Yesterday, Axanar Productions’ Alec Peters received a phone call from Tommy Kraft, the director/producer of STAR TREK: HORIZON regarding a request from CBS that Tommy not launch his planned crowdfunding campaign to finance FEDERATION RISING, a planned sequel to HORIZON. Tommy also shared that CBS is apparently planning on contacting other fan productions in an effort to get them to suspend production as well.
While we’re disappointed Tommy’s plans for FEDERATION RISING have come to a stop, we were pleased to hear CBS’s approach was direct and businesslike and not a lawsuit requesting potentially millions of dollars in damages, pre-emptively announced through the industry trade press. By providing a “head’s up” to Tommy, Ryan and the rest of the cast and crew at Horizon, CBS can avert the legal mess they’ve created with Axanar Productions.
We understand that the production team behind STAR TREK: HORIZON still plans on producing great stories in the future. We wish them well and will support them in their future endeavors in whatever way we can.
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Yep, at least they’re showing some professionalism this time. I have to admit, though, that this feels like a pyrrhic victory.
I still hope one day they will make their movie as originally planned. I also hope we can finish the Axanar movie as planned and hope all the creative folks who want to do star trek movies will be able to do them without fear or intimadation from anyone else.
If one wants to make a Star Trek movie, all one has to do is buy the IP from CBS.
CBS’s approach to a fan film with a strong history of self-development was really nice – albeit sad. It’s a shame, but CBS has the right to protect it’s investment.
CBS is planning to ask ALL fan productions to simply shut down ?
Can they do that ?
Seems to me like the correct response is to first make sure applicable 501c3 papers are in order, and then collectively perform the Brooklyn version of the IDIC gesture and ask CBS to put their request in writing. If they transition to legal, move to have the cases combined … more visibility for your pro bono defense team.
Granted that a personal phone call is a LOT better than the way they (mis)handled the situ with Axanar, but they still have not issued any specific guidelines to the fan community, nor has a court of law weighed in yet on the issue of what is/not actionable in these situations, and therefore the CBS phone call seems rather ham handed.
Disclaimer: I’m just an underinformed observer, so please take anything I say with a grain of salt.
They just published an article on SPACE.com about ST Continues and it is in the final phase of an Indiegogo campaign. It is well funded, and they are a Non profit as well, CBS is going to look pretty shabby if they try to hammer something that is on its 7th episode with 3 more planned.
They have never said anything before, and if you are looking for “egregious” use of property, one would think it would have been ground zero. The fact they have not said anything in years is going to end up being something that would seem to be a pretty tall order to prove in court. Not to mention the huge legion of donors to various programs and efforts who will be left in a lurch, and will, of course, blame them.
I am betting we will see a petition floating around to ignore the new TV series in return if they do. Seems to question their managements lucidity and customer awareness.
Sounds like CBS may call for the cessation of all fan productions. Doesn’t seem like a very good idea.
@Scott, I can see where CBS is coming from now that fan or independent productions seem to be rivaling the quality of the professional productions. Add in the funding expansions into book lines, prop sales, models, etc. and this action was predictable — regrettable but predictable. I suspect the lawyers finally said the only way they can really protect their IP in this new era of increasingly high quality in “amateur” productions is to stop them altogether.
I really hope CBS and Axanar blaze a new trail in this new media and find a solution that benefits both because the independent and fan productions keep the spirit of Star Trek alive and act as free advertising for CBS’s premiere IP as well as provide a potential source of material for their new channel/network.
Hmm Newweek article:
I was not overwhelmed with their impartiality and it really is not too revealing as to how this all impacts the various productions. I did not really appreciate their pointing out Alec paid himself “38K” , and their use of James Cawleys take on it, in that their productions were not as ambitious as Axanar, and are a different view of fan film. Fan film fills a void that CBS refuses too. It’s like having a table of joints on a street corner and not selling them to people except those with green sneakers, you tend to miss out on a huge customer base. This all points to a big issue with CBS’s business model, which they seem to be saying “after 50 years of all the Trek you can eat (pro, amateur, semi pro), we now are only serving our very own “Pro Trek” jasmine flavor, and only Jasmine flavor. If you try to make your own, we will sue you because we own ALL Trek. One would think at some point the bait and switch would be ruled illegal, as fifty years of free rein and no copyright claim would seem to override a late to the party claim of ownership.
Maybe the major fan film producers and cbs/paramount should get together, realizing both have interests to be addressed, and address them. There may be a satisfactory compromise to be had. Maybe their new pay for access system could be the outlet for some of these, maybe advetisement could be required to produce your own story, maybe an outright cash payment would satisfy the ip. No one will know unless the discussions occur. I encourage both sides to utilize external discussions related to the lawsuit as a springboard for this time of dialog.
You know what? Mr. Peters, you’re now publicly recognised figure, and you have some friends like David Gerrold – prominent figure on literary SF scene, and there are some billionaires – like Elon Musk or sir Richard Branson – who are Star Trek fans… So.. if you be lobbying them for buying Trek rights from CBS, and give that rights – perhaps – to World Star Trek Foundation or something simliliar (Trek is one of mankind’s most precious possessions)… What you think?
Or – the plan B- you some times ago try to created a guild of fan-Trek producers. Maybe it is the time to ressurect this idea (maybe with Nick Cook as chairman, he is very liked in fan circles), and to create some Trek-like shared universe (like that of Babylon 5, Andromeda or Galaxy Quest – all crypto-Star Trek’s 😉 based on David Gerrold’s book or Robert J. Sawyer’s “Starplex”, or Starship Polaris, or Project Discovery, or… them all, and throw down the gauntlet money-obsessed morons of CBS/P?
A Taste of Axanar-megeddon
PM/CBS’s choice of secondary target for the warning shot says it all. It isn’t coffee that trips their trigger, but quality.
Any fan project of any scale is now under threat. As soon as you YouTube up your creation, it gets a few hits, and YT sends you a check, you can be sued into homelessness.
Lifelong Trek Fans who turned a cancelled TV show into a multi-million dollar media franchise are about to have something they love taken away from them and many will feel the urge to retaliate. Paramount doesn’t fear a boycott of their movie, as TOS and TNG Trek Fans have already aged out of the film’s target demo. (We all did as soon as we got old enough to meet women in clubs instead of taking them out tho the movies, so don’t take it personally;-) Where the hard-core Trekkers CAN hurt PM is in the back end with all the CD’s toys, merchandising, and other schwag. My local hobby store stocks models of every variant of the USS Enterprise except for the JJ-verse one. With good reason.
Paramount is a lot like the Budweiser plant we saw in ST1, and to them, Axanar is like an upstart micro-brewery. It is quite understandable that they would feel threatened and take action with means at their disposal. Look at the hundreds of names in the credits of ST1 compared to the dozens in the credits of Prelude. These are almost all honest, hardworking industry professionals who’s livelihood is under threat from the new pro-sumer production technology and crowd-funding model. I can hardly blame them for taking the CBS line on the message boards.
So…… you have a real war on your hands! ……….You can wage it,…… using real weapons, ………or you can try…….an alternative.
Put an end to it!……Make a deal…… Paramount could issue conditional Iicenses for fan productions in exchange for…..A Piece of the Action……. say 10 or 15 percent of the fundraising, advertizing, distribution, and merchandise take. Creativity is protected, IP holders get just compensation, Talent can work for any production they want, and the Star Trek franchise expands instead of collapsing.
We can admit that we’re killers…….. but we’re not going to kill…….. Today. ….That’s all it takes.
The only way to make their products look better is to shutdown the competition?
Firstly, let’s not mess around kidding ourselves, Paramount or CBS in whichever case, does own Star Trek and the characters etc etc. They have a need to manage the brand perception, and they have a need to manage, limit really, the market saturation of Star Trek related visual productions -whether those are theatrical, television or web released productions.
Paramount got in a spot back in the 90’s with an overly saturated Star Trek in media, years of multiple overlapping series and movies. They took a pretty good break after Enterprise and then we had JJ Abrams 2009, and finally we will see a television series – really a streaming web series in early 2017.
So it makes complete sense that they would want to eliminate unsanctioned productions. These productions might have the greatest writing and the best intentions of any Star Trek, and I feel sorry for all involved pouring so much heart and soul into these productions. But I do not think that there should be any false hopes about this will end.
These are industry powers, both CBS and Paramount, and they have very obvious legal claims that will surely be carried out successfully.
Brad, I strongly disagree, the legal team has already shown that there are numerous issues with the claim “they own it”. They are also sorely lacking in certain copyright areas as well, leaving the issue open to interpretation. The huge issue you miss here is the fact it has been an unchallenged thing for the last 50 years that fans can do as they wish, and no one objected. No one questions a certain legal right to some ST, it is the degree that is unclear and that means “No” they should not be a bull in a china shop. They should be working out a cooperative way to allow work to go on, which would support all the players here. It patently does not make sense to eliminate unsanctioned productions, there has never been a sanction process, therefore, your statement is incongruent.
I understand what you are saying, however, I could further point out that Paramount and CBS legal teams can certainly decide now, 50 years later, to begin a sanction process with much stricter guidelines for these productions and the use of character likeness etc.
I agree that it would be to the benefit of fans to allow some form of collaborative agreement to form between the fan community and the corporations here Brian. But at the same time it is important to recognize that Paramount and CBS have a legitimate business and artistic need to prevent what I would call Star Trek brand dilution.
I am certainly not against you.
Brad, I am not sure that the claim of 50 years later is valid, in that there are certain aspects of “adverse possession” which is concept going back to English law, that says when something is used openly and notoriously for a period (property is generally 7 years), it becomes settled, and you cannot go back and later claim it. This is very true in places with crappy surveys, made when tools were not a precise. I had a dude try to take my well and land, with a GPS survey, against 40 yo fences. We won. CBS and Paramount face similar issue, and I know that Alec and Co do not like amateur lawyering, but I find it hard to believe they will be able to try the draconian things they are doing without some form of adverse possession and open and notorious use coming into the argument. It is only fair and right, when you have, by inaction, actively encourage people to create and share, and now go “Oh no you can’t”. I would not be surprised to find some fan groups banding together to sue CBS and Paramount for all their time effort and costs to reimburse their donors, etc, since this was never a condition the actively communicated. The mere threat of nuclear weapons does not constitute authorization for their use. The right answer is a negotiated settlement and a code of conduct for all parties, that actively recognizes and legitimizes all aspects of the issue, even the ones not yet mentioned (there is a huge world of models, toys, fan made ships, games, books etc that have not yet been brought into this). I do not say that they do not have a claim, it is just so fuzzy at this point, they would be better off cleaning things up, rather than trying to bully their own way.
If you like Prelude, Horizon, STC, Aroura and all the rest, I suggest you down-load them ASAP. If Axanar loses, PM/CBS can and will use the precedent to scrub all fan-generated Trek content from the web. The paywall / streaming “sevice” that CBS is pushing their new Trek series with, is a clumsy, belated attempt to replicate the crowd-funded / digitally produced / web-distributed model which they rightly see as an emerging threat, and they know their CBS All-access can only succeed in an environment with no potential competitors.
Issuing guidelines, then taking a reasonable cut of the crowdfunding/merchandising dollars as licencing/royalties payments would be a live-and let live solution, but If Paramount chooses the path of monopolization they should remember the words of certain Star Wars princess; “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more systems will slip through your fingers.”
Maybe you can kick me out of the Trek sandbox, but you can’t take the sky from me. There will be new ships, new worlds, new crews and new adventures either with or without the Star trek name. The crowd-funded studio model will continue to expand, live long and prosper, while the Star Trek franchise implodes, like those idiots imploded Vulcan, under their heavy hand.