Sci-Fi Storm

Star Trek crowdfunded film Axanar denied Fair Use status

by on Jan.07, 2017, under Movies, Television

It’s been a while since we last reported on it, but the crowdfunded production called Axanar received a setback this week in its defense against the lawsuit from CBS/Paramount, which is still going on.

Axanar, being produced by Axanar Productions, is essentially a fan-made prequel film to the original Star Trek series, telling the story of Garth of Izar, who appears as a character in the original series episode “Whom Gods Destroy”, a former starship fleet captain now held in an insane asylum after he ordered the genocide of an entire species who had helped heal his maimed body, when they refused his offer to help rule the galaxy. Axanar tells the story of the Battle of Axanar, where Garth was pivotal in the victory over the Klingons and his tactics became required reading at Starfleet Academy. Additional backstory for the character appears in licensed novels.

U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner denied Axanar Productions request for dismissal, on the grounds that the suit was premature because the film is unfinished and falls under fair use, saying that Axanar would need to prove in court to a jury that their production is substantively different from the copyrighted material. Given that they are using a character and situation that is established in Star Trek canon and within the licensed universe, Judge Klausner ruled that Axanar were using copyrighted works, but a jury would need to decide whether they would be confusion to a “lay person” over whether it was a production of the copyright holders.

Last time we reported on the situation, Star Trek movie producer J.J. Abrams claimed he and Star Trek: Beyond director Justin Lin asked for the suit to be stopped, and stated on stage “it will be announced this is going away, and that fans would be able to continue working on their project”. But as it turns out he apparently ad-libbed the segment at a Star Trek fan event, fell on deaf ears at CBS/Paramount.


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