The producers of an upcoming Star Trek fan film only realized they were being sued when they read a news article about it.
Production is just about to begin on Axanar, the crowd-funded fan film set in the Star Trek universe. The crew had everything they needed: the production costs were covered, actors were signed, and stars were offering their support and blessing. Most importantly, according to the film's producers, they had the permission of Star Trek's license holders.
Or so they thought.
The project has been public for more than a year, and producer Alec Peters (who himself has previously worked on "legitimate" Star Trek productions) says he's been in contact with CBS for all that time, thinking his project was good to go. He continued thinking this right until he read the news one morning to discover he was being sued.
Peters addresses the sudden turn of events on the Axanar Productions website:
"This morning, I was greeted with news that our production company, Axanar Productions and I, personally, am being sued by CBS Studios, Inc. and Paramount Pictures Corporation for copyright infringement of Star Trek.
First of all, I was disappointed to learn about this through an article in an industry trade. For several years, I've worked with a number of people at CBS on Star Trek-related projects, and I would have hoped those personal relationships would have warranted a phone call in advance of the filing of a legal complaint. Nevertheless, I know I speak for everyone at Axanar Productions when I say it is our hope that this can be worked out in a fair and amicable manner.
Axanar is a fan film. Fan films - whether related to Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Power Rangers, Batman or any other franchise - are labors of love that keep fans engaged, entertained, and keep favorite characters alive in the hearts of fans. Like other current fan films, AXANAR entered production based on a very long history and relationship between fandom and studios. We're not doing anything new here.
Like all fan films, AXANAR is a love letter to a beloved franchise. For nearly 50 years, Star Trek's devotees have been creating new Star Trek stories to share with fellow fans. That's all we're trying to do here."
It's important to note that we don't know the entire story. Peters claims he had permission from CBS, so long as they film was not used for commercial purposes, and claims that the news item was the first he heard of the lawsuit. CBS hasn't made any comments about the situation just yet, so don't go calling anyone names until we know more.
In the meantime, enjoy the very promising 20-minute proof-of-concept by the Axanar team, and we'll have more to report about this story when there's more to tell.
Source: Axanar Productions