January 1, 2016
'Star Trek: Axanar': Lawsuit Hits From Paramount And CBS, Despite Encouraging Other Fan Films

Star Trek: Axanar is one of the most highly-anticipated Star Trek movies currently in development, but now it looks like fans may not get to see it due to a lawsuit filed by Paramount and CBS.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, lawyers for the companies have filed an injunction against the makers of the non-commercial independent film in spite of encouraging fan films and other endeavors in the past.

What's the difference?

Star Trek: Axanar is a "crowdfunded, professional-quality" film that uses 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,'" THR notes, quoting the full complaint, which can be found at this link.

The film will feature a number of professionals both in front of and behind the camera, some of whom have worked on other official Star Trek shows.

The film is a $1 million prequel that takes place prior to the original series. It follows Captain Kirk's hero, Garth of Izar, and his exploits during the Federation-Klingon wars.

The official synopsis from the film's official webpage states that it takes place 21 years before the events of "Where No Man Has Gone Before."

This was the first original series Star Trek episode featuring Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise.

In the original series, Garth of Izar appears in a third season episode, "Whom Gods Destroy," in which Kirk calls Garth the role model for all future Starfleet Officers.

"Garth charted more planets than any other Captain and was the hero of the Battle of Axanar, the story of which is required reading at the academy," the site reads. "This is that story."

Star Trek: Axanar takes place during the so-called "Four Years War, the war with the Klingon Empire that almost tore the Federation apart," the site continues. "Garth's victory at Axanar solidified the Federation and allowed it to become the entity we know in Kirk's time."

On the IndieGogo page, the creators of the project acknowledge that it is professional-quality but openly call it a fan film. Furthermore, producer Alec Peters tells THR, he had previously met with Paramount/CBS reps, and that they had simply stated that he couldn't make any money off the film.

"And evidently," THR notes, "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 said in comments to The Wrap prior to the lawsuit. "I think Axanar has become so popular that CBS realizes that we're just making their brand that much better."

Not so.

The filing hit a few days ago. In it, the companies argue that Star Trek: Axanar works to "infringe Plaintiffs' works by using innumerable copyrighted elements of Star Trek, including its settings, characters, species, and themes."

A separate statement provided to THR declined to go into the allowances that Paramount and CBS have made for other fan films.

"Star Trek is a treasured franchise in which CBS and Paramount continue to produce new original content for its large universe of fans," the company wrote. "The producers of Axanar are making a Star Trek picture they describe themselves as a fully professional independent Star Trek film. Their activity clearly violates our Star Trek copyrights, which, of course, we will continue to vigorously protect."

Some are taking this to mean that Paramount and CBS are fine with Star Trek fan films as long as they're not any good. This one looks more slick and polished than most, and with so much work that has already been put into the film, Peters and Company plan to defend the lawsuit.

Do you think Paramount and CBS are setting a double standard in their efforts to derail Star Trek: Axanar? Sound off in the comments section.

[Image via Star Trek: Axanar website]