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Getting Real About Axanar

Getting Real About Axanar

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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.

 

Ears = pointy.
Ears = pointy.

 

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.

 

Oh, shit, CBS WERE named in the lawsuit.
Oh, shit, CBS WERE named in the lawsuit.

 

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.

 

Ares Studio - created and funded with money earned from Star Trek IP.
Ares Studio – created and funded with money earned from Star Trek IP.

 

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.

 

Militant Ginger Born and raised in the cathedral city of Winchester, Roland earned his Eurotrash merit badge in Paris before moving to America to seek his fortune. If you've seen it, please give him a shout, because he's still looking. A digital Don Draper with a Hemingway complex, Roland pays the bills with his social media savvy, but under various nom de plumes is a top-ranked Amazon author after hours, and is impatiently awaiting the day he can give up the rat race forever and write schlock in a cabin in the mountains.
  • Pingback: Axanar Lawsuit Not as Cut and Dried as it Appears? - Echo Base()

  • j4m3S

    Thanks for the mention and the new article with corrected info.

    I don’t drink lol but I’ll take the fact you wrote a correction as a thanks :-p

    James.

    • rolandhulme

      I’ll drink that pint for you, that’s the kind of generous guy I am. 🙂

      Seriously, though – thanks for calling me on it. This correction needed to be written.

      • j4m3S

        Anytime and the fact you corrected yourself so fast means you’re not objecting to factual evidence

  • Mike Gibson

    Props on this article. That’s real journalism right here. You just gained a fan. Oh, and I think you meant Alec Peters, not Alec Watkins.

    • rolandhulme

      Ooops! Corrected that. Sorry! And if we ever meet up – I’ll make good on the pint I owe you.

  • Jody

    Props to you, MG. It takes a big guy to admit he was wrong… and in print no less.

    The facts in this case are pretty clear cut. Whatever people feel about the quality of CBS or Paramount’s work over the last few years, that’s a different issue from not rewarding someone for taking what doesn’t belong to them, even if they use “Star Trek” to justify it.

    • rolandhulme

      Thanks! I wanted to make sure I set the record straight!

  • Might want to give this blog a read to get a more details analysis of whether those “excruciating details” are actually protected by copyright: https://theback40k.blogspot.com/2016/03/axanar-round-2-fight.html?showComment=1459469437220#c764633987875639883

    • Sam Anders

      No dude. Do you believe everything you read on TEH INTERNET or only the things that justify YOUR position? Some random guys fan “blog” is not even close to legal fact.

      • Sam, can you show me where he’s wrong? Since this lawsuit has come out, I’ve done a fair bit of reading on copyright law. That, plus the fact that I’m not stupid, means I feel I have a fairly decent grasp of what is and what is not copyrightable. What I’ve read about copyright law leads me to believe that the writer on the blog I’ve referenced has a fairly good grasp of the subject. Just because CBS and Paramount allege that something is protected by copyright doesn’t automatically mean it IS protected by copyright. To put it another way, do you really believe that they have copyright protection on “Science Fiction Action-Adventure”?

        • Carlos Pedraza

          David, I’ve been doing a lot of research on copyright law, too, and I think the questions on The Back 40 blog are really good ones, but likely won’t hold up as a general invalidation of CBS and Paramount’s ownership of Star Trek. I’ll be posting an update to AxaMonitor’s copyright infringement series of articles in the next few days that details that.

          • sandwyrm

            When I wrote that blog post, it wasn’t to wholly deny C/P’s claims, but to try and illustrate which claims had validity (to some degree or another), which ones did not, and which ones I want to see a precedent set for one way or the other. As you’ll note by my updates, the list of what I thought was clearly protected kept shrinking as I referenced the actual laws.

      • sandwyrm

        By that argument, you qualify as a random internet dude that shouldn’t be listened to.

        I suggest you read through my blog posting more carefully. I’ve spent the better part of 5 years studying issues like these, and have thus acquired a very good (but never perfect) understanding of how copyright/trademarks work. Not only because I’m making a game similar to another industry’s 800-lb gorilla, and want to give them no cause at all to sue me, but because I’ve also poured over the details of the Games Workshop vs. Chapterhouse Studios case (another Winston & Strawn Pro-Bono), which is in fact quite similar to the Axanar case.

        I’ve read the list of copyright assertions in that case, read the depositions, watched as 4 actual practicing lawyers argued its merits (and legal realities) on a forum in excruciating detail (hundreds of posts), etc.

        Know what happened? Games Workshop won the case, but had 80% of its copyright assertions thrown out. They also spent $1.5M on the case, but only won a $30K judgement against Chapterhouse, which was later settled out-of-court when the Fan-Backlash hit full force.

        Result? Chapterhouse is still in business making GW-compatible models, and Games Workshop has seen a steep decline in active players, revenues, and profits. The case was a disaster for them on all levels, and they would have been better off if they’d just bought Chapterhouse, or created a licensed program to distribute 3rd party models instead.

        That’s the case that Peters is looking at when he ponders whether to fight C/P or not.

  • Demode

    Great article! Honest and to the point.