Paramount vs Axanar – Still going…

Marc Perton over at Newsweek wrote a nice article today about the ongoing legal battle between Paramount/CBS and the producers of the Star Trek fan film Axanar.

While not adding a ton of new information to the discussion, he has broken down the long-standing love affair between the Star Trek universe and its fans, as well as their contributions to Gene Roddenberry’s visionary future over the past five decades.

I did find his comparison of this new batch of fan-based Enterprise-related, uh, enterprises, to the horrifically terrible fan-base “phenomenon” the was the 50 Shades of Grey novels, to be more than a bit demeaning to the Trek fans.

He also made reference to other “fan-based” projects such as Star Trek Continues, which seems at a glance to be much more of a theft of any Trek intellectual property, since it uses characters, uniforms, and scripts from the original series. Literally.

At least the folks involved with Axanar are trying to expand the Trek universe, not simply regurgitate nostalgia all over the screen.

But I digress. As I pointed out in my post about Axanar in the first place, the real question here is why Paramount doesn’t seem to want to support such a quality effort? Even the director of Star Trek Beyond, Justin Lin, has tweeted his support. The guy who directed the next movie thinks Axanar is a good thing! Maybe he’s trying to take the heat off himself after the lukewarm reception the trailer for Beyond received. Maybe he actually believes it. Maybe he’s so disgusted with the Paramount process for some reason that he’s supporting it out of spite.

Who knows?

A real cynic could interpret Justin Lin’s support for Axanar and other fan productions as something akin to Josh Trank commenting on his Fantastic Four flop that “A year ago I had a fantastic version of this,” implying that the studio ruined a perfectly good movie and franchise.

Again, I don’t know. But what really bugs me is that I still can’t for the life of me figure out what Paramount hopes to achieve with this and other Cease & Desist actions. They’ve already taken the PR hit with the fans, which will only get worse as the process moves forward. But if they were to withdraw their lawsuit and legal attack dogs and suddenly support such works with something close to enthusiasm, then they’ll look like opportunistic, hypocritical studio ass-hats only interested in the almighty dollar.

Wait–we already know that.

So what the hell are they doing?

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35 thoughts on “Paramount vs Axanar – Still going…

  1. Expand the Trek universe? Axanar looks like little more than a war movie in space. Hardly Roddenberry’s vision of Star Trek. You claim to be a fan, yet you seem to understand so little about Star Trek.

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    1. You realize that one of the pivotal events in Federation history was the war with the Klingons? It is an event that shapes the federation and its philosophies, and one that Roddenberry envisioned. It is a story that needs to be told, and as is clear from “Prelude to Axanar,” the ideas behind the conflict and the evolution of Starfleet are all front and center to the film. It’s not Axanar’s fault you can acknowledge that war happens and needs to be addressed. Yes, there will be war in the Star Trek universe. Pretending there won’t be or wasn’t isn’t honest. Just because Roddenberry’s original show didn’t deal with conflict on that magnitude doesn’t mean he didn’t envision it.

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      1. If the war with the Klingons was so pivotal, why was it never mentioned until that FASA RPG supplement? At least, that’s the first place I remember hearing about it. Neither Kirk nor Kor said anything about a war when they were going on about what bad things the other side had done to them in Errand of Mercy, and Axanar isn’t described as part of a war with the Klingons in Whom Gods Destroy, as far as I can recall. Where did Roddenberry envision it?

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      2. The only source claiming that there was a Federation-Klingon war prior to TOS was the FASA RPG company in the 1980s. There have been no actual references to this conflict anywhere in any of the television shows, or any of the movies.

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    2. Actually your wrong, much as to why I love DS9 as much as I was was the idea of having the main cast struggle with war while keeping the ideals that makes star trek what it is. As such the pivotal speech in Axnar says just that: that the federation will fight while not letting the Ideals of the federation perish during the fighting.

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      1. Perhaps I wasn’t clear, but that was the intent when I addressed war in the ST universe. But it is impossible to not be effected, at least temporarily, by the compromises one makes in a wartime scenario. You are exactly on point about the struggle to reconcile the two.

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    3. If you recall Many times In TOS TNG,DS9 VOY ENT STII & several others there was a “War in Space” Theme to the film Need I remind you The Last Star trek film did this as well. So your saying everyone from Roddenberry to Abrams didn’t “Understand anything about Star Trek’s non existent pacifist message?

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  2. The ongoing issue is that whenever something that is even Star Trek related starts to take off and do well Paramount/CBS gets all in a wad. Let’s go back to when FASA had created the Star Trek RPG… This was an astounding success, they kept pumping out modules, supplements and the like so that we the fans could play in the world of Star Trek. Meanwhile Paramount/CBS kept throwing up committee’s or needing approvals that they would drag their feet on for months if not longer on to curtail it. Let’s go a step further for those of us who are model kit builders, we have seen a whole lot of ships in Star Trek that we would love to build, but yet what do we get time and time again. Ships named Enterprise and only those seen in the movies or tv shows. We also get some of the others from Deep Space 9 to Defiant to Voyager and a couple of Enemy ships. But do we get anything else like the Steamrunners or Akira class ships from First Contact or any other ships not really. Not unless we go to a site that sells these kits and has to on the QT as it were because if Paramount/CBS would find out about it they would issue a C&D so fast.

    Paramount/CBS marketing has been their own worst enemy in regards to marketing Star Trek, when cell phone cases came out here was a sure fire way to market Star Trek but did they, No! Same thing with the iPads and even Bluetooth tech each and every time they have dropped the ball and when someone else moves in to fill that niche they get all it’s our ip, this belongs to us you can’t have it. Well then do something with it, it is all we the fans want. Its simple we the fans are stepping up to fill a niche that they the company has failed to fill.

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    1. “This was an astounding success, they kept pumping out modules, supplements and the like so that we the fans could play in the world of Star Trek. Meanwhile Paramount/CBS kept throwing up committee’s or needing approvals that they would drag their feet on for months if not longer on to curtail it.”

      FASA was a success. As it happens, FASA was also building a variation on the Star Trek universe that was incompatible with the one Paramount was developing. Most notably, FASA created a version of Klingon civilization that was incapable of having a peaceful relationship with the Federation, one doomed to fight war. This sort of fatalism is incompatible with the underlying optimism of Trek, one that eventually resulted in a TNG where the Klingons were at peace and one of their species served on the bridge of the Federation flagship.

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  3. Paramount has the film rights. CBS the television rights. If CBS doesn’t have a problem with Star Trek Continues, then it’s tough for Paramount to say anything about it.
    Axanar, on the other hand, is a feature film, which is Paramount’s turf.

    I think you are entirely too dismissive of ST:C. They’re fine people, they’ve involved a lot of the original cast and crew and:

    The Enterprise was on a five year mission. TOS had what, 73 episodes, most taking place over the course of a handful of days, a couple of weeks at most. So lets be generous and presume that the original series actually showed us 146 weeks out of a possible 260.

    Kirk and crew still have 114 “episodes” to go on their tour.

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    1. Star Trek Continues, Star Trek New Voyages Phase II are infringement in every way, they don’t get the axe because there’s friendship with CBS/Paramount, they rub elbows, I am a true Trekkie so I didn’t care, now I do, there stepping on toes that need not be stepped on, Star Trek Fans, those of us who Need Trek and pay for it, they have lost my purchasing any of there future products as I have in the past, no more, they ought to allow and encourage as Lucas arts and Disney do, they see it as good business which it is.

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  4. You only have Axanar to blame for the whole C&D actions..

    I am sorry you will not agree with this opinion however it is the truth if Axanar had kept things simple like other fan films and not branded themselves as “Officially Sanctioned” etc etc etc then CBS would most likely not have taken these steps.

    And! to add insult to injury the whole fact Alec Peters did NOT simply comply with the demands of CBS etc just adds to the fact that the lawsuit was the only way to shut axanar down.

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    1. Hey, I’m not blaming anyone for anything, just lamenting the fact that good projects are getting killed. Alec Peters has denied that he ever said “officially sanctioned,” and that the screen shot reading such has been altered. I can’t speak to that, as that starts into a he-said/he-said that I can neither prove nor disprove.

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    2. Watcher Any company that continuously shoots it’s self in the foot over a franchise should be forced to surrender said franchise. Paramount CAN NOT only produce every possible Star trek Story nor can CBS only show Nothing but Star Trek TV series. Both have other films & Series to also finance. When The Fans Can fill gaps via an Expanded universe Paramount & CBS should embrace that. Axanar is being produced without ANY backing from CBS or Paramount. It’s a film we fans WANT so Paramount should at some point step in Declare it Official & put it out in theaters to get $400 million world wide. Lets Not forget Never Say Never Again of the Bond Universe it is not an “Official” bond film & technically stole many IP such as the name James Bond but you didn’t see anyone shut down production or Demand it never bee seen. If someone produced an Axanar quality Star Wars Expanded universe film I doubt Disney who is also notorious for protecting their brands would be pulling this Hell I bet at this point they would be unofficially backing the project while working behind the scenes to absorb the film into their EU. Paramount & CBS continuously FAIL to capitalize on this till many many years later. Look at the Rush Hour TV series based on movies last seen NINE YEARS AGO. There was also another Series based on a film Franchise reticently but the franchise was much older. Paramount Does not “get” Star Trek or we would not have the Abrams Universe Nor Does CBS as we would not have had the Retcon Reboot Series Enterprise. Maybe it’s time to add to Copyright law that if a Film media fails to enhance a creator’s IP they lose the ability to capitalize on it at all. Allowing for the Estate to shop around to anther Network or Studio. I’m sure 20th Century Fox would LOVe to have the Trek Franchise & NBC would LOVE to take over doing Trek series Again.

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  5. I’ll tell you why CBS does not want to support Axanar.
    What none of you seem to understand is that CBS is simply protecting their IP for FUTURE USE.

    Yes all fan fic and films so far have simply regurgitated nostalgia on the screen, using characters and settings from the tv series.
    Or they were telling separate, very minor and contained stories that were set in the universe of Trek but did not build it.

    Well the Federation Klingon war is a major event in Trek story (or history if you want) and CBS seems to think Axanar is not a story they want fans to make. We want it because it’s cool and the Prelude was awesome, but apparently CBS does not want this story told like this.

    So that’s why CBS is firing guns at Axanar.

    Because they think they can do better.

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      1. I believe that Paramount authorized the RPG someone (you?) cited earlier RE: the war. Just because Paramount pulled that authorization later doesn’t negate the fact that it exists. Really, that’s just more proof to me that Paramount has no idea how to handle the property. As for what’s canon and what’s not? I’ll leave that the lawyers and nit-pickers. I hated when Lucas/Disney deleted the EU for Star Wars, so why would I feel any differently about doing it to the Trek universe?

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      2. It’s entirely relevant if Paramount pulled the licensing from FASA, particularly so if this is the part of the reason why the licensing got pulled. The FASA RPG was building up a setting where conflict with the Klingons was recurrent, and inevitable. What did TNG do but create a future where the Federation and Klingons were not only allies, but a Klingon served on the bridge of the Federation starship? There was a huge contradiction between what the licensor was doing with its intellectual property and what the licensee was doing.

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  6. My understanding is that Paramount is trying to preserve control over its intellectual property, and to keep people and groups which do not even have official licenses from doing whatever they want with the universe that Paramount owns. The Axanar group’s attempt to introduce a pre-TOS Federation-Klingon war is something Paramount has to watch. What happens if it does not intervene, and other like groups decide to do whatever they want with Paramount’s property?

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    1. Randy, I’ll be posting something shortly, but please remember that I have been arguing against Paramount’s stupidity in attacking something the fans like/want, rather than examining their IP case. That is for the courts to decide. I have been talking about the PR impact of the lawsuit, and how it seems pointless for Paramount to basically attack their fans instead of recognizing and exploiting an opportunity. Cheers!

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      1. Mark, the number of fans who want Axanar is a small subset of the total number of Star Trek fans. I’d be surprised if 5% of the people who watch Trek on TV or in theatres even know fan films exist.

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      2. Is it something “the fans” want? I am one of relatively few people familiar with the FASA setting this is based on, but I was not yearning for this. “The fans” that you know may want this, but I would suggest there is a selection effect at play.

        What is there for Paramount to promote in Axanar?

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    2. Can’t reply to Mark’s post about authorization, but it misses the point that Gene Roddenberry and his assistant Richard Arnold and everyone involved in Trek tie-ins ever has made repeatedly: yes, the tie-ins are authorized and official, and no, they don’t count. Trek was never like Star Wars, which pretended the EU counted as part of the core true story of Star Wars.

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      1. Well, not to put too blunt a point on it, but just because Roddenberry says so doesn’t make it legally true. And he’s dead now. His estate deals with Star Trek, so worrying about what Gene thinks is irrelevant from a practical standpoint.

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      2. The particular minutiae of the late 1980s crackdown against FASA don’t matter. What does matter is that Paramount has never extended to licensed material any kind of official recognition, and that it has cracked down on licensees who have produced material which runs contrary to its goals. (That it cracked down specifically against FASA’s particular interpretation of Trek, heavy on military adventures and pessimistic about the Klingons, may or may not be noteworthy.)

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      3. Randy, note that this is directed at Paramount, not you: I find that to be legalistic nonsense. “we authorized it, but it isn’t ‘real.’ We said you could make it, but it doesn’t ‘count.’ We have a firm vision for our universe and your stuff doesn’t ‘fit.'”

        Then JJ Abrams rewrites the entire universe in the first 5 minutes of the newest “official” version of the history.

        Look, I’m still not arguing that IP theft is right. I still say leave that to the courts. I’m just saying that Paramount is inconsistent in its maintenance of its “official” world, and even more so in its crackdown on what it considers “theft.” Apparently, if it fits their ‘vision’ then it’s okay to use Trek. If not, then they hammer you.

        I just think Paramount either needs to shit or get off the pot when it comes to this kind of stuff. Officially recognize what you like and shut-down what you don’t, but don’t just hang out waiting for someone to cross some line that even you can’t define consistently.

        That’s my 2 cents. That and 4 more dollars will get you a cup of coffee (black) at Starbucks.

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  7. His estate doesn’t have much at all to do with Star Trek, because Roddenberry didn’t own Star Trek. From a practical standpoint, the people whose opinions are relevant work for CBS and Paramount.

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