Saturday, May 21, 2016

Paramount To Drop Axanar Lawsuit

Today at a fan event to premiere the new Star Trek Beyond trailer, JJ Abrams revealed that the Axanar lawsuit is being dropped.
A few months back there was a fan movie, Axanar that was being fan made, and there was this lawsuit between the studio and these fans. And [Star Trek Beyond director] Justin [Lin] was sort of outraged by this as a longtime fan. And, we started talking about it and realized this was not an appropriate way to deal with the fans. The fans should be celebrating this thing, we all [as] fans are part of this world. So he went to the studio and pushed them to stop this lawsuit and now within the last few weeks it will be announced that this is going away and the fans will be able to [continue] their productions.
In general CBS Entertainment and Paramount do little to interfere with fan funded Star Trek related productions as long as a few unofficial rules are followed. One, they have to honor the series so no making Kirk a homicidal maniac or something. Two, they can't interfere with CBS and Paramount (say by competing against them or creating products from their fan creation). Three, they can't profit from Star Trek (which is why fan productions are free when released). Four, they have to be receptive to when CBS or Paramount warns them they may be breaking these key rules or other ones. For years this gentleman fan agreement has stood with little difficultly. Until Axanar.

While the exact details remain murky, Paramount and CBS filed a lawsuit against Axanar for their multi-million dollar fan funded project. Potential problems include a studio built from those funds, potentials products, and ignoring CBS when they raised concerns about the project. By profiting (via their own studio), even indirectly, from the film they broke one of the prime rules but then ignoring CBS about it resulted in a lawsuit to protect their intellectual property. I have no doubt that after a whole lot of money was paid to the lawyers, CBS would have prevailed. Fans however would have lost as it would have pretty much guaranteed that any future fan films would legally be barred from being made. So regardless of what side you fall on, I think dropping the lawsuit and returning to the agreement is good for all involved and hopefully CBS and Axanar are able to work out what difficulties that led to the lawsuit.

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