the nineties, when Paramount marched around demanding fan websites be shuttered. They threatened to sue any fan for having Trek stuff on their homemade site, and were pretty awful….until they realised how much free advertising and goodwill they were getting from it. Hopefully cooler heads prevail here too. I’d rather see people who love Trek make movies than churn out dross like the last few big Trek films have been. Perhaps Paramount should actually HIRE you to make a movie, instead of being a thug and trying to shut you down?

  • This sounds too much like a sales pitch to get CBS and Paramount to understand how Axanar is helping them for their next new revival of Star Trek. Well, maybe, that is your intent and if it is, I hope it works… BUT history shows that Paramount does not care about what the fans can and will do for them. Back in the 90’s they closed down far less professional Star Trek fan run conventions and memorabilia that were becoming successful in their own right. They may not have been mega buck deals, but they were making a name for themselves in the Trekkie, Trekker and any other term you want to use for the fans.

    They killed all avenues that writers had at that time to promote their fan fiction magazines of Star Trek. Many of them were not good, did not follow the characters, were in no way competition to Star Trek, but they were a love of Star Trek and kept people interested as your argument above. Though some were diamonds hidden in the hay stacks. As I am writing this I am listening to the video. I wonder how much of this video has turned out be a prediction of the Fans fight through Axanar should you choose to win this fight.

    I hope I am wrong, though I do not see selling this idea to CBS and Paramount as a good strategy. They have proven their contempt of the fans in the nineties and during the conventions since then. Contempt may be too strong a word, but I left it in, because there was no excuse for the disrespect I witnessed at the conventions since then. Paramount and CBS are killing a support base in which they need to survive, as far as Star Trek is concerned. I don’t know how one can make or persuade someone in power to realize what a perceived weaker group did for them.

    As a Star Trek fan back then I am proud that I supported the groups, both professional and amateur, before the first movie. Star Trek, Gene, and the fans stood for something. CBS and Paramount do not stand for what Star Trek means to the fans. It is a very sad conclusion to a wonderful franchise.

    Now, go and show them what Star Trek is to the fans and how our support can benefit them.

    • Jonathan Lane says:

      Remember that what happened back in 1998 wasn’t a move by Paramount but rather by Paramount Digital Entertainment, which was really just Microsoft’s lawyers having moved into 5555 Melrose Avenue. Back in the dot-com bubble years, tech companies were “merging” left and right with media companies–AOL Time Warner, NBC Comcast, etc. Paramount teamed up with Microsoft to launch Paramount Digital Entertainment (PDE) which was going to populate the new Microsoft Network (MSN) with “exclusive” content that would not be available anywhere else and would therefore be available for subscription only to MSN users. Among these exclusive websites was to be startrek.msn.com. Of course, the flaw in the business plan of charging to access “exclusive” Star Trek content was that Star Trek content was already spread liberally across this new thing called the Internet (yes, I know it wasn’t really “new,” but for most of the world back in 1998, yes it was). And all that other Trek content was FREE. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

      So the PDE lawyers, sitting there on the first floor of the Marathon Building on the Paramount lot, started sending out Cease and Desist letters–dozens, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands (not sure about that last one, but there were definitely thousands). Everyone doing anything with Star Trek without a license got one of these letters. Even the STARFLEET fan club, which had been in existence since 1974, was told it could not use the caligraphic typeface from the first six Trek films in its logo. It got ridiculous pretty quickly.

      It was also a PR disaster, and believe it or not, the higher ups at Paramount (actually Viacom at the time) did not know these PDE lawyers were doing this! Yes, I know that sounds difficult to believe, but no one at Paramount was really sure what to do with the guys from PDE, so they just kinda walked past them in the halls on the way to the elevator to the third and forth floors. And the PDE folks actually reported up to the Microsoft higher-ups (in Seattle) not the Paramount ones (only about 400 yards away to the west toward the parking lot by the big blue wall). I know–crazy!

      But when the Paramount higher-ups found out what the PDE lawyers were doing and suddenly had to rush to do PR damage control, the tidal wave of C&D letters was quickly stopped and few, if any, were followed up on. In some cases, the damage was done, as terrified fans just pulled down their websites or ceased publications of their fanzines. Others survived the “purge” and lived to tell about it (STARFLEET’s logo still has the caligraphic font, thank you very much!). In the meantime, the Microsoft Network experiment with subscribing to paid Internet content was a dismal failure. With the exception of porn, no one in 1998 was paying to see anything on the Web (and now even porn is mostly free!). MSN.com soon became a free website, and PDE collapsed into a simple game development division within a couple of years (sans Microsoft). Time Warner probably wishes it could have dumped AOL as quickly was Paramount divorced itself from Microsoft!

      So as you can see, the carnage of 1998 was very different than today’s move by Paramount and CBS against Axanar. And the timing is much more critically bad now. In 1998, Star Trek was nowhere near an anniversary, and DS9 and Voyager were both doing very well. Bad press wasn’t an issue (and yet, even then, it became a huge issue once Paramount got a whiff of the crap that Microsoft’s legal team was pulling). This year, on the other hand, is perhaps the WORST possible time for Paramount and CBS to get bad press for Star Trek…not just in regards to fans but in media coverage going out to the general public via news sources like CNBC and BBC Radio. This is literally becoming an international embarrassment for CBS and Paramount. I can’t believe they don’t care about that.

      • JR says:

        You might find, it is almost a repetition of what happened back then. Some over eager attorneys trying to make a name for themselves at the cost off whatever they’re trying to do. If you have two huge media companies I guarantee you the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. And no one, no one wants to take responsibility. I see this on a smaller scale already every day. And perhaps it’s even as bad as no one even knowing who started it all, but now they are potentially too committed it to simply cease. One way or the other, it is a huge waste of time.

  • Mike Cope says:

    I’ve been saying the same thing since this foolishness started. Let’s hope this refrain becomes a chorus the studio can’t ignore.

  • Seutoneus Spondilis says:

    Well, the issue isn’t really advertising – especially when there are other fan productions to keep interest going, plus books and fans who introduce others to Star Trek.

    I’m just going to be honest, here (and I expect this post to be deleted not long after I submit it), but you guys at Axanar simply went too far.

    Between the coffee, the Ares model, the for-future-profit studio being built on money collected on the back of an intellectual property owned by others and then the salaries (people were being paid, thus making money, thus profiting), you just went too far – which is what none of the other fan productions have done.

    I would have liked to have watched Axanar after seeing “Prelude,” but in the end, there was far too much hubris on your part to allow it to live. Which is a shame, because it could have been great.

    That’s why you’ve been sued while the other’s haven’t.

    • Jonathan Lane says:

      I’ll approve the message because you make reasonable points that others have made, as well. Was there hubris? Yeah, up until December, it sounded like Axanar was going to be the biggest thing since dilithium was added to warp cores! (I still believe that!) And it got CBS’s and Paramount’s attention. Of course, Alec had already talked to CBS many months prior to the lawsuit, and the studio lease had been signed much earlier in the year, so there was nothing being done in December that CBS hadn’t know about since January. So I suspect it was actually more Paramount who suddenly became aware of what was going on and had a cow.

      But honestly, I think that what’s happening with Axanar right now was inevitable…even without Axanar being the first to be served with a lawsuit. Sure, Alec was making the most noise, but how long would it have been until CBS/P noticed Renegades…which is also endeavoring to build permanent sets and uses actual Trek cast members to reprise their iconic roles (like Gary Graham is)? How long until Star Trek Continues got onto the studios’ radar…having just completed a totally awesome Engineering set and working on their seventh full-length episode? You can argue that, “Those fan series have been around for years, and they haven’t been sued yet. So the studios are probably okay with them.” Well, Axanar was around for two years, too, and Prelude debuted during San Diego Comic Con of 2014. Eighteen months before a lawsuit was filed, Axanar raised over a half million dollars in a summer Kickstarter. So just because a fan series hasn’t been visited by person holding a summons yet, that doesn’t mean they never will be.

      Personally, I suspect that this move against Axanar is just “sparring practice” as the studios take aim at the low-hanging fruit first. Axanar was the loudest and the most financially successful…and therefore the easiest fan film to sharper the blade on. But I doubt that, if the studios are successful with this lawsuit, that they will never ever go after another fan film or fan series again. In fact, I suspect there will be someone they task to look around the Internet for the next offender who didn’t get the message after the Axanar verdict (assuming it goes against the defendant).

      For example, Star Trek Continues is currently trying to raise $350,000…and they have a permanent studio, too. And if CBS and Paramount have a problem with Axanar using one character from a single TOS episode and another who appeared in eight Enterprise episodes over four seasons, what do you think the lawyers will say when the guy they hire to look for the next fan series to target shows them the side-by-side of “Turnabout Intruder” and “Mirror, Mirror” and then points to the five or six full hour-long episodes? Personally, I LOVE Continues and will be donating to their latest campaign. I don’t want to see them sued. I don’t want to see any of them sued.

      And that’s why I stand with Axanar. To me, it’s just not logical (as a Trekker who loves fan films) to root for CBS and Paramount or even to point the finger at Axanar and say “for shame.” Unless one is 100% convinced that the studios will stop at just one fan series, it is much more likely this is just the first shot in a war (or more likely a massacre). So why not stand united as fans right now, when it counts the most, and try to encourage the studios to work this out without any bloodshed so there’s winners on both sides?

      • Seutoneus says:

        First, I want to say thanks for approving my comment. Given recent comments you find on the web about Axanar shuttering all but ppositive responses, it was not expected, and does shed a little light on the “he said, she said” nature of the internet in general. Respect and kudos for that.

        I also realize that I may well be asking questions that Axanar’s representative simply cannot answer in light of the suit, but I’ll ask and if no-one can answer, that’s understandable.

        One of the things I referenced was the for-profit studio being created from funds collected for Axanar (and one of the points in the amended complaint). Given what I’ve read, it seems that the studio was to be owned, not leased, and that it would be used for future, for-profit, productions – but its construction was being paid for by funds collected by Axanar, based on the Star Trek IP. Which would explain how easily P/CBS could include that in its suit.

        You refer to a lease for the studio. Does that in fact mean that a studio to be owned by Ares Studios is not being built but in fact it is in a structure that is leased and once production on Axanar is complete, it will not be used as a for-profit studio?

        I’d agree that the suit was inevitable, but I think it’s clear we differ on why.

        I don’t think it’s due to Alec making too much noise, but, as I’d said, simply going too far with raising funds based on the sale of products in an IP that neither he, Axanar nor Ares Studios owns.

        As copyright holders, CBS and Paramount have to pursue the protection of those copyrights or lose them to the public domain. And yes, you’re right, they’ve turned a blind eye to a multitude of fan films over the years (without actually being blind to them).

        The first one I became aware of was “Star Trek: Hidden Frontier,” and that first hit the internet sixteen years ago, and there have been myriad (including “Hidden Frontier” spinoffs) since then. Some of them (especially New Voyages/Phase II, have had various Star Trek alumn in on the production). And P/CBS have left them all alone.

        I’m not all that familiar with (or frankly fond of) Renegades (I thought it was terrible), so I can’t really comment on how they’ve been paying for their sets, studio space, etc.

        So I don’t argue that they’ve been around for years, but as I’ve said, they haven’t stepped over a certain line (that may well be arbitrarily drawn by P/CBS, but is a line nonetheless).

        That doesn’t mean fan productions won’t see a C&D or summons and complaint, but so far they haven’t. And I don’t think the current suit is sparring practice. Hollywood studios are old hats at going after copyright infringement and they don’t need practice.

        You’re right, there’s no reason to believe they will never go after another production, but it’ll depend on them, and the lengths the production is willing to go.

        Paramount has some experience in searching the internet, too. Remember when all those Star Trek fan sites were being shut down by Viacom back in the ’90s? They had people actively searching for sites and sent out C&D letters with surprising alacrity and volume in those days.

        And what it boils down to is this: Paramount and CBS actually like the fan productions, provided they don’t cross certain lines. Some of those lines may be a little fuzzy, but the ones that have the hardes edges are the ones about using copyrighted materials to sell products (the coffee, model, ect. that I mentioned in my previous comment) in order to make money, because that’s earning profit from an IP one doesn’t own.

        If there’s a message being sent to the fan film community from this laswuit, I’d say that’s the one they want to get out there: “We own the franchise, don’t cross the line. If you do, we’ll defend our copyright.”

        I don’t stand with CBS, Paramount or Axanar in this matter, as I frankly don’t have a fire in the iron, other than having been a fan of Star Trek for almost 50 years.

        I think it’d be great if there was some amicable conclusion between Axanar and P/CBS to allow it to move forward and be completed.

        I’m not on the inside, so like the rest, I’ll just wait and see if somehow Axanar can be completed with the Plaintiff’s okay.

        • Jonathan Lane says:

          Well, Seutoneus, you’ve written quite a bit! So I apologize if I don’t hit all of your points in my response.

          That said, I’d first like to say that you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the Internet! 🙂

          In the case of Axanar, there are a lot of people out there who, for whatever reason (anti-Alec Peters, anti-Rob Burnett, too much free time, too much coffee, off their meds) dislike or even hate this project with a passion that, at least in my opinion from the sidelines, seems out of proportion to anything that would be justifiable or appropriate. But hate us they do, and thus are many things said…not all of them true (or if true, only the small portion of the truth that is most convenient to support a point they’re trying to make while leaving out the more inconvenient parts of the truth).

          So if you see something about Axanar that sounds “too bad to be true” or at least really, really negative…I’m not saying it’s not true, but at least be a little objectively dubious based on the source before swallowing the Koolaid.

          As for the Ares Studio, Alec Peters wrote a very informative piece a few days ago that answers most of your questions. I recommend you click on (or copy-paste) this link and check it out:


          In short, no. Axanar does not own much of anything, and yes, the studio is leased. If Alec misses a rent payment, Axanar no longer has “a studio.” They have a whole bunch of boxes on the sidewalk. Ownership kinda implies you have something in perpetuity and can sell it. Alec can’t sell Ares Studios any more than he could sell the apartment he rents in Los Angeles.

          The “making-a-profit” part of the equation was more about “paying the rent.” Once Axanar finished up, Alec was hoping to help other fan filmmakers create productions of their own, possibly even using the Axanar sets (just as Star Trek Continues, New Voyages, and Starbase Studios loan out their sets). And perhaps there might even be more Axanar films made, as well. But in order to have somewhere to film, Ares Studios would need to keep its doors open and its lights on…and that takes money for rent, electricity, water, maintenance, etc. So really, when you hear “for profit,” I wouldn’t imagine Alec Peters driving around in his new Maserati. I’d picture an accountant sitting at a desk, surrounded by bills and writing checks to California Edison and the management company for the industrial park in Valencia.

          Now, about crossing that line…

          What line? Up until December 28, 2015, neither CBS nor Paramount had ever defined a line. (And they still kinda haven’t–we just know it was somewhere between no fan film at all and Axanar.) According to James Cawley, who reported to fandom that he’d had a conversation with Viacom Consumer Products back in 2003 regarding fan films (and I don’t doubt that he had such a discussion), the studios would allow fan films to be made as long as 1) no one was charged anything to watch them, and 2) the production made zero profit.

          And so, for over a decade, dozens and dozens of fan films and series were created featuring hundreds of hours of unlicensed Star Trek: TOS-era, movie-era, TNG/DS9/VOY-era, NX-01-era, and even alternate reality Treks and adventures taking place in the future beyond the end of Voyager and Nemesis. These films ranged in quality from kids in living rooms with the furniture moved around to professional-quality productions costing hundreds of thousands of dollars that featured SAG actors and industry professionals. Heck, even Tim “Tuvok” Russ wrote, directed, and starred in two different full-length feature films! (Personally, I like Renegades, by the way.) 🙂

          So where was the line that Axanar wasn’t supposed to cross?

          No studio? Continues and New Voyages have studios, too….and they’ve been around for years longer.

          No selling of products? Most crowd-funded fan series have done that. Renegades was even selling their merchandise at a red-carpet premiere at the Crest Theater in Los Angeles, with celebrity guests and paparazzi. (The Crest is one of the famous theaters in Westwood near UCLA where many big Hollywood releases have their red carpet premieres. This was no small event–over a thousand people showed up.) Line crossed? Hmmm….

          I should also mention that no fan series “sells” anything. They are perks offered in exchange for donations. And before you call BS on me and say, “Same thing!” consider this: PBS does it all the time. Pledge them some money, they’ll send you a tote bag. Aren’t you just buying that tote bag? The government doesn’t see it that way. A donation to PBS is tax deductible. And believe it or not, so is a donation to Star Trek Continues and, if things go right with the IRS, soon Axanar, too.

          No profit? Well, technically Axanar hasn’t made any profit yet. In fact, they’re kinda stuck with a contractual commitment for a lease that goes one for another two years. Did Alec pay himself a salary? Yes. On the other hand, other fan series have paid for services, as well. Indeed, SAG actors must get paid per union rules. Is Alec required to work for free simply because it’s a fan film? Unlike some fan filmmakers, Alec isn’t independently wealthy or blessed with a lucrative day job…nor can he sing like Elvis. And what’s required to get this project going and keep it going is a full-time commitment.

          Most people who work on fan films and ask to be paid for their services (yes, I know there are MANY full volunteers who work for nothing, but some do charge) usually trim their regular fees to the bone. In the case of Alec, he’s doing a job that in Hollywood is typically six-figures and sometimes even seven-figures. He’s being paid five-figures…and not even high five figures. $38,000 in Los Angeles is barely enough to pay rent and live on a diet of ramen noodles (and the occasional “splurge” for cheap sushi…forget the expensive quality stuff). 🙂

          But interestingly, in neither the initial nor the amended complaint did CBS/P mention Alec’s salary or the coffee or other merchandise. They were interested SOLELY in the copyright infringement. And if that’s the case, if that’s the line that was crossed…then Axanar was far from the first racer to cross it.

          Did Alec’s bravado get the studios’ attention? Probably. But it wasn’t like they weren’t aware of these productions all along. Alec himself spoke with people in the CBS licensing department asking for guidance. He didn’t want to step over any lines…sincerely! But CBS would never put anything down in writing nor would it ever provide any guidance of what would be considered going “too far.” In the meantime, CBS contacted YouTube directly last summer to REMOVE a hold due to copyright infringement. In other words, CBS actively HELPED a fan film (STC’s “The White Iris”) get put back up onto the Internet. Here’s a link to that announcement:


          And the studios were also well aware of Renegades…mostly because Renegades was calling itself a “pilot” and CBS did NOT appreciate that and told them to stop. Here’s a link to that story:


          But CBS still allowed the $375,000 Star Trek: Renegades to get made and be released, even after having an issue with them. And in fact, Renegades is working on new episodes and has already raised an additional $378,000 from fans for that. So while Axanar did crack the million dollar donation barrier, Renegades is rapidly closing in, and one more crowdfunding campaign from them ought to do it.

          None of that gets Axanar off the hook, of course. But it could be very significant in deciding the resolution of this case if it goes to court. If CBS and Paramount have never done anything to stop a fan film before this (in 10 years or even 50 years) and actually HELPED some fan films in certain cases, if CBS and Paramount were purposefully vague and indeed silent on setting parameters for the dozens and dozens of fan projects to follow in order to avoid crossing some line…then might not Axanar Productions have had a reasonable expectation of receiving the same “don’t ask, don’t tell” treatment? And remember that Alec did, in fact, reach out to CBS on multiple occasions and did nothing in secret. So having set a very clear precedent on the treatment of fan films by the two studios, wouldn’t you agree that Alec Peters was justified in believing (even if incorrectly) that his production would be treated the same way?

          And now my song is done… 🙂

          • JR says:

            I would send that directly to the court, to CBS/Paramount’s legal department, and made into a huge banner that is flown over LA for the next few weeks. Granted, that kind of ‘cowboy diplomacy’ is not necessarily helpful, but I’ve rarely read such a concise summary of the goings on within fan films. I’m sure there is someone who has a personal grudge somewhere along the lines. Otherwise this whole thing doesn’t make sense at all anymore.

  • Rogerborg says:

    If Paramount could quantify their loss from Axanar, it would be negative. Reverse the polarity of the damages.

  • SE says:

    This article makes a great point. However, if the message that “fan films are like free commercials for the Star Trek franchise” stays only in this blog, it won’t do much good. Who would support a united effort for fans to send thousands of letters to Paramount/CBS (politely) asking them to realize that allowing fan films could be in their best interests?

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