We all love a David and Goliath story, especially here at Echoba.se – and that’s why I was so stoked to report on an exciting legal analysis of the Axanar lawsuit; brought by Paramount and CBS against the makers of a Star Trek fanfilm that raised over a million dollars via crowdfunding.
The editorial, written by Reece Watkins over at Krypton Radio, alleged that Paramount were shooting themselves in the foot with the lawsuit; and it could reveal that they didn’t even own many of the pieces of intellectual property that they claimed were being infringed.
It was well-written, precise and incredibly exciting – wouldn’t it be great if the fans won out over the big, bad movie studios?
The problem is, the article was one more thing that we hadn’t previously mentioned: 100% garbage.
Echoba.se fans James and Mike commented on our original article about this lawsuit that, contrary to what Krypton Radio claimed, both CBS and Paramount were plaintiffs in the lawsuit; totally undermining everything Reece Watkins wrote. In fact, their amended complaint listed in painful detail every peice of alleged IP infringement; right down to the shape of a Vulcan’s ears.
Carlos Pedraza of Axamonitor.com – a website that bizarrely exists to share details of this lawsuit – goes into painful details about why and where Reece Watkins’ editorial is wrong; and it’s pretty unequivical. I’d recommend reading it here.
So what does this mean?
Well, first off it means I owe a pint to James and Mike, and an apology to you guys. I was totally swept away with the enthusiasm of Reece Watkin’s article and that meant I didn’t spend three minutes (which is all it takes, according to legal expert Mike) to do my own research and debunk Krypton Radio’s claims.
But it also means Axanar is probably dead in space.
The fundemental issue seems to be that Axanar was created slightly differently to most other fan films, like Star Trek: New Voyages and Starship Exeter – both of which have used crowdfunding to source production money.
Alec Peters, the guy behind Axanar, was using the million dollars of fan-money raised to pay himself and his crew a salary while they produced this fan film, and to fund the construction of a bona-fide movie studio – which would later be used to film for-profit productions.
In short, it’s alleged Alec Peters and his team are using the crowdsourced money to start up their own production company, under the guise of making a fan film. After Axanar is made and released, Alec and his pals will be left with a fully-equipped studio that they can then use to make their own movies; and bank accounts full of a salary they earned while doing it.
So despite the claim that Axanar is ‘not for profit’, it will end up being very profitable for Alex Peters and his crew; and that’s the issue CBS and Paramount have. And when you put it like that, it’s pretty difficult to argue with them.
The jury is still out – literally – but it’s not looking good for Axanar. There’s still everything to play for, though, and I don’t think this fan film is completely dead yet. CBS and Paramount might still be able to come out as ‘the good guys’ and save the production, even as they set a precedent that means nobody will be able to enrich themselves off of their intellectual property again.
Thanks, James and Mike, for the kick up the ass. I hope this article goes some way towards correcting the mistakes you identified.