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Star Trek copyright case returns to the neutral zone after reaching settlement

Star Trek copyright case retur...
The previously planned Axanar feature film will now become two fifteen-minute shorts to be distributed for free on YouTube
The previously planned Axanar feature film will now become two fifteen-minute shorts to be distributed for free on YouTube
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Filmmaker's behind the big-budget Star Trek fan film have reached a settlement in their copyright infringement case
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Filmmaker's behind the big-budget Star Trek fan film have reached a settlement in their copyright infringement case
The previously planned Axanar feature film will now become two fifteen-minute shorts to be distributed for free on YouTube
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The previously planned Axanar feature film will now become two fifteen-minute shorts to be distributed for free on YouTube

Filmmakers behind the Star Trek fan film Axanar can stand down from red alert status. A settlement has been reached between CBS, Paramount and the filmakers, meaning the potentially nasty copyright trial that was set to begin on January 31 has now been avoided.

A joint statement from CBS, Paramount, and filmmaker Alec Peters on behalf of Axanar Productions announced, "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."

The statement goes on to note that "substantial changes" would be made to Axanar in order to resolve the litigation. Full terms of the settlement haven't been released, but an official response from the Axanar filmmakers explains that the previously planned feature film would now become two fifteen-minute shorts to be distributed for free on YouTube.

In June of 2016 CBS and Paramount released a set of guidelines establishing the parameters of what they see as constituting a fan film. These guidelines came after the Axanar filmmakers crowdfunded over one million dollars to make their feature. One of the guidelines notably limits the amount one can fundraise for a fan-generated production to a maximum of $50,000.

Filmmaker's behind the big-budget Star Trek fan film have reached a settlement in their copyright infringement case
Filmmaker's behind the big-budget Star Trek fan film have reached a settlement in their copyright infringement case

Other guidelines established by the studios include a stipulation that all uniforms, accessories and props be official merchandise, rather than bootlegs items or imitations, and that all participants must be "amateurs" that contribute to the work for no financial compensation.

While the settlement indicates a significant degree of capitulation on the fan filmmaker's side, it can generally be seen as a win for everyone. After a judge ruled earlier in January that the filmmakers were unable to use a fair-use defense, the trial suddenly became an enormously risky proposition for both parties. If Peters and Axanar Productions were to lose they could have been liable for statutory damages hypothetically surpassing $100 million dollars. This theoretical "win" for CBS and Paramount would only have resulted in terrible publicity for studios, with the case thus far not generating much good will for the copyright holders.

Both parties are no doubt relieved that the Axanar case hasn't made it to trial, but the saga leaves future fan-made projects without a clear set of rules to follow. While CBS and Paramount have offered up guidelines for fan-filmmakers, these are in no way legally binding. Having never had a fan-made project go all the way to court we still don't truly know where the legal line is drawn. We now return to the copyright grey area with a powerful rights holder effectively saying, "Abide by these rules and we may not sue you even though we still could."

For now the battle between the big studios and fans returns to be neutral zone but the copyright wars are certainly not over.

Via: Deadline Hollywood

6 comments
Chizzy
copyright is only protected if defended. they still have not defended their legal rights in a court of law, so their rights still remain unprotected. they've threatened, they've made non legal limitations, but they have not defended their copywrite.
FrankR
The 'Prelude.." clip is amazing, even given it's tiny budget and non professional, fan-based production basis, which most probably scared the hell out of Paramount/CBS when they realised that their best efforts are no better than this, despite budgeting multiple $millions and having paid 'professionals' all round for their Trek films. And the quality of the story line in this clip leaves us eagerly wanting to see more..... Hopefully a novelized version of this original screenplay might at least be released as a publication What a dreadful shame that Anaxar as envisaged is never going to see the light of day due to this querulous and misguided action by the studios No wonder the big studio is running so scared on this one! The fans were set to cream them with a tiny budget and a dedicated group of unpaid enthusiasts making a film to at the very least rival the studios best effort, but with an original storyline the CBS et al cannot begin to match! At the very least, they could have purchased Anaxar as a finished item, as completed by the current production and creative teams and branded it with their own label to beef up their profits
S Michael
Movie studios are not our friends. They are on the edge. With software now available to everybody, I can make a movie that is just as good as their Multi million dollar films. Over paid actors are going to be the thing of the past. Soon, and I mean very soon, computer generated actors will be available to all. China just might have bought a "pig in a poke." Paramount and CBS days maybe numbered.
trestlehed
Maybe Paramount/CBS, etc. should get a clue and take a different approach like George Lucas did with Star Wars fan films: He encouraged and embraced them. Nothing like free and positive advertising generated by the fans, as opposed to ugly lawsuits and the "We don't need or appreciate you" attitudes from some of the other big soul-less movie studios.
nehopsa
Unfortunately, this "deal" means the originally intended feature length fill will never ever happen. I watched the trailer and it was fascinating. I feel cheated. You will never pack 90 minutes (original plan) into 2 segments 15 minutes each with express stipulation no sequel to be added ever to expand on, continue, develop or round up the theme. Even the trailer with its 22 minutes is longer than each of the two segments allowed by this agreement. Shame.