The prelude to the Star Trek fan film Axanar was released earlier this year (You can watch the 21-minute short below). The crowdfunded short served as a stepping stone for a much larger project. The team behind the project launched another crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for a full-length feature film, and so far it has raised over $1.13 million, but they're now facing a lawsuit from Paramount Pictures.
The rights holders of the Star Trek franchise — Paramount and CBS — have supported fan films over the years, but this week, they filed a lawsuit against the production company behind the crowdfunded Star Trek film.
Axanar, was described as the "first independent" Star Trek film, not a fan film, so that description probably didn't help. Here's the official description:
Axanar is the first fully-professional, independent Star Trek film. While some may call it a "fan film" as we are not licensed by CBS, Axanar has professionals working in front and behind the camera, with a fully-professional crew--many of whom have worked on Star Trek itself--who ensure Axanar will be the quality of Star Trek that all fans want to see.
For you, the Star Trek fan, Axanar is a return to the type of Star Trek all of us grew up on, with a hopeful future where mankind works with other races to explore the stars, via storytelling that is positive and teaches us about ourselves. Axanar feels like Star Trek because it is made by two of the biggest Star Trek fans in the world, Alec Peters and Robert Burnett. Alec was the executive producer/co-writer of Prelude to Axanar, and Rob wrote & directed Free Enterprise.
Back in August, producer Alec Peters told The Wrap that "CBS has a long history of accepting fan films. I think Axanar has become so popular that CBS realizes that we're just making their brand that much better." It seems that they've changed their mind.
The lawsuit filed states: "The Axanar Works infringe Plaintiffs' works by using innumerable copyrighted elements of Star Trek, including its settings, characters, species, and themes."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Paramount and CBS, represented by attorneys at Loeb & Loeb, are now demanding an injunction as well as damages for direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. Although the plaintiffs have allowed ample cosplaying over the years and even permitted other derivatives like amateur Star Trek shows to circulate, the lawsuit illustrates that there is a place where no man has gone before, where the entertainment studios are not willing to let be occupied: Crowdfunded, professional-quality films that use copyrighted 'elements' like Vulcans and Klingons, Federation starships, phasers, and stuff like the 'look and feel of the planet, the characters' costumes, their pointy ears, and their distinctive hairstyle.'"
Hopefully, this won't stop them from producing the fan film that a lot of fans supported. Even Star Trek veteran George Takei supported the project. You can check out a clip from Axanar below: