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Wrong things I have learned from Star Trek: Axanar fans January 1, 2016

Posted by sjroby in Star Trek.

CBS and Paramount have filed a lawsuit against the producers of so-called fan film Axanar. The response has been enlightening.

  1. “I assume no one would have started a million-dollar project without their lawyers getting written confirmation from CBS and Paramount that this is a legal and licenced work.” Well, you assume wrong. There were no lawyers and there was no written confirmation from CBS/Paramount and there was no licence.
  2. “You can lose your copyright if you don’t defend it and since CBS and Paramount didn’t go after other productions, Axanar is perfectly legal.” Wrong. Copyright doesn’t have to be defended, that’s trademarks. Rights holders get to decide who they want to stomp on and who they want to benevolently disregard.
  3. “You aren’t violating copyright if you aren’t making any money.” Wrong. If you use what isn’t yours without permission and without meeting the terms of the exceptions under fair use/fair dealing, you’re violating copyright.
  4. “Freedom of speech! Fair use! This film is protected by the constitution of the United States of America!” Wrong. Freedom of speech means the government can’t shut you up without a good reason. Period. Even in the USA, there are secrets acts, libel laws, copyright laws, and other limits on speech. Raising money, hiring professionals, planning to sell tie-ins, and so on… that’s business, not speech or comment.
  5. “But it’s a fan film! Fan films are okay!” Wrong on both counts. Alec Peters has repeatedly referred to Axanar as a professional production, including in an annual report on the Axanar website. People are being paid salaries, professionals are working in front of and behind the cameras. This is not some fans in a garage with their homemade props and an iphone. Second, as said above, copyright holders get to choose who they stomp on. They’ve been nice so far. They don’t have to be.
  6. “CBS and Paramount are afraid of Axanar because it’s better than their garbage!” I love this one. There is no Axanar to be afraid of, just a talking heads fake documentary and one scene. They’re still building sets and casting characters (some of the planned stars have dropped out).
  7. “Axanar is Gene’s true vision!” Hell no. Not even close. Axanar is based on the FASA role playing game’s concept of a Four Year War. When Gene regained some power over Star Trek at the beginning of The Next Generation, he wasn’t happy with the war and military stuff in FASA’s RPG and had their licence revoked. (Update: their licence was revoked because they started doing TNG supplements without a TNG licence, apparently; this is a fan myth based on all the other anti-military things GR was saying and doing at the time, or so it appears.) He would have been as anti-Axanar as he would have been anti-Abrams. More, probably… he’d have liked the pandering sexism in the Abrams movies.
  8. “Axanar is allowed to film because Majel has Gene’s rights to Star Trek!” On the TrekBBS a few screenshots from Facebook show that there are people who believe Gene Roddenberry owned Star Trek, and when he died Majel inherited it, and at least one person believes she’s actually still alive and running things. Gene never owned Star Trek. Paramount used to, once it bought Desilu; since the Viacom split, Paramount owns the movies, CBS owns TV Trek. If Gene Roddenberry came magically back to life he would have no control whatsoever over any aspect of Star Trek.
  9. “Axanar will win!” In a pig’s eye.


1. Tracy Canfield - April 6, 2016

I think you and I know the same Axanar fans.

2. Stephen Black - May 18, 2016

I asked for my money to be returned. I have never badmouthed the project and was a defender but I donated almost $1000 and have nothing to show for it. Don’t think they will finish production. Asked for my money back from Alec Peters and of course he is refusing. Did not receive any physical perks or the uniform tunic I purchased. Been waiting 2 years now. Ridonkulous!!

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