Axanar: A Star Trek Fan Production

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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Attamark » 07/10/15

Okay, I'll be the first to admit. I squeed with joy at the looks of this.

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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 08/20/15

https://www.space.com/30310-star-trek-a ... r=15431856

'Star Trek' Fan Film Recruits Real-Life Astronaut
After spending 199 days on the International Space Station, a European astronaut is readying for her next big mission: joining an independent "Star Trek" production.

Samantha Cristoforetti, an Italian astronaut for the European Space Agency, will join the fan-produced film "Star Trek: Axanar" in an as-yet-undisclosed role, film officials said in a blog post. Cristoforetti was the first Italian woman in space during the space station's Expeditions 42 and 43, which wrapped up in June.
Cristoforetti wouldn't be the first astronaut to appear on Star Trek. In 1993, NASA astronaut Mae Jemison played a small role on "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
I remember when this image of Cristoforetti first hit NASA's social media feed.

Image
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Scrattch » 08/21/15

Is it just me, or does it warm the cockles to see a Starfleet uniform in actual space?

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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 08/21/15

Scrattch Is it just me, or does it warm the cockles to see a Starfleet uniform in actual space?
It's not just you. I giggled when I saw that picture the first time.
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 08/25/15

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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 08/31/15

https://www.axanarproductions.com/axanar-and-cbs/
A lot of websites have been copying-and-pasting to create articles based on the piece which ran in The Wrap last week. None of these websites, such as Cinemablend, have bothered to actually contact me, however; instead, they just expound on why CBS could be coming after Axanar. None of the articles are based on any facts but are just stirring the pot, because let’s face it–manufacturing drama is always a better story than discussing the truth (how a small group of fans are trying to change the way movies are made).

Here are some facts about Axanar and CBS:

1) I met with CBS while at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention. The meeting was with two of the top people in CBS and they were very frank about Axanar. And while I can’t talk about most of what we discussed over the 30 minutes we chatted, I can tell you a few things. They told us everyone at CBS and Paramount was aware of Axanar. They told us that we are certainly doing more than any fan film before and that has some people concerned. We also discussed that CBS will not tell us what we either CAN or CANNOT do for legal reasons. They are very clear that they do not want to give guidance because it could negatively impact their IP rights. Yes, we are left to make assumptions and if we cross the line the lawyers will let us know.

2) CBS rarely deals with fan films even when their behavior is questionable. For instance, Star Trek Continues uses the word “Official”, and Renegades has called itself a “pilot” when it clearly was not. I know CBS didn’t like any of these things but they didn’t do anything about them. At this point, selling items with CBS / Star Trek IP on it seems to be the only point at which CBS will take action and send you a Cease and Desist, which they have only done once.

3) While Axanar is more professional, and has raised more money than all other Star Trek fan films combined, we use less Star Trek IP than almost all of them. A year ago we removed “Star Trek” from our website and Facebook page. We don’t use Star Trek in our title anymore. We aren’t recreating TOS and using iconic characters like Kirk, Spock and McCoy. We don’t use the delta shield. Yes, we use several characters from Star Trek and we are clearly set in that universe. We just try to minimize that.

4) Going into Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, the last thing CBS would want is any negative publicity related to Star Trek. As of August 30th, 1.5 million fans have watched Prelude to Axanar on Youtube, and other fan productions have large viewerships, as well. All of the fans watching these productions are Star Trek consumers. Alienating them by changing CBS’ relationship with fan films would not be good for business, particularly now, in the age of social media.

5) Axanar is good for CBS and Star Trek. There is little doubt that fans are very passionate about Axanar, and many are looking forward to Axanar more than Star Trek Beyond. Axanar gives Star Trek fans what they want in Star Trek. We love Star Trek. We get it.

So there you go. That is our take on where Axanar is vis a vis CBS.

Alec
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 10/15/15

Image


Prelude continues to clean house for awards given to independent film.
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 11/02/15

From Alec Peters via social media:
5 years ago, I started playing Garth of Izar in Star Trek, opposite the enormously talented Matthew Ewald, who was playing a young Kirk in the Star Trek: New Voyages episode "Origins" which sadly has not been released.

Today I head back to Ticonderoga to play a fully recovered, post "Whom Gods Destory" Garth in two vignettes that will serve as a framing story for "Axanar" on the New Voyages sets with professional actors Brian Gross and Brandon Stacy as Kirk and Spock, and the guy who I started on the Axanar path with, John K Muenchrath, who will play McCoy.

Robert Meyer Burnett will be directing and Milton Santiago will be our DP. We leave today!
Interesting cross-pollination. Since Peters started with New Voyages. Burnett is also directing Axanar. My question is, who wrote the vignettes? I'm hoping for David Gerrold.
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Scrattch » 11/03/15

Curiouser and curiouser.
I wonder if I smell Cawley trying to feather his cap via association? He never seems to miss a trick there...

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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 11/03/15

Scrattch Curiouser and curiouser.
I wonder if I smell Cawley trying to feather his cap via association? He never seems to miss a trick there...
Peters and Cawley go way back. They are part of their own mutual admiration society. Which I mean in a good way. So I'm not surprised in this instance. Plus. Any desire on Peter's part to tell a story about Garth after Whom Gods Destroy will require TOS sets. Which Ares Studios doesn't have access to without serious re-dressing of their unfinished sets. Whereas working with New Voyages permits the bookend vignettes to be done now.
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 11/04/15

Good news, IMO, is that I just saw some social media pictures of Alec Peters on the New Voyages set with his laptop. Next to him were James Cawley and David Gerrold. Who were helping edit the script for the Heroes vignettes. I do believe any polish from Gerrold is a good thing.
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Tregarde » 12/30/15

This isn't good. I hope they come to some agreement so the project isn't axed.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-es ... aws-851474
Crowdfunded 'Star Trek' Movie Draws Lawsuit from Paramount, CBS

For decades, Paramount and CBS have tolerated and even encouraged fans of the Star Trek franchise to use their imagination at will, but on Tuesday the entertainment companies went to their battle stations and launched a legal missile at a production company touting the first independent Star Trek film.

Axanar, the subject of a lawsuit filed on Friday in California federal court, is no ordinary Star Trek film. The forthcoming feature film (preceded by a short film) is the source of more than $1 million in crowdfunding on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The producers, led by Alec Peters, aim to make a studio-quality film. As the pitch to investors put it, "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."

Paramount and CBS see a violation of their intellectual property.

"The Axanar Works infringe Plaintiffs’ works by using innumerable copyrighted elements of Star Trek, including its settings, characters, species, and themes," states the complaint.

Axanar has become one of the biggest film projects in Kickstarter history and has been nearing warp speed with the reported help of Star Trek actor George Takei. The film mines subject area referenced in the late 1960s Gene Roddenberry television series and appears to be a prequel.

According to a description of the movie on the defendants' website, "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."

By August, Peters was giving interviews expressing confidence that the project would survive any legal heat. He spoke to The Wrap that month and reported having a meeting with CBS. He says he was told the film couldn't make money — and evidently, he took that to be a good sign that his film would be tolerated as long as it wasn't a commercial endeavor. "CBS has a long history of accepting fan films,” Peters told the entertainment site. “I think Axanar has become so popular that CBS realizes that we’re just making their brand that much better.”

Not so fast.

Paramount and CBS, represented by attorneys at Loeb & Loeb, are now demanding an injunction as well as damages for direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. Although the plaintiffs have allowed ample cosplaying over the years and even permitted other derivatives like amateur Star Trek shows to circulate, the lawsuit illustrates that there is a place where no man has gone before, where the entertainment studios are not willing to let be occupied: crowdfunded, professional-quality films that use copyrighted "elements" like Vulcans and Klingons, Federation starships, phasers and stuff like the "look and feel of the planet, the characters’ costumes, their pointy ears and their distinctive hairstyle."

Here's the full complaint.

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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 12/30/15

I was coming here to post this, too. I'm more than a bit pissed off. Reading between the lines, my speculation is that Ares Studio's has taken too long to get the film off the ground. Had they been finished or well into production to release before January 1st - Trek's official kickoff for it's 50th anniversary - I doubt this lawsuit would have sprang up.

Looking over the lawsuit details, they certainly took thier time composing this move. Frankly, it should have been enforced years before all the web series became so popular. Their timing is so transparent.

Good luck to CBS/Paramount to get my financial support for the next film or viewership for the next television series. This is not how you foster your fan base. Especially now. I mean, way to kick off the 50th Anniversary for Star Trek early! :roll:
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 12/30/15

https://www.axanarproductions.com/axanar-and-cbs/
Alec Peters, August 30, 2015 A lot of websites have been copying-and-pasting to create articles based on the piece which ran in The Wrap last week. None of these websites, such as Cinemablend, have bothered to actually contact me, however; instead, they just expound on why CBS could be coming after Axanar. None of the articles are based on any facts but are just stirring the pot, because let’s face it–manufacturing drama is always a better story than discussing the truth (how a small group of fans are trying to change the way movies are made).
Here are some facts about Axanar and CBS:

1) I met with CBS while at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention. The meeting was with two of the top people in CBS and they were very frank about Axanar. And while I can’t talk about most of what we discussed over the 30 minutes we chatted, I can tell you a few things. They told us everyone at CBS and Paramount was aware of Axanar. They told us that we are certainly doing more than any fan film before and that has some people concerned. We also discussed that CBS will not tell us what we either CAN or CANNOT do for legal reasons. They are very clear that they do not want to give guidance because it could negatively impact their IP rights. Yes, we are left to make assumptions and if we cross the line the lawyers will let us know.

2) CBS rarely deals with fan films even when their behavior is questionable. For instance, Star Trek Continues uses the word “Official”, and Renegades has called itself a “pilot” when it clearly was not. I know CBS didn’t like any of these things but they didn’t do anything about them. At this point, selling items with CBS / Star Trek IP on it seems to be the only point at which CBS will take action and send you a Cease and Desist, which they have only done once.

3) While Axanar is more professional, and has raised more money than all other Star Trek fan films combined, we use less Star Trek IP than almost all of them. A year ago we removed “Star Trek” from our website and Facebook page. We don’t use Star Trek in our title anymore. We aren’t recreating TOS and using iconic characters like Kirk, Spock and McCoy. We don’t use the delta shield. Yes, we use several characters from Star Trek and we are clearly set in that universe. We just try to minimize that.

4) Going into Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, the last thing CBS would want is any negative publicity related to Star Trek. As of August 30th, 1.5 million fans have watched Prelude to Axanar on Youtube, and other fan productions have large viewerships, as well. All of the fans watching these productions are Star Trek consumers. Alienating them by changing CBS’ relationship with fan films would not be good for business, particularly now, in the age of social media.

5) Axanar is good for CBS and Star Trek. There is little doubt that fans are very passionate about Axanar, and many are looking forward to Axanar more than Star Trek Beyond. Axanar gives Star Trek fans what they want in Star Trek. We love Star Trek. We get it.

So there you go. That is our take on where Axanar is vis a vis CBS. As always, we respect CBS, the wonderful job they have done shepherding this amazing franchise, and we want nothing but good relations with them.

Alec
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 12/30/15

David Gerrold, Author and Screenwriter As I know Alec Peters (and several other independent producers this might affect) I have to suggest that this could be a big mistake for the studio and the network to go after fan films. Most of the fan film producers are good guys, they are enthusiastic fans. (Even the one or two I don't like very much.)

The lawsuit is likely going to piss off the fans and damage both Paramount's and CBS' relationship with the core audience -- and that audience is already seething about the way Trek has been presented in the last two movies.

The fan films have, to a great extent, recaptured the spirit of the original series, something that seems to have eluded some of those who have actually been entrusted with custody of the franchise.

Too often, Star Trek has been reimagined and reinvented in someone else's image, and the result is not the Star Trek Gene Roddenberry created. (Gene seethed about that too -- but Gene wasn't always right either.)

With this action, CBS and Paramount are sending a strong signal that their intention is to shut down not just this fan film, but any fan film that they choose to disapprove of. In this case, I would guess it's because Axanar has raised too much money and intends to create a truly professional-looking product.

What some have suggested -- and it's an interesting thought -- is that this action has been taken because Paramount has a new movie coming out in 2016 and CBS has a new series planned. It could be that on some level they are concerned about the inevitable comparison with Axanar and other fan productions. (Especially if the fans demonstrate that they can do for one million dollars what a studio can't accomplish with 100 million.)

But this lawsuit also suggests that CBS and Paramount might be missing the more important point. The fan productions are about the hunger for new Star Trek. They're not competition as much as they are signs that the franchise is alive and well. Keeping the fans engaged is the best thing that CBS and Paramount can do to keep the franchise alive.

I understand the corporate desire to protect their rights to the franchise, but that cat got out of the bag a long time ago. If they weren't going to shut down Star Trek New Voyages and Star Trek Continues and Star Trek Renegades and Star Trek Farragut for "copyright infringement" -- and those productions use Kirk, Spock, et al, and the original enterprise -- then they're going to have a much harder case with Axanar which barely touches the same specific content of the original series.

I suspect that the lawsuit isn't about copyright infringement as much as it's designed to intimidate Axanar's producers. I'll be interested to see how this proceeds.

I wonder how much money Axanar can raise if they crowdfund their legal costs...

[I have no direct access and no specific information on this situation, other than the news reports I have read. My comments are my own thoughts on the matter and are not to be interpreted as representing anybody else's opinion or the opinions of anyone involved in the case.]

[And if I did have access to that kind of information, I wouldn't repeat it, because it would violate the confidentiality of the participants.]
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Shank » 12/30/15

I am distressingly reminded of My Little Pony and the take-downs ordered on some of the best fan productions. There's been two consistent issues at play with these take-downs:
  • The primary targets were the BEST of the fan-made animations. The ones that equaled or beat show-quality animation, story, or both.
  • The legal department of Hasbro went crazy trying to protect their assets, while the creative team had given the fans permission to do any non-profit work they like, regardless of level of quality.
Both of those issues are reflective of what I am seeing here. James Crawley might have nice sets, but his effects are mediocre and his acting is crap. Not that I don't watch his stuff, but let's call a spade a spade. Similarly, Star Trek Exeter, Renegades, and many other series suffer from well intentioned missions, but horrendous acting and/or shoddy writing.

Axanar, on the other hand, has the money, talent, and production skill to put together a show-quality product, and that does make the legal team take notice. I also think that they see this as a threat compared to the shitty explosion-fests turned out by the studios lately. More and more fans are starting to realize that small efforts can make huge projects as never before, and the days of the big studios might be numbered. All of this is fueling paranoia at the studios. The real pity here is that CBS/Paramount has learned NOTHING from the MLP community and their reaction to Hasbro attacking fan productions. We went apeshit on them, and they promptly backed down. I can only imagine what the Trek fan community is going to do.

The one dark spot in this mess, for me, is actor Tony Todd (Admiral Ramirez in Axanar, Kurn in TNG/DS9, others). Todd has recently let loose some very negative tweets about Axanar, blasting crowdfuning for its lack of accountability, blasting Alec Peters for his lack of acting chops, blasting Peters as making Axanar his personal act of hubris. I really don't find anything to justify this, and he's supplied nothing in the way of evidence to support his statements.

EVERYONE knows Alec Peters can't act, including Peters. Which is why he's been taking acting classes. This is his project, his idea, and a fuckton of his personal money. Of course he deserves center seat in the damn thing. And, not for nothing, Prelude to Axanar proves he can summon up the acting chops to at least play the "calm, cool, professional" military man you see on TV whenever there's an interview with an astronaut, combat pilot, or airline pilot who has done something heroic. They are all deadpan stoics. Big whoop.

As for the accountability of Axanar's funding... I am left to wonder where and how an ACTOR thinks he should have access to that information, or approval for it. Be that as it may:
Team Axanar is very proud to once again set the standard for financial accountability and transparency in the world of crowd funded projects with the revised Axanar Annual Report. This 23 page document outlines the finances of the Prelude to Axanar and Axanar Kickstarters, taking donors up through July 31st, 2015. This document includes:

Prelude to Axanar Financials – A line by line accounting of how that $101,171 was spent.

Axanar Kickstarter Financials – A category breakdown of the $638,471 raised and how it was spent, including an analysis of what changed from our initial expectations and why costs have risen or changed.

Also included is a section on lessons learned and accomplishments, as well as what is up for 2016.
Never saw that out of ANY fan production before.

I'm not sure why Tony Todd backed out of the production, but it honestly sounds to me more like a classical actor spat than any legitimate complaint. Unless he comes up with some serious story that is backed up by the other actors and crew, I am inclined to think he's just an actor having a snit over not enough control, or not enough screen time for his character.

This is a fan film, period, no matter how good it looks. It's going to have fan mistakes, fan egos, fan personalities, and it's going to suffer from being the first production of this particular group of people. I'm certainly not ready to cast such harsh judgement on what so far has been above board and amazing.

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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 12/30/15

Finally, the official response from Alec Peters on the matter.

https://www.bleedingcool.com/2015/12/30 ... r-lawsuit/
Alec Peters STATEMENT FROM ALEC PETERS, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF AXANAR
December 30, 2015

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.
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 12/31/15

News of the lawsuit lit up the internet all day yesterday. It made a CNNmoney segment today.

https://money.cnn.com/2015/12/31/media/ ... index.html
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 01/02/16

More wisdom from David Gerrold.
So let me talk about the lawsuit against Axanar, by CBS and Paramount.

I will qualify my remarks by saying I have no dog in this particular fight, I am only a knowledgeable observer.

I've known several people in the Paramount legal department, most of whom were honorable. I also have known several fan film productions, most of whom were not only honorable but enthusiastic about Star Trek in a way that should embarrass some of the people who were paid to produce actual episodes of the series.

That said, I think the lawsuit was filed without sufficient consideration of the situation.

Fans have been making Star Trek fan films -- and crowdfunding them -- for fifteen years. There's Star Trek New Voyages, Star Trek Farragut, Star Trek Renegads, Star Trek Continues, and probably a few others I'm unaware of. These are all recreations of the original series, with fan actors playing Kirk, Spock, McCoy et al. These are all filmed on recreations of the original series bridge and corridors and other sets. They are filmed with replicas of props, costumes, makeup, and set design. They are such accurate recreations of the original series that bootleggers overseas have sold copies of the episodes as if they are the real thing.

All of the fan film productions operate under the same general guideline -- have fun, but you're not allowed to make a profit. So all of the fan film productions are freely available on YouTube.

Part of the reason so many professionals, like myself, have participated in fan productions is the desire to make and see more Star Trek. Those who were too young (or not born yet) to participate in the original series, have come to the fan productions as an opportunity to be a part of the magic.

All of this has to be seen as a measure of the kind of enthusiasm that Star Trek fans have and that should be available to any new Star Trek movie or TV series.

Now, Axanar -- Axanar is not a recreation of the original series. It's about a battle referred to in passing, in only one episode of the original series. It's about a minor character in one episode and how he became a Starfleet legend. It does not take place on the Enterprise. It does not use any of the characters of the original series. Its closest relationship to the original series is that it takes place in the same universe, many years before Kirk and Spock.

Now ... I am not a lawyer and I have not been approached by either side to function as either a consultant or an expert witness (although, if this ever goes to trial, I expect I will be called in) -- but, if Axanar represents an infringement on the copyrights of Paramount and CBS, then so does Star Trek New Voyages, Star Trek Farragut, Star Trek Renegades, and Star Trek Continues. And whoever else.

Based on the number of views that all these separate iterations have earned worldwide -- possibly more than a hundred million -- Paramount and CBS could file for damages of a billion dollars.

And the resulting fannish firestorm would go on for years.

As I have heard the story, the first New Voyages episode was a private adventure, never intended for internet distribution. But one of the participants did upload it to YouTube -- and shortly thereafter, James Cawley received a call from Paramount legal, the gist of which was: "Have fun, but don't sell tickets, don't sell copies, don't make a profit."

Now, that was smart, it recognized fannish enthusiasm -- but at the same time, it planted the seeds for today's situation, because it created a de facto license for all Star Trek fan films.

Which brings us to the lawsuit against Axanar. The lawyers have to prove two things:

1) That this fan film represents a significant usage of Paramount/CBS's property.

and

2) Axanar is a profit-making enterprise. (Ohell, it isn't even THE Enterprise.)
Both will be hard to prove, especially the latter, because of all the fan films, Axanar has been the most transparent with its fund-raising and its accounting.

There is a third point that would likely be made in such a court case:

If Axanar represents a threat to the copyright, why haven't Paramount and CBS taken steps to shut down New Voyages, Farragut, Renegades, and Continues? What makes Axanar different? What makes Axanar a threat?

Paramount/CBS's response would likely be that Axanar represents a professional level of production. Well, yes -- but so does New Voyages. (I can't speak for any of the others on that, although I do know that many professionals have been involved with Continues and Renegades.)

There is a way out of this mess -- and if people on all sides of this are smart -- it could be resolved in a matter of days.

Lucasfilm is the model. They created an award for fan films and even arranged licensing and distribution.

Paramount/CBS should do the same. There are people at CBS who would love to put out a DVD or Blu-ray distribution of Star Trek fan films, but have so far been unable to get approval for the idea. But it's a good idea. An official distribution of fan films would generate money for both the copyright owners and for the filmmakers to use in future efforts. The fan-films would be officially licensed as fan productions.

To make this work, the studio would have to hire a qualified liaison to work with various fan films to make sure that they follow appropriate guidelines and in return would receive the blessings of legal distribution and protection.

By keeping the fan films in a specific licensed venue, a kind of voluntary garden, Paramount and CBS would benefit from the good publicity of being seen to promote and foster great fan efforts -- the fans would benefit from having a specific legal venue for their individual productions.

Yes, there would be a lot of paperwork to be settled -- and I expect the cooperation of various Guilds might be necessary as well -- but the goal here is to produce a win-win situation for everyone, but especially for the fans.

Because if it weren't for the fans and their loyalty for the past 49 years, there wouldn't have been a franchise in the first place.
Feel free to share.
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 01/09/16

Hey all, here are some updates:

1) We are in deep talks with one of the top 20 IP firms in the country who is very interested in taking our case pro-bono. This is VERY exciting. The quality of lawyers we are talking with who want to represent us is amazing. This is a very high profile case with a high profile defendant and unsettled law.

2) We are all meeting every day about the way to move forward. As I have said before, you the donors are our PRIMARY focus. What will you like? What do you expect? How freaking cool are you guys to be so supportive!

3) Really, all your love is keeping us fired up!

4) Don't believe the haters. I have heard so many outrageous lies that today we were trying to top each other in the office reading our FB feeds, laughing about the lies.

5) We have stopped taking donations on our Indiegogo as we don't want to mislead anyone with the uncertainty!

Keep your chins up soldiers! We are pretty fired up at the studio, so you should be too!

Alec
I wonder how soon a court date it will be?
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 01/13/16

http://www.axanarproductions.com/david- ... ar-part-3/
Star Trek Legend David Gerrold expands again on his previous comments on the CBS lawsuit vs. Axanar.

Let me add this.

Seeing as how Axanar, the feature-length fan film has not yet been made, the lawsuit can only be seen as a preemptive strike.

It would not be too difficult for the producers of Axanar to make necessary changes to their costumes and sets and props and even their effects, nor would it be that hard to change the names of all the characters in their script. That is, everything that directly infringes on the Paramount/CBS copyrights could be eliminated — and Axanar could continue as an independent film, independent of Paramount and CBS.

Therefore the only claim that Paramount/CBS might have would be the short film that was released, PRELUDE TO AXANAR.

Renaming everything is an option to the producers of Axanar. I don’t know if it’s the best option, but it is one that could be done now–before the feature-length Axanar actually starts shooting.

Mostly, however, I think the whole thing is more of a public relations nightmare for everybody, and I hope that both sides (and their lawyers) can sit down at a conference table and just talk it out to see what best serves everyone — but most of all, what best respects Star Trek’s fans. Because if the outcome here is one that fandom in general dislikes, it will create additional damage to Paramount/CBS’ relationship with their audience.

Would there be a boycott and would such a boycott be effective?

Well, back in the days when Star Trek II was in production, one self-inflated fan, who believed he had built up a following among Trek fans, wrote a letter to the studio threatening that if he wasn’t given a part in the picture, his fans would boycott the film and the studio would lose millions of dollars. Harve Bennett almost hurt himself badly when he fell out of his chair laughing.

In more recent years, many fans of the original series have expressed their dislike of the Jar Jar Abrams version of Trek. Many of them have chosen not to see his films and many are saying they do not intend to see the third film either. Based on the evidence of the films’ gross earnings, it doesn’t look like that “boycott” has had much effect on the box office.

And that’s my point — even if Paramount/CBS trigger a fannish firestorm, they likely believe (and justifiably so) that any attempt at a boycott will have insignificant results. They likely believe (and justifiably so) that they can ride out a cycle of bad publicity.
Well, yes and no.

Some fans have wisely pointed out that the best publicity for Star Trek comes from Star Trek fandom. Fans share the trailers, they share the news, they share the excitement, they generate the buzz. If fans become disaffected, then Paramount and CBS lose one of their greatest assets — and that does hurt the box office grosses. Case in point? The ENDER’S GAME film took a hit because of Orson Scott Card’s publicly expressed anti-LGBT sentiments. How big a hit? Hard to say, but the bad buzz was significant enough that the filmmakers had to issue a disclaimer to Card’s remarks.

Back in the day, Star Trek’s greatest asset was Gene Roddenberry. Fans adored him. Ohell, everybody loved him. (At least until they had a chance to work for him, but that’s another story.) Gene attended conventions regularly and he was the great cheerleader. He was the Great Bird.

Since his death, Trek has not had many great cheerleaders. To some extent, Shatner and Nimoy and Patrick Stewart, and a few other cast members — but nobody represented Trek like Gene Roddenberry. And to the fan base, Gene represented the core of the vision. No one else has ever come close.

Without Gene, without someone who still holds the vision that Gene represented, Trek sometimes feels like a rudderless ship being pushed this way and that by the winds of change — a tall ship with a star, but no Captain to steer her by that star.

So the situation that needs to be addressed by Paramount and CBS isn’t simply resolving the question of Axanar and other fan films — it’s the larger question of rebuilding the audience’s trust that Star Trek is in good hands. The producers of various fan films have consistently demonstrated that they have a better grasp of the original vision of the show than some of the people who have been paid to reboot it or reinvent it.

Some people believe that Paramount and CBS don’t care about that original vision — that the reboots are an attempt to capture a newer, younger audience. From a shareholder’s view, that makes sense. From the fans’ view, it doesn’t — because it’s that original vision that created Star Trek fandom in the first place.

I’ve been to my share of Trek conventions. Nobody blows the roof off the building the same way William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy could. Nobody.

That should tell you something too.

There is a way to proceed that could be a win-win for everybody, but if it isn’t a win for the fans, then it isn’t a win at all.
  • David Gerrold (born January 24, 1944)[1][2][3] is an American science fiction screenwriter and novelist known for his script for the popular original Star Trek episode “The Trouble With Tribbles“, for creating the Sleestak race on the TV series Land of the Lost,[4] and for his novelette “The Martian Child“, which won both Hugo and Nebula awards, and was adapted into a 2007 film starring John Cusack.
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Lyah » 01/20/16

I spoke with a lawyer where I work today, and he sides with CBS/Paramount's right to sue based on the fact that people are drawing a salary for Axanar. It doesn't matter how reasonable the salaries are, the fact that anyone is getting paid is enough to justify the law suit. The problem for CBS, he notes, is that they had MONTHS AND MONTHS of discussion between Axanar crew and CBS corporate. It's very late in the production of Axanar, which they were fully informed about, for them to suddenly send out a C&D order.

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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 01/23/16

I know it's too early to see where this will wind up. I just have this sneaky feeling Paramount bit off more than they can chew.

https://www.axanarproductions.com/axana ... t-lawsuit/
Axanar Productions Signs Winston & Strawn as Legal Counsel in Copyright Infringement Suit.

Image


Valencia, California-based Axanar Productions has engaged Winston & Strawn as legal counsel to help defend it against claims made by Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios.

(Valencia, CA) – Alec Peters, Executive Producer of AXANAR, a feature-length film financed through crowd funding and direct donations from fans, announced today that the company producing the film, Axanar Productions, has engaged Winston & Strawn, one of the leading IP practices in the country, to provide legal counsel in its lawsuit with CBS Studios, Inc. and Paramount Pictures Corporation. Representing Axanar Productions and Peters will be attorneys Erin Ranahan and Andrew Jick from the firm’s Los Angeles office. Winston & Strawn have agreed to represent Axanar Productions and Alec Peters on a pro-bono basis.

The suit, filed by CBS and Paramount on December 29, 2015, seeks to stop Axanar Productions from producing a fan film set in the Star Trek universe. The suit also asks for damages from the production company, its chief executive Alec Peters and a host of unnamed defendants who were involved in the production of the short film PRELUDE TO AXANAR.

“We’re pleased to have our case taken up by Winston & Strawn,” said Peters. “The knowledge, credibility and reputation they bring to this matter will certainly help us work things out with CBS and Paramount in a professional manner and, we hope, to a mutual benefit so we can go on and make a Star Trek film fans have told us they want to see.”

In the meantime, Axanar Productions has suspended fund-raising activities for the feature production and has announced a delay in principal photography until the fate of the lawsuit can be discussed in more detail with counsel. “We want to produce this film,” said Peters. “And we want to respect the rights of the owners of the intellectual property on which our film is based.”

A formal response to the lawsuit will be prepared and delivered to the court by the extended deadline of February 22nd.
I found this tidbit interesting.

https://variety.com/2014/film/news/holl ... 201340638/
Erin R. Ranahan, 36
Partner, Winston & Strawn
The San Francisco native began her career litigating intellectual property matters on behalf of EMI, Smokey Robinson and Marvel Comics. Lately, she’s been working the bleeding edge of copyright law, scoring victories that include a summary judgment for defendant Veoh against UMG that’s considered a landmark Digital Millennium Copyright Act decision. She’s also litigated for Wolfgang’s Vault/Bill Graham Archives in disputes against the surviving members of Led Zeppelin, the Doors and the Grateful Dead. “There are always new and exciting things happening in this area,” she says.
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 01/31/16

'Star Trek' Fans Tap Winston Copyright Whiz To Fight Suit
By Bill Donahue

Law360, New York (January 27, 2016, 8:35 PM ET) -- Facing a copyright infringement lawsuit from Paramount Pictures and CBS, the producers of an unauthorized Star Trek spinoff have found themselves a lawyer — and it just so happens to be a Winston & Strawn LLP partner with lots of experience defending against high-profile copyright claims.

Erin Ranahan, a partner at the firm’s Los Angeles office, signed on last week to represent Axanar Productions Inc. pro bono in the studios' lawsuit over “Axanar” — a feature length, professional-quality Star Trek fan fiction film funded by $1.1 million in fan donations on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter.

"Axanar" writer Alec Peters believed he had a greenlight from CBS to make his film, which tells the backstory of a legendary Starfleet captain who is briefly featured in the original Star Trek television series. CBS had apparently tolerated other fan fiction over the years, and the production company’s website said he thought it was kosher to use the Star Trek IP as long as the movie stayed “totally noncommercial.”
But the studios, which are releasing a new Star Trek movie in 2016, had other ideas. CBS and Paramount filed suit on Dec. 29, claiming Axanar had improperly used “innumerable copyrighted elements” from the lucrative sci-fi franchise and had “unabashedly” infringed the company’s intellectual property. The suit asked for damages and an injunction to block the production of “Axanar,” which was set to kick off this month.

For Ranahan, defending the producers from crushing statutory liability in a closely watched case that they almost certainly could not have afforded to fight on their own was part of the decision to take it on.

“It's an interesting area of law, and it’s obviously a high-profile case,” she told Law360 in a phone interview Wednesday. “And the cost of these cases can put these people out of business.”

But perhaps just as importantly, the case is also squarely in her wheelhouse.

For years, she was one of the key members of the Winston & Strawn team that represented video-sharing site Veoh Networks Inc. against infringement claims from Universal Music Group Inc. — a suit that was hugely important in setting the boundaries for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe harbors.

UMG claimed Veoh had lost the safe harbor’s immunity by failing to sufficiently police infringing material posted to the site by its members, saying it must have known that its users were using the service for piracy.

But in March 2013, the Ninth Circuit sided definitively with Veoh, rejecting UMG’s “shouldhave-known approach” and saying a site could only lose its safe harbor if it had ignored specific instances of infringement. The ruling was viewed as making it tougher for media firms to bring infringement claims against Web hosts like Veoh.

Before that, Ranahan defended mobile ringtone provider Myxer against copyright claims filed by the major record labels, eventually beating back a bid to revoke that company’s safe harbor protection. She’s also spent years handling copyright claims against Wolfgang's Vault, an online marketplace for live concert recordings and memorabilia.

After nearly a decade of defending Internet companies against crushing infringement claims in the unexplored realms of copyright law, Ranahan sees parallel challenges in the case filed against Axanar.

“This type of fan fiction represents another gray area under the law,” she said Wednesday. “Our clients are good actors who were trying to follow all the rules and navigate the legal waters.”

Ranahan has only just begun digging into the case against Axanar, but said that the company’s defense could incorporate an argument of waiver. After all, Peters told media outlets in August that “CBS has a long history of accepting fan films” that were noncommercial, and he apparently had met with the studio about his project and believed he could move forward so long as he never made any money from it.

Then there’s fair use. Axanar obviously used some amount of copyrighted Star Trek material, but did he sufficiently transform it with his own creative expression into something new? Did his fan film harm CBS and Paramount’s ability to make money from the studio’s official films and television shows?

The fair use doctrine’s scope is notoriously difficult to define, but Ranahan sees positive signs in the facts of the case.
“Their use of the [copyrighted] material is really minimal, and the film involves so much of their own creativity,” she said. “But fair use is always going to be an adventure.”

Even with capable counsel, where the case really goes from here is anybody’s guess. Though lamenting that the studios were suing “the very people who have enthusiastically maintained” the Star Trek franchise for decades, Peters said in December that the company hoped the situation could “be worked out in a fair and amicable manner.”

Though she’s got the experience to fight the case, Ranahan echoed those sentiments Wednesday.

“This suit is designed to stop the movie, but there is room for us to reach some kind of amicable settlement,” she said. “These aren't parties that should be antagonistic with each other.”

The case is Paramount Pictures Corp. et al. v. Axanar Productions Inc. et al., case number
2:15-cv-09938, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
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Re: Star Trek: Axanar (Independant Movie Project)

Post by Psia » 02/23/16

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-es ... unt-868691

Later this year, Star Trek will celebrate its 50th birthday. Before that happens, though, Paramount and CBS are being challenged to provide more ownership information about their franchise as well as discuss the nuances of the multiple television series and the many films that have resulted from Captain James T. Kirk's original five-year mission aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise.

This is happening because Alec Peters and other Star Trek fans put in motion a studio-quality film titled Axanar with money raised from Kickstarter. In reaction, Paramount and CBS brought a lawsuit in December alleging that the producers of this crowdfunded movie were "using innumerable copyrighted elements of Star Trek, including its settings, characters, species, and themes."

But according to a court filing on Monday by the defendants, that's nowhere near enough to survive dismissal.

The first thing that the defendants request is more specificity about which of the "thousands" of copyrights relating to Star Trek episodes and films are being infringed — and how.

Taking issue with a complaint that lumps the entire Star Trek universe together, the dismissal motion points out that the original series featured a certain adventure aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise — one involving fictitious species such as the Vulcans and the Klingons — whereas The Next Generation had new captain (Jean-Luc Picard) and "revealed a universe with previously unexplored dimensions."

The defendants also nod to new characters, sets and plots in Voyager and Deep Space Nine and the various films (including the upcoming series and film) to arrive at the argument that Paramount and CBS aren't doing an adequate job recognizing the vast differences between the films and television episodes nor meeting minimum pleading standards. Producers of the crowdfunded film argue they shouldn't be left guessing about what they've infringed nor should they be required to sift through each movie and TV episode to determine the claims against them.

"Plaintiffs do not allege that Defendants are engaged in wholesale copying of each Star Trek motion picture and television episode, or even that Defendants lift substantial material from each of Plaintiffs’ alleged works," states the motion. "Plaintiffs’ conclusory allegations do little to put Defendants on adequate notice of the claims against them."

The lawsuit is also being challenged on a second ground.

The defendants want Paramount and CBS to do a much better job explaining their ownership claims over the Star Trek franchise which was first shown on NBC and eventually became tangled in the Sumner Redstone media empire. Paramount took control of Star Trek from Lucille Ball's Desilu in the late 1960s. A couple decades later, Paramount was acquired by Viacom, which then merged with CBS, which then separated from each other. Copyright registrations and assignments now govern ownership on a broad level, but defendants demand more information about who-owns-what.

"Which Plaintiff owns which alleged copyrights is critical to Defendants’ investigation into Plaintiffs’ claims, as it could be that the only works that Plaintiffs are actually alleging Defendants infringed are owned by one Plaintiff as opposed to the other," states the motion. "Plaintiffs’ joint ownership allegation is not plausible in light of the contradicting information in the Complaint regarding assignment, presenting another ground upon which dismissal is proper."

Lastly, and certainly of significant legal importance, because the crowdfunded film hasn't actually been made yet, the lawsuit is being flagged as "premature, unripe and would constitute an impermissible prior restraint on speech."

This line of attack has come up in prior copyright lawsuits over other franchises. For instance, two years ago, when rights-holders of James Bond sued Universal Studios over Section 6 — a film project about the early days of the U.K.'s spy agency MI6 — Universal argued that it was in the process of changing a screenplay that would remove any material that might arguably be infringing. A judge denied the dismissal motion — and the case was later settled.

There are other cases, though, that stand for the proposition that since expression and not ideas are what's copyrightable, plaintiffs shouldn't be allowed to sue before a court can actually see the allegedly infringing work in question.

According to a description of the movie on the defendants' website, "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."

But the defendants say there are multiple versions of the script, still being revised and rewritten.

As the defendants, represented by attorneys at Winston & Strawn, put it, "Until the film has been completed, the Court will not be able to compare Defendants’ film with the relevant Star Trek films and episodes at issue to determine whether the themes, mood, setting, pace, plot and characters are substantially similar. Moreover, to the extent any of the elements Plaintiffs are complaining about are actually protectable, Defendants intend to vigorously defend their use (if any) as a fair use. Without a film, the Court cannot evaluate the purpose and character of Defendants’ film, whether it is transformative, or a parody, and the amount and substantiality taken (if any). Similarly, the Court will not be able to evaluate any de minimis use defense."

Here's the full motion:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-es ... unt-868691
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