By now everyone has most assuredly heard of the latest salvo shot from the bow of the Paramount/CBS ship regarding all Star Trek fan films. Even after there was the announcement from JJ Abrams and Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin that Paramount would be dropping its lawsuit against Alec Peters’ Axanar, this latest move appears to be designed to stop any and all of the major fan film projects that have currently been in production.
The manner in which this has been accomplished is through a set of “guidelines” issued by the CBS and Paramount. Keep in mind, the studio actually ENCOURAGES fans to make their own films, only that they must be done in accordance with these guidelines if they do not wish to end up on the ugly end of Paramount’s legal team.
Here is part of the list. If you wish to read all of the guidelines you can do so at Star Trek.com. It should also be pointed out that Axanar, Star Trek New Voyages, and Star Trek Continues break not only the first rule, but many of them set forth by Paramount and CBS.
- The fan production must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than 2 segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total, with no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes.
- The title of the fan production or any parts cannot include the name “Star Trek.” However, the title must contain a subtitle with the phrase: “A STAR TREK FAN PRODUCTION” in plain typeface. The fan production cannot use the term “official” in either its title or subtitle or in any marketing, promotions or social media for the fan production.
- The content in the fan production must be original, not reproductions, recreations or clips from any Star Trek production. If non-Star Trek third party content is used, all necessary permissions for any third party content should be obtained in writing.
- If the fan production uses commercially-available Star Trek uniforms, accessories, toys and props, these items must be official merchandise and not bootleg items or imitations of such commercially available products.
- The fan production must be a real “fan” production, i.e., creators, actors and all other participants must be amateurs, cannot be compensated for their services, and cannot be currently or previously employed on any Star Trek series, films, production of DVDs or with any of CBS or Paramount Pictures’ licensees.
- The fan production must be non-commercial:
- CBS and Paramount Pictures do not object to limited fundraising for the creation of a fan production, whether 1 or 2 segments and consistent with these guidelines, so long as the total amount does not exceed $50,000, including all platform fees, and when the $50,000 goal is reached, all fundraising must cease.
- The fan production must only be exhibited or distributed on a no-charge basis and/or shared via streaming services without generating revenue.
- The fan production cannot be distributed in a physical format such as DVD or Blu-ray.
- The fan production cannot be used to derive advertising revenue including, but not limited to, through for example, the use of pre or post-roll advertising, click-through advertising banners, that is associated with the fan production.
- No unlicensed Star Trek-related or fan production-related merchandise or services can be offered for sale or given away as premiums, perks or rewards or in connection with the fan production fundraising.
- The fan production cannot derive revenue by selling or licensing fan-created production sets, props or costumes.
- The fan production must be family friendly and suitable for public presentation. Videos must not include profanity, nudity, obscenity, pornography, depictions of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or any harmful or illegal activity, or any material that is offensive, fraudulent, defamatory, libelous, disparaging, sexually explicit, threatening, hateful, or any other inappropriate content. The content of the fan production cannot violate any individual’s right of privacy.
Rule no. 5 is another major rule broken by Axanar, which employed professional actors, including Tony Todd (Candyman), and crew members, some of whom had worked on official Star Trek productions. Apparently, a “real fan” production can only involve amateurs, suggesting working actors and crew members don’t qualify as real fans. Star Trek New Voyages did the same by employing both George Takei and Walter Koenig as guest stars, and Star Trek Continues employed Michael Forest as he returned to play his role of Apollo from the classic series episode “Who Mourns for Adonais?”
Axanar‘s executive producer, Alec Peters, has already responded to the guideline, expressing his dismay:
While CBS and Paramount claim to want to encourage the passion of fans to produce ‘reasonable fan fiction,’ the restrictions presented do just the opposite, willfully ignoring over forty years of fan works that helped buoy the ‘Star Trek’ franchise through some very lean years and enthusiastically spread the magic of the franchise in more plentiful times. Around the franchise’s 50th anniversary, we would have hoped CBS and Paramount would have taken this opportunity to unite with ‘Star Trek’ fans in celebration of their creativity, not seek to crush it.
What are your thoughts regarding this latest move by Paramount/CBS? Despite the studio’s right to establish the rules as they see fit, does this seem like an overreach to you, or is it totally justified? Do you feel that there is no place in fandom for the kind of fan films we have been seeing lately?
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