Fan Films win! No, wait… maybe not.

In the wake of the ongoing jackassery that is the lawsuit against Alec Peters and his crowd-funded fan-film Star Trek: Axanar (see my previous coverage of that HERE, HERE, and HERE if you need to catch up), CBS and Paramount have recently released their “guidelines” for Star Trek fan films, in order to ensure that die-hard Trek fans were clear on what they could and couldn’t do without CBS and Paramount suing them into oblivion.

Many articles have already been published about the sheer lunacy of these guidelines, but here’s mine (“Guidelines” are in italics, my comments are in bold).

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The fan production must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than 2 segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total, with no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes. [So, what they’re saying here, is that “film” is a fluid construct, without time limit, and that fifteen minutes is more than enough time to tell a Star Trek story. Realize, of course, that the shortest “official” movie is Resurrection, clocking in at 103 minutes, and the longest is Into Darkness (133 minutes), barely edging out The Motion Picture (132 minutes). Nah: 15 minutes is enough. Okay, maybe you need 30, but that’s it. Glorified commercials, really.]

The title of the fan production or any parts cannot include the name “Star Trek.” However, the title must contain a subtitle with the phrase: “A STAR TREK FAN PRODUCTION” in plain typeface. The fan production cannot use the term “official” in either its title or subtitle or in any marketing, promotions or social media for the fan production. [So it’s a Star Trek film, that can’t be titled Star Trek in any form, but has to be labelled as a Star Trek film in the subtitle? Am I getting that right? So I could call my film, “USS Clusterfuck: How to Unofficially Fuck-Up a Fanbase. A Star Trek Fan Production.” (copyright Mark W Woodring, 2016) Sorry fellas, this one’s mine. I’m already drafting the script.]

The content in the fan production must be original, not reproductions, recreations or clips from any Star Trek production. If non-Star Trek third party content is used, all necessary permissions for any third party content should be obtained in writing. [Wow. This one is surprisingly tame. You mean I have to not re-use bits of pre-existing and clearly copyrighted video, or music, or scripts? How much you pay your lawyers to draft that one up for you?]

If the fan production uses commercially-available Star Trek uniforms, accessories, toys and props, these items must be official merchandise and not bootleg items or imitations of such commercially available products. [This is not an official Star Trek film, but everything in it must be officially licensed merchandise? Okay: I call shenanigans. Don’t tell me what props and costumes I can use, right after you tell me the film isn’t official. If it isn’t an official production, then none of the props or costumes should be required to be officially licensed. In fact, this rule should read that NO officially licensed merchandise can be used in the making of any fan film. Lawyers: feel free to use this argument.]

The fan production must be a real “fan” production, i.e., creators, actors and all other participants must be amateurs, cannot be compensated for their services, and cannot be currently or previously employed on any Star Trek series, films, production of DVDs or with any of CBS or Paramount Pictures’ licensees. [Basically what you’re saying here is that no one that ever worked on any of the shows or movies in any capacity is a “real” fan. The idiocy of this “guideline” speaks for itself, except for the fact that this constitutes an indefinite “no compete” clause for working professionals, which I think the NLRB might want to take notice of. Or SAG. Or the Writer’s Guild. Or the Teamsters. Don’t fuck with the teamsters.]

The fan production must be non-commercial:

  • CBS and Paramount Pictures do not object to limited fundraising for the creation of a fan production, whether 1 or 2 segments and consistent with these guidelines, so long as the total amount does not exceed $50,000, including all platform fees, and when the $50,000 goal is reached, all fundraising must cease. [You’re stifling free-enterprise and capitalism. Have you budgeted out and determined that $50k is all any fan production will need? I’m sure no “official” Star Trek production has ever gone over budget.]
  • The fan production must only be exhibited or distributed on a no-charge basis and/or shared via streaming services without generating revenue.
  • The fan production cannot be distributed in a physical format such as DVD or Blu-ray. [Way to remove one of the most popular forms of crowd-sourcing rewards.]
  • The fan production cannot be used to derive advertising revenue including, but not limited to, through for example, the use of pre or post-roll advertising, click-through advertising banners, that is associated with the fan production.
  • No unlicensed Star Trek-related or fan production-related merchandise or services can be offered for sale or given away as premiums, perks or rewards or in connection with the fan production fundraising. [See my earlier comment on “officially licensed.” You really seem to have some trouble keeping yourself straight.]
  • The fan production cannot derive revenue by selling or licensing fan-created production sets, props or costumes. [See above. And, if I create something original and want to duplicate and sell it, that’s not your problem. This “guideline” would seem to be a claim to any IP generated in relation to the fan-film by CBS/Paramount, which amounts to theft in my book.]

The fan production must be family friendly and suitable for public presentation. Videos must not include profanity, nudity, obscenity, pornography, depictions of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or any harmful or illegal activity, or any material that is offensive, fraudulent, defamatory, libelous, disparaging, sexually explicit, threatening, hateful, or any other inappropriate content. The content of the fan production cannot violate any individual’s right of privacy. [Would you like script approval before production starts? “Captain Kurt” can’t say “shit” when the enemy attacks, or the crew can’t have a drink after a long day of not “trekking” around the “stars?” And how much sex was in the Original Series? Please. You don’t get to limit the content in such a vague and generalized way, especially since the new series  has already announced that it is going to be darker.]

The fan production must display the following disclaimer in the on-screen credits of the fan productions and on any marketing material including the fan production website or page hosting the fan production:

  • Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made film intended for recreational use.  No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.” [You have apparently already won your lawsuit. Congratula— what’s that? You haven’t won the lawsuit yet? Weird. It’s almost like you’re jumping the gun with this one, instead of simply being a bunch of corporate douchebags.]

Creators of fan productions must not seek to register their works, nor any elements of the works, under copyright or trademark law. [Even for original IP? Come on…]

Fan productions cannot create or imply any association or endorsement by CBS or Paramount Pictures. [Did you really need to say it again, after that unreasonable disclaimer requirement above?]

CBS and Paramount Pictures reserve the right to revise, revoke and/or withdraw these guidelines at any time in their own discretion. These guidelines are not a license and do not constitute approval or authorization of any fan productions or a waiver of any rights that CBS or Paramount Pictures may have with respect to fan fiction created outside of these guidelines. [This is a dick move, of course, which has been their modus operandi since this whole Axanar thing started. “We’re going to take our ball and go home.” News flash, assholes: the fans can do that, too. Watch your box-office.]

You can read more directly from the horse’s ass mouth here:



2 thoughts on “Fan Films win! No, wait… maybe not.

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