CONFIRMED! AXANAR defense team will file a MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGEMENT later today!

axanar-logo-3Well, it looks like there isn’t a settlement yet in the AXANAR copyright infringement lawsuit.  And how do I know this?  Because I now have confirmation that the defense will be filing a motion for summary judgment with Judge Klausner of the Ninth Circuit Federal Court later on today.  (I don’t yet know if the plaintiffs are planning to do likewise, but if a settlement hasn’t been reached, then it’s a pretty sure bet.)

And how did I get confirmation that the defense will be filing their motion later today?  Because yesterday evening I was asked to sign this declaration:

jonathan-lane-declarationIt will be part of what I am told by the Axanar defense team will be a VERY long filing.  There’s a philosophy in legal filings that it’s better to keep things short and sweet, and  J. Bradford McCullough had the following to say in this 2011 article “The Ten Commandments of Summary Judgment Practice“:

8.  Remember the beauty of brevity.      

Less is generally more. Judges are busy and appreciate it when we get to the point. Do not say in 25 pages that which can be said in 15 – or 10.
Unfortunately, I know that that particular boat has sailed, as the Axanar filing will be anything but brief!  How do I know this?  Because one of the things they will be submitting is a 128-page “History of Star Trek Fan Films” that I prepared back in January.  Yep, 128 pages…single-spaced!

Since we’re kinda in the “calm before the storm” while we wait for the actual filing later on today, I’d like to take a moment to talk about this document I prepared, how and why I prepared it, and how it will likely be used in the defense of Alec Peters and  Axanar Productions…

Like many fan film followers, I first found out about the CBS/Paramount lawsuit during the morning of December 28 when The Hollywood Reporter featured an article about the studios suing a fan who made a Star Trek film of his own using donated money from other fans.  “Oh, crap!  Axanar is in serious trouble now!” I thought to myself.  I wanted to help…but how???

It was the week between Christmas and New Years, and my family was staying out in Palm Springs with my wife’s parents.  Jayden was happily playing with Mimi and Papa, Wendy was relaxing from (over)work, and I pretty much had little to do besides watching college football, taking the occasional walk, and sitting at my computer.

And then I knew what I had to do!!!

These were the days before I had Alec Peters on my iPhone contacts, although we did e-mail each other from time to time.  But back then, I didn’t want to bother him.  I knew how busy and frantic he must be, now at full red alert because of the lawsuit.  So I began working on my own to create a complete list of all Star Trek fan films.  After all, I’d already been writing the weekly “Fan Film Friday” blogs for the Axanar website over the past five months.  There was a good place to start.

At the time, I didn’t understand the parameters of the lawsuit as I do now, and so I confused copyright with trademark.  Trademarks have to be vigorously defended by the trademark holder or else they can be successfully challenged by violators.  I thought the same was true for copyrights (it isn’t) and that by allowing fan films to exist unchallenged for 50 years, CBS and Paramount wouldn’t be able to succeed in their infringement lawsuit.

So in my mind, in order to save Axanar, I now had to show just how many Star Trek fan films existed that were never challenged by any Star Trek copyright holder–from Paramount to Gulf+Western to Viacom to CBS.  As I said, I was wrong in my assumption about copyrights and non-enforcement.  The studios can choose to sue or not sue anyone they want and it doesn’t affect their ownership or ability to successfully claim infringement.  But my labors would nevetheless still end up being useful (or else my 128-page “magnum opus” would not be included in today’s filing).

So for the next few days of my vacation in the desert, I did endless research on Trek fan films.  I began with the most familiar ones: New Voyages, Continues, Renegades, and added to that list with Farragut, Exeter, Valiant, and so many others.  I jumped down a fan film rabbit hole, following suggested links on YouTube (the stuff that appears along the right column).  I looked up stuff on Wikipedia and other fan wikis and, of course, on Star Trek Reviewed.

And I didn’t just list the fan films.  In my mind, that wasn’t nearly enough.  I needed to explain their backgrounds, who made them, and most importantly, how much of the Star Trek intellectual property each one used.  Was there original music or not?  Were the uniforms taken directly from Star Trek or new designs?  Were the characters original or established?  And of course, was any crowd-funding done and how much was collected?

Now, you might be asking the obvious question: “Jonathan, aren’t you just tattling?”  That’s certainly a valid point, but the way I was thinking at the time was that all of these fan films are already out there and have been…some for many years.  There’s nothing “secret” in anything I’m writing about.  Many fan series even have their own websites and crowd-funding campaign pages.  And heck, Star Trek Reviewed has the most complete and amazing list of Trek fan films anywhere!  If CBS and Paramount really did want to initiate a crackdown on all Trek fan films, me NOT writing up my summary document would not have stopped them.  They still had plenty of places to go to get lists of fan films to go after if that’s what they wanted to do.

And in my head, I also thought, “The only way to really protect fan films is to make sure Axanar wins this case!  If the studios fail to shut down Axanar, then they’ll think twice before trying it again.”  I had to help make that happen, and this was the only way I could think of to do it.

I was back home, and it was mid-January.  I’d already compiled a list of almost 35 fan films, when I got the following Facebook IM from Alec Peters:

We need someone to do a comprehensive review of all Star Trek Fan Films for the lawyers.  Not reviews of the episodes, but the facts.  Names, dates, episodes, money raised, websites, etc.  Erin asked for it

I responded:

I expected you’d ask. 🙂

From there, I was working double-time (triple time, even!).  I kept tracking down more and more fan films.  I’d send along new and longer versions of the ever-growing document to Axanar attorney Erin Ranahan as I continued to expand the list.  And to keep things organized, I put all the fan films into chronological order.  For the longer running fan series, I’d list them from the date of their first release and then say something like “2009-present.”  I included links to videos, links to fan film websites, links to crowd-funding campaign pages, and of course–being the graphic designer that I am–I even included an image for every fan film/series at the top of each page.  By the time I finally finished, we had 128 pages, and more than a hundred fan films and series covering over 250 hours (my estimate) of filmed, posted, unlicensed fan video Star Trek.

I organized it with one film fan/series per page.  Some pages were shorter than others, and a few of the more major productions got two or three or even four-page history write-ups.  I went all the way back in time to the earliest fan films that were made while TOS was still in first run (mostly kids in their Star Trek pajamas playing in the living room and filmed by their parents on Super 8).  At first, I wrote in a very dry, analytical way.  But eventually, I began putting even myself to sleep!  So I soon began to use my more whimsical writing style as I do here on this blog site.

In two cases, I actually said negative things about a particular series’ quality (or lack thereof)–not realizing that this document would someday go public.  I figured it would just be a handy reference guide for the attorneys.  When I learned yesterday that it had already been shared during discovery and would now be part of the summary judgment filing, I asked Erin if I could change or remove those two negative comments.  In the eleven months since I first wrote the document, I’ve cultivated a much deeper respect and appreciation for ALL fan films, even ones that aren’t as good as others.  And none of them deserves public ridicule in any way.

Unfortunately, once submitted for discovery, a document can’t be altered.  It can, however, contain redactions.  And so, if you take a look at the history and see black lines crossing out a couple of sentences and wonder, “What’s Jon hiding?”–well, I’m hiding my own unfair criticisms of two fan series that deserve to be appreciated on their own merits and not disrespected by me.  And trust me, I didn’t say anything particularly nasty or hurtful.  It’s just that any criticism is not warranted when simply creating an historical overview of fan films, and I didn’t want to sour fans on checking out those two series if they felt so inclined.

And what happens now?  Well, we’ll likely have the final filing up on FAN FILM FACTOR either tonight or tomorrow.  I’m guessing my fan film history document will be used to support a claim of non-willful (innocent) infringement, as the studios permitting this many fan films to exist over five decades would certainly have given Alec Peters the reasonable impression that his fan film would not anger the studios either.  And if that assumption of Alec’s can be proven, then the statutory damages per violation if he loses the case go down from $150,000 each to only $200.  So my 128-page document could literally end up saving Alec Peters $8.5 million!  I’d call that helpful.

In the meantime, you all now kinda know the “secret origin” of FAN FILM FACTOR.  I wasn’t able to discuss it previously because my document was considered (at the time) privileged and confidential.  But now that it’s going public, so can I.

So the way FAN FILM FACTOR began was when Alec first saw an early version of my document.  With such an immense collection of research on Trek fan film history, I had waaaaaaay too much for just a weekly blog on the Axanar website.  Alec said to me, “Jonathan, you really need a blog of your own.”  He asked Mike Bawden to help me set it up, and the rest is history…fan film history.  Heck, one day I might even turn it into a book.  At 128 pages, it’s almost that now!

I’ll try to provide an analysis of the motions for summary judgment once they’re filed, but please be patient.  They’re likely going to be VERY long and tedious to read trough, and my family and I will be traveling to the East Coast this weekend and staying through the Thanksgiving holiday.  I’ll post something if I can, but if I can’t, just know it’s because, instead of reading hundreds of pages of legal filings and blogging about them, I’m probably playing with my nephew and son and eating ridiculous amounts of turkey.  Gobble, gobble.

71 thoughts on “CONFIRMED! AXANAR defense team will file a MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGEMENT later today!”

  1. A-HA! *THAT’S* why you’ve been going to the proceedings!

    You’re a witness for the defense!



    1. Actually, funny story: I went to the discovery hearing and introduced myself to all the lawyers. Jonathan Zavin of Loeb & Loeb said he recognized my name. I said, “From Fan Film Factor?” and he said, “No, you’re on the witness list.” I looked at Erin and said, “I am?” She said, “Oh, I thought Alec told you.” So yeah, I’m on the witness list. 🙂

      1. Very funny!
        Thank you for allowing negative (to Axanar /Peters) posts on your cite. I got banned from the Axanar Facebook page and called an idiot because when ever the posted the “but everybody is doing it” defense I pointed out that only Alec Peters paid himself to make his fan film.
        That is a big difference!

        1. Alec reimbursed himself. Big difference, Daniel. And I never agreed with Alec’s decision to ban people. I understood why he decided to do it, but I never agreed with it. So practicing what I preach, I don’t ban comments here…unless I give a warning for language or insults and that warning gets ignored. But I will always warn first. All are welcome, but civility is required. 🙂

          1. Alec’s claim to have reimbursed the money is strictly speculative at best, one usually doesn’t just loot the cookie jar to later return to fill it back up ..
            Remember without the court discovery uncovering these inconsistencies in the transparent (joke) accountably of this failed mismanaged fan film scamming, nothing would have ever been uncovered about these missing funds – a perfect crime ! However; the more which comes to light here how Axanar was managed, the more apparent the reason why the lawsuit needed to be filed ..

  2. Jonathan, have a great Thanksgiving on my end of the country. Just remember that not all turkeys end up as Thanksgiving dinner. Some of them end up as road kill!!!!! Be safe out there.

  3. dude! you have google ads now?! …it creeps me out that they know what i’m looking at on the interweb =(

    …that sounds like A LOT of data! do you have it in spreadsheet format too?

    …hopefully the judge will look at it and go: THAT’S a frickin’ sledgehammer for the plaintiffs! =P

    1. Yeah, the Google ads are allowing me to keep doing this. The wife was getting a little miffed at me putting in so much time for no money. But yesterday (my first full day of ads), I made $1.23!!! I’m on my way to Easy Street…and it feels so sweet! ‘Cause the world is but a treat when you’re on Easy Street! 🙂

  4. This is more entertaining than Babylon 5’s five year saga . . . . .


    Seriously, thanks for all your hard work, Jonathan. If I gte nothing else from my pledge to Axanar, it would have been worth it just for this.

  5. I myself would love to buy such a book!…. I have done for less research on Trek fan films (Wiki), and have found them fascinating!

    I believe I would give away someone’s left leg (not mine….that’ what volunteers are for ;)) to see a full copy of Paragon’s Paragon (1974).

    I’ll keep your book in mind. Hope to add to it one day with my own fan film.

    “Alright, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my closeup!”

  6. You know….

    Thank you.

    Such a simple thing to say but hardly ever done. You’re breaking down the legalease into normal reading ability.

    I wonder what Gene Roddenberry’s reaction to all this would be.

    1. You’re welcome, Bob, and thank YOU for saying “thank you.” 🙂

      As for Gene, it’s hard to know. He was a bit of a strange bird. During the 1970s, he LOVED the fact that fans were writing their own Star Trek fan fiction and even said so in the introduction to “Star Trek: The New Voyages.” On the other hand, in the 1970s, Gene was making NOTHING from Star Trek, and so his only hope of starting up the Star Trek gravy train again was the fans. I suppose that, if he felt that his livelihood was threatened by fan films, Gene would have been against them. But if he thought they were just serving to make Star Trek more popular with fans, more engaging, and more fun, I think he’d really love the concept. And I think–much like J.J. and Justin–Gene would have been totally against the studios EVER suing the fans. That hurts everyone.

  7. Did you include how much money the producers of each fan film put into their own pockets and how many of the producers used funds donated by fans to build for profit business’ in your 128 page document ? That would really be helpfull !

    1. No, I didn’t research that part. Remember, this was a year ago, before we knew about Star Trek Continues and New Voyages paying actors and crew. Had I had access to Star Trek Continues financials at the time, I would certainly have included their paying of salaries. But back in January, most fans were unaware that “all-volunteer” productions were actually professional and paying people. That information has only started to become public this past year. Back in January, most fans mistakenly believed that Axanar was the first “professional” Star Trek fan film. Now, of course, we all know better.

      1. Actually,
        It was public knowledge that some actors were paid. If you ever heard of the Screen Actors Guild you would know they had to to be paid (and that pay could be much less than the SAG requirements for those types of projects).
        I think paying George Takei to play Sulu is drastically different than Alec Peters using fan money to pay himself to make his hobby movie. Was he going to pay himself to play Garth? He did use fan funds to pay his SAG dues, right?
        Citing actors being paid is a very weak argument. Stop pointing the finger for that. You are grasping!

        1. No need to grasp. Alec Peters put in $50,000 of his own money for help jump-start Axanar. He paid himself back a portion of that ($38,000) as reimbursement. Nothing wrong with that other than stupidly mislabeling it a “salary.” (I totally told him not to do that–but did he listen? I felt like G’Kar warning of the coming of Shadows.)

          And remember that Alec was an executive producer, and an EP’s job is to make sure a production gets funded. Alec’s efforts resulted in $1.2 million in donations. Those backers didn’t just materialize out of thin air. Alec worked hi tail off to get the word out, encouraging donations at cons, through social media, podcasts, blogs, interviews, etc. I even once watched Alec on the phone for a half hour with a deep-pocket donor convincing him to increase his donation another $5K…which ultimately happened. It was something to see (I know that I couldn’t have pulled it off myself–I’m not good at closing), and as a donor, I couldn’t have been more satisfied with the job our EP was doing. And it was absolutely his job–all year long, day after day, week after week, month after month. In Hollywood, EPs get paid salaries in the hundreds of thousands or even millions. So even if Alec had been getting a salary of $38,000 (instead of a reimbursement), it would be totally justified as a business expense for Axanar Productions. In fact, it would have been a bargain. His efforts led to Axanar breaking all previous Star Trek crowd-funding records by orders of magnitude.

          So no need to grasp at anything. I stand firmly on solid group, Daniel. In fact, if I had to point at one of us who was grasping, well…

          1. Jonathan,
            So what you are saying is that Alec Peters “donated” $50,000 to the Axanar project and then refunded himself the money? Hmmm. Even if this was true I would have problems with it.

            First, it is said his salary was from a non profit corporation (oops, there is no such corporation). Then it is claimed he paid the salary back (which still would not make it ok). Now we are suppose to beleive he refunded him self a donation?

            And you think Alec actually paying himself $38,000 would have been appropriate because he was the executive producer? My understanding is Alec’s refund is up to $65,000 now!

            No one asked or hired Peters to make this movie! He supposedly started this hobby film for the love of Star Trek.

            Axanar was never”billed” as a business. Peters did not raise investment funds, he took donations. And those donations are gone! So, after Peters traveled the world to raise money for his hobby film on the donors dime (and paid himself , I mean refunded himself) there is nothing left. Sure “tens of thousands of dollars” were spent on meals, money was spent on Peters’ Lexus, his girlfriend and others were paid a salary, but that is just the cost of doing business. Wait! This project was not a business, it was a fan film. Investors know there are risks putting money into a project. Donors expect the project to be made. I have never heard of a fan film so careless with funds before.

            The truth is slowly coming out. It sure looks like Alec Peters made a lot of conflicting, and inaccurate statements. The totality of the situation certainly makes Alec Peters appear to be a liar, a cheat , and a manipulator.

            As part of your spin You mentioned some of the crew of STC were paid. What did they do for the production ?

          2. According to Vic Mignogna:

            some of the professional “guest stars,” episode directors (but not if a board member), stage managers, cinematographers, video editors, special effects experts, etc. have been compensated in sums approaching $4000 per year – about $500-$2500 per episode, depending on the skill level. All are working for approximately 10% of the amount they would usually bill a for-profit production company. All Forms 1099 have been filed and are available for in camera review on request.

          3. “i’m not good at closing”

            That comment alone reminds me of this classic gem:

            Would love to someday read that full 128-page document. I hope Axanar prevails in this case, and if nothing else that they merely get a “slap on the wrist”. CBS/Paramount have lost a lot of goodwill towards its fans by SUING IT’S FANS! Beyond was a lackluster film, Discovery delayed, executive producer stepped down, no casting, no promotion of Trek 50th… It’s no wonder that the fans turn to fan films, when the official content as of late have been lackluster at best (yes, Beyond was lackluster. Better than the 09 film, or Into Darkness, but still lackluster… certainly not worthy of “Trek 50th”).

            Big fan of this website, and thanks for breaking down the legalese for us regular folks. Makes it so much more interesting when you actually understand what’s being said 🙂

          4. Glengarry Glen Ross was an AWESOME movie! Thanks for that little reminder. (Maybe Alec Baldwin should play Alec Peters in the movie version of Axanar. They’re both Alecs!)

          5. A majority of Alec’s backing, by his own admission, came after George Takei posted something about his support for the project – you should ask him now how he feels about that endorsement ! George’s last addressing this mess was “I made a mistake, nothing more to say” !
            As for Alec Peters traveling around promoting Axanar, you bet he did, using 100 percent donor funds to pay the flights, first class eating, first class hotels, and anything else which he pawned off as Star Trek Axanar related expenses – toss in old Diana and new Crysstal on those expense sheets too ! This is more about a third rate businessman wanting to be a Hollywood producer than a fan wanting to produce a fan film, that became clear many moons ago ! However, some people still remain duped about Axanar and will no doubt never acccept the reality even as more and more details are revealed about the shady operations of Alec Peters and this failure –

          6. First class hotels, huh? Ladies and gentlemen, you are watching the rumors grow and evolve before your very eyes! It’s fascinating. And all because a bunch of biassed lawyers seeking to damage Alec Peters’ reputation said something that wasn’t accurate in the first place. If and/or when Alec takes action against Loeb & Loeb for their screw up, I will happily provide Alec’s attorneys this very posting from Tony to enter into evidence. So thank you, Tony. You might very well have helped contribute to Alec Peters’ next fan film! 🙂

  8. You may spend a lot of time focusing on the Star Trek Fan Film Community, but I hope your declaration doesn’t indicate that the entire community backs Axanar’s Defense. As director of Hidden Frontier’s Piracy of the Noble and Starfleet Regenades Audio drama, I happen to be with Paramount on this one.

    1. Thanks for the info Jonathan.
      It still does not change anything. Alec is the only fan film maker (he is not really a film maker) that paid himself to make his own fan film. I don’t think it is wrong to pay others (provided they are not your girlfriend, family or friend) to make your art (Star Trek fan film), any more than buying lumber (as opposed to milling your own tree) to make sets. As I said before, the truth is slowly coming out. I (and every other hater) have nothing but compassion for the people such as yourself that were hoodwinked by Alec Peters. When you acknowledge that you were wrong about that guy we will all be friends again. The truth is out there!

        1. Ever consider the more realistic fact that your being taken for a ride by Alec Peters !
          Which sounds more probably —

          1. Anything is possible…except that I actually know what was spent on what. I kinda wish Alec would let me do an interview with him to go through everything in the budget, but at this point, he’s electing to follow others’ advice and keep a low profile. That’s why we’re seeing so few comments from him lately (which is RARE!!!). But man–I so wish I could take all of you through the real financials and not the mess of disorganized Quicken receipts that the plaintiffs were distorting. Oh, well…I ain’t the one getting sued.

  9. I love, love, LOVE obsessives and you’re one of the best in my judgement. “Live long and prosper” (yeah, I know, but I don’t care very much)

  10. Wow! I can’t wait to read the history write-up. Besides a book, you could do a documentary simultaneously too.

    As for ads on the site, I would think you could make more money on selling those Kool “Fan Film Factor” t-shirt’s, and coffee mugs, pens, and a whole assortment of other knick knack stuff. Patches, models, framed prints, etc. Eventually, you could sell ad space to sponsor’s, for a weekly, monthly fee.

    Hope you have a great holiday. Look forward to your followups afterwards.

    1. Yeah, I’m planning to open a Fan Film Factor online shop next year. If nothing else, it’ll give the guys in the detractor groups something to rag on for a few days. 🙂

      Right now, it’s just fun watching all those pennies roll in from my new Google Ads. As this rate, I’ll actually be able to give the Uber driver a decent tip when he drives me to the airport on Saturday! 🙂

  11. I actually have a question about discovery. (I know, a bit late, but anyway.)

    This is completely hypothetical. I’m honestly curious about the answer.

    In an earlier thread, someone mentioned that if you can’t be compelled (in discovery) to produce something you don’t have. For example, if you delete an email (e.g. because you have a policy of deleting email after X days), you can’t be expected to produce it. Fine, reasonable enough. I can’t see an alternative unless there is a law demanding people keep their email.

    Now suppose someone willfully deletes an email during the discovery process. Perhaps they realized the email might be incriminating, or whatever. So instead of handing the email over they either pretend it doesn’t exist, or has already been deleted. This seems like an abuse of the system, but I can’t see much of a way around it.

    It’s possible the other side could find another copy of the email (via another witness), in which case it would be game over. Similarly, if the party in question failed to turn over *any* email, that would probably look suspicious and might cause a reasonable judge to issue some sort of court order. But if there is only one (or a small number) of emails missing, I don’t know how the other side would know this, let alone prove it to the court. It seems like a genuinely difficult problem.

    Again, I have zero interest in applying this to any specific case, here or otherwise. I just find it interesting because it seems like a gaping hole in the legal system, and I’m not sure how to plug it.

    1. Exactly, Elliott…how do you plug it? Or here’s one better: you put a witness on the stand and make him/her swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…and he/she lies. How do you stop that? Well, there’s always contempt of court and threat of fines or incarceration for lying on the stand. But then, remember when Bill Clinton swore under oath to a grand jury that he never had sexual relations with that woman? He left office with one of the highest approval ratings in recent history and never even went to trial let alone jail.

      So when it comes to discovery, there’s a bit of an honor system, yes. And one would imagine that Judge Eick wasn’t particularly happy to discover that Paramount had turned over zero e-mails during discovery. They were, quite probably, thumbing their noses at the defense and the court. So the judge’s order compelled Paramount’s production of relevant e-mails (among many other things). But even then, they could have withheld a lot. Of course, if it were ever discovered they had done so, there could be grounds for a mistrial or even a dismissal of the entire case. So between the honor system and taking a risk of withholding court-ordered documents, weigh your options very carefully.

      1. Unless your wife runs for president, in which case she (HRC) gets hit over the head with it by the opposition, even though their candidate is even worse and has a worse approval rating.

        1. Okay, time to stop the campaign bus and get off. We argue enough about Alec Peters and Axanar. Let’s not add Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to the mix. Go elsewhere for that, please.

    2. Nothing ever gets totally deleted in cyberspace. Not only does the person who sent the email have a copy (which they can, innocently or otherwise) delete/destroy, the person(s) that recieved that email has a copy. So does the server of the internet provider of the sender and the internet provider of the recipient – and any servers that might be in between.

      So, you’ve destroyed a potentially incriminating (or perhaps classified) email, and destroyed the device you sent it from. Who did you send it to? How did it get there? Who is on your “contact” list? That is where the investigators go will find copies of the incrimination email you thought you had destroyed and 9 out of 10 times they’ll get what they are looking for.

  12. But Jonathan, you are the one who started it! And it’s not the first time you have included political snark in your replies either. I remember, because it’s always disappointing to me when you do. But I have bit my tongue, and refrained from posting any retorts. Not all your readers are leftist progressives. So, it’s you who needs to set the example.

    1. I mentioned Bill, not Hillary. And the example was relevant because I was discussing penalties for lying under oath, which Bill Clinton did. I’m sorry if I upset you, David. In general, I am trying to leave any references to the current election and political tensions stemming from that off of Fan Film Factor. But mentioning former presidents in non-political ways is not the same thing. I’ve said “only Nixon could go to China” (old Vulcan proverb) without getting into Watergate. Historical, not hysterical–that’s my motto! 🙂

    2. This is the comment from the article just before this one I think, but here is the quote of your remark:

      Jonathan Lane says:
      November 15, 2016 at 6:37 pm

      I was looking forward to seeing Donald Trump lose. To quote Han Solo: “Don’t get cocky.”

      I’m not exactly a fan of either parties candidate this year, but definitely NOT for any Democrat, ever. So it’s your blog, and you can alienate the other half of your readers if you want, but it’s not very smart.

      1. Oh, that was self-deprecating humor, David. I was simply trying to say that anyone predicting a CBS/Paramount loss needs to show a little humility…including myself. I thought Hillary Clinton was going to win. I was wrong. The same could happen with Axanar, and so I’m telling everyone, “Don’t get cocky.” Sometimes reality has a nasty way of surprising even the most confident of prognosticators!

        But you’re right in that I should really stop using the C and T words. Point taken.

  13. Thank you. I and a number of friends have gone cold turkey on the “news” since the election and appreciate you keeping my blood pressure in check here.

  14. No chance of a summary judgement on either side, I’m afraid, if what CBS/P is saying is true that their whole case rests on the RPG game of the four-years’ war. Everything else was “their-as-yet-unmade-fan-film-puts-a-debilitating-financial-dent-in-our-as-yet-unmade-non-TV-show-based-on-seven-completely-minor-characters-from-a-TOS-episode-made-49-years-ago-evn-though-for-the-last-50-years-100-other-guys-have-made-fan-films-using-large-crowdfunding-and-huge-sets-with-Kirk-Spock-and-McCoy.” I mean, whuh?

    But, there was an RPG? Whuh? That does complicate things a bit.

    OK, off to trial we go . . .

      1. Loved using the FASA ships to play Starfleet Battles with. 😉

        Both games and the histories they developed are, of course, non-canon but very enjoyable.

  15. First, let me say that as a lawyer (albeit a foreign one from your perspective) I have found some of the legal commentary posted on this site to be very irritating. The declaration above just reinforces the already obvious knowledge that you, Mr. Lane, have been a mouthpiece for Peters throughout – and Peters, a man who likes to make a bid deal out of being a lawyer himself, should know better than to have you offer up the ridiculously biased running commentary that is this blog, a obvious and farcical PR exercise. Peters may be a lawyer by training but he doesn’t have a clue about how to conduct himself during litigation and having you post this blog as his mouthpiece is not the best idea in my opinion – as you cannot with any credibility offer up any level of objectivity, given your relationship with Peters, despite his claims that this is the only reliable source of information. What’s more, when I’ve stopped by this blog and read your portrayal of procedural directions as major victories I have had to cringe at times. With respect, you haven’t got a much of a clue what you are talking about and some of your attempts to convert developments into plain language end up creating a misleading picture of what is going on because you do not speak the language you seek to translate. It is a problem not exclusive to you, but I am afraid to say that yours is one of the worst as it is thoroughly misleading and serves to give false hope to Axanar fans and financial supporters. You spend far too much time focused on procedural aspects of the case while failing to concentrate on the major, overall arguments at play – the arguments upon which the case ultimately succeeds or fails. Then there is the supposed anonymous “Legal Eagle” you consult, so obviously Peters himself, not least because the language used by that individual is emotive and is not of the nature of someone who is objective and familiar with day to day practice. This blog feels like nothing more that an attempt to combat the various non-loyal or critical blogs out there, such as Axamonitor, by advancing a positive narrative of Peters’ chances of prevailing, not an honest blog (and by honest I don’t necessarily mean critical).

    Whether Peters likes it or not, CBS/Paramount has a prima facie case (and he knows it). Today documents have been released that are, frankly, pretty damning. By his own admission in evidence, Peters tried to sell Axanar for profit to the likes of Netflix and Amazon, tried to create a studio off the back of it for his future for-profit use and tried to to use it as a way of ingratiating himself with CBS in the hope that he would get a job with them and become a Hollywood producer. It has also come out today in evidence that Peters used funds not just just to pay himself a salary ($65k as opposed to the $38k previously disclosed) but he used donor funds to pay for a whole host of personal expenses, such as his personal insurances, his car expenses, tens of thousand on meals out, worldwide travel expenses, personal mobile phones and so on. Again, by his own admission in evidence Peters sought to use the brand of Star Trek not just because it was something he was a fan of, but because it offered a built in audience that he could exploit as an entry into the market. Any suggestion of this months ago was met with hostility and Peters derided people, who expressed doubt over his actions, as “haters”. Yet now his evidence, along with that of Burnett, Gossett and others makes it clear beyond doubt that Axanar was never just about making Trek for the fans. It was a dual purpose endeavour that sought to advance the personal interests not just of Peters but of others like Burnett as well – and that is clear irrespective of whether or not the finished film itself would be directly profit making. Peters can no longer admonish commentators who are critical of him as haters and purveyors of “hatchet jobs” simply for recognising what has been going on. This sort of thing he can’t spin his way out of, and I don’t think you can do so either with any credibility.

    In response to their claim Peters cites fair use, that his project is transformative and that he doesn’t harm CBS/P’s profits. He is going to have to succeed with this defence to defeat the case and/or mitigate any damages he is ordered to pay. In my opinion, just as an observer with litigation experience, the arguments put forward by his lawyers are not the strongest – and it’s not so much because his lawyers are bad, they aren’t. It’s because it’s likely the best argument they have to work with. Nonetheless, they are essentially trying to convince the court that Axanar is no longer Star Trek and is instead a new work that exists for a different purpose. I don’t buy that argument at all. This was a project designed to be something held out exclusively as a Star Trek product that would fit into the existing canon. It was never intended to be transformative or give any out-of-universe commentary or serve any real life purpose that differs from official Trek. Indeed, the whole purpose was to play to the Trek fan base by giving them a product that would look and feel, and satisfy those fans as, another entry into TOS era Trek. Peters essentially confirms as much himself in his own emails, in which he places great importance on keeping the fans on side by being faithful and giving them something that was authentic Star Trek. He’s even revelled in Axanar being held out as “real” Star Trek. You have to cut away much of the legal discussion for a minute and ask yourself this, did it walk like a duck, talk like a duck, quack like a duck? In other words, was it held out as proper Star Trek, to appeal to Star Trek fandom and “trade” on the franchise goodwill. On the face of it the answer is only ever going to be yes, so Peters has to somehow establish that it was sufficiently different that such a description can no longer apply. Personally I think he has an uphill struggle to do that.

    The risk of Peters losing this case is significant. Not just a possibility, but a very real chance. The only reason anyone would think otherwise is to buy into Peters’ spin. What’s more, even if he manages to win, it will nonetheless from now on be clear that he unquestionably sought to exploit fans and their money as a springboard for furthering his own self interest, whether well intentioned or otherwise. Only the most naive and gullible person cannot see that and would still buy into Peters’ spiel that it’s all about a campaign of hate against him (oh, and btw, I am not part of any of those anti-Axanar groups before you assume I am one of those “haters”. I’m just a neutral saying what I see). Peters’ arrogance has caused great harm to the fan community, not least by prompting the new fan film rules, and exploited the very fans he claims to serve. There is a very real risk of his reputation in the fan community being destroyed, and instead of trying to repair the damage he has stupidly hit out at anyone who dares question him, this causing greater divisions in fandom (while, perhaps ironically, claiming that it is CBS/Paramount that are undermining the fans).

    Whether or not you have what it takes to leave this comment on your page Mr. Lane, you need to ask yourself this, is it worth attaching yourself to the controversy and risk going down with the sinking ship? Personally I don’t think it is. But if you must, is it worth trying to pull the wool over the eyes of your readers? I say not. Either this blog, and Peters himself, should go quiet until the case concludes or you and Peters are going to have to sooner or later address some of the tough questions, especially those raised by the latest documents. Personally, I would go quiet until the case is over. By leading people on you and Peters are just laying the foundations for a greater backlash if he loses the case.

    1. Very civil, intelligent, and insightful post there, Neutral. I appreciate your perspective. I don’t necessarily agree with all of it, but you do make your points very strongly. That said, I do want to reiterate that Alec Peters is not one of my legal eagles. Most of the time, he tells me little about the case. Two of my eagles have passed the California bar (Alec has not). The third one is a legal consultant, not an actual lawyer, and is also not Alec. You don’t have to believe me–I won’t be insulted. But I did want to restate the fact for anyone reading.

      Oh, and I’m not really worried about my reputation being dragged down in this case. I just blog for fun. I love fan films and I enjoy chatting with the people who make them. If people think I’m just in this to defend Alec or Axanar, that’s fine. This is a hobby for me, not a profession. The new Google Ads aren’t bringing in big bucks and probably won’t anytime soon. So I’ll just keep writing mainly for fun, and if folks want to read what I write, so much the better. That’s what blogging is all about, my friend.

      1. Well, at least you posted my comment. I doubt Peters would have.

        All I’m saying is in this instance, put yourself first when it comes to the crunch.

  16. Thanks, Jonathan, for all of the hard work in your posts, and your dedication to do the right thing. I really enjoy your posts and I have the utmost respect for someone that can be so candid. Please keep it up!!

  17. Jonathan,
    Keep on with your first amendment rights. While “Neutral’s” input on the strength of the case is interesting, his admonishment to stop talking about it is not.

        1. Not really. I make my own choices in this world. So do others. People can give me unsolicited advice, but that doesn’t mean I must take it. I’m assuming you’d agree. So if I keep writing this blog and someone doesn’t like what I have to say, then they don’t have to read it.

    1. That “admonishment” is there for a reason, namely that the more Peters and Jonathan talk about the case the more statements are out there for the public to read…and the more is out there to potentially be used against them in court. As it is social media extracts are already being used by both sides in evidence and some things Peters has previously said contradict with the latest revelations. That inevitably goes against his credibility as a witness – and the case hasn’t even gone to trial yet.

      You think that’s bad advice do you? Perhaps you do, but I often have clients talk to me about taking their case to the press and I always advise against it until the court process is over. This is clearly a case with a lot of interest, and the danger for Peters & Co is that out there are statements and opinions from them that may contradict what comes out in the course of proceedings. It would be far better to just keep their mouths shut and fight it in court. I appreciate that Peters wants to keep his fans and backers on side, but given that he isn’t shy of holding himself out as a highly successful entrepreneur, you would have thought he’d have a sense of customer approach. Really he should only make the statements that are absolutely necessary to placate his supporters, such as, for instance, saying that he can’t say much until the case is over and that he is hopeful they will prevail. Instead he has taken the bait of the anti-Axanar groups and foolishly ranted and raved all over the place. That’s really not wise. Now, on top of that, you have this blog, which isn’t independent from him, so clearly he has some level of influence on what gets posted on here and well and is feeding the fans a potentially self destructive narrative, again to respond to the anti-Axanar people. In other words, he should forget “the haters”, be the bigger man and just concentrate on the advice of his lawyers and what he needs to do to help them. Unfortunately I don’t think he has the sort of character that allows that as he can’t help but bite on any criticism and wage a war of words online.

      1. If put on the stand, I will state under oath that this blog is completely separate from Alec Peters and Axanar. He gets no different treatment than any other fan film producer would. I’ve been both supportive and critical of Alec on this blog and have posts to prove it. For example, I never approved of his decision to bar people from the Axanar Facebook group. I think his claim of fair use has only a 20% chance of working. Alec does not dictate what goes onto this blog–just as I don’t tell him how to make his fan film.

        And of course, if put on the stand, anything on Fan Film Factor that I say is mostly irrelevant to the case for two reasons. 1) I was never deposed, so my blogs are not in evidence…only my “History of Fan Films.” 2) Anything I say here is but hearsay. I am not an official representative of Axanar Productions. I’ve never signed a contract with them or been paid a salary or commission or freelance fee. (Alec bought me lunch once when I volunteered…he also paid for Jayden’s lunch that day.) I am not even officially an Axanar surrogate…despite Carlos Pedraza’s “factual” tone in repeatedly identifying me as such (most surrogates readily identify themselves as surrogates; I do no such thing–which makes one wonder how many other “facts” Carlos is either leaving out or just getting wrong…but I digress). Any testimony I make with regard to Fan Film Factor would be only the opinion of a private citizen and carry little weight in either bolstering the defense or supporting the plaintiffs. All I expect to be questioned on is the history of fan films, a topic about which I know quite a lot for some crazy reason.

        But hey, you’re an attorney, Neutral. This is all obvious to you, right?

        1. What is obvious to me is that you can state under oath that you are independent, but your own declaration to the court of being a writer for Axanar Productions would go against the credibility of that statement – as will the fact that this website is registered under the name of people associated with Axanar. Correct me if I’m wrong on that? I do not need Carlos Pedraza to see what is above in black and white or what is obvious.

          Your friendship and close working relationship with people like Peters also casts doubt on your capacity to be independent and unbiased – even if you try and make this blog as neutral as possible. Furthermore, you are called a witness for the defence are you not? So you must surely realise that your independence as a witness will inevitably be scrutinised?

          As for his fair use argument having a 20% chance of success, I am not sure what you base that on, putting aside for a minute that the law doesn’t really work on percentages?

          Oh, and I prefer lawyer, not attorney. We don’t use that terminology where I am from. 🙂

          1. I checked with the missus and lawyer and attorney are used interchangeably in this country. Occasionally, there can be a distinction where a lawyer has graduated law school but hasn’t necessarily passed the bar but an attorney has, but attorneys who have passed the bar still refer to themselves as “lawyer” as well as “attorney.” Have you not passed the bar yet, Neutral?

            This website is registered under my name, and I am a person associated with Axanar…so I guess that means “yes?”

            So let me spell this out in terms that even a lawyer who hasn’t passed the bar yet can understand. There is no contractual link or professional obligation between me and Axanar. I write on their web page as a volunteer blogger at Alec Peters’ request, not his direction. He has occasionally introduced me to other fan film producers and suggested I interview them, but that’s more of a friendly networking gesture rather than giving me an an assignment like Perry White and Clark Kent. (See what I did there?) 🙂

            I also write Fan Film Factor. It was suggested by Alec that I set this blog up, and he offered Mike Bawden’s services to get me up and running and host it, which he did until a month or so ago. Now I host myself. But Mike is not employed by Alec Peters either. Like me, he is just a volunteer.

            So if I am ever put on the witness stand, I would be be legally identified as a volunteer writer on the Axanar website who also writes a blog called Fan Film Factor. If asked if Alec Peters controls my content in any way, I would say no. He has given me suggestions from time to time, and some I have taken while others I have not. With this case, I have asked him repeatedly to give me an interview or even a quote on the record, and he has refused. I find that frustrating, but I respect his decision. In that way, I suppose Alec controls at least a little of what does NOT go onto this website: any direct quotes from him (best I got was the Axanar announcement from earlier on this past week).

            So here’s the thing about being biassed. I never said I wasn’t. Alec is my friend. I’m a donor and volunteer for Axanar. I used to be an Axanar groupie. I invented the word “Axanerd” specifically to describe myself. But that does not make me someone who speaks officially for Alec Peters or Axanar Productions any more than me being a member of STARLET The International Star Trek Fan Association, Inc. makes me an official spokesman for that organization. I used to publish their newsletter and write articles for it, but if I write about STARFLEET, I do it only as an enthusiastic 33-year member and not as a sanctioned representative or surrogate.

            And thus, my “independence” as a witness will be taken for what it is, a friendly witness for the defense. But nothing I say on Fan Film Factor can or should be legally taken as officially representing the thoughts, feelings, or opinions of Alec Peters or anyone at Axanar Productions (unless I quote them as such). The opinions expressed on this blog (and the blog I write for Axanar) are my own–unless I’m interviewing someone–and I’ll state that if asked on the witness stand. I doubt it’ll go any further since I’m not the one being sued. I’m just there to talk about Star Trek fan films.

            And finally, the 20% number is just a gut feeling, nothing more. I just think that it’s really hard–but not impossible–to prove fair use in most cases. And while Axanar might have a number of good arguments to make on that front, it’s still an uphill climb. So my gut says 20%. Take or leave it, I’m fine either way. I’m just a blogger up at 2:00 a.m. waiting to take my son to the potty so he doesn’t wet the bed. 🙂

  18. ^ Unfortunately it would not allow me to respond directly to your post.

    I have mentioned twice that I am not American. That is why I do not use the term “attorney”. I am English and we haven’t used that word since the 19th century. We have a split profession with more than one type of lawyer and lawyer is a generic term, which is why I use it. Why not check that with your wife on the legal profession in England and Wakes since apparently she’s the expert? I have, however, been in practice for nearly 20 years…and your unnecessarily insulting comment that I am some sort of law student is extremely immature and does you no favours. It also suggests you do not have an eye for detail – thing you need to dissect what is going on.

    As for 20% just being a gut feeling, I would remind you that you are on here trying to break down the litigation for readers and that you are promoted as the “only reliable source”. You should not be offering up gut feelings, which are no better than a bold assumption based on a layman’s opinion.

    1. Aw, it’s just one, little 20% prediction, mate. It’s not like I’m an official odds-maker taking bets. Lighten up as little. Also, I don’t recall ever implying that you’re a law student. In America, lawyers are graduates of law school. As for British and Welsh law and its terms, Wendy might not be familiar with it. She deals primarily with clients and lawyers/attorneys in California. I’m sorry you were so bothered, my friend. I’m not looking to start an international incident. Up until now, you haven’t identified yourself or your home country, so I wouldn’t have even known to ask Wendy about British legal terms (I was always partial to “barrister,” personally). But hey, you could have been from just about anywhere–South Africa, The Netherlands, Brazil–no way I could have known until you told me, Neutral.

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