In Part 1 of my interview with AXANAR executive producer ALEC PETERS, we covered the past and the present. We discussed what led up to the copyright infringement lawsuit from CBS and Paramount, what happened during the 13 months the lawsuit was progressing toward trial, and what led to the unexpected (to most of us, at least) settlement.
Now it’s time to transition toward a look into the future. What exactly is Axanar allowed to do going forward, and what plans are there so far. But first, there was one really important question that I think a lot of people–donors and detractors alike–wanted to know…
JONATHAN: Okay, remember when you said I could ask you any question?
ALEC: Oh, boy…
JONATHAN: How much personal blame do you accept for the lawsuit and the delay in producing Axanar?
ALEC PETERS, the executive producer of AXANARPRODUCTIONS) has arguably become one of the most controversial and polarizing figures in the world of fan films. Having worked on the fan series Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase II, Alec ultimately set his sights on producing a Star Trek fan film of his own: Axanar. Using the relatively new crowd-funding tools of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Alec was able to go where no Star Trek fan filmmaker had gone before: past the $1 million mark in fan donations to build a studio and produce his dream project.
He also became the first-ever Star Trek fan filmmaker to get his ass sued simultaneously by two major Hollywood studios.
Rather than turning into a mass of quivering jelly and accepting a potentially multi-million dollar judgment against him, Alec was able to find a top intellectual property law firm to represent him pro bono (for free), and “David” took on “Goliath” in a case that I’ve analyzed extensively here on Fan Film Factor. It was ugly, surprising, frustrating, amusing at times, full of twists and turns, and even covered by the mainstream media. The case carried the potential of settling huge precedents in copyright law that could affect all fan films…for good or ill. And thousands of fans and donors watched eagerly to see what would happen next.
But fandom was not united in their opinion of this case nor their feelings about Alec Peters. Some fans (like myself) were huge supporters and proudly proclaimed, “I Stand With AXANAR!” Others felt just as strongly that an arrogant and overconfident Icarus had flown far too close to the sun and deserved to plummet to a painful, smashing oblivion far below.
Last Saturday, your sometimes-humble blogger, Jonathan Lane, appeared live on the SHANE PLAYS geek talk radio show to discuss the AXANAR lawsuit and surprising last-minute legal settlement. Since then, folks who weren’t able to listen when it first aired have asked me when and how they can listen to the entire broadcast online.
I’l be doing a live interview on the SHANE PLAYS radio program tomorrow (Saturday) at 2pm Eastern Time (that’s 11am Pacific Time for me). Shane will be talking to me about the AXANAR lawsuit and settlement–was there a clear winner and/or loser?–and about what this all might mean for the future of Star Trek fan films.
The show broadcasts live in the Little Rock area on 96.5 FM the Answer, and people can listen online at http://965fmtheanswer.com. You can also call in. The show will be archived afterwards for anyone to listen to who wants to.
Oh, and for anyone who is curious about my computer situation, a new MacBook Pro has been ordered and is now on its way from Brooklyn, NY to Los Angeles, CA (I order most of my expensive gadgets from &B&H Photo). As I feared, the culprit was indeed the logic board on my five and a half year old Mac laptop. I will miss the 17″ screen (not made anymore), but time marches on.
My old computer will works at ultra-slow speed (it’s taken me 25-minutes to type this blog so far), so Fan Film Factor will likely remain “in hibernation” until mid-to-late next week. My apologies.
While we wait for my interview with Alec Peters for be reviewed and approved by the AXANAR legal team (yes, they’re taking the confidentiality aspects of the settlement agreement quite seriously…as they should), there was a posting made yesterday morning addressing some of the questions many Axanar fans (and detractors) have been asking.
ALEC PETERS answered four frequently-asked questions and also provided a link to a special blog about the Axanar financials (coming really soon…right, Alec???).
If being an Axanar detractor were an Olympic event, MICHAEL HINMAN would have to change his last name to PHELPS. He is the administrator of the CBS/Paramount v. Axanar Facebook group where detractors of Axanar and Alec Peters go to…well…detract.
I visit the group occasionally when I feel my blood pressure has dropped too low, and I usually realize within about a minute or two of reading the comments there why I usually hit the “Back” button on my browser after about a minute or two of reading the comments there.
So imagine my surprise when I popped over there a few minutes ago to find a message from Michael Hinman that I actually AGREED with! In fact, I need to APPLAUD him for posting it!!!
I’ll reprint the post in its entirety in a moment, but first I need to explain a few things. If you’re a reader of the blog comments here on FAN FILM FACTOR, you’ve probably seen at least a few detractors doing their “thing” when I post blogs that discuss Axanar. And some of those comments can be a little–shall we say–intense, passionate, heated, crude, indignant, insulting, ranting, raving, vitriolic (the list goes on). And that’s only a taste of what you’ll see on their Facebook group. Trust me; it’s not pretty.
I can deal with all of the above–my only real pet peeve (aside from obscenity) is straight-out misinformation. It bugs the shat out of me, and can, at times, border on libel. I’ve even gone so far as to issue warnings a few times in the comments section and state that opinions expressed by the readers of Fan Film Factor do not necessarily reflect the views of the blog owner (me). Well, today it was Michael Hinman’s turn to issue the warning to his members…
Dave Heagney, Jr. is a fellow blogger and Facebook friend of mine.
Actually, I should correct that to say that Dave WAS just a Facebook friend and has since become an actual friend whom I speak with on the phone and look forward to meeting in person the next time I get up to the San Francisco Bay area. Dave is also a fellow Axanar supporter and has helped me immeasurably in serving as one of my moderators over on the Project: SMALL ACCESS Facebook group.
Yesterday, Dave wrote a blog entry for his site that was, quite frankly, nearly the exact same blog I was planning to write next week. I was gonna call mine “The AXANAR SETTLEMENT – Win, Loss, or Draw?” But Dave still hit on the same main points that I was going to. So rather than reinvent the wheel and just write a longer blog (’cause that’s what I do!), I asked Dave if I could reprint his editorial here–and he graciously agreed.
And so it ends…not in fire, not with a warp core breach and a huge explosion that rocks the very foundation of the world of copyright law, but with a quiet settlement between the parties with sparse details revealed to anyone not directly involved in the AXANAR lawsuit.
Press releases were issued separately by both CBS/Paramount and byAxanar Productions two and a half hours ago. They both said mostly the same things, each with a different “spin.” But details were sparse.
But Axanar just sent out an e-mail to donors with more specifics…and I’m a donor so I thought I’d share some of the details here. In addition to the studios allowing Axanar to be produced and released, we now know a few more key things:
The Axanar fan film WILL be permitted to use Gary Graham as Soval! (Wow.) It will ALSO be allowed to use the other professional actors who appeared in Prelude to Axanar (J.G. Hertzler, Richard Hatch, and Kate Vernon…Tony Todd has previously announced he would not remain with the production).
The new Axanar fan film will have to adhere to all the other guidelines, including being limited to only two 15-minute parts of a single story, not having “Star Trek” in the title, etc. No professionals can be compensated for their work on the production.
Public crowd-funding campaigns will not be permitted, but private donations can be accepted (I plan to donate).
Alec Peters and Axanar Productions will be allowed to create OTHER Star Trek fan films in the future beyond the Axanar sequel. (Whether these other fan films will be in the Axanar universe or the more general Star Trek universe is still unknown, but any future films will also need to follow the guidelines.)
That’s what we DO know. What was frustratingly absent from the announcements were two key pieces of information:
Was Alec Peters required to pay any kind of financial penalty to the studios? (After all, by settling the case, he is avoiding a judgment in the thousands and perhaps even the millions of dollars.) I have yet to independently confirm that.
What happens to Ares/Industry Studios? There was no mention of its fate in today’s announcement. I suppose if its still around in another month or two, we’ll have our answer.
But I want answers sooner than that…and I know you folks do, too! I’ve already left messages for Alec Peters (voice-mail, text, Facebook IM), and I’m gonna keep pestering him for an interview…today, if possible! And as soon as I get it transcribed, you’d better believe it’s going up on this website!
In the meantime, here is the full text for the announcement to the Axanar donors:
The following press release was just sent out by Axanar Productions. I am told there will be more details coming in an e-mail to be sent out to donors later on today. As soon as I receive that e-mail, I will publish it here.
Feel free to submit comments, but please understand that there is still a LOT we all do not know yet–including me. So any responses I post will, for the time being, be only conjecture. Rest assured that I plan to be in contact with Alec Peters and Mike Bawden as soon as I hit “Publish”….in three, two, one, NOW:
Valencia, CA – Friday, January 20 – Axanar Productions is pleased to announce that we have reached a formal resolution to the lawsuit brought against Alec Peters, and the fan film production, AXANAR, by CBS Studios, Inc. and Paramount Pictures Corporation.
Since the beginning of the lawsuit, over a year ago, we have expressed our desire to address the concerns of the studios, and our willingness to make necessary changes, as long as we could reasonably meet our commitments to AXANAR’S over 14,000 donors, fans and supporters. We are now able to do exactly that.
Terms of the settlement agreement include an agreement to allow Axanar Productions to continue showing PRELUDE TO AXANAR commercial-free on YouTube and to allow Axanar Productions to produce the AXANAR feature film as two fifteen-minute segments that can be distributed on YouTube (also without ads).
Additional terms of the agreement will be made available to cast, crew and donors through private correspondence.
For the next sixty days, Axanar Productions will be working through some final legal requirements requiring immediate attention. In addition, there are several pre-production issues that need to be re-visited before we can begin principal photography on our project.
Axanar Productions was created by lifelong Star Trek fans to celebrate their love for Star Trek. Alec Peters and the Axanar team look forward to continuing to share the Axanar story and are happy to work within the Guidelines for Fan Films for future projects.
Throughout this process, we will continue communicating with our fans and backers to ensure they are informed and involved until we reach completion of the production.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Mike Bawden, PR for Axanar Productions – 563.359.8654 (email@example.com) Morey Altman, PR for Axanar Productions – +972.54.325.4350
Moses Avalon works as a leading proponent of artists’ legal rights with 30 years experience and four books under his belt. Two of his books, Million Dollar Mistakes and Confessions of a Record Producer continue to be required reading in over 50 music business courses around the world including the music business programs at such prestigious colleges and universities as UCLA, Loyola, and NYU. His latest book 100 Answers to 50 Questions on the Music Business is a tell-all guide to help recording artists at each stage of their music career.
In addition, Moses is also a court-recognized music business expert in New York, California, Florida and Puerto Rico, has acted in an advisory capacity to multiple State Attorney General Offices and the Senate Judiciary Committee in Sacramento regarding the music industry, and has appeared on numerous television news shows (Court TV, MSNBC, CNN Money Line, & Bill O’Reilly) seeking the inside info on the music business. (I got the preceding two paragraphs from his website.)
Although Moses does not currently practice law himself, he knows the ins and outs of copyrights and has served as a consultant and as an expert witness on dozens of cases. In fact, on cases where he’s testified as an expert, the party that called him as a witness has won 7-out-of-7 times. Not bad!
He’s been following the AXANAR lawsuit closely and has been offering his guidance to Alec Peters. Moses feels strongly that Alec has more ways to win this lawsuit than to lose it, and he spent about 45 minutes on the phone telling my how and why…