There are times I can admit I’m wrong and I’m happy to say I was wrong about the future of Star Trek. For a while, after watching one of my favorite shows die a slow death, I figured the franchise was done. Even when it was given a film reboot, I expected a cheap cash-grab to cap it off before the thing flat-lined. Needless to say, I’m actually kind of surprised that Star Trek is back on its feet in time for its 50th anniversary. It’s probably one of the few times a reboot has actually successfully relaunched a franchise. And it’s especially surprising given the guy who pulled it off.
Anyone who has followed this blog over the last few years will likely remember that I’ve taken a few quick shots at JJ Abrams and his ideas of storytelling. I’m not against mystery plots in speculative fiction worlds, I’ve written two so far myself, but the way he goes about it is less like telling a well crafted story and more about telling a story, leaving out half the details, and then telling you that was the point. He’s basically three flops away from being the next M Night Shyamalan.
But, I’ve got to give him credit for this: he did manage to revitalize Star Trek and it was looking like that wasn’t going to happen for a while. After Star Trek: Enterprise suffered an ignoble death at the hands of UPN and Nemesis gave the movies a shot to the kidneys, there really wasn’t a lot of reason to hope for the future of Trek. The 2009 reboot, in a lot of ways, was a Hail Mary to keep the property running. Need evidence? The 11 years since Enterprise went off the air has been the longest time without a Trek show on TV since the gap between TOS and TNG. And what made TNG possible? The Star Trek movies did damn well in the 80s too.
So for all the things I disagree with Abrams on, I have to admit that he gave the franchise a shot of life it needed at a fairly dark time. Now, Star Trek news is all over the place and people are actually excited about the property again. Star Trek Beyond is getting pretty solid reviews despite the turbulence involved in getting it together. There’s a new show coming to air in 2017, Star Trek: Discovery, and a lot of fan communities are getting excited about it – even new viewers, which is something the franchise hadn’t had for years before Abrams’ movie. And recently, as of this writing, the internet is buzzing again with news about Discovery’s showrunner, Bryan Fuller, giving us an insight into what he plans to do with the series next year.
Oh, and Fuller also might have accidentally confirmed why CBS sued Axanar.
To Boldly Go Where No Fan Can Go
For months, after the sudden and surprising lawsuit leveled against the production studio behind Axanar, people have been putting in their two cents on just why they would get sued. Some have argued it was because they raised over a million dollars in crowdfunding. This is definitely a good argument, and some people within the fan-film community have said that Axanar basically spoiled everything by going too far. But CBS and Paramount’s new guidelines actually condone crowdfunding (though no where near a million dollars). So then the question would be, is it because so many old cast and crew members were involved? Once again, probably a valid argument, and people are being banned from doing so in the future. But this would ignore the fact that cast and crew have been involved in these things for decades and that a simple non-compete clause could have prevented it.
It all just leads to a lot of questions without answers, because for every point of contention you could raise you find that CBS and Paramount were just fine with it until Axanar. One could argue that it was a matter of degrees, but then if no profit is being made and no contracts are being violated, why would those degrees matter? The only explanation that makes sense, and the one that lingered the longest without any direct evidence, was that Axanar proved to be a threat to the official productions. But, as I argued the last time, Axanar wasn’t even really in the same genre as Abrams’ movies – one being clearly portrayed as a more serious war oriented movie and the other being an action adventure space romp. Even Abrams agreed that there shouldn’t be a lawsuit against the production.
Then Discovery came along, Bryan Fuller started talking about what it was going to be, and a lot of people had their “Eureka” moment.
You see, in the short time since we have had some actual information on what Discovery was going to be about, a few things had become readily clear. First, this was going to be a prequel that was going to take place before the original Star Trek but after Enterprise. Second, it was going to explore part of the Star Trek timeline that had been talked about often but never directly explored. And third, it was going to be told in the style of Bryan Fuller, a guy known for being a lot more edgy than previous Trek showrunners, with his biggest claim to fame being a show about a cannibal who was readily seen cutting up human corpses.
Suddenly, a lot of people started to connect the dots and see that maybe, just maybe, Axanar was a threat to the shows and not the movies. The more serious, even grim, tone was going to probably be provided by Fuller. It also couldn’t be ignored that the two were both presented as prequels closer to The Original Series than to Enterprise. The only question left was just what event was Discovery going to cover, and Bryan Fuller answered in a way that came off cryptic to casual fans but was clear as day to the Trekkie hoards.
“Fuller teased that there was an event in the history of the Federation that had been discussed, but not explored. When asked if it was set during the Romulan War, Fuller said “close, but no cigar.”
To most people, just getting into the history of the Star Trek universe, that wouldn’t really be a huge signal. But to others? The fact the Romulan war is “close” means that it has to be an event of similar importance and likely content. The problem, really, is that there are very few events that happened between Enterprise and The Original Series which had any “discussion”. And, in fact, there were so few events worth talking about that even the interview above came down to “does it involve the Battle of Axanar?”
To be fair to Fuller, he said that they weren’t going to be doing anything involving the Battle of Axanar. And I’m really excited to see what he does on the writing front, because they’re talking about making it a serialized story. But the fact remains that whatever he’s dealing with, given the slim pickings made available when you ignore the Romulan war, is going to be shockingly similar in content to what Axanar was doing. And, due to a couple musical cues and some designs seen in the teaser trailer for Discovery, a lot of people were thinking Discovery is going to be about an open conflict with these guys.
So what CBS is potentially offering is an armed conflict directed by someone known more for his grim tones. This wouldn’t be a problem under most circumstances, but Axanar did fantastic for a fan production and even its 20 minute short film, which was mostly a proof of concept, gave a fantastic show of the crew’s skills. And that, there, was the final nail in the coffin. With the subject matters seeming to be so damn close, CBS couldn’t really afford to be outdone by a fan production. The effects of Axanar, despite being handled by an independent studio, were highly professional and exciting.
A lot of people would look at that and say that they don’t really see why CBS would be threatened, because clearly CBS could do the same. But it’s also hard to ignore that, as we learn the potential content of the show, the timing of their actions also add some validity to this theory. Axanar’s initial fundraiser started in July of 2014 without a peep from CBS or Paramount. It did fantastic. Then, it did it again in 2015 for a second round of funding to bump it over that million mark. CBS then announced that they were going to do a new Star Trek show in November of 2015. Then, in December 2015, 17 months after Axanar’s first fundraiser, but only one month after DIscovery’s announcement, CBS finally sued!
You can’t tell me a studio worried about the fundraising took that damn long to respond. In fact, had Axanar not run into a couple production problems, their original plan was to begin shooting in October 2015. This means Axanar, barring the problems that slowed them down, almost had enough time to raise funds and shoot in the time it took CBS and Paramount to respond. And it’s not like it was low on the radar, it raised over a million dollars. George Takei even advertised this thing to the rest of the world on social media. The original Prelude to Axanar was even aired at Comic-Con!
Instead, they didn’t say a single word on the subject until almost a year and a half after the ball started rolling and a full 4 months after they broke the million dollar mark. They didn’t say one word, even a cease and desist, until long after the community was already hyped. And they didn’t say one word until a month after they announced a show that we now know to be set in the same time period. To say it shows some insecurity right now would be an understatement.
But why am I so sure they were insecure? For as impressive as a million sounds, it’s pretty small for a feature film. All Axanar Productions really had was talent, passion, and drive. They put $80,000 into a 20 minute proof of concept. But in 4 months, Prelude to Axanar went from funded to being aired in San Diego Comic Con as one of the slickest Trek fan-films of all time. That success led to them raising the million dollars down the line. But a full two years after Axanar first hit the scene, CBS got their chance to step up and show the world what they had to offer. With 8 months of development behind them and who knows how much money a major network could muster, they stepped up with this…
You tell me if they had a reason to be insecure.
(I write novels. I have to admit, I’m growing used to the Discovery ship, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking it looks like their best effort. If you disagree, come at me on Twitter.)
72 thoughts on “Discovery and Axanar”
Spot-on, Jeremy. What’s more, CBS could have flat-out bought the rights to Axanar from creator Alec Peters last year for less than their current lawsuit will cost them in legal fees. What could have been a resounding victory for both the studio and the fans in the 50th anniversary year has instead soured the very relationship that kept Star Trek alive during all the years the series lay dormant. Axanar didn’t kill Star Trek; CBS did, out of ignorance, incompetence, and greed. It was a needless, self-inflicted wound.
Bought from a man who stole the IP? You sir fail to grasp who owns Star Trek.
Bought it as a script, assumed and paid off the production contracts, and otherwise retroactively made it official. CBS wouldn’t need to produce it, although it could. The lawsuit, though, hasn’t yet cost CBS much, if it is relying on salaried in-house counsel for much or all of the legal work, but the point is still valid.
Except the real problem with Axanar was the revenue streams Alec Peters created and was trying to create. See axamonitor.com for details but Axanar funded a business meant to make a profit by selling Star Trek. That’s a no-no. When Alec Peters asked me to pen Trek fiction for publication as a perk I told him he had to be licensed and he said he was “working on it.” When he asked me again and told me he was going to publish it UNLICENSED I refused and he suggested I do it under a pen name under the table. That’s not a fan act, that’s the act of someone trying to make a buck off Star Trek.
They never planed to sell it.. Axamonitor is BS!
Alec Peters didn’t “steal” anyone’s IP. CBS and Paramount’s long-standing practice of ignoring fan films was well-established. They even admit that all of the meetings Peters claimed took place did, in fact, take place, in their filed Answer to Axanar’s countersuit. More telling is that they do not deny Peters’ claim that he specifically asked for rules under which he could proceed, and CBS’ reply was “we won’t tell you what you can or can’t do until you do it”. That’s a different animal altogether from the half-truth being regurgitated by the project’s detractors, who claim “he was told to stop and he didn’t.” There was no communication to Alec Peters to stop. No cease and desist, no phone call, nothing–until the surprise lawsuit materialized out of thin air in late December.
Furthermore, Peters has never claimed he “owns” Star Trek. CBS was quite aware of Axanar, as Prelude to Axanar had been released well over a year earlier, and several CBS execs were invited to the ComicCon premiere in 2014. There was nothing but silence from CBS about it. Since other fan films like Star Trek Continues and New Voyages used far more of their IP, including soliciting public funds and selling t-shirts and DVDs, without drawing the studios’ ire, they had already made their practices clear.
The fact that Axanar drew so much attention and raised over $1 million in total was essentially free market research for CBS into what fans liked and what they would pay for. While there is certainly nothing stopping them from legally making a new show in whatever era they choose, it is morally and ethically wrong to copy Peters’ original idea without even acknowledging the source.
The lawsuit was ill-advised. They couldn’t realistically recover anything from such a small production, not even their legal fees. The smart thing to do was to buy out Peters’ interest, and hail it as a pinnacle of studio-fandom cooperation, even if they threw the whole script in a drawer and started from scratch. That would have served as a huge incentive for fan productions to raise their game (more free market research for CBS, more fandom engagement), while offering no guarantees that further deals might happen. The question of copyright laws could be kicked farther down the road (nobody really wants that can of worms opened, as it will escalate to the Supreme Court either way), and everyone could be winners.
But that’s not the road CBS chose. Incredibly short-sighted of them.
“More telling is that they do not deny Peters’ claim that he specifically asked for rules under which he could proceed, and CBS’ reply was “we won’t tell you what you can or can’t do until you do it”. ”
Had Mr. Peters had the foresight to take an IP lawyer with him to that meeting, that lawyer would have told him that moving forward with Axanar would mean that he– Alec Peters– would be accepting all the risk. In other words, CBS offered him no safe harbor, so venturing into their IP in even a tiny way would put him at risk for a lawsuit. He would have to defend his use of it in a court of law.
He apparently did not take such a lawyer with him to that meeting. Peters, CBS and the fan film community at-large now wishes that he had.
David, fan films have always been considered allowable by the studios. Fan films do not “steal IP” and readily acknowledge ownership in the credits. You sir, fail to understand the concept of IP law, stealing, fair use, and Star Trek.
Fan films have never been considered allowable just google shut down fan films and projects there are tons by many different companies and studios.
Saying that “fan films have always been considered allowable by the studios” is a bit misleading. While one or two fan productions did receive official communications from Paramount/CBS or Viacom, those did not contain approvals. Instead, they listed specific production limits which if violated could put them at risk of a lawsuit. That’s not the same as approval.
And those were just a few. To my knowledge, the vast majority of fan productions operated without any clear guidance from Paramount/CBS or Viacom. Instead, they relied on assumption they would avoid legal action as long as they remained non-commercial. This was reinforced over the years as productions that adhered to this position did indeed avoid legal action. As with those who received official letters, however, this was never approval. At best, it was an unofficial line that delineated the point at which violations would land on the rights holders’ radar.
100% agreement Reece!
“CBS could have flat-out bought the rights to Axanar from creator Alec Peters”?
Why would they pay for what they already own?
This afternoon I’m going to write a Star Wars script about the adventures of bounty hunter 4-Lom. Do you think Disney will then be interested in paying me for the rights? Because that sure would be an easy way to make money.
As a scriptwriter, I imagine you’d want to be paid for your work. Much like Joe Straczynski when CBS turned down his pitch for a show set on a station instead of a Starship. Then turned around and did Deep Space 9 after Joe did Babylon 5 instead.
Legally speaking the question of any IP violations is exactly what the court need to decide on… until Axenar is found guilty of violating their rights they have not done so.
Until now Axenar have done pretty well showing how weak CBS stand in this regard. What do they actually own?
Most of the stuff we consider Star trek are copied from other earlier works… Vulcan are just space elves, the federation is just the UN… and so on.
You make two good points but the second is a bit off the mark.
1) You’re right that Peters and Axanar have so far only been accused of violating copyright law. The weight of pre-trial evidence, however, is substantially against them.
2) You’re also right that many of Star Trek’s most identifiable elements were borrowed from earlier works. Unfortunately, that’s only part of the issue. Star Trek also comprises the combination of these elements, so while you may not be able to claim ownership of pointy ears or the name Vulcan, you can claim ownership when those ears are on a logical alien from the planet Vulcan.
They would pay you for your unique concept and script. NOT the rights to the intellectual property which they of course already own. So, since it is “an easy way to make money”, get to work oh genius wordsmith and earn thyself a place in Star Wars history!
Bravo, exactly my thinking and posting from the start. Allow Axanar to continue with CBS funding and no strings. Release it to theatres. If successful Axanar replaces Discovery as the new series.
Alec Peters claimed he offered all the assets Axanar has, including the script, to settle the lawsuit and CBS turned that down. So, what you said is not merely true, all taking Axanar and shutting it down would have cost CBS was their lawsuit.
Many of the “Guidelines” don’t even apply to Axanar, which had already dropped “Star Trek” from its title and had no plans for a sequel or series. The notion that the ‘Guidelines’ are about Axanar doesn’t fit the facts. They also seem to be about Continues (which ignored CBS’s objection to them calling themselves “Official Star Trek Continues,” while thanking CBS for not stopping them), Renegades, a number of other high-end fan films, but the ‘no series’ rule also would prevent a new “Hidden Frontier” or the like.
It’s clear that while what you are saying is true, CBS also wants to scare the heck out of the Star Trek fan film community. Some of the mid-range productions are just dropping their series names but continuing. Continues says it will cut the number of episodes it was planning to just 4 more, although only one has been shot.
It is unlikely that the court will grant Axanar a ruling of ‘fair use.’ But if it does, I’m confident CBS will rue the day they turned down the option of shutting down that lawsuit and just closing Axanar down. And in the unlikely event Axanar does win, you can expect the closing era of professional Star Trek Fan Films to look like the salad before the main meal.
So well said Reece..
You hit the nail right on the head on your statement. Both CBS and Paramount neglected to look at it as a brand new resource of collective Minds and direction for the brand name. These people involved in handling the script but in designing the film are nothing less than Geniuses in their own right just like Roddenberry was and at this time he’s probably turning in his grave over this whole situation. Roddenberry brought Star Trek to the world, over time the world ended up coveting his creation to where it has come to today. And for two companies to Baker over plagiarism and spelling rights of a brand that they never truly owned to begin with is hypocritical and nonsense when the fans were the ones that kept it alive to begin with. And they were very right to be afraid for the creative efforts Axanar how far out done and reached what Paramount try to put out or CBS is going to. Now on a side note would be interesting to bring these same lines together that brought us this wonderful example of a movie and get with the Syfy channel and collectively have them come together and bring back something that failed series that we’ve all been wanting to see. I think this company needs to stay together and some form after this movie is finally produced and continue forward in the direction that will show their true worthiness ,understandably that Star Trek is your passion as all of us ,sometimes you have to quit one battle in order to save the war just to return on the back side and conquere the Galaxy.
Exactly, rather than suing them, they should have helped them make the film and tie it into their new series, Discovery. Airing Axanar on CBS would have driven the demand for Discovery on the network to a frenzy and all would have won.
Are you for real ! Why the hell would CBS / Paramount need to purchase something they own the rights to ! Lets see you thinking here, let’s use starships from Star Trek, let’s use characters from Star Trek, let’s use Ideas and theories from Star Trek, let’s use uniforms from Star Trek — now let’s see, CBS/Paramount should give me money because I stole all three material to write a third grade quality CGI script, ya right !
As far as the legal fees are concerned, that’s more of an issue which Axanar and Alec are going to be dealing with after this lawsuit concludes – the losing party is going to be the suckers who are going to be held accountable for there misdirected creative skill, if you can call the cluster fuck Axanar creative !
Um, just what makes you believe that CBS owns the Axanar script? Do you believe that every script written in a particular series setting automatically belongs to the studio, no payment required? Or do you believe that a writer needs permission from the studio before ever setting pen to paper to write a screenplay that could be pitched to a studio?
Either way, I expect that the writers’ guild would disagree with you.
Now if CBS wins their suit, the judge may rule that CBS is to be granted all rights to the Axanar IP, and that all of Axanar’s real holdings are to be liquidated as infringement relief, but unless and until that time, CBS doesn’t own Axanar’s IP.
So until then, loyally bleating about how the studios automatically own everything conceived or produced (but not released) regarding Trek is a blatant advocacy of IP theft for the benefit of CBS/P, even if the product actually released has been modified to remove everything resembling Star Trek IP.
After all, if it was originally conceived as Trek, by your “logic”, CBS/P automatically owns all things Trek, right down to homemade Trek uniforms intended for costume contests.
“Pay for what “they” already own, my ass. People who believe that CBS “owns” everything Axanar, because “IP rights” clearly do not understand IP rights.
You may not actually believe that illogical nonsense, but it is what you are saying that CBS “already owns” Axanar. It doesn’t.
Sorry to poke a hole in your illogical little balloon.
This is the best thing I’ve read on the internet regarding the Axanar case. Major kudos and some hard hitting realizations.
Couldn’t agree more Mr. Varner! I see a WHOLE, WHOLE heckuva lot of ignorant rants about the fund-raising breaking all those records, or that the coffee (nee Raktajino? from the donors store) was the straw that broke the CBS/Paramount back. As I’ve said since these #Axahater sites started showing up (often spearheaded by obvious rivals), CBS did this because they saw a great idea, and were obviously threatened by the superior execution that Mr. Peters and partners brought.
I look forward to both a finished Axanar movie (done without the burdens of those moronic CBS guidelines) and the new Discovery series. But CBS has got to acknowledge Axanar before I’ll be shelling out to watch commercials on CBS AllAccess.
Excellent points Jeremy. A great piece of work. The Paramount/CBS suit has taken it’s toll on Trek fanship, and apparently taken a toll on revenue on the new movie itself. Which is a shame, because it really is a great movie. But when a casual film goer as well as a Trekkies hear through various media sources that a fan film is sued/bullied by a major film studio, people respond with their wallets. As shown in how Beyond performed compared to the last two films. Sure, we know CBS/Paramount own Star Trek, but did they really have to pull a dastardly move and just steal an idea and sue? Wouldn’t it been morally preferred to not screw over thousands of donors out of a fan film, and somehow work with Alec Peters and Axanar to create an alternative? Talk with their wallets? If you think people stayed away in droves as this recent film shows, just wait and see what happens when CBS asks these same donors and fans to pony up $6 for a new series.
Wallets are all that matters to CBS/Paramount. I did not see the movie because of the lawsuit and the way they screwed with fan based content with the new rules. I hate to hurt the reboot, but CBS/Paramount needs to remember there is no Star Trek without fans and not the other way around.
The article misses the mark entirely. CBS did not develop Discovery on their own as their own original idea. As reported many, many times, Alec Peters met with CBS execs BEFORE and AFTER Prelude to Axanar was released and explained the idea and concept of exploring pre TOS Federation history. No SIR, the entire idea to create a movie or even a show based on an AFTER Enterprise, pre TOS or before Kirk concept was all Alec Peters idea. Those execs he met with and explained his idea took it back to CBS stealing credit and stealing Alec’s idea. The only way to discredit Alec and shut down Axanar was to sue. Any other explanation, even the copywrite infringement argument, is pure dog poop.
They got away with it with Joe Straczynski when they made Deep Space 9. The difference here is that the fans are MUCH more connected and aware than they were back in 1995. With a lot more coverage of the production process. We know what they’re doing. And we’ll let them know with our wallets they won’t get away with it this time, hopefully.
Very interesting post, Mr. Varner. Personally, I think it’s a bit on the speculative side, but extremely interesting speculation, though. If this show does end up covering similar territory to what Mr. Peters had planned for Axanar, I will brand it as amazingly coincidental that the only fan productions to have received any legal attention from CBS this year were Axanar and Horizon (whose ship was named…..wait for it!…..Discovery.
They were both set in the same time period, as well. I noticed that similarity right at the beginning. Axanar still crossed more lines (where as Tommy Kraft just said “ok i’ll stop…”…. the studio infrastructure, the paying himself a salary, all the crazy merchandising, trying to copywrite the Ares…. Axanar poked the bear at the wrong time, and with the wrong content. The sad part is they could have had the whole thing produced and out a year ago, but they kept shooting for bigger and better. Shit, they were offered the use of the NV sets and turned it down so they could build their own. The entire situation is just a waste.
You are missing two key points. First is that in August 2015 Peters was warned not to proceede as reported in an article in The Wrap at the time. The second point is that the lawsuit was filed two months before Fuller was hired so any story ideas he had can have absolutely nothing to do with it.
In reply to Reece above, why would CBS/P need to buy the rights to something they already own?
John – there was no warning in August 2015. They didn´t say anything but to let Peters know when they think he was crossing the line. Which they did not – instead they sued.
CBS/P would need to buy the story. They most likely have the rights to the Star Trek universe, but they do not have the rights to the story.
From the Wrap article:
“The official line from CBS and Paramount, which manage the TV and film rights to the ‘Star Trek’ franchise, respectively, is not to endorse such a production.
“CBS has not authorized, sanctioned or licensed this project in any way, and this has been communicated to those involved,” a representative from the network told TheWrap. “We continue to object to professional commercial ventures trading off our property rights and are considering further options to protect these rights.” (Paramount did not return TheWrap’s request for comment.)”
This is from after the meeting Peters had with CBS that same month. That statement speaks volumes. They are clearly saying Axanar isn’t authorised, that they object, and are considering suing. There was an opportunity for him to stop there but he chose to push forward.
Yes, you are correct the if CBS wanted to use the exact story Peters came up with they would have to buy it. However, if they choose to make their own story based on the same elements that they already own they are entirely within their rights.
and we as fans have the right to boycott it as we did Axanar, right may not be as important here as smart. If CBS will get it’s head out of it’s bottom….. Star Trek Beyond has already lost 80 million dollars from this fan boycott. Star Trek Discovery is next in line and we are not blinking. If they are smart they will make peace with the fan film community and keep the promises they made in the Viacom Crackdown for no more heavy handed copyright treatment to this franchise… and asks us to return our support. If CBS continues suing Axanar we will boycott this TV series and the CBS consumer products and see CBS does not see a cent of income from this as we did in the 2004/2005 Viacom Crackdown bow in version 2.0 Smart money here is to make peace with fandom and end this Axanar lawsuit and allow fan films to continue in a win-win manner, and let the Axanar movie be completed. CBS in this lawsuit and guidelines has nothing to gain and everything to loose from keeping this lawsuit and the fan guidelines in place. Your move CBS.
Really? You have a seriously inflated sense of self importance. There is no way and no way to prove that they’ve lost 80 million from this poncy fan boycott. Even being generous that 100000 people skipped the movie because of the “boycot” you’re looking at less than a 2m loss. You need to get over yourself Para Mobius.
CBS has already made the next move and Discovery is already profitable on foreign rights alone. Your views, opinions, concerns, and demands are pointless and will fall on deaf ears.
John Smythe, the numbers don’t matter. The fact that Beyond under -performed against the first two films can only be speculated upon. True, CBS/Paramount own Star Trek. That is not in question. The question comes down to rights of an artist/creator to produce a concept using an IP, and being acknowledged for their work. Just like any other artist/creator who get credit as, “by a story from”, or, “from an idea by”. I concept readily respected in both the literary/film world. What CBS/Paramount did wasn’t illegal, it was morally wrong and lacks complete integrity and has/will come back to haunt them in either lost revenue, or/and future dealings with other artists who will see CBS/Paramount as morally corrupt.
Wow… the CBS apologists came out quick for that one didn’t they, Mobius? Don’t blink. There’s more of us in solidarity with you than he thinks. Stand firm.
$80 million? Probably more like $80,000.
And just so most of you know, neither Alec Peters, nor the author of this article, nor any of you speak for me as a Star Trek fan. I am so sick of Axanar fans thinking that their answer is the only way. It’s not. We are all entitled to our opinions on this. Frankly, the majority of fans don’t know nor care about Axanar. It’s time that this self-inflated ego that is so prevelant amongst you people goes away.
You want Axanar made. Fine. I can respect that. I don’t but if it ever did, it wouldn’t destroy my world. But Judge Klausner has specifically said in his ruling on Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss that there is nothing legally holding Axanar Productions from making the movie. The fan film guidelines are just that — guidelines. Axanar’s already getting sued. How much worse can it get for them? So you have to ask yourselves and your supreme leader: What exactly is holding anyone back from making this movie?
Exactly. Why do these few think they speak for all of The Fans? Star Trek fans aren’t a homogenous group, we have opinions as diverse as the stars in the sky. You need to be much more specific when talking about “The Fans”. Perhaps call yourselves AxaFans or something. Your opinions certainly seem to differ from all other Trek fans I know.
Excellent points, all. I am also a lifelong Star Trek fan and I have always resented pirates like Alec Peters who claim to love it yet can’t resist the desire to insert himself into it in a way that can only be described as the equivalent of public masturbation. When will this sad little man ever close his robe and get off the street corner?
Wow, angry much? “Pirates”? Seriously? I think you need to lighten up. All you did Jayston is show your immaturity by needing to attack someone who clearly has created something special that millions of Star Trek fans have seen and love. What have you done? Not much is my guess. Just another whiney troll who thinks attacking others online will make him feel better about himself.
Yes, pirates. Is that not an accurate description of someone who takes something of value that doesn’t belong to them and tries to make money off of it? Your defense of such behavior displays a pretty warped sense of right and wrong. It’s OK as long as thousands of people like it, right? Are you aware of just how much you have in common with Chinese IP thieves?!?
“What exactly is holding anyone back from making this movie?”
How about the fact that there are bills to pay?
Incurring more costs on an issue that is in litigation is a pretty idiotic idea.
Worst nightmare, no one is saying that all Star Trek fans are Axanar fan But your speculation that, “most Trek fans don’t know, or care about Axanar”, is pure opinion on your part. Axanar has been discussed in everything from Newsweek to Buzzfeed. If you haven’t heard about Axanar by now, you are living under a rock. As for why they haven’t proceeded with the film. I’m sure you understand the concept that when you are in a lawsuit, you don’t do anything that may damage your standing in court. Everyone understands that if you are being sued to NOT do something, you don’t do it until the case is settled. How much worse can it get? They can loose the case because they decided to overstep the process of allowing the judge to decide, and make the movie anyway. If you understand law in any capacity, you should understand that.
just a guess, but filming it might not be as fun for all involved with this lawsuit still hanging over their heads. If I were them, I’d wait till it was all over so if we won, we could film it in peace.
You really don’t get it do you? Any of you?
This is a repeat of what happened to a fellow in the nineties…
Peters went to CBS/Paramount with what he wanted to create. He started it, it was very good. It developed a following.
And CBS saw a chance to steal the idea for their own profit.
This isn’t about IP violations by Axanar. This is CBS stealing an idea that found traction in the fan base.
Just JMS. He pitched Babylon 5 to CBS, they turned him down. So he went somewhere else and made a full length movie which started a series… and wham! We have DS9.
This isn’t CBS being “creative” or “having a eureka” moment. It’s about shutting down a project that was popular because they found a way to profit off Axanar by doing their own.
CBS is being lazy and greedy.
You just gave me reason for optimism. It is a repeat of what happened in the Nineties. And because of what happened, we got to see not one, but two great sci fi series. DS9 and Babylon 5. If CBS had bought JMS’s pitch, he’d have been constrained by the history and requirements of the Trek universe, and couldn’t have created an entirely new and rich mythology for his own series.
Maybe we’ll see a repeat of that, too. Maybe we’ll have Discovery AND Alec Peters’ team will adapt and broaden their story to create their own mythology. Then people can whine about who stole from whom for the next seven years while I just sit back and enjoy watching both shows.
Why don’t we wait until we get some real confirmation on what Discovery’s story is going to be before we start saying Fuller stole from Alec? We know next to nothing about the series. And a time period does not mean a plot line.
It would be legally impossible for Peters to claim authorship of a script he wrote that contains characters and situations copyrighted by others. See http://www.kentlaw.edu/faculty/rwarner/classes/legalaspects_ukraine/copyright/cases/anderson_v_stallone.html
Actually “Jayston” or whatever your real name is., you are 100% WRONG. Legally Alec does own the Axanar script. He just doesn’t own the characters in it. You have no clue what you are talking about and clearly know nothing about copyright law and fair use, so why not just shut up and let the lawyers deal with it?
Well, sure, if by “own” you mean you can show it to your friends or line your birdcage with it, but as far as actually producing it the law suggests otherwise. Have you read Anderson v Stallone?!?
I do, in fact, know copyright law quite well, having studied it for years. I certainly know it better than the clowns at Axanar who never bothered to consult an IP lawyer before going into the Star Trek bootleg business. But hopefully you’re right, and Mr. Peters can sell his script as part of his pending estate sale. It will certainly hold a unique place in Trek history as the work that effectively killed the fan film industry.
“CBS could have flat-out bought the rights to Axanar from creator Alec Peters”?
Why would they pay for what they already own?
This afternoon I’m going to write a Star Wars script about the adventures of bounty hunter 4-Lom. Do you think Disney will then be interested in paying me for the rights? Because that sure would be an easy way to make money.
Author, it seems obvious you have never sold an writings to a company who own IP. There have been thousands of Star Trek, Star Wars, etc., books purchased and published. And yes, the writer was actually paid! Not because the writer sold the “IP rights”, but because the writer sold a story, or concept based on a IP. So yes, if you are a excellent writer, it is a easy way to make money. True, CBS/Paramount own Star Trek. That is not in question. The question comes down to rights of an artist/creator to produce a concept using an IP, and being acknowledged for their work. Just like any other artist/creator who get credit as, “by a story from”, or, “from an idea by”. It’s concept readily respected in both the literary/film world. What CBS/Paramount did wasn’t illegal, it was morally wrong and lacks complete integrity and has/will come back to haunt them in either lost revenue, or/and future dealings with other artists who will see CBS/Paramount as morally corrupt.
So they just wrote it up then approached the IP rights holders out of the blue one day and they handed over lots of money? Without any previous interaction between both parties? In which case, I will get my beach house SOON!
Or did the IP rights holders commission writers to create content through literary agents as is the norm in which case I’d best not purchase a sun lounger just yet.
It works both ways. An IP holder can hire/contract a person or persons to write a story, or someone can show up out of the blue and present a story to the IP holder.
With Star Trek, many people (many whom had previously been “nobodies”) showed up “out of the blue one day” with scripts for the shows, some of which were bought and made into episodes. This practice was actually encouraged, at various points, by the show creators (particularly during the TNG years). Many of the Star Trek novels were also from people submitting stories out of the blue.
Alec has stated they offered to give Axanar to CBS, if they would allow the movie to be completed. CBS turned them down.
For me, it comes down to this: Until those so-called guidelines for fanfilms are lifted, Start Trek Products can rot on the shelves for all I care. And while they’re there, so can Axanar. This whole kerfluffle ended up costing us not Axanar, but Star Trek New Voyages, and for that, it will take a lot from both sides for me to forgive. Rot in Hell Axanar, Rot in Hell STD. Rot in Hell CBS/Paramount.
Jeremy you really nailed it with this paragraph: “Instead, they didn’t say a single word on the subject until almost a year and a half after the ball started rolling and a full 4 months after they broke the million dollar mark. They didn’t say one word, even a cease and desist, until long after the community was already hyped. And they didn’t say one word until a month after they announced a show that we now know to be set in the same time period. To say it shows some insecurity right now would be an understatement.”
There is another piece to the puzzle which further cements your writing. After the lawsuit was launched, CBS went after another fanfilm by calling the creator and asking him to stop his production of Star Trek: Federation Rising. And ST:FR, of course, was a story that was going to take place after Star Trek Enterprise. So that is TWO shows that CBS stopped which both take place after Enterprise but before the original series.
I second another person’s comment about how DS9 may have been ‘stolen’ from the creator of Babylon5 – for those who know the story – and how that may be a repeated tragedy in CBS ‘stealing’ the storyline/timeperiod ideas of Axanar for Star Trek Discovery.
Great article. I agree with others that the best solution would have been for CBS to ‘adopt’ Axanar and take it under their wing. That would have pleased the fans, quashed any issues over copyright and kept together a team showing massive passion for the project.
Being a lifelong trek fan it pains me to see a franchise that’s been going for fifty years fall into this madness am I the only fan who is sick of prequels and going back to fill in the time line and make a whole series out of what will have been a few lines of dialogue in an episode to fill it out … Surely as our understanding of the universe unfolds and technology gets better and better we could have a really great futuristic star trek show hopping whole galaxies set years after the events in voyager or nemesis why do we have to keep going back and boxing it into a certain time period .. we know what happens and how it’s going to end and ultimately what happens next .. for me star trek was always about what’s possible in the future how far can the human race get out into the Galaxy .. what great technology and gadgetry is possible what new races and places are out there remember a lot of tech we have today was inspired by star trek and the imagination of the writers surely we don’t need to keep going back let’s move forward …
And if your looking for someone to blame for this it’s us the fans we should have boycotted this as soon as Abrams changed the timeline CBS and Paramount have cashed in the fan base for a quick buck I watched star trek beyond it was an action flick set in the star trek universe it was bad to say the least
Sad times I wonder what Mr Roddenberry would have said ….
I heard Mr. Roddenberry speak in the early eights. This is a direct quote. “If there is ever a Star Trek without my name attached, don’t watch it.”
If CBS was smart they would have bankrolled the Axanar production and paid the writers for their story. With all the interest in Axanar, CBS passed up on a lucrative deal that could have made them money and made the fans happy. Extremely shortsighted on their part.
It definately makes sense that CBS/P’s lame-ass lawsuit came out of pure insecurity.
The lawsuit had nothing to do with profit, as no profit was ever made by Axanar (paying actors and producers is part of the Cost, not Profit). It had nothing to do with copyright infringement, as Star Trek Continues and Star Trek New Voyages both infringe on far more elements than Axanar ever did. It just makes sense that Paramount/CBS were merely jealous that a group of fans were able to create a quality product that could easily compete ( nevermind merely supplement) with official content.
Given what I’ve seen of Axanar’s product and what I’ve seen of Discovery’s product, it’s obvious Paramount/CBS are insecure and jealous. Compared to Axanar, Discovery looks like complete, total, and utter crap. Glad I’m not paying my hard-earned money just to see that dumb-ass looking ship.
It’s just such a shame that CBS/P didn’t have enough respect for their fans to issue a “Cease and Desist” Order, rather than treat the fans like total crap with a double-standard lawsuit and tyrannical guidelines. CBS/P and Star Trek have lost a fan in me. They sure don’t need MY hard-earned money, very much.
I am going to laugh when Discovery comes out and all of this speculation and conspiracy theories prove to be pure sophistry. This is nothing more than a long winded diatribe on what you think is going on what the setting is etc. The series is set 10 years before Kirk therefore after Axanar… No on me knows the story yet but for sure its Axanar…. Enjoy jumping to conclusions.
All I can say is I was enjoying most anything CBS/Paramount was making about ST. And as long as fan were able to enjoy the franchise in their own way (fan art, fan fiction, fan films), it gave us a chance to share it with others and keep the franchise alive. And when the studios were ready to bring back ST to us, we were ready.
But now the studios have stepped in and put a stop to fan sponsored projects:
Most fan film projects are shut down…
A ST fan-run convention in England was issued a C&D order…
Certain fan are websites were ordered to be shut down…
There’s been rumors that all ST fan fiction will be ordered to be removed…
It’s like the studios are saying “Your not allowed to enjoy Star Trek your way, you have to experience it OUR way. Now shut up and give us your money… your going to anyways…”
Whether or not the studios felt they needed to control and protect their IP better, they didn’t need to go this far. And because of this, it’s turned me off from wanting to enjoy anything related to any future official ST production.
My views are not a protest (that’s childish), but more like I’ve lost interest…. and it’s sad. I’ve been a ST fan for as long as I can remember. I was watching reruns of TOS in the 70’s when I was 5 years old… that’s how long it’s been for me.
As long as the studios are behaving this way, I have no interest to handing my money over to them. The only reason I saw STB recently was because a friend gave me a spare ticket he had.
anarax has better graphics,,,,,i think cbs is tryn to do it low budget,,,,and these guys are push em to a higher quality…..i say,,lets make a deal with these jackholes,,,,we get our movie aired,,they get commercials money…..simple….
You have hit the nail on the head. When the preview for Discovery came out, the first thing I said was “Maybe CBS is suing to avoid being sued themselves for stealing Axanar’s idea.” It is truly all about Discovery. Since CBS is not going to actually be covering the Battle of Axanar, but the events following it, I am assuming, perhaps they should support Axanar and allow the film to tell the story of the battle. This would certainly go a long way towards setting up CBS for Discovery. And, it would go a long way towards mending the rift they have caused between themselves and their fan base.
LOL, boy the CBS shills jumped on it likes dogs on a bone. To “Minimalize” detractors is the 1st sign of the guilt, To marginalize detractors is the rest of the story. Don’t let the Shills make you believe the fans had no response to this mess, even causal folks I know, who aren’t super trekkers, happily skipped Beyond in support. You do not have to be a super fan to stand against WRONG. CBS spitting on the fans that have kept it alive for 50 years was as clear as corporate greed always is, and no one likes turning over their lunch money to the local bully if they don’t have to. AND WE DON’T HAVE TO.
I can see Beyond, as can most, in many ways that never gives CBS a dime…a little “bite the hand that feeds you” lesson all greedy suits eventually learn. The “guidelines” (AKA bully threats) should be ignored and fan productions, staying within known and long standing measures, should do their thing, and let’s take this all the way to the supreme court if need be. You cannot “Copyright” the universe. And where Star Trek, a 50 year ingrained, cultural and internationally embedded part of the human race, literally, is concerned, thoughts and ideas and their framework are held within many many fine lines CBS cannot “Copyright”. Besides, this was all jealousy and a bully temper tantrum, everyone saw that from the beginning, as will the courts.
I will wait for the pilot episode to air. If it has anything to do with any Klingon war, I will boycott the new series. For stealing the idea from the fans of Star Trek. The “Axanar” concept is a much older name than “Discovery” concept. Axanar is for the fans, by their fans. CBS is for profit, for themselves. Star Trek only exists because of us fans and if this is how CBS want to reward us. CBS didn’t really seem much interested until a private film raised over 1 million USD. Then a few months later they announce they are doing their own new series, during almost the same exact point in Star Trek history that Axanar is to take place.
If you came here to talk about IP, carry that noise elsewhere. Fan fiction films have been are for decades. Many of them included the actual Actor playing the their character. Watch Star Trek Renegade’s on the you tube . You have Tim Russ, playing Tuvoc, Robert Picardo as Lewis Zimmerman, Richard Herd as Admiral Owen Paris, Manu Intiraymi as Icheb, Admiral Pavel Chekov is played by Walter Koenig. There are many other correlations that could be mentioned, but to what end. IP isn’t the issue here. I has to be about the money, products being exchanged for “donations”. They should have stuck to crowdfunding. CBS should just tell them that is a no go and just let it be. After all this guy did ask what he could get away with. Their response, was less than helpful. If they are going to allow fans to make their own productions than they must be willing to outline the do’s and do not’s. Without these guidelines in place CBS and Paramount should’t have a leg to stand on
Totally agree. Let’s not forget, it was the fans who made the Star Trek world a success and kept it alive all these years. Without fan support, Stark Trek would have died decades ago and their precious IP would have a value of zero today. The only thing the CBS lawsuit will accomplish will be to alienate the fan base, ultimately damaging the franchise.