CBS/PARAMOUNT’s answer to AXANAR counter-claim may have given a “gift” to the AXANAR legal team

Axanar logoFour weeks ago, I wrote a very impassioned op-ed decrying that Trekkers should be fans and not lawyers.  I am now going to turn myself into a complete hypocrite and become an armchair attorney myself…partly because of the shameless reason that it seems to boost readership of one’s blog but also because I think there’s a fascinating details about the latest Axanar lawsuit news that’s not being reported at the moment.

First, though, a very important set of disclaimers!  I am not a lawyer; I never went to law school; and I have NOT spoken to Alec Peters or anyone at Axanar about the strategies of the legal team.  I spoke briefly by e-mail to Axanar lead attorney Erin Ranahan, and I reported pretty much everything she told me in this blog entry.  Also, although my wife is an attorney at a separate law firm in Los Angeles, she makes it a point NOT to discuss the Axanar case with me, and nothing I will be saying today reflects in any way her thoughts or opinions about this case.

That said…

By now, many of you probably know that the copyright infringement lawsuit by CBS/Paramount against Axanar and  Alec Peters has NOT “gone away” as J.J. Abrams announced it would on May 20.  And we know it hasn’t gone away because yesterday the CBS/Paramount attorneys at Loeb and Loeb filed an ANSWER to the COUNTER-CLAIM that Axanar filed on May 23.

Keep in mind, the answer to the counter-claim was due yesterday, and unless CBS/Paramount was 100% certain the complaint would be either dropped or settled, they HAD to file their answer.  Does this mean that the case is NOT being dropped or settled?  There’s no way to tell.  Alec Peters himself made the following public comment in a podcast from June 11:

We’ll see what happens.  J.J., who was absolutely wonderful in his support of us, and Justin Lin…there’s only so much they can do.  There’s Paramount and there’s CBS.  CBS owns the I.P. [intellectual property -Jonathan]; Paramount owns the rights to make movies.  So they’re both parties to this lawsuit, and until they both decide that they’re gonna settle this, nothing’s gonna happen.

So, yeah, people are like, “Oh, the lawsuit’s over!”  No, it’s not over.  We’re in settlement talks.  That’s it.  And I can’t really talk about that.  So until you hear, “The lawsuit has been settled,” nothing is settled.  It keeps going.  We keep filing our paperwork; they have to file their paperwork.  Nothing’s over.

That being said, we’re so grateful to J.J. Abrams.  For him and Justin Lin to both step up and support us…we’re really incredibly grateful.

So where does that leave us?  Well, there’s still a chance that the lawsuit will either be dropped or be settled, but the other option is that it goes to trial in January, and it’s that contingency I’d like to address here because, as I said in my rather provocative title to this blog entry, I think that Axanar may have gotten a bit of a “gift” in the answer filed yesterday by CBS/Paramount.

First, though, let’s take a brief look at the counter-claim itself.  As I said, I don’t have any inside information, but it’s pretty clear that the counter-claim is intended to “open up the discussion” to include additional talking points that weren’t included in the original complaint.  Had Axanar not filed the counter-claim, CBS/Paramount would have pretty much controlled the entire scope of discussions, and things that Axanar may have wanted to bring up might be ruled as inadmissible or irrelevant by the judge.

So the counter-claim (start reading it on page 16 of 28) brings up the following points:

  • Gene Roddenberry publicly embraced Star Trek fan fiction efforts.
  • There has been a proliferation of Star Trek fan creations in all media (print, video, artwork, etc.) intended to both honor and expand the fictional universe of the franchise
  • Historically, the Star Trek license holders have not sued any fan over their efforts to contribute to the world of Star Trek in any way.
  • It brings up the biography of Alec Peters as a huge Star Trek fan looking to embrace the franchise like so many other Trekkers have done and not simply as some outsider seeking fame and fortune from exploiting existing IP for his own selfish gains.  (Some of you reading this are already typing up a nasty comment.  Please don’t, as I am simply summarizing the counter-claim, not commenting on the validity of any particular point.)
  • Alec Peters has worked directly for CBS assisting them in their preparation of items from Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas for auction.  He donated his time, services, and even warehouse space in order to help CBS.
  • Alec Peters reached out to CBS licensing and spoke directly with multiple representatives of that corporation about his Axanar fan film project.
  • This is a direct quote from the complaint (and critical, in my opinion): “Though CBS would not provide specific guidelines, Mr. Peters understood from these discussions that as long as his works stayed non-commercial they
    would be tolerated, and that CBS would let him know if he had “gone too far.”
  • Rather than contacting Alec Peters to tell him he had “gone too far,” CBS and Paramount simply sued him (17 months after Prelude to Axanar had premiered).
  • The counter-claim finishes by including the comments by Justin Lin and J.J. Abrams regarding the complaint, showing their support of the fans, and announcing the case would be “going away.”
  • And of course, Axanar argues for a “fair use” defense, something you can read more about here.

“Fair use” is a tough thing to prove on either side of the courtroom.  But it seems to me there’s an 800-pound mugato in the cave that is going to factor in heavily to this case, and that’s all the many, many Star Trek fan films that have been made so far that CBS and Paramount have (for the most part) done nothing about.

I’d assume that Axanar‘s lawyers have long ago found the amazingly complete and expansive Star Trek Reviewed blog from Barbara Reader.  It’s amazing, and I take my fan hat off to Barbara for being so thorough.  She’s catalogued, commented, and linked to over a hundred different fan films and series going back half a century to Super-8 home movies of kids in their living rooms playing Star Trek back in 1967…all the way forward to the “giants” like Star Trek: Renegades, Star Trek Continues, and of course, Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase 2 (and everything in between like Farragut, Exeter, Intrepid, Hidden Frontier, Dark Armada, Antyllus, and countless others).

So part of the argument for “fair use,” I’m guessing, will be the question of “Why us and not them?”  Certainly it could be argued that using a couple of characters like Garth and Soval isn’t nearly as derivative as using the entire TOS bridge crew and several other minor characters, as well…along with the USS Enterprise, Klingons, and even George Takei and Walter Koenig reprising their roles as Sulu and Chekov.  So why do Star Trek Continues and New Voyages get a pass and Axanar doesn’t?  Star Trek: Renegades cost four times as much to make as Prelude to Axanar, was 90 minutes long, and even had a red-carpet premiere at a Los Angeles theater with paparazzi and limos and everything.  Or if it’s the use of a permanent studio that bothers CBS and Paramount, then New Voyages and Starship Farragut/Star Trek Continues beat Axanar to the punch years before Alec Peters raised his first dollar for the project.  (And for those arguing that Ares Studios is “for profit,” interestingly, that fact was not mentioned in any of the documents filed thus far by the plaintiffs.)

Of course, there’s other aspects of “fair use” potentially in play, as well, but the only thing I wanted to mention (and already did) is that now those hundreds of hours of other fan films and series are now part of the discussion, admissible into discovery and evidence, and relevant to the case.  They weren’t necessarily admissible before (they might have been with some arguing), but now they most definitely are.

So what about that “gift” I mentioned??  Thanks for being patient…here’s your reward.

In their answer to the counter-claim, Loeb and Loeb mostly said things like

The allegations in Paragraph X are legal conclusions and no response is required…


Counterdefendants lack knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of Counterclaimants’ allegations in Paragraph X and, on that basis, deny the allegations.

Fair enough.  That’s pretty standard.  But here’s a few places where a door is now open that wasn’t before:

Counterdefendants admit that Star Trek has been celebrated through conventions, books, movies, videos, art, short stories, and Fanzines.

So now other fan film projects (“videos”) are absolutely on the table for discussion.  CBS/Paramount acknowledges that they are aware of these as well as fanzines.  And of course, the studios have not exactly been aggressive in trying to shut them down.  Which brings us to…

Counterdefendants admit that they have not sued with respect to all uses of the Star Trek Copyrighted Works, but deny that they have not previously sued to enforce their intellectual property rights in the Star Trek Copyrighted Works.

So this allows for both sides to explore how many lawsuits CBS and Paramount have actually filed over the years…although the studios have now admitted that they’ve let some things pass without action.  And that’s fine.  It’s their I.P., and if they don’t want to put resources behind suing every Tom, Dick, and Harry Mudd with a camcorder, that’s their business.  But it does become something worth considering if the studios’ previous litigation actions have actually been rather few and far between.

Why is this point so important?  Because if CBS and Paramount almost always “look the other way,” then wouldn’t it be reasonable for a fan filmmaker like Alec Peters to expect more of the same if he played by the same “rules”?  So the number and frequency of other lawsuits initiated by the Star Trek license-holders over the years could well have a significantly bearing on the resolution of this case should it go to trial.

But the real “gift” in the answer from the studios (in my somewhat humble opinion) comes in the following three statements:

Counterdefendants admit that CBS Consumer Products Inc. worked in the past in a limited capacity with a company with which Alec Peters was involved.

Counterdefendants deny that Defendant Alec Peters “reached out to CBS” on multiple occasions, admit that Defendant Alec Peters spoke to Bill Burke and to John Van Citters, but state that Mr. Peters was never given permission to use Star Trek Copyrighted Works, nor was he provided with “guidelines” regarding ways in which he could use Plaintiffs’ intellectual property for his Star Trek film projects, for either commercial or non-commercial use, nor was he told that his use of such Star Trek Copyrighted Works would be tolerated. Counterdefendants admit that Peters met with Liz Kalodner on the Paramount Studios lot and spoke with Ken Ross, who attended a portion of the Prelude to Axanar showing at the 2014 Comic-Con.

Counterdefendants deny that they did not “express any concerns” to Alec Peters prior to filing this lawsuit.

So why is that potentially a “gift”?

Remember, I ain’t a lawyer, but here’s what I’m thinking as a layman…

First, CBS is acknowledging that Alec Peters did, in fact, do work for them.  (And in fact, they can’t deny such a fact, as that would be perjury in open court.)  And while the phraseology does try to minimize the direct relationship (note the “in a limited capacity with a company with which Alec Peters was involved” way they describe it), it still establishes the official contact.  Alec Peters did, in fact, deal with CBS previously and in a positive and mutually-beneficial way.  CBS’s wording is purposefully vague, but it doesn’t dispute anything in the counter-claim, which is very specific about the services that Alec Peters provided.  So point for Axanar…albeit a small one.

But the second and bigger point is that CBS acknowledges that Alec Peters spoke directly with not one, not two, not three, but FOUR different representatives of their corporation…and in one case, even came to the Paramount Studios lot to do so!

Again, this is all true, so the “gift” is simply that CBS and Paramount didn’t try to obfuscate the facts.  And even though Loeb and Loeb bend over backwards in their answer to state that Alec Peters was not given permission or guidelines, and that they deny that they did not express concerns, it still brings up a “he said/they said” situation that could play out very interestingly during discovery and, quite possibly, cross-examination.

You see, without any written follow-up to any of these meetings, it will be hard for CBS and Paramount to argue that they specifically told Alec Peters that what he planned to do was not allowed.  Granted, Alec will probably have a hard time proving that he was given permission either…except that now we hearken back to what I said before about acknowledging other fan films.  None of them were given permission either, and yet none of them got sued.  Axanar did.  What was different?

The actual content of those four discussions will be critical to the resolution of this case.  Unless any of these four representatives specifically said, “No, don’t do this,” is it fair for Alec Peters to say, as he claims, that he “…understood from these discussions that as long as his works stayed non-commercial they would be tolerated, and that CBS would let him know if he had ‘gone too far.’?”

After all, it’s impossible for CBS and Paramount to establish what Alec Peters was thinking.  And unless they have documentation of the discussions, and unless there’s a paper trail directly from them to Alec Peters recording their feelings on the matter (and I don’t believe there is), this isn’t simply a “he said/they said” situation as much as a “they implied/he inferred” situation.

And that, my friends, could make for a VERY interesting day in court!

24 thoughts on “CBS/PARAMOUNT’s answer to AXANAR counter-claim may have given a “gift” to the AXANAR legal team”

  1. … (groan) that was hard to read =P

    What this proves is that (as usual) J.J. is either full of sh*t, or doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about… =(

    BTW: the “correct” phrase is: I ain’t *NO* lawyer 😉

    …but THANKS for filling us in, Jonathan! =)

    1. “I ain’t no lawyer” implies that I am a lawyer, Not Herbert. And as my wife reminds me almost constantly, I ain’t a lawyer! 🙂
      As for J.J. Abrams, I suspect he truly believed what he said was true at the time. But I also suspect there’s a lot of generals on this battlefield.
      And, hey, what was so hard to read about that? I thought I was writing in a fun, conversational tone. 🙂

      1. Apparently JJ jumped the gun because there was a teleprompter at the ST fan Event that at one point had the words: “ad lib: pending lawsuit” which was supposed to be a Que for Adam savage to bring up the topic.

        You actually jumped around the board quite a bit in your article and it made very little sense.

        It doesn’t matter what Alec’s past business dealing were with CBS because they are subject to change. Just because he talked to four people employed by CBS doesn’t mean he was doing something good or that they were trying to help him. It just means he knew he was in it waist deep and was reaching out to former business partners to help him.

        1. Sorry you felt the article made very little sense, Big Bird. I did try my darnedest to keep it focused and leading toward the conclusion, but this is a complex case, and I felt I had to pitch two balls simultaneously: the “news” (for those of my readers who weren’t up to speed) and my op-ed. That was a LOT of ground to cover!

          As for Alec speaking with four people at CBS (some of the top people in their licensing division, by the way), it simply gives the judge and/or jury something else to consider in this case. Let’s imagine for a moment that Alec HADN’T contacted anyone at CBS, that he’d simply gone off, half-cocked and full-throttle, made Prelude, generated $1.2 million in donations, and ran his mouth off. That paints one picture for the judge.

          Now let’s look at the OTHER picture that gets painted. Alec tries his best to keep CBS informed every step of the way, and gives them every chance to say, “Hey, stop. We don’t like this!” And they don’t say stop. And it’s not like he just taps them on the shoulder once, gets no definite answer, and then decides, “HA! No answer is as good as a yes!” and goes off in secret to hatch his nefarious plan. He tries again and again to get guidance…and gets none. At some point, CBS has to start bearing some of the responsibility for, if nothing else, a breakdown in proper and clear communication. And if the judge and/or jury weighs this fact strongly enough, then it could well benefit Team Axanar.

  2. Everything interesting here to read, however the grounds to the lawsuit being in question because “others” are doing it seems weak! Just because your neighbor allows you to hunt or fish on there property doesn’t give an open for everyone in the neighborhood do it.. The same applies to the copyright issues here, Paramount/CBS owns the Star Trek brand legally and that’s the line… Anyone who comes across that line is subject to being sued, so they literally can pick on whoever they want and there is nothing to legally prevent this.. Interesting points and obviously Axanar Productions has pushed beyond what the legal team at Paramount/CBS is willing to accept !

    1. Tony, what you’ve just said is, essentially, the plaintiff’s argument…and it all sounds very reasonable. However, the reason we have courts, juries, and judges is that sometimes what seems “obvious” isn’t always what is decided. As I said, I have no inside information, but from here in the cheap seats, the Axanar attorneys at Winston & Strawn don’t seem like stupid people. And not only were they willing to take on this case, but they’re doing it for free! In fact, many of their senior partners are pitching in simply because they’re Trek fans themselves and believe in Alec, Axanar, and the fan film “cause.”

      Now, I’ve heard some argue that W&S is simply doing this to make a name for themselves, and it doesn’t matter to them if they win or lose because they just want the publicity. But that argument doesn’t seem logical to me. First, W&S is already a pretty well-known law firm in the intellectual property arena (and there aren’t many firms with that specialty). But second and more important, making a name for yourself as the firm who spectacularly LOST one of the most groundbreaking IP lawsuits in recent history–and probably blew through hundreds of thousands of dollars in un-reimbursed hours doing so–just doesn’t seem like a solid marketing/PR plan. “Hire us, and we can lose for you, too!”

      So I’m guessing that W&S is in it to win it, and I suspect they’re pretty confident about their chances. Sure, they could still lose–and for all the reasons you cited above, Tony. But the judge and/or jury can’t simply ignore the huge fact in this case that literally hundreds of hours of fan films have been produced and released over the past five decades with no legal challenges to any of them. Yes, the license holders and pick and choose whom they sue, but to suddenly burst out of the coffin after 50 years with a multi-million dollar cause of action–and without so much as a warning, a phone call, or even a cease and desist letter–seems like overkill in a big way. And its possible that the judge and/or jury might feel the same way.

      It hasn’t been mentioned yet, but there’s a chance the judge could rule in favor of the plaintiff and award damages in the amount of one dollar. This would send a strong message to all parties: yes, CBS and Paramount own Star Trek and have a right to sue over it, but seriously, get over yourselves! They’re just a bunch of fans, and they’re simply trying to help you market your product!”

      Or the judge/jury could award CBS/Paramount millions of dollars, and Alec Peters would just declare bankruptcy, and the studios would get nothing but a piece of paper with the words “You won!” on it…after hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to Loeb & Loeb. And many fan films would still be made…most probably.

      And of course, there’s a chance that the judge/jury might indeed rule that the Axanar fan films are protected under fair use, that they’re transformative enough to not be considered out and out infringement. And that would be an incredible loss for the plaintiffs!

      So in the “risk/reward” equation, the last option is a HUGE risk, but the former two are dubious “rewards” at best. A slap-on-the-wrist ruling would be a tremendous embarrassment for the studios and set an awful precedent for future attempts to sue other fans. And as for the large judgment scenario, I’m certain that the studio execs are salivating over the concept of taking Alec’s house or some such. But the joke’s on them: he rents! Alec has declared bankruptcy before, and there’s nothing stopping him from doing it again.

      As for W&S, well, their reputation is on the line here, and the world is watching (including the Chinese media–CCTV actually contacted me last week!). So while there’s no guarantee of a win by the Axanar side, I can pretty much guarantee that the Axanar lawyers will be fighting with full power to phasers and all photon torpedo tubes loaded and ready for launch.

      1. Now Jonathan Lane you being an actual supporter and donor to the Axanar Production would make you somewhat bias to this article, in court I guess you might say you’d have to disqualify yourself …
        There are many reasons that attorney’s accept Pro Bono cases. In this case it’s probably more toward PR if they win (win or lose W&R has nothing to lose), future experience dealing with cases like this (Erin is a young attorney and has already made several mistakes in the responses), and finally maybe they like Alec Peters or Star Trek .. Whatever reason they did accept the case, however after a discovery order is issued that’s where Axanar and Alec start paying. The discovery process involves days, weeks, and sometimes months of gathering information from outside sources which all charge, in a case this large you’d be looking probably several weeks of discovery and thousands of dollars .
        Regarding the judgement, that’s why Paramount/CBS attached Alec Peters personally to the lawsuit – there is no quick close up shop or bankruptcy which will let him off the hook . If there was a quick out, Alec would have used it months ago ! Look how many times he changed the leased building name in the last several months just to attempt to throw people off the track as to what is (or isn’t happening) at the warehouse.
        Paramount/CBS want Alec Peters off this project and will no doubt succeed in getting this done, regardless of how long it takes .. However, Star Trek has been a big cash cow for Peters and he’s not going to go down without a fight, this is probably now more about his future money and less about the movie Axanar !

        1. I’m certainly and admittedly biased, Tony, but I feel supportive about ALL fan films, not just Axanar. And yes, were I a perspective juror, I would likely be challenged by the plaintiffs’ attorneys and dismissed. But remember that, other than the judge and jury, pretty much everyone else in the courtroom is biased to one side or the other. 🙂

          I don’t know what W&S’s rationale was for taking this case pro bono, but I do know that they’re very gung ho about it and very confident. That doesn’t guarantee a win, but it does say that at least someone is optimistic about winning this case (other than Alec Peters), so it’s not open-and-shut. That was my main point. Whether or not this costs Alec and Axanar more money from here on out is irrelevant. W&S has already put in a lot of time (and time is money!). By my estimate, W&S has at least $50,000 in unbillable hours wrapped up in this case already (based on my wife’s billable rate and my assumption of 100-200 hours put in so far by both partners and associates…and I’m guessing I’m low-balling quite a bit. Your average case costs about $20K/month to deal with, even if you settle.) But my point is that W&S definitely has skin in this game and they’d much rather win than be seen as the firm that bankrolled a losing case.

          As for Alec, I should probably let him discuss his own finances. But understand that an individual is allowed to declare personal bankruptcy in this country. It’s not just for companies. Whether or not Alec does that is, of course, his business. And he might not have to if he either wins or just gets a slap-on-the-wrist judgment.

          And of course, they could always settle! 🙂

      2. IP law basically states that the IP holder can selectively sue who ever they want for violating their IP and are NOT required by law to go after everyone who violates IP.

        One of the reasons Axanar got sued is because they basically challenged the studio by saying “We can make better TREK than the studio can.” The producers of Axanar didn’t consider Axanar to be a fan film until after the lawsuit was filed and they only started to use the word “fan film” in an attempt to save them from going to court.

        Also of note is the fact that Alec was sued by several companies including MGM over the turning over of monies made from the sale of props from the Sci-Fi TV show “Stargate”. He lost and still hasn’t paid a dime. One has to wonder how many companies is he going to get over on before they file criminal charges against him. (Yes there are criminal charges that can be filed in an IP case)

        1. Your first paragraph is 100% correct, Big Bird. I even said as much in my op-ed. Your second paragraph doesn’t seem germane to the current discussion, so please forgive me if I jump over it.

          As for criminal charges, I just checked the following website from the U.S. Department of justice:

          Here’s the relevant part about criminal charges in copyright infringement cases:

          Any instance of infringement will generally entitle a copyright owner to a civil remedy, such as damages or injunctive relief. But not every infringement is a criminal offense. Throughout the history of copyright in the United States, criminal copyright penalties have been the exception rather than the rule. Although criminal copyright law has greatly expanded the scope of the conduct it penalizes over the past century, criminal sanctions continue to apply only to certain types of infringement—generally when the infringer knows the infringement is wrong, and when the infringement is particularly serious or the type of case renders civil enforcement by individual copyright owners especially difficult. As described in more detail below, a willful violation of any exclusive right for commercial advantage or private financial gain is a misdemeanor, whereas only a violation of the rights to reproduction and distribution under certain circumstances constitutes felony infringement.

          In other words, MAYBE Alec MIGHT qualify for a misdemeanor charge, but certainly not a felony. And even a misdemeanor would be extremely rare, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. I think this one stays in civil court, Big Bird.

    2. What if *everyone* in the neighborhood hunted and fished on your property, and you never so much as spoke to them about it (including to inform them that you’re only allowing them to hunt or fish because you feel like it), and then suddenly one neighbor shows up hunting and fishing and is sued to oblivion?

      And that neighbor is using the same or similar rods, guns and equipment to do his hunting and fishing as other neighbors before him?

      And what if the neighbor in question actually went out of his way to try to get permission, when almost every other neighbor didn’t? And what if that conversation took place in a way that your neighbor could at least feel permission was given (ie, you didn’t outright say “sorry, but you can’t fish or hunt here — it’s my property and you’re not allowed”)?

      Devil’s Advocate: Wouldn’t, under these circumstances, it at least be somewhat reasonable that a neighbor thought he or she was allowed to hunt on your property under those circumstances? That as long as people weren’t making a profit out of that hunting and fishing, everyone was allowed to do it? Especially if they asked permission and wasn’t outright refused?

      The issue isn’t that CBS/Paramount allowed some but not others, the issue is that they’ve allowed *everyone* — to the tune of thousands and thousands of not-for-profit fan projects over decades, read or watched by hundreds of thousands or millions — and have only now tried to stop this particular one, that isn’t doing anything that others haven’t done before it.

      While I agree Axanar is the underdog in this fight, CBS/Paramount would probably have a much stronger position right now if they had a history of banning at least some not-for-profit fan films even if it allowed others, or forced all fan films to go through some kind of licensing process (even if CBS/Paramount only asked for a token licensing fee).

  3. We live in a society that attributes more weight to public statements about important issues when those statements are given by supermodels and celebrities rather than people know what the hell they’re talking about. An event in history hasn’t reached it’s full impact until it’s a part of a nutritionally balanced breakfast. We like entertaining thing rather than factual things.

  4. I can’t see a jury or judge letting axanar slide on the fair use portion if they watch the prelude and know anything about star trek. But I do however think both parties will meet to discuss an out of court settlement to end the issue. CBS/Paramount want to set a precedent going forward that there will be rules to any fan creations and that from this time forward the gloves will be off and lawsuits will be filed. They want it clear they really dont want to be open about fan works like axanar. I think after they let this slide,they’ll hang the next project on a cross at the least little fart.

  5. “wouldn’t it be reasonable for a fan filmmaker like Alec Peters to expect more of the same if he played by the same “rules”?”–yes, it certainly would….if Peters played by the same rules, he would expect the same treatment.

    Problem is that he did not play by the same rules. Alec Peters has become the Donald Trump of fan films: he’s playing the same game, but he isn’t using the same rules. he has to make his bigger, better, more professional, etc etc etc. when he makes a fundraising goal, the ‘wall’ gets ten feet higher….and he needs a few more kickstarters to get over it.

    Prelude looked good…axanar would have been a decent little film….but something went horribly, horribly, HORRIBLY wrong, and Trump is headed right for the white house.

    1. I think the problem, Bill, was that there never were any rules. Even the never-written-down “guidelines” of don’t make a profit and don’t charge to see it never mentioned how much a fan film could raise and how professional it could be.

      A perfect example is “Star Trek: Renegades,” which I thought was excellent and enjoyed immensely. It was also professional–even more so than “Prelude to Axanar”–and cost four times as much to make. It had more stars from Star Trek, including five who portrayed the same characters they had in actual televised Star Trek (Walter “Chekov” Koenig, Tim “Tuvok” Russ, Richard “Admiral Paris” Herd, Manu “Icheb the de-Borgified Borg teen” Intiraymi, and Robert “Dr. Lewis Zimmerman/EMH” Picardo). In contrast, “Prelude” featured only one Trek actor reprising a prior TV role and two other Trek veterans in new roles. “Prelude” also had two additional professional actors while “Renegades” had several…plus it had real sets! Both productions featured familiar Trek aliens. In fact, while “Prelude” pretty much just featured Klingons and Vulcans, “Renegades” added to that list Andorians, Cardassians, Nausicans, and I think a few others. There was Starfleet, the USS Archer, and even a mention of Khan Noonian Singh.

      And of course, “Renegades” billed itself as the next big thing, just as Axanar did. In fact, “Renegades” was even told by CBS to stop referring to themselves as a new Star Trek “pilot” ( ). But they were never sued. And this despite selling (I mean giving away in exchange for donations) branded merchandise for their Star Trek-based fan film and even having a red carpet premier in Los Angeles (which I happily attended as a proud donor!). And although people weren’t charging their usual top dollar rates, several of the cast and crew were, I’ve been told, paid for their time and efforts on the “Renegades” production.

      And in just a few more days, “Renegades” will begin filming on a new production: their 2-part finale “The Requiem” with Walter Koenig, Tim Russ, and Nichelle Nichols all reprising their iconic Star Trek roles. The two “Renegades” productions have generated nearly $800,000 in fan donations, just below the $1.2 million Axanar brought in.

      So tell me, Bill, why was “Axanar” sued while “Renegades” wasn’t? Did they cross the one million dollar mark and trip some silent alarm? Is it just that Alec has a big mouth? If so, then that’s hardly a legal grounds for awarding a six or seven-figure judgment. Guys who talk a big game might be annoying to some, but it’s not a crime to brag. (If it were, Donald Trump would be serving a life sentence!) 🙂

  6. It’s refreshing to see another Blogger presenting the Axanar side of this whole clusterflop. Thanks Jonathan!

    1. There does seem to be quite an ample selection of blogs out there reporting mainly on the negatives of this situation. While I am admittedly a fan and supporter of Axanar, I’m also a supporter of ALL fan films. And in my opinion, throwing Axanar under the bus isn’t going to help fan films in general. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

  7. Huh. Their response to paragraph 4. Why would they bother denying where Alec Peters lives or where Axanar is incorporated?

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