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Star Trek: New fan film guidelines denounced by Axanar creators

Rules will ‘stifle fandom,’ executive producer Alec Peters says

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Axanar Productions

Shields up! The creators of an ambitious Star Trek-inspired independent movie at the center of a copyright lawsuit have blasted CBS and Paramount’s newly released guidelines for such fan films, arguing that the rules “appear to have been tailor-made to shut down” fan productions rather than support them.

Alec Peters, the executive producer of the Star Trek fan film Axanar, said in a statement Thursday, “While CBS and Paramount claim to want to encourage the passion of fans to produce ‘reasonable fan fiction,’ the restrictions presented do just the opposite, willfully ignoring over 40 years of fan works that helped buoy the Star Trek franchise through some very lean years and enthusiastically spread the magic of the franchise in more plentiful times.”

CBS and Paramount, who own the rights to the Star Trek franchise, announced the fan film guidelines earlier Thursday in a stated effort to “support [fan] innovation and encourage celebrations of this beloved cultural phenomenon.”

Among the 10 “guidelines for avoiding objections” are requirements that “fan productions must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than 2 segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total,” and they must be fully amateur undertakings: None of the creators or actors can be compensated, and no one currently or formerly employed on an official Star Trek project can participate. The guidelines also state that fan productions “must be non-commercial,” with fundraising not to exceed $50,000.

Axanar would appear to violate several of the guidelines: It’s intended as a feature-length film; the cast includes Star Trek alumni such as Tony Todd, J.G. Hertzler, and Gary Graham; and the project has generated more than $1.2 million in crowdfunding.

Paramount and CBS filed a copyright infringement complaint against Axanar in December, alleging that it uses “innumerable copyrighted elements of Star Trek, including its settings, characters, species, and themes.”

Although J.J. Abrams — director of the last two Star Trek movies and producer of the upcoming sequel Star Trek Beyond — said at a fan event in May that the lawsuit would be dropped, the legal action is still pending.

Representatives for Paramount and CBS did not immediately respond to requests for comment about Peters’ statement.