1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Monday, 21 March 2016

WE COME IN PEACE - PHASERS TO KILL

Our very own star ship : NCC 1709 USS Lexington 
At the beginning of this month Marie-Andree reported that Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios had sued Axanar Productions and its principal Alec Peters, claiming that its short movie Prelude to Axanar infringes their copyright in Star Trek, as it is an unauthorized derivative work. A forthcoming feature-length film called Axanar is planned after Axanar Productions was able to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo.  On February 22, 2015, the Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the claim, arguing that the complaint did not contain sufficient factual matters to put Defendants on fair notice of the claims against them.

Peters had said that Axanar had professionals working in front and behind the camera, with a fully-professional crew — many of whom have worked on Star Trek itself — to ensure Axanar woud be of the same quality as an official Star Trek movie. Having in the past been quite tolerant of fan fiction and fan tribute films,  the film studios instead accused Peters of "unauthorized exploitation" of the Star Trek franchise: "The Axanar Works are intended to be professional quality productions that, by defendants' own admission, unabashedly take Paramount's and CBS's intellectual property and aim to 'look and feel like a true Star Trek movie" read the lawsuit, filed in federal district court in California on December 29th. 


Arts Technica now tell us that the Star Trek rights holders are back with an amended complaint dated the 11th March 2016 that lists many of the specific instances of infringement of what they say are copyrighted element in Star Trek, including the language and culture of alien races such as the Klingons and Vulcans, the cowl-neck uniform that Majel Barrett wore as the Enterprise’s first officer in the original series episode The Cage, and the concept of “Stardate."

The original series Star Trek crew
Axnae's defence seems to be that the project is non commercial saying "Axanar is an independent project that uses the intellectual property of CBS under the provision that Axanar is totally non-commercial” on its website. "That means we can never charge for anything featuring their marks or intellectual property and we will never sell the movie, DVD/Blu-ray copies, T-shirts, or anything which uses CBS owned marks or intellectual property."

That doesn't work for CBS and Paramount, which demanded injunctive relief barring Axanar Productions from distributing Prelude to Axanar and Axanar, and statutory damages (up to $150,000 for each separate infringed copyrighted work)

Some 57 instances of infringement are listed in the amended complaint. These similarities are divided into categories like characters (including Garth of Izar and Vulcan Ambassador Soval), races and species such as the Vulcans,Romulans abd Tellarites, costumes, settings like the planet Axanar and the Klingon planet Qo’noS, as well as spacedocks and the Starship Enterprise, logos like the Federation logo, and plot point similarities including the concept of dilithium crystals, phasers, and the Klingon Empire.

The complaint also points to copyrighted dialogue as infringement. Mentioning transporters and “beaming up,” warp drive, or speaking Klingon language are items listed in the amended complaint.

Finally, CBS and Paramount say that Axanar Productions infringed the copyrighted works’ “mood and theme”: "The mood and theme of Star Trek as a science fiction action adventure first appeared in The Original Series episode “The Cage” and has appeared in all subsequent episodes of The Original Series and other derivative Star Trek Copyrighted Works,” the complaint notes.

CBS and Paramount have requested a jury trial.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/03/paramount-cbs-list-the-ways-star-trek-fanfic-axanar-infringes-copyright/

http://the1709blog.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/the-copykat-starting-year-with-big-bang.html

And more here https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/03/24/to-boldly-go-where-no-copyright-suit-has-gone-before/

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