BREAKING (NO) NEWS!!! NO SETTLEMENT (yet) in AXANAR LAWSUIT!

axaanr-splash-image4Okay, I just couldn’t wait anymore!  I had to know…was  a settlement reached in the Axanar copyright infringement lawsuit????

If you read my previous blog on the subject, you know that the two sides–CBS/Paramount and Alec Peters/Axanar Productions–were ordered by judge R. Gary Klausner to sit down for one last-ditch attempt to work out a settlement before going to trial.  Magistrate Judge Charles Eick was assigned to facilitate the discussions.  There is a court-mandated gag order on all discussions of the content of the settlement talks, and so all we got from Alec Peters on Monday evening was this:

We did not reach a settlement, but we are close. We will know by week’s end, as the attorneys have a call with Judge Eick Friday.

Everyone needs to manage their expectations. A settlement means neither side gets exactly what they want.

That sounded promising–or so I thought.  But as Friday (today) wore on and Alec wasn’t answering my texts of “So…any news yet?” I was getting antsier and antsier.  Their Monday meeting had lasted past 9:00p.m., so I tried to be patient and not bother Alec over and over again.  I failed.

But my persistence paid off…kinda.  I finally received the following comment approved from Alec for posting to FAN FILM FACTOR:

Axanar Productions remains in negotiations to achieve a settlement with plaintiffs (CBS Studios and Paramount Pictures Corporation).

As we’ve stated from the beginning of this legal odyssey, we are willing to addresses the concerns plaintiffs raised with regard to the production of our Star Trek fan film as long as we are allowed to make sure the story of Garth of Izar, the Battle of Axanar and the Four Years’ War can be told in a way that meets the expectations set for thousands of fans and donors through our crowdfunding campaigns and award-winning, proof-of-concept production, PRELUDE TO AXANAR.

In the event we are not able to reach a negotiated accommodation with the plaintiffs, we are prepared to pursue our fair use argument through the courts in an attempt to clearly identify what we can and cannot do when we resume production of AXANAR.

So…no news is good news?  Bad news?  Do we have any better idea of what’s going on now than before Alec sent that rather ambiguous note above?  Is it possible to read the tea leaves?

I think so.  But remember, the rest of this blog entry is entirely conjecture on my part.  Alec literally has said nothing to me over the phone or via e-mail today.  And on Facebook IM, I’ve only been reminded that he and his legal team are under COURT ORDERS (yes, he ALL CAP’d it) not to discuss any details.

But I’m not under any court order not to speculate!  So let’s try to do some logical deduction here…

Okay, there were three possibilities for how today could have gone:

  1. The two sides were able to come together and reach a mutually agreed-upon settlement.
  2. The two sides weren’t able to reach a settlement at all and will see each other in court on January 31.
  3. The two sides are still working on a settlement.

Let’s tackle number one (no, not Will Riker) first because it’s the easiest.  I’m gonna go out on a very short limb here and say with almost total confidence: the case did NOT settle today.  How do I know?  Because Alec said the two sides “remain in negotiations.”

Well, actually, that’s NOT what he said exactly…was it?  Alec said, “Axanar Productions remains in negotiations to achieve a settlement with plaintiffs…”  He didn’t say the studios remained in negotiations with him.  Was the one-way direction of that sentence intentional?

Hmmm.

Now, remember, I’m totally flying blind here and just guessing my butt off.  But to me, that phrasing might be the key to the puzzle of which of the remaining two options it is: were the two sides unable to reach any agreement or are they still trying to work things out?

So one would think that, if the two sides were still actively working on a settlement, in addition from phrasing the announcement more like “The two sides remain in negotiation with each other…” Alec might have added, “…and we will be meeting again early next week…” or something like that.  Also, the court would probably have been fine with, “And we have made some great progress…” or “Things are getting closer…” much like Alec’s message from Monday.

So let’s assume–’cause I don’t mind making an ass out of myself or anyone–that we’re on option #2: the two sides could not come together and aren’t planning to work toward a settlement anymore…and this case is going to trial.

Well, first of all, don’t entirely assume that.  Even if the two sides aren’t talking right now, a settlement can be reached at any time…even after the trial starts!  So yeah, one side or the other (or both) may have gotten up from the table and stormed out today–or walked out politely–and they may no longer be actively trying to find a reasonable compromise, but that doesn’t mean they won’t come back for one or two more tries before the January 31 trial start date.

But assuming that the two sides aren’t really planning any more talks for the foreseeable future, what do we think the sticking point was?  Any guesses?  Here’s a hint:

As we’ve stated from the beginning of this legal odyssey, we are willing to addresses the concerns plaintiffs raised with regard to the production of our Star Trek fan film as long as we are allowed to make sure the story of Garth of Izar, the Battle of Axanar and the Four Years’ War can be told in a way that meets the expectations set for thousands of fans and donors through our crowdfunding campaigns and award-winning, proof-of-concept production, PRELUDE TO AXANAR.

So just from reading that, one would guess (because it doesn’t contain any actual details of what was discussed…only what the two parties’ concerns have been all along, which is publicly known) that the studios do not want Axanar made as a film in any form that would satisfy the donors.  Now whether that means it must hew to the guidelines (which it’s already violated and would necessitate recasting, well, nearly everyone) or have to follow an even stricter set of guidelines, well, I have no idea.  It could also mean that the studios are simply saying “no” to ANY form of Axanar.  We just don’t know.

But it does seem that this may be the primary sticking point.  If so, then which side is being unreasonable?

Well, this might surprise some of you coming from this particular Axanar supporter, but I think both sides are justified in digging in their heels–assuming that that is what is happening.

For the studios, they likely don’t want Alec Peters to be rewarded in any way for “crossing the line” (even if they never actually drew a line), raising $1.2 million, building a “for profit” studio, “selling” perks, paying himself a “salary” (yeah, I know–LOTS of quotation marks…remember that this case still has to go to trial, so nothing is proven), etc.

If Alec gets to make his fan film after all, then what the hell have CBS and Paramount spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees for these past eleven months???  I’m guessing that they need Alec to be made an example of…and NOT an example of how to get what you want if you can hold out long enough through an expensive and time-consuming lawsuit.  If Alec gets what he wants out of this trial, then the studio is gonna have to sue fan film after fan film any time there’s another Alec Peters wanting to push the limits.

And what about Alec?  Well, as I’ve said, he could actually win this.  Sure, it’s not particularly likely (maybe 20% chance in my not-expert mind), but he could also lose with barely a slap on a wrist.  A four or five-figure verdict versus the millions of dollars it could have been?  I think that’s very likely.  And if that happens, well, Alec might never get to make Axanar the way he’d like, but he’s got the ending for his “tell-all” documentary: The Battle for Axanar (“for” or “of”…I can’t remember which was the working title).  A settlement doesn’t provide nearly as dramatic an ending for the documentary since settlement details are completely confidential and the audience won’t see “David” battling “Goliath” in the courtroom.

So with little to lose and possibly a LOT to gain, I can understand why Alec Peters might be holding his ground against a list of probably harsh settlement requirements from the studios concerning Axanar itself.  Likewise, the studios are probably convinced they can win this outright, which is why they’re probably unlikely to ease up on the rigidity of what they’re likely demanding.

And so that leaves us with the last thing Alec said:

In the event we are not able to reach a negotiated accommodation with the plaintiffs, we are prepared to pursue our fair use argument through the courts in an attempt to clearly identify what we can and cannot do when we resume production of AXANAR.

In other words, “I dare ya to knock this battery off my shoulder.”  Alec is saying, quite unambiguously, that if the studios don’t settle, this thing is going to court.  And if it goes to trial, the assumption will be that Axanar DOES get made (note they say “when we resume production”) and the jury and judge will simply tell both parties what is and is not allowed when they make their film.  If this goes to trial, Alec is saying, some version of Axanar gets made.  Period.  The studios, I’m sure, will disagree, but that’s the battery on Alec’s shoulder at the moment.

And of course, I could be entirely wrong and both sides announce a happy settlement as early as Monday!

82 thoughts on “BREAKING (NO) NEWS!!! NO SETTLEMENT (yet) in AXANAR LAWSUIT!”

  1. Given the current political campaign, I’m happy to be able to read your speculation on Axanar and the tiny tidbit provided. And the court order to keep quiet makes sense as long as there is negotiation to allow the parties to explore ideas without having everything cast in concrete.

  2. Basically all this means is the folks in the Axanar Camp don’t know when to settle while they are ahead and move on to other things.

    There is no way the court will allow any story involving Garth of Izar, the Battle of Axanar and the Four Years’ War to be made because of the fact that they are the IP of CBS & Paramount. Regardless of the story EVERYONE would recognize them as being from the world of “Star Trek”.

    Some times giving up and being reasonable might actually be the best way to go. Once this case goes to trial things will go bad for the defense since it’s a pretty cut and dry case.

    LL&P

    1. No, it doesn’t say that at all unless you decide to ignore everything that has happened to date. The only IP CBS can claim that you list is Star Trek and Garth of Izar because they fall into the realm of trademarks. The term Four Years’ War is too generic to be claimed as IP. That would like you claiming to own the phrase “The War of the Dead.” Can’t be done.

      I don’t view it as a “cut and dry case” and I am certain that Alec’s team of lawyers don’t either. Otherwise they would not have agreed to take the case pro bono almost as soon as the suit was originally filed. Remember, CBS/Paramount allowed the existence of fan films without so much as a single objection until Prelude to Axanar fell under their noses. They have to prove why Axanar is a threat to dilute their brand when all of the fan films previously created raised no objection at all. That is a huge element in this case. Contrary to what others claim, at the heart of the lawsuit/trial is whether or not Axanar will affect CBS’ brand and revenues. This is truly a case that will set precedence for what qualifies as “fair use” for fan films of any genre in the future. So far, it has been demonstrated that the judge is VERY thorough and treats both parties equally. The fact that he has found in favor of the defendants’ through the discovery phase also shows he is not going to put up with any shenanigans the plaintiffs may/have tried.

      Jonathan’s three guesses are spot on in my opinion also. I believe that both parties will continue to hold negotiations in the hopes of a settlement. Reading Alec’s statement about managing expectations indicates that progress is likely being made but conclusions haven’t been reached yet. As long as both parties remain at the negotiation table, the more likely we will see an Axanar film as what we wanted and donated for.

      1. The only thing you said that needs correction, Steve, is the part about trademarks. Totally different species from copyright. The plaintiffs listed 57 alleged violations of copyright (not trademark), ranging from Garth and Soval to Vulcan (the planet and the species), Klingon (the language and the species), uniforms, medals, the starship Enterprise, the Klingon D7…the list goes on and on. Some things–like the Starfleet uniforms–are not copyright-able according to federal law. Other things like the Klingon language might prove difficult to copyright now that it has become a living language spoken by people outside of Star Trek episodes. Triangular medals, well, it’s hard to copyright shapes. But Garth and Soval came directly from the Star Trek universe, as did Klingons, Vulcans, Andorians, the Enterprise, etc.

        There’s going to be a lot thrown at the jury. But yes, the 50 years of silence and inaction regarding fan films…that goes to Alec Peters’ state of mind when he made his fan film (or whatever you want to call it). Why should he have believed the studios would have a problem ONLY with his film after five decades of not having problems with any other fan films? And these were fan films that had permanent studios, crowd-sourced, had perks, employed veteran Trek actors (and paid them) to reprise their iconic roles, featured top-level visual FX, and often used way more I.P. in longer-running finished products. If Alec can prove the studios gave him no reason to believe he was infringing on their copyright (especially after meeting with them four times and asking them and not being told to stop!), then even if he loses, the award judgement is going to be pretty darn small.

        1. Yeah, I knew some of that fell under copyright rather than trademark. I was just trying to make the point that certain terms cannot be claimed because they are generalized words. I work in an industry where publishers can use terminology as long as it is properly cited. Equally, we have content that falls under protection that cannot be used due to the type of license without specific permission.

          Copyright generally refers to words, sentences, phrases, names, etc. Trademarks tend to cover what is tangible and can be touched. However, the exception to this is when a corporate entity specifically trademarks a name or set of words (Budweiser, Susan G. Komen, NFL, Star Trek).

  3. Jonathan, the impression, strictly impression mind you, is that the plaintiffs are playing hardball and that they are not budginging from their position. I think that what may happen is that plantiffs will take this into trial to as you said, “make Alec an example” and they won’t back off that stance until it becomes very obvious that it necomes obvious that “resistance will be futile” to paraphrase the Borg.

    1. Early on , I spoke to someone with ties to CBS who said that very same thing. Alec was to be the poster boy of “thou shalt not…” when it came to fan films. They wanted a big win with a big verdict. (Actually, initially they just wanted Alec to pee in his pants and run away in terror never to be heard from again.) Now, the question becomes, if Alec loses the case (an 80% likelihood, in my opinion) but only gets a minor slap on the wrist (which is an outcome that is VERY likely), will the studios be satisfied or frustrated? After all, a “guilty of infringement” verdict–even if non-willful and only $200 per violation–is still a strong statement that this is not allowed. On the other hand, if Alec gets off with, say, a $25,000 verdict, then might there be a future fan producer who does a million-dollar Kickstarter, as well, and says, “We’re putting aside $25,000 for the guilty verdict and $50,000 in legal fees to cover the inevitable lawsuit and judgement from the studios.” In this way, the “hassle” of paying a “fine” becomes almost like a licensing fee.

      Granted, there’s a lot of if’s in that scenario, but it’s not impossible to imagine. One way or the other, this case will set an important precedent.

        1. Oh, I think they’re ALREADY very frustrated, Frank. They wanted this over back in January! CBS isn’t used to the little guys fighting back. Their strategy is to come in like a wrecking ball and scare them into quick submission. A major Intellectual Properties law firm agreeing to represent Axanar pro bono was NOT in CBS’s game plan.

          1. I agree. Now they are in a legal and PR quagmire. Even if they win the legal, they lose the PR war, though they probably won’t admit it, Jonathan.

  4. I don’t know if this is welcome or not, but from what I recall and have read the new series takes place before TOS but after Enterprise and ties into TOS.

    Speculation mode on. The studio has already laid out most of a first series involving the build up to the four years war and would hinge on the buildup to Axanar. Captain Garth of the Discovery is exploring new worlds etc with his crew, and are plotted out in advance as to how to map their timeline and series to culminate into the Axanar conflict and beyond.

    Just a few thoughts.

    1. Man, a captain Garth on the Discovery…the mind boggles!!!

      That said, the timing isn’t exactly right on this series, which is supposed to pre-date Kirk’s 5-year mission by 10 years. Kirk would be just out of the Academy. But Garth’s exploits at Axanar were required reading at the Academy. Hard to read about something that hasn’t happened yet. 🙂

      1. My Question the last little Bit is why do it at all… There are also numerous things that are kind of issues at the moment.

        Why not do something original!?!

        In 1 20 minute short and 1 Vulcan scene, Axanar did more to make me excited about trek than CBS has done the whole time they’ve had it… including what ever it is that Fullers been doing besides taking care of Trek… I am by no means saying that they shouldn’t color outside the lines, but is the time to do that, when your trying to launch your Pay to View, network? and lets be clear this is Pay to View.

  5. the part that bothers me the most, and seems to justify CBS’ actions, is that ‘as long as we can make this movie’ bit….that is really tacky and disgusting and flies in the face of the tradition of fan films since the beginning.

    when you look at the other successful fan films, they all at some point have a line that says ‘we love doing this, we plan on doing it a lot more, but if we are told to stop by CBS, well, it’s their sandbox, so we will respect that and stop.’ (and it was a while ago, but I thought that Axanar said the same thing on one of their crowdfunding campaigns.) now you have a fan film that says ‘screw it, no matter what, even if CBS doesn’t like it, we are going to make this movie.’ saying something like that only helps to reinforce the negative image held by detractors of this project.

    1. Yeah, it’s amazing what a multi-million dollar lawsuit will do to one’s resolve. 🙂

      But seriously, I think things would have gone MUCH differently had Alec simply been called or received a cease and desist letter. I suspect that Axanar may have gone the way of Renegades had that happened–although I can’t be certain. But once the lawsuit was filed, “Prelude” itself became the issue. It was impossible to UN-make that film. So even had Alec opted to make the Axanar movie with Klingats and a G-7 battlecruiser and Carth of Izad, the lawsuit would still be a problem for him.

      So I’m not surprised that Alec is going balls-to-the-wall on this. As a donor, I’m actually glad. I paid for a STAR TREK fan film, and I feel even better about donating when I see the person I donated to fighting for what his supporters paid for. Many of us donors feel the same way–from comments I read on the Axanar Fan Group and FB pages. Say what you want about Alec, but it takes a LOT of courage to stand up to a multi-billion dollar corporation, face financial ruin, and fight for something you believe it. You can call Alec many things, but “coward” would never pass the smell test.

      1. “I think things would have gone MUCH differently had Alec simply been called or received a cease and desist letter.”–I doubt that. it is disingenuous to say ‘a simple no would suffice’ and then when the plaintiffs say “NO WAY ABSOLUTELY NOT YOU SELFISH LITTLE THIEF”, you go and say “well, that was not a simple ‘no’, so it does not count.”

        given that AP has chosen to fight the lawsuit tooth and nail, burning a few bridges along the way, if an enormous no bracketed by stop signs does not stop him, then a much smaller, less serious warning would also fail to dissuade him form this course of action.

        “You can call Alec many things, but “coward” would never pass the smell test.”–actually, he IS a coward. you see it as ‘brave’ that he is ‘fighting long odds’, but it is foolish bravado. the bottom line is that Alec Peters made a series of mistakes, and them compounded those mistakes with more blunders in an attempt to save face…his cowardice is in being unable or unwilling to face his own shortcomings and failings, to even admit he has such. and that introspective cowardice is far more contemptible than any pointless bravado against CBS.

        See, what folks forget to mention when they make a ‘David vs Goliath’ comparison is that in this case, Goliath was not rampaging the countryside and terrorizing villagers until some brave little shepherd stepped up to defend them. no, this Goliath was friendly, aloof, and harmless, and had no problems with the local shepherds playing with pictures from its scrapbook, until that little David went sneaking in while the giant was sleeping, spat in its coffee and yanked out its nose hairs. the giant never bothered to go after the other shepherds, and focused on the pig farmer. david thought his speed would offset the giant’s size, but david was clumsy, stumbled, and then got lost and had no idea where he was going.

        “stand up to a multi-billion dollar corporation”–he was not attacked unprovoked.

        “face financial ruin”–using other people’s money…any other financial ruin is not something he is facing courageously, but a repeat of his past failures, so he already knows what to expect.
        “and fight for something you believe it”–given his petty comments online, his dismissive attitude towards those with a different outlook, his general disdain for other fans and their works, I don’t think he actually understands what Star Trek means, and if he doesn’t understand it, he really can’t believe in it.

        …unless, of course, the ‘it’ he believes in is his own importance. THAT, he certainly believes in, and he shows no empathy or compassion for any outside his tiny view of the world. defending his own self-importance is not courageous, but is the cowardly denial of a narcissist incapable of accepting an ugly truth about himself.

        1. So I’m guessing nothing other than a verdict where Alec doesn’t get totally crushed and obliterated is going to change your thinking…and probably not even then. So I won’t try…too much else to do in life. 🙂

          1. “nothing other than a verdict where Alec doesn’t get totally crushed and obliterated is going to change your thinking”–actually, AP does not have to be crushed to change my thinking…if he could show courage enough to admit his many mistakes and simply apologize and surrender, he could decline in dignity, walk away intact, and i’d be fine. Hell, if he’d stop fighting CBS, if he went more conciliatory with them, they might even cut him a break….it’s like you said, a simple C&D would have been enough….if this is true, then take the lawsuit as a GIANT C&D written in all caps, and behave accordingly. don’t decry the other side for not acting in good faith when you are incapable of demonstrating any good faith on your part.

            while there are some who say Alec Peters is a criminal, I do not believe that…not completely, anyway. I believe he simply took on a project that was beyond his abilities and outside the scope of his background, and his inexperience led to poor decisions. In other words, while he is guilty, he is not guilty of malicious intent, just incompetence. unfortunately, ignorance of the law is no excuse for violating that law.

            the problem, though–and the reason why I cannot say with COMPLETE certainty that this was just an honest mistake–is that he seems incapable of admitting he actually made any mistakes. he cannot acknowledge his failures, and so he is incapable of learning from them.

            if alec Peters actually wanted to redeem himself, if he wanted to come out of this with dignity and perhaps even some grudging respect form some (not all, but some) of his most vocal detractors, he needs to do whatever the civil case version of copping a plea would be. acknowledge his many screw-ups, stop blaming others for his own bad decisions, essentially he needs to ‘man up’ and show REAL courage by being willing to admit the flaws in this project, and the fault for its many failures, rest on him and him alone.

            If he takes responsibility, it would go a long way to demolishing the negative image being constructed by the analysis of the facts as presented by his detractors.

            back when all this started, I believed he was simply a victim of making honest mistakes because he had never done any kind of work on any kind of film. but with the way he keeps compounding errors, and the really poor decisions made to try and repair the damage, a lot of his follow up moves look more and more like intent to defraud, to hide assets, to cook the books. he tries so hard to make things look OK, but he does not think through the legal ramifications or the concerns of professional ethics that his follow decisions have. given that he isn’t a lawyer, it is still mostly understandable, and perhaps it all IS a bad run of luck, but given how much there is, it gets harder and harder to believe that anyone can make that many mistakes. ( the phrase ‘preponderance of evidence’ springs to mind…along with ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’. sure, in this case it is possible that ‘where there is smoke, there is a Yugo in need of major engine work’, but it keeps looking like AP is setting a fire so no one notices how embarrassingly rusted out his car is.)

            and the more he insists the mistakes are not his, the more he refuses to show spine enough to face his own shortcomings, the less I can respect him….the less I can trust him.

          2. “I quite literally agree with NOTHING you’ve just written, Bill.”–I would not expect you to; like I said earlier, one of the hardest things a person can do is admit they are wrong.

            because here’s the kicker: you disagree, but can’t really refute it, can you? the case I’ve presented is not wrong, is based on the facts as presented. you don’t want to be stuck with the conclusion that Peters is inept, craven, misguided….but there isn’t really la successful move you can point to at this point; just a series of missteps.

          3. “I think you’re demonstrating that perfectly, Bill.”–well, if I do get proven wrong by the outcome of this affair, i’ll admit to it.

            but, so far, I haven’t seen any facts that refute my current conclusions.

            is there a specific part or parts of my explanation that you want to point out were wrong and show what I overlooked? or is it just that you don’t like the conclusion, so you feel it must be wrong even if you can’t necessarily spot the mistake yet?

          4. Nah. I just written enough about the issues you’ve brought up. No need to go tit for tat yet again with someone whose mind is made up. You want to know why I know you’re wrong? Read back though my blogs. Right now (as in literally right now), I’m transcribing a really awesome interview with Aliza Pearl that I want to have up in the next week or two. Better to focus my time on that than trying to change yet another mind that is made up.

            If I turn out to be wrong and Alec loses with a huge verdict, I’ll admit that I was wrong, as well. If Alec is audited by the IRS and it’s found that he swindled money (which he didn’t, of course), I’ll be as surprised as anyone and say, “Gee, guess I called that one the wrong way.”

            But remember, I know Alec personally. You don’t (at least, I don’t think you do–if I’m wrong, Bill, I’ll admit that, too). I know Alec is a good man. Can he be a dick at times? Sure. So can I. So can you. But there are some people in the world whom I know have good hearts–even if/when they’re being dicks. Alec is one of those with a good heart. Now, I could be proven wrong some day. But until then, I trust my gut. Alec has treated me very well, very warmly, and very fairly. And let me give you an example before I get back to transcribing a really, REALLY awesome interview that I hope everyone will eventually read…

            Back in July of 2015, I had helped Diana Kingsbury organize a perk-packing “party” (yeah, more packing than partying) at Ares Studios. Four volunteers drove up to Valencia to spend the day stuffing patches into envelopes (and when there’s 10,000-plus donors, yes, that does take all day and then some!). I was, of course, one of those volunteers. But then my babysitter canceled at the last minute, and Wendy had to work. I couldn’t leave a 4-and-3/4-year-old home alone, but I didn’t want to let the team down either. So I took Jayden with me to the studio (packing my iPad with as many videos and games as I could fit).

            When Alec saw me walking in with my son, he turned white. Ares Studios was NOT meant for a preschooler to run around in, and Alec was VERY concerned. He explained that he wasn’t worried about Jayden destroying the sets so much as him getting hurt himself. I promised not to sue, but Alec said he wasn’t worried about that (the studio carries insurance); he just didn’t want to see Jayden accidentally hurt himself. I promised to keep a close eye on Jayden, and swore to Alec that Jayden–once the iPad is on–pretty much turns into a zombie. Plus I drilled into Jayden’s head the entire drive up that he needed to BEHAVE or we would have to leave and not get to see the starship that Alec was building. And if he did behave, maybe Alec would let him sit in the captain’s chair (I had no idea if Alec would even allow that).

            Alec was still nervous (noticeably) but he let Jayden stay. And–praise Zod!–Jayden was the most perfect child you could have imagined. When lunch time came, Alec treated the volunteers and bought a special dessert for Jayden (checking with me, of course). When we got back to the studio, Jayden said to Alec, “Was I good enough to sit in the captain’s chair, Alec?” Alec walked Jayden onto the set himself and lifted him into the chair in the center of the bridge set. Jayden was ecstatic! (And to be honest, I’d dreamed of this moment for myself since I was Jayden’s age!) Jayden played with the chair, spun it back and forth, flicked on and off all the armrest lights…and Alec was fine with it. He even took a photo of Jayden and me together on the bridge.

            You can tell a lot about a person by how they interact with young children. Alec has nephews of his own whom he loves dearly and visits often in Florida. By the time Jayden and I left a few hours later (after Jayden helped us sort patches into groups of three and stuff them into envelopes), Alec gave Jayden a set of patches himself and even let him take home one of the “toys” from Alec’s desk. (No, it wasn’t a screen-used prop…I don’t really remember what it was, but Jayden played with it the entire drive home.) As Jayden gave Alec a good-bye hug, my little boy asked, “Can I come back after you finish building the whole starship Enterprise?” Alec smiled and said, “Jayden, you are welcome here any time you want.” (And yes, we’ve been back there a couple of times since–and Jayden always sits in the captain’s chair!)

            So no, I’m not going to debate whether Alec did this or that thing wrong. I’m not going debate whether he is brave or a coward or nice or a dick or too arrogant or dishonest or any other accusation you want to make. Back when Jayden and I visited the studio for the first time, I was just an Axanar “groupie”–I hadn’t yet started writing a regular blog or doing anything other than donating and volunteering. I didn’t even deal much with Alec–mostly with Diana. And on that day, there were already three other volunteers there. Alec could have just sent me on my way and not risked a wild child running around his work space. Instead, Alec was warm, friendly, and welcoming…and now my son loves him and still thinks he’s building a real starship.

            We saw Alec just last weekend at the L.A. Comic Con, and Jayden gave Alec a hug yet again. So if I’m being fooled by Alec, then so is Jayden. But kids tend to have some very good instincts about people they decide to give a hug to.

            And now, back to the interview…

          5. I did think, back in the beginning, that this was all a big misunderstanding…alec was just a big trek geek who let his passion outpace his reason, that the missteps and screw-ups were all innocent, just a result of too much enthusiasm. but as this thing keeps spooling out, that initial assumption of mine IS one that I think I got wrong. it is getting harder and harder to justify that many mistakes as accidents or incompetence; I have a hard time believing anyone can have that much bad luck or be THAT incompetent for this long, so I now thinking that maybe some of his more vocal detractors might be right, and that it isn’t just some crazy old grudge they can’t shake…

          1. got any actual data points to back that up, Dave, or is it just a hollow ad hominem?

            for the record, i’m not crazy. my mother had me tested.

          2. My comment, while admittedly flip, is meant to point out that you appear to be making some kind of judgement or diagnosis on Alec’s psyche or personality without (apparently) having met the man.

          3. Dave that Characterization is unfair, So is assuming that Mr. Peters is guilty of anything before he has his day in court Bill.

          4. In other words, no, you have no data points to back that up.

            My judgement is based on his actions and his public statements up until this point. and over the last year and a half,

            there are a great many things he said he wants to do, and a great many things he tried to do, and some of those things contradict each other or fail miserably.

            his success-to-failure ratio is one that indicates two possibilities: he is lying (he did not intend to do what he said he was going to do, which is why it did not get done), or he is incompetent (he tried and failed to do it, because he did not know what he was doing).

            or are you suggesting I have overlooked some other possibility that explains his repeated failures and blunders?

          5. Mickey, that’s a fair cop. problem is that he did violate CBS’s IP rights. now, I do not believe Alec Peters is an idiot. If I thought he was an idiot, then it would be easier to say he is innocent of any intentional wrongdoing, that all the mistakes he made were just born from his inexperience in film and his general ineptitude.

            but there’s just so many mistakes, it gets harder and harder to say that.

            it is beginning to look more and more like the problem is that Alec Peters does not believe he is an idiot either….there’s a lot of Dunning-Krueger in his actions. he knew (as all fan film makers do) that they are using someone else’s IP, that they don’t really have copyrights, that CBS holds all the cards. but, since he thinks he is smarter than he is, he never asked others for advice on how to proceed. he came up with some crazy, twisted justifications in an attempt to land squarely in that ‘grey area’ that would lead the studios to let things slide, but, by overestimating his own intelligence and ability, he missed the mark. and when things went horribly, horribly wrong, he tried to salvage things, still incapable of admitting that he was making very stupid choices, and things got worse. the only person he has been lying to from the beginning is himself.

            criminal? not a malicious one. idiot? not entirely. wrong? definitely.

          6. Just curious, Bill, is the lack of capital letters at the beginning of sentences a stylistic choice? You capitalize other words like “Alec Peters,” “Mickey,” “Dunning-Krueger,” and “CBS.” But when it comes time to start a sentence and/or paragraph…lowercase only. So if it is stylistic, then I’m also curious…why?

          7. @Bill Allen

            Given your blatant ignoring of the entire body of Jonathan’s writings so far, it stands to reason that what you have seen of Alec’s actions is just likewise an insignificantly small part that no sane person would use as a basis for any kind of judgment. Your endless sermons, the content of which has been adressed on these very pages countless times, only serve to underscore that. As you say yourself, it’s hard to admit one is wrong. So instead, the fact that Jonathan doesn’t want to repeat himself is turned by you into him not actually having anything to say – and you have the audacity to say that on HIS blog.

            You can be glad that he allows you a platform for your sermons.

          8. Hey, as one of those people who “loves to hear himself talk” (well, write), I can empathize with someone like me who is in love with the sound of his keyboard. 🙂

            But seriously, if Bill wants to continuously explain himself over and over, it’s fine. The more he says it, the more it reinforces his “comfort zone” (the narrative he desperately wants to believe). It really doesn’t matter whether or not the rest of us agree with him. In fact, it’s better for Bill if we don’t because it just gives him another excuse to state his case–in the voice of Lt. Kevin Riley in “The Naked Time”–one…more…time!

            Look, when all is said and done, it all comes down to Alec Peters making a choice, his choice, to fight this. None of the rest of us can know what is in Alec’s heart or mind…what effect the threat of financial ruin can have on his day-to-day thoughts or feelings, what effect the constant stream of epithets from a vocal few can do to his sense of self-worth or confidence.

            There is no argument that can convince anyone that the detractors aren’t being cruel–truly, vilely cruel–and I can tell you as someone who is experiencing a small part of that public ridicule at the moment, it’s a terribly lonely feeling…just like it was when I was a child and got picked on by bullies. Sure, like Alec, I take every pat on the back, every “thank you” and “congratulations” and compliment as a re-energizer of my warp core. And I know that Alec feels fantastic each time he gets recognized at a con and greeted warmly (the detractors never approach him at cons with a friendly handshake–they just lurk in the shadows, stalking, live-streaming video and tweets about what he’s doing…which is pretty creepy, isn’t it?).

            But in the end, for all of the positive reinforces that keeps Alec (and me) going, there’s just no way to completely shake off that cruelty when it comes. I know that many of us were teased as kids back at school, on the playground, during gym class when we were always picked last. Many of us were made fun of by very nasty, cruel kids trying to look cool by making fun of our weight, our acne, our body odor, our glasses, or the easiest target: our love of that stupid, nerdy “Star Trek” show. And no matter how many times our parents told us how great they thought we were or how many times our teachers or the few friends we had tried to prop us up, living with those taunts and insults was so constant, so personal, so…lonely. And it was not always (if ever) easy to just shake off.

            Now the Axanar detractors have taken their place as the “cruel kids,” the playground bullies calling the geeky kid names and trying to push him down into the mud. And yeah, Alec is 57 and I’m about to turn 50…but when the bullies are being cruel, it can feel like we’re back fourth grade all over again.

            And the truth is that, no matter how many ways Bill and others try to justify their cruelty, it still remains (at its core) just that: picking on the kid in the cross-hairs. Bill is enjoying being a bully (otherwise he wouldn’t be posting so much–you don’t spend that much time on something unless it’s giving you some jollies), and I kinda wish he’d just own that. He sees an easy kid to pick on–a kid he’s never actually met or gotten to know–and he’s doing his best to make that kid feel like crap. Bullying 101. Just own it, Bill…that’s all I’m saying.

          9. “Just curious, Bill, is the lack of capital letters at the beginning of sentences a stylistic choice?”–yes, it is stylistic…with the understanding that ‘stylistic’ is a euphemism for ‘I am too lazy to proofread’. 😉

            “and he’s doing his best to make that kid feel like crap.”–no, actually, not in this case. I said on one of the other comments that Alec Peters neither knows nor cares who I am or what I say, and I stand by that. the next time you talk with him, you could copy/paste any of my so-called ‘hurtful’ comments and show it to him, and his reaction would be something along the lines of ‘who the fuck is this guy? never heard of him, don’t care.’ and Alec would move on.

            you know this, I know this, that hubcap salesman knows this….

            I’ve been on the sidelines, just watching and reading and following everything, for about a year now. I know folks who are in both camps, and have had small-scale conversations with those folks ,and have tried to find some middle of the road path: Alec is in the wrong, but not evil, it was just an honest mistake, and so forth.

            “you don’t spend that much time on something unless it’s giving you some jollies”–it actually isn’t all that much time…see above about skipping on the proofreading…and some folks actually DO spend more time on distractions like this at this time of year…if they are not fans of winter. As it gets colder, I have a greater and greater desire to spend more time indoors, so my digital footprint tends to be larger during the winter months. So, while you have not heard much from me so far, you will be hearing more from me.

            My position is contrarian, but that does not automatically equate to bullying. no one here has been hurt by my words, and one or two folks actually engaged in actual conversation…and no matter the particular negative connotation that may come from some of my chosen words, none of it is going to hurt Alec Peters’ feelings. he is not some ‘little kid’ being picked on; he’s an adult, one from the older generation that learned that little adage about ‘sticks and stones’. words cannot hurt him.

        2. Bill, some thoughts on your first and second comment:
          I could be wrong but I have the impression that, if Alec would have said, after suit was filed, ‘Yeah, you’re right I’ve screwed up’, he would have to pay everything CBS/P asked for in the suit.
          So if that’s the case there is no reason not to fight because if I don’t I loose everything, if I do there might be a chance I don’t.
          So in case my impression is right don’t you think it’s valid to assume that had CBS/P simply called first and said: “We have some issues with how you do things let’s sit down and talk about it” things might have been different.
          For example, if the studio was their biggest concern, it should have been easy to come to an agreement that AS could only be used for other fan films and is not allowed to produce any revenues or if so these revenenues have to go to predetermined charities.
          Or the release date was an issue, they could have agreed to postpone the release for a year or two.
          I believe giving someone the choice between fighting or dying is the best way to find yourself in a fight bigtime because your couterpart might survive only if he fights.

          1. “I have the impression that, if Alec would have said, after suit was filed, ‘Yeah, you’re right I’ve screwed up’, he would have to pay everything CBS/P asked for in the suit.”–not necessarily. things like this are not typically a fully absolutist thing. had he said ‘guys, i’m really sorry; I didn’t mean to cross the line; unfortunately I don’t have enough to pay the $150k fine for each of those twenty something points in the initial complaint, what will you settle for?” then CBS may have simply settled for shutting down the production, getting him to refund whatever was still floating around form the donor’s money, and said ‘next time you make a fan film, don’t do all this crazy money stuff and use donor money to lay the groundwork for a media empire.’ ther eare ways he could have come at this to get them to settle. ( I’ve heard it said a few times that CBS wants to ‘make an example’ of Axanar Productions….they didn’t do this suit to make money, but to send a message….had the message been received, had alec offered to be a polite messenger, things could have gone much more smoothly for him, and this matter could have been resolved a long time ago. but he was either unwilling or unable to apologize and admit he was wrong, and that has cost him his decent bargaining position.

            or, as you said, “if the studio was their biggest concern, it should have been easy to come to an agreement” but Alec Peters did not want to come to an agreement; he wanted to be RIGHT.

            I remember, a few years back, one of those TOS fan series were splashing the old NBC Peacock logo up at the beginning of their films…trying to for a greater degree of verisimilitude with the Original Series. CBS could have shut them down, but instead said ‘stop flashing the competition’s logo in front of OUR product.’

            now ,those guys could have argued that that was an affront to their artistic integrity, that it was destroying their vision and desire for accuracy, they could have shouted about their rights to free expression and said CBS was being heavy-handed jerks….instead, they got rid of the Peacock, and kept right on making more episodes, and CBS was cool with that.

            had Alec sent a letter to CBS right after the lawsuit and said ‘ok, got your lawsuit, had no idea you guys felt THIS strongly about it. I am shutting down current production, but I really love trek and want ot make this film. how can I change it to not make you upset?’ instead, he insisted he was going to fight, to get the film made to fit HIS vision.

            Do you remember when, for a long time, ther were repeated complaints that CBS never issued guidelines, so this whole mess was THEIR fault for not being clear? well, after that, CBS drafted some guidelines, sent them to AP, and he didn’t like those guidelines and rewrote them to suit him…even tried to get a lot of other fan film makers to join him in ‘improving’ what CBS wanted. and given some of the rather obvious loopholes that were in Alec Peters’ version (notably the stuff about selling merchandise and material goods), that made AP look an awful lot like a guy who had no intention of cooperating or compromising.

            he has had numerous opportunities like that to find an ‘out’, many moments where he could compromise with CBS ,and make them happy so they would back off and leave him alone, but he refused to take them he would double down on what HE wanted, and if he had been willing to shut down the merchandising and the side of things that looked an awful lot like a business trading on someone else’s IP without a license, they might have been more flexible about less important things like time limits.
            instead, he tries to argue, to split hairs, to find ways to do things his way by changing descriptions but not actions. it’s not the right play in this situation.

          2. Quick correction for anyone actually paying attention to Bill: Alec endeavored to create guidelines to give tot he studios BEFORE they created ones of their own. They never showed him their guidelines first (certainly not with an active lawsuit going on). But Alec suspected they may be working on guidelines that would be overly strict and wanted to present something from a coalition of fan films before the studios could “plant the flag.” Unfortunately, Alec’s plan didn’t pan out. The other fan series didn’t get behind the idea of presenting their own proposed guidelines preemptively, and so CBS and Paramount got to have the first–and I guess last–word on things with no input at all from the fan producers. Very frustrating!

        3. @Bill
          Wow. Thats pretty specific and personal. have you perhaps worked with Alec before, or know someone who does ?
          I have to wonder about that when I read so many personal attacks that sound as if it comes from personal experience – but is it ?
          What I’m asking is : Do you know for a fact that its the type of cowardice you describe ? Or is it possible that’s just the way you’re interpreting it, and maybe, just maybe, he’s not quite the way you think he is ?
          Or, if you DO know him personally, then just say so.

          1. specific, yes. personal? not really. (not even much of an attack; I doubt very seriously Alec peters knows–or cares–who I am, so nothing I say is actually harmful to him.)

            as for making it sound like it comes from personal experience….thanks for that; it’s good to know that I can still make something sound relatable, capture that emotional essence enough to make folks ask questions like that. (though I spent a few years working in Washington D.C. and having met plenty of the oiliest, most untrustworthy rats in the political game, I recognize patterns in his statements and behaviors that have many parallels with that kind of sliminess. if it quacks like a duck…

            “and maybe, just maybe, he’s not quite the way you think he is ?”–certainly this is a possibility. and if I see evidence of some characteristics that do not fit the type of cowardice I described, then I’ll certainly re-evaluate. (I said to Lane in a follow up comment that I used to think AP was just some overzealous fan who got in over his head and doesn’t know how to swim…so I did not start out thinking he was a selfish coward. but neither did I–nor do I now–see him as some kind of ‘courageous’ hero fighting for the ‘little guy’.

        4. Hey Bill Allen: …did you and some of your fellow haters help me get banned from trekbbs via attacking me in the axanar thread a few years back? =(

          BTW: good riddance to trekbbs troll rodeo! =D

          1. Herb, I was never on the trekbbs, and only recently started paying attention to this or actively commenting.

            So, no, I had nothing to with youor whatever happened to you. Don’t even know who you are….I know you are not Herbert, but that doesn’t really narrow things down. (But taking your name from the ‘space hippie’ episode? Really? Was ‘lizard Tom Paris’ already taken?)

  6. Seems like a lot of bad blood all around otherwise I don’t see why CBS didn’t just launch it’s own fan banner and take Axanar under its wings. Let the fans produce and CBS allows it and produces it and reaps the profits. Seems like a win:win to me, but I get the impression the last thing they want is Alec Peters to be a happy man.

    1. Pretty much. We have another commentator named Nicolas who has been fervently arguing for the same thing you are: CBS allows fan films more leeway but then monetizes them by being the sole distributor via online downloads (no more YouTube). Fan films would become $2.99 per download (or something like that), with CBS keeping the lion’s share (say, $2.50). Let’s say a million fans pay to see Axanar (the full version). The studio pockets $2.5 million…instead of spending $200,000 in legal fees on a copyright infringement trial which they’ll be lucky to make back half of what they spend litigating it.

      Of course, there’s reasons for the studios not to do it, which I’ve explained elsewhere. Mostly, there’s a hard cost associated with actually working with the development of fan films (someone has to be a liaison for the studio, and that person needs to be paid). Also, fan producers aren’t always familiar with the way Hollywood works–and CBS isn’t running a school for would-be filmmakers. Studios say “no,” a lot, and many fan filmmakers might not be as, shall we say, understanding and accepting of the frustrations they would encounter having to deal with standards and practices notes, required changes, etc. Some fan filmmakers might feel somehow entitled to make their fan film exactly the way they want–studio be damned! (Yeah, go ahead and shout “Alec Peters,” people.) And some might even throw a hissy fit as CBS acts in what it feels are the best interests of its property. Experienced producers are hard enough to deal with. Amateurs from East Cowdung, Pennsyltucky, could easily be even more of a challenge…and who needs the hassle?

      Hollywood studios are not innovators; they are renovators. No one in Hollywood was ever fired for saying “no”…not even the person who canceled Star Trek in 1969! So don’t hold your breath for CBS to take this leap of faith, Eman.

      1. Hi,
        Still there, but late since this blog is so active…
        Well, couldn’t the studio pay someone as a liaison out of a 2.5 million taking ?
        The fact is that refusal of useful progress is a bad habit that leads to good shows to be canceled while they still have not reached their entire public yet.
        I then have most difficulty to accept the complaint of an IP owner accusing someone to make them lose money when they do not do everything to value this IP properly.
        What are the actions of CBS and Paramount to keep the franchise alive ? None ! Only the fans maintain Star Trek going on. Just compare to Star Wars that is very actively promoted under any possible form and you will se how poor is their interest in Star Trek.
        Advised businessmen look forward for opportunities and always give them a try when it is worth it. Nuts will just accept or reject without taking time to consider the question…
        And there is no purpose in making this affair a personal matter: it is only business and should be treated so, with all due attention to what is the benefit to cooperate on rewarding projects. It is more and more evident that CBS ignores this very idea.

        Regards,
        Nicolas.

  7. Hey Johnathan, congrats, on another interesting article. I’ve held off on commenting here lately because I saw a lot of articles coming with many parts and every time I’d work on something a new blog would come out, tough to keep up with!! LOL

    Like a lot of folks, when all this started, I’ve been pretty surprised and disappointed by CBS/P’s actions. After all at the end of Enterprise Season 4 CBS, Nailed up the Shutters, and Put everything Star Trek in Mothballs, or actually I guess sold it at auction. And we got the Blockbuster movies. For better or worse. Set in a whole different Universe for Pete’s sake!!

    The Fans, have kept the prime universe alive. There have been lots of fan films over the years, as well as the cottage home made prop cosplay and model industries, fan fiction creators. And nothing from TPTB.

    CBS/P doesn’t actually produce most of the content on it’s network. They farm it out. or Buy it.

    For example Big Bang Theory is made by Chuck Lorre Productions. STD will be actually made by a number of production companies.

    And lets face it Guys CBS is not a Big Genre Network, they had Supergirl last year which did pretty well in the ratings, and what did they do,,, they moved it to the CW, Where there’s lots of Genre shows to support it.

    On the one hand that’s a smart move on the other hand it shows a lack of faith.

    The TV landscape guys, is not what it once was we as fans gobble up all the tidbits we can… and we know when someones being a bully when they could have accomplished the same thing without going to this extent.

    1. Actually, CBS co-owns the CW Network with Warner Brothers (hence the plethora of DC heroes). Honestly, I think CBS should have debuted Disco on the CW. It’s rapidly becoming “the geek network” and everything that Syfy SHOULD be.

      1. That goes without saying… My Point is there’s no investment by CBS in genre TV, and by extension Genre Fans. In fact I’d be hard pressed to say that aside from some news programming they they create any TV at all.

        And don’t get me started on Skyfy

        1. Well, I wouldn’t say they don’t create ANY television programming at all. This is from the CBS Television Studios main information page:

          “The Studio’s roster of primetime programs includes the phenomenally successful NCIS franchise; the critically acclaimed series Madam Secretary, Jane The Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Reign; the hit dramas Elementary, Blue Bloods, Hawaii Five-0 and Scorpion and the summer series ZOO. The Daytime Emmy Award-winning talk show THE TALK and the late-night talk shows THE LATE SHOW with STEPHEN COLBERT and the four-time Emmy-nominated THE LATE LATE SHOW with JAMES CORDEN make up the Studio’s daytime and late-night roster. For CBS All Access, CBS Television Network’s subscription video on-demand and live-streaming service, the Studio produces the highly anticipated Star Trek: Discovery, as well as the upcoming spinoff of one of broadcast television’s most acclaimed dramas, “The Good Wife.” The Studio’s new series for broadcast during the 2016-2017 season are Bull, Doubt, The Great Indoors, Kevin Can Wait, MacGyver, Man With A Plan and Pure Genius, for the CBS Television Network; No Tomorrow for The CW; and Incorporated for Syfy. Most recently, the Studio announced that Apple Music will be the global home of the Carpool Karaoke series, the wildly successful and viral hit segment from THE LATE LATE SHOW with JAMES CORDEN. The Studio will also produce the popular LATE LATE SHOW segment “Drop the Mic” as well as the comedy anthology “The Guest Book,” both picked up to series for TBS.”

  8. My guess is that the studios agreed to let Axanar continue but they impose strict rules which Alec does not agree to, so he’s still trying to gain more ground.

  9. The problem with reading comments to a posting is that you have to read some less than wonderful comments (and that’s being excessively kind).

    If Alec is faced with a true Kobayashi Maru, I’m upset enough at Paramount/CBS to want to see them bleed as much money as possible and get basically bupkis (aka nothing) for their efforts. It might not fit the strict definition of a SLAPP lawsuit but it’s close enough to annoy me mightily. Paramount/CBS did not need to declare legal war but they did. So I’m rooting for David not Goliath.

  10. I still keep thinking about that “rule eleven” was it, where the studio’s have to prove the financial damages, or they will be in trouble with the court. Personally, unless they somehow jigger the books, I think it’s virtually impossible to show how this one little fan film, or even ALL put together could have ever done anything but help the studio’s over the years. That’s why I think there will be a settlement, and right about now, the ball is in their Court. Deciding how to save face, or face more consequences for an ill advised lawsuit to begin with. The Studios likely told their lawyers to hit Axanar with everything including the kitchen sink. And when discovery process demanding tons of financial information, well, the Studios legs just might be a shaking a tiny bit. You see, I don’t think the studio’s were exactly honest with council, and now it’s come round to bite them in the hind quarters. Axanar council probably is already implied that the material supplied is not helping the plaintiffs case, and may actually be hurting it. That’s why we are in extra innings on negotiations. And I even wonder, have the studio’s even delivered on all the materials they were ORDERED to turn over with just a week left (at the time?) . I personally think it’s the studio’s who are vulnerable because the case looks bad for them, and they don’t want to go to trial. It’s going to look pretty bad for the studio’s that while all this legal rangling has been going on, fan films are hitting YouTube and they did nothing to circumvent those what so ever. A jury is going look at this whole affair as some kind of personal vendetta against Axanar, and unable to show any kind of damages, other than self inflicted by attacking their own fan base. Only an uninformed (adjective) would not know how the people of this country think about the big GREEDY CORPORATE WORLD taking advantage of the little people. So, finally, I’m almost hoping it does go to trial. A nice big public trial. With lots of press.

    And Jonathan, you turned off reply to Bills little tirade, and your non reply/reply’s. Of course the old axiom applies, “when you argue with a fool, it’s sometimes hard to tell who the real fool is” so I commend you once again. But some of us would have liked to at least poke the tiger in the cage, once or twice. Just for the fun of it, you know (-;

    1. Okay, a few things. First: “spelling Nazi” at your service: lawyers are known as legal counsel (to advise, advice given), not council (a ruling body). (My mom taught reading and phonics skills for 50 years…still does, in fact!) 🙂

      As for Bill, I know his mind is made up. So is mine. What’s the sense in taking time away from Fan Film Factor and from my family (not necessarily in that order) to just circle back to where we are right now?

      And last but certainly not least–and you heard it here first!–I predict a chance (not a huge chance but a chance nonetheless) that this case will be dismissed before going to trial! And if that happens, here’s how. Motions for summary judgement are due by November 16. These are basically each side saying, “There is no need for a trial because the verdict is just so frickin’ obvious! So why don’t you just rule now, Judge, and save us all a lot of hassle?” And it’s almost certain that both parties will file motions for summary judgement in their favor.

      The plaintiffs will likely say, “Okay, Alec Peters infringed on our intellectual property. It was willful. Everyone knows it was willful. Charge him $8.55 million and save us all a trial that could take weeks.”

      The defense will say, “Look, this is obviously fair use, and here’s why.” And part of the reason will be no believable claim that the plaintiffs will be suffering any financial damages from Axanar. Granted, the plaintiffs can still seek statutory damages (as opposed to actual damages) where there is a charge per violation from $200 up to $150,000. But the question becomes: should the complaint have been filed in the first place? If the studios had no reason to believe that Axanar would damage their property at all, then by saying in their complaint that Axanar would cause them financial harm, were the studios falsely representing (lying) in a submitted court document? That goes back to the Rule 11 violation that I mentioned. Granted, the penalty in a Rule 11 violation (lying in a court filing) is most often monetary sanctions (fines) against the attorney(s) and/or their firm. But it can also be grounds (although VERY rarely) for a dismissal of the entire case.

      So that’s why I say there’s a small (but not impossible) chance this case could be dismissed by the judge prior to reaching trial. Of course, Judge Klausner could also rule in favor of the plaintiffs if he believes it was a clear-cut case of willful copyright infringement. That is also, I think, not likely but still not impossible.

      Most likely is that this case still goes to trial. Summary judgements are by no means a slam dunk, and unless the verdict is so incredibly obvious beforehand, judges will usually let both sides make there arguments before a jury. But we’ll just have to see…

      1. Jonathan, just a quick question: Would ‘financial harm’ be essetial to this case.
        Because if it is, one could argue that, since there isn’t any evidence of potetial finacial harm provided by the plaintifs the suit shouldn’t be filed in the fist case and should be dismissed.
        If it isn’t, well I think a jury has to decide of all the other questions.

        1. Financial harm is one of four elements of fair use. In other words, if there’s definitely direct financial harm, you probably ain’t gonna get by on a fair use defense. However, this does NOT mean that if you AREN’T causing financial harm that you WILL win on fair use. It just means you won’t lose on that one element. There are still three other elements, though.

          One element is whether the allegedly infringing work is for profit. That’s a BIG question here. Money was raised and a studio build, yes. But no actual profit was generated at the time of the lawsuit. Everything was being dumped into a film that would ultimately be distributed for free. So even if the studio was going to make a profit (which is a bit of a stretch, since revenues would likely have gone primarily toward rent and utilities), it wasn’t the infringing fan film itself that would generate the profit. The fan film itself simply encouraged public donations that went into a studio to fund the next film that would also be shown for free. The studio itself was a side effect making the film: a studio was needed to build and house the sets. If the studio remained afterwards while the film was being shown for free, does that mean a profit was being made? It’ll be a tough and challenging question for the jury to answer! Despite some detractors saying it’s obvious…it’s really not.

          Another aspect of that first element is whether the work is transformative. On this one, Prelude has a leg to stand on (but maybe not two legs). Star Trek, in all of its many forms, has NEVER been presented as a documentary set within the Star Trek universe. As such, Prelude transformed the accepted genre and medium to create a new and fresh presentation of a copyrighted work. That said, the full Axanar feature film would not have been a documentary and would never have passed the transformative “smell test.” That said, the full feature was never made, so it really didn’t violate anything beyond the 3-minute Vulcan scene.

          The next element of fair use is one where Axanar just loses outright. Period. It deals with the nature of the copyrighted work. Is the original work itself creative and worthy of copyright protection. For example, using a more creative or imaginative work (such as a novel, movie, or song) is less likely to support a claim of a fair use than using a factual work (such as a technical article or news item). In addition, use of an unpublished work is less likely to be considered fair. In this, Axanar copied from a very creative and imaginative source work, Star Trek, which has been producing fresh, engaging, and original stories for five decades. If this element were the main element of fair use (as opposed to the main element being financial damages), then I’d say Axanar didn’t stand a chance in court. But financial damages trumps nature of the original work.

          The final element has to do with the AMOUNT of intellectual property the infringer used. In this, I think Axanar has the stronger position since there’s actually fairly little in Prelude that is directly taken from Star Trek. Yes, the Federation, Klingons, Vulcans, Andorians, Starfleet, the United Federation, Garth of Izar, Soval, Robbau, Qo’Nos, a brief glimpse of the starship Enteprise, Pike-era uniforms, and the Klingon D7 are definitely Star Trek elements. But here is where, believe it or not, the sheer SIZE of Star Trek’s universe works against it. Garth was one character in one out of 79 original episodes (or about 700 episodes total). Soval was only seen in less than a dozen of the 100 episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise. And while Klingons and Vulcans were very common aliens, so were Ferengi, Cardassians, Bajorans, Romulans, Borg, Founders, Jem’Hadar, and a host of others. So in that way, Axanar was taking very little sliver of the entirety of the Star Trek vault of material. Even the iconic USS Enterprise was only seen on screen in Prelude for a total of less than 10 seconds out of the 22 minutes of Prelude.

          So when it comes to fair use as a defense, Axanar is pretty solid on two elements, weak on one, and maybe 50-50 on the last one. That’s no guarantee of victory, but neither is it a guarantee of defeat.

      2. …i think it has more chance of settling, than being dismissed =P

        …but then, we probably thought the election was a slam-dunk =P

        BUT, if it happens, i’ll be super-impressed (and super-happy)! =)

  11. Nobody asked me, but in my, not so humble opinion, this lawsuit has nothing to do with money. It is about the fact that fan films have a better understanding of what Star Trek is than the Corporate Suits who hold the rights to Star Trek. They understand that you don’t have to turn Star Trek into Star Wars (not that there is anything wrong with Star Wars, mind you) to get an audience.

    CBS/Paramount is trying to do to Star Trek they did to Mission Impossible. Anyone who remembers to original T.V. show will admit that the movies “based” on that show, while financially successful, have little to nothing in common with the original series – other than the name.

    CBS/Paramount may own the “rights” to Star Trek, but they don’t have the slightest idea of what it is about! So, they are trying to destroy Star Trek and replace it with their version of a generic “space shooter” series of movies that will do one thing, and one thing only – make the studio and network lots of money.

    Just my $0.02 worth

    1. George, I am going to disagree with you. This lawsuit is about money and more importantly, control.

      (*Now, this is strictly my speculation, but I have some experience in dealing with I.P. licensing and contracts*)

      CBS has had a long history of ignoring Star Trek fan films but they have tended to be amateur and less professional quality. Enter the invention of CGI and other film making tools and what used to be corny and laughable fan films are now more polished and professional. Enter Prelude to Axanar and crowd-funding. Suddenly someone at CBS is paying attention to what is going on. Maybe not enough to bring it up to legal, but enough to follow the next crowd funding project for the full Axanar movie. At some point during this process and afterwards as the Axanar team moves forward, CBS legal and the top show runners get together and discuss Axanar.

      A network as large as CBS operates with the “how does this profit us?” thinking model. They have to, otherwise they would not be successful. After the meeting with legal, the show runners no doubtfully viewed Axanar as a threat to the standard business way of doing things. They’ve just invested millions of dollars into making Star Trek: Beyond and here comes a fan film that is nearly the same quality for a tenth of the money. How dare these little upstarts do something like this? How is this film going to affect box office sales of ST:B? No, we can’t risk the potential loss. What other fan films are there that could potentially damage the brand? Better have legal research and give a recommendation. At this point, it is easy to figure how the rest went.

      CBS/P does understand exactly what they have in the Star Trek brand. But let’s face it, those of us who dearly love it are not their target demographic. We are too old. We’re the grognards, the Trekkies, the first and second generation who grew up watching TOS and TNG. CBS/P is looking at the millennials and younger as their target demographic and that translates into films that have more action rather than more dramatic content.

  12. Many, many of us saw the distinctive glimmer, excitement and promise Alec’s “Prelude To Axanar” successfully wove together for a starving fanbase. The characters, dialogue, storyline and effects we witnessed brought back vivid Roddenberry-esque memories of a better time and happier days.

    All legal arguments (pro or con) aside, I must believe to my core that Axanar contributions to the Star Trek universe will equate to buckets of kerosene poured on any ordinary campfire. Rising tides truly do raise all (star)ships. That’s why I suspect film creators JJ and Justin were visibly upset with the very notion of a studio legal action that tears apart a 50+ year fanbase.

    If CBS business cronies and their legal minions succeed in killing Axanar, I firmly believe the damage and splintering of the fanbase will be significant, and likely irrevocable.

    Even at this late date, may wiser minds at CBS/Paramount prevail, and any obstructions to making Axanar, as JJ said, “…go away”.

    Hope everyone had a fine weekend, and that we receive some great news tomorrow allowing Alec, Robert and their dedicated team to “make it so.”

    1. As one Captain J. T. Kirk who works alongside 5000 other J. T. Kirks (we make real spaceships and send them to Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars) the story of Axanar resonated with me because I wanted to see the story of the man who inspired Kirk.

      Remember at the end of ST:WOK Kirk tells David:

      “I’ve cheated death. I tricked my way out of death …and patted myself on the back for my ingenuity. . .”

      Granted, at that moment Kirk was lamenting Spock’s death (and he was no longer able to cheat death) but throughout the TOS series Kirk would always be able to pull something out with only his wits and save the day and save the ship and the crew (OK, except the redshirts).

      In a real spaceship we cheat death all the time. It can come from anywhere. Trust me, when we send a real spaceship to a hostile place where there’s no gas station for help, even the tiniest error can kill a mission (Our infamous english-metric conversion error only resulted in a navigation error of about 50 km out of 220 million, yet it was enough to destroy the entire spacecraft). We learn how to cheat death of the spacecraft, especially by remote control when round-trip light time is 20 minutes or more.

      Yeah, I want to see Axanar. What made TOS Kirk into the person he was? Who inspired him? Man I want Axanar to be good. (Alec, no pressure.)

      The JJ action-packed reboots? Nah. I just can’t relate to that Kirk; to me I really don’t care for him as a character. He’s a completely different Kirk. And I really think that’s what CBS/P don’t understand: Axanar got a LOT of viral exposure and word-of-mouth because it was so exciting, and then the JJ reboots got polite golf-claps (and, granted, still made lots of money) but paled compared to Axanar in the underlying core of the story.

  13. David nailed it….

    The pre-reboot TOS characters had a depth, quality, and manner that inspired the fanbase generation to dream big, do great things, and apply all the excitement needed to, “…boldly go where no man/one has gone before.”

    That current reboots are good, but in all honesty do not inspire nor (even begin to) motivate in a similar, meaningful way.

    Somehow Alec, Robert, and their team of writers, production, and cast came together and (for us) successfully reignited that v-e-r-y same excitement from so many years ago.

    If CBS/Paramount executives can ever peer beyond quarterly revenue projections and let the fanbase complete Axanar, the benefits to widen and deepen the fanbase will outweigh petty worries and IP smallball. Who wouldn’t want to inspire the next generation to dream big and focus their lives on answering the big scientific questions?

    Sometimes life imitates art, but more often art has the greater potential to stimulate and inspire people to do great things.

  14. It’s only out my respect for Jonathan, & his Blog, that I don’t unload on people like “bill”to give them a taste of their own medicine.
    There is a saying, or quote that come to mind when I think of Alec Petters.
    “With every adversity, brings with it, the seed of a greater development” by Napoleon Hill I think. Survivors will persevere, and my impression of Alec is just that.

    1. Thanks, David. My impression of Alec…well, I don’t really do a good impression of Alec. 🙂

      Look, for anyone who thinks Alec made the wrong move by not “surrendering” to CBS and Paramount immediately, just imagine what his reputation would have been if he did. He’d be the guy who reached for the stars, flew too close tot he sun, got burned, fell to earth, and crashed…and was quickly forgotten. That all still might happen, but between “got burned” and “fell to earth” can be inserted “and flapped his wings like hell to stay up in the air.” And the “fell to earth and crashed” is by no means a foregone conclusion.

      And of course, history will not now forget the name “Alec Peters”–for better or worse. History will likely forget Jonathan Lane and definitely forget Bill Allen, but Alec Peters’ name and legacy will live on. And while some detractors might believe that legacy to be forever tarnished, others disagree (some fervently. And by letting a judge and/or jury ultimately decide, Alec keeps open at least the possibility for vindication. To me, that’s worth infinitely more than the moniker “the guy who caved.”

      1. Jonathan, let us not forget the fans who plunked down money to see the film made and who, arguably, have a stake in the whole thing, despite the legal system treating them like pariah. In fact, how does that work? CBS/Paramount goes after Alec, who made a proposal and a few thousand people ponied up money to facilitate this horrendous abuse of their IP, so are not the people funding the violation as guilty as the person herding it? That seems a bit off kilter. Then on the other hand, they did “nothing” to warn off any of these evil funders from poaching their IP, and seemingly waited till the last minute before production to basically swindle those people out of what they funded. Seems CBS/Paramount didn’t mind their IP used until it looked like someone might actually make something people WANTED to see. I hope Alec goes the whole way, if just to try to vindicate his unique story and vision that we will otherwise never get to see. Even if we need to go to claymation and suffer it, it should be done for principle. Just my 2 cents….

        1. It sounds a little like you’re suggesting the Axanar funders were “aiding and abetting”…except that Alec hasn’t been charged in criminal court. This is a civil trial. The only actions being sued for are copyright infringement violations…not the funding of Ares Studios. As for claymation–that is expensive. You think $1.2 million was a lot? Try building all the sets in miniature and then shooting 30 different photos for each second of the movie! 🙂

          1. Well, I thought claymation was the poor mans animation, just tedious to do. My point was not in a criminal sense, but in light of how much the CBS/Paramount side has tried to accuse Alec of, I would think the supporters would just as guilty of “abusing their IP” by providing the money to do it with (in the twisted world of CBS). I also thought that the funding of Ares Studio (or the creation of it) was part of their claim of commercialization?

  15. So… looks like there wasn’t a settlement after all?

    I realize that it’s still possible for them to settle. Neither side has any reason to admit otherwise. But with no news, it’s seeming less likely by the day that they’ll successfully settle. Which I guess means we’re in for a long wait for the actual trial itself.

    The suspense is killing me.

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