A dispute over a Star Trek film crowd funded by fans is becoming increasingly contentious for the producers, after two major Hollywood studios cited their copyright of various elements in the fictional Star Trek universe to block the production of the film.
Paramount Pictures Corp and CBS Studios, who own the Star Trek film and television franchises, have been locked in a court battle with the production team behind Axanar, an “independent” Star Trek prequel, amid claims that the fan film infringed “innumerable” copyrighted elements.
After being challenged to specifically name all of the copyright infringements, the two studios have now filed an amended complaint that lists exactly what the numerous alleged infringements are.
Some of the copyright infringements claimed by the studios in Axanar include the use of the Klingon language, the depiction of Vulcans, along with the use of terms and props such as; phasers, warp drives, ‘beaming up’ transporters, gold uniforms and reference to star dates.
Alongside this, the studios say the film is infringing on Star Trek’s characters and locations such as Starfleet captain Richard Robau, the planet Qo’nos and more.
The court documents state: “Klingonese or Klingon, the native language of Qo’nos, was first spoken in Star Trek – The Motion Picture in 1979. It was used in several works moving forward, including Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.”
Paramount and CBS show 45 examples where Axanar has “intentionally sought to replicate the Star Trek copyrighted works”.
Jonathan Lane, a writer connected with Axanar Productions, wrote on the production company’s blog that CBS and Paramount should stand down from their lawsuit because Axanar and similar fan films are “free commercials” for the Star Trek franchise.
He added: “The last thing a studio should do right now is to sue the folks who are making free commercials for them…especially 6-figure and 7-figure commercials…
“If CBS and Paramount remove Star Trek fan films from the online social media equation, they’re just leaving more room for the competition to expand into that vacuum while Star Trek goes dark and silent.”
Although initial agreements between Axanar Productions, Paramount and CBS seemed to approve the film provided it did not make a profit, its success during crowd funding pushed the project into more contentious territory. This dispute highlights the need for not only effective protection of intellectual property rights, but also for clear agreements when seeking a licence to use such works.