As CBS/Paramount Continue Lawsuit Over Fan Film, It Releases Ridiculous & Impossible 'Fan Film Guidelines'
from the don't-count-your-eggs dept
We’ve been covering the still going lawsuit by CBS and Paramount against Axanar Productions for making a crowdfunded fan film that they claim is infringing because it’s looking pretty good. Things got a little weird last month when the producer of the latest Star Trek film, JJ Abrams, and its director, Justin Lin, basically leaked a bit of news saying that after they had gone to Paramount, the studio was going to end the lawsuit. At the time, Paramount said that it was in “settlement discussions” and that it was “also working on a set of fan film guidelines.”
We pointed out that we were concerned about what those guidelines might entail, and worried that they would undermine fair use. In the meantime, as settlement talks continued, the case moved forward. I’m still a little surprised that the two sides didn’t ask the court for more time to continue settlement talks, as that’s not that uncommon, and it’s something that a judge often is willing to grant if it looks like the two sides in a dispute can come to an agreement. But, without that, the case has continued to move forward with ongoing filings from each side.
In the meantime, however, the StarTrek.com website, run by CBS and Paramount, has now posted those “fan film guidelines” and they are absolutely ridiculous. The Axanar team sums it up nicely by saying that:
The CBS “Guidelines” for Fan Films basically make it impossible for fan films to continue as they have.
The first item, for example, completely rules out Axanar’s plan for a feature length fan film:
The fan production must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than 2 segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total, with no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes.
And there’s another one that’s clearly targeted at Axanar:
The fan production must be a real ?fan? production, i.e., creators, actors and all other participants must be amateurs, cannot be compensated for their services, and cannot be currently or previously employed on any Star Trek series, films, production of DVDs or with any of CBS or Paramount Pictures? licensees.
I don’t quite see how or where that fits into fair use’s rules…
CBS and Paramount Pictures do not object to limited fundraising for the creation of a fan production, whether 1 or 2 segments and consistent with these guidelines, so long as the total amount does not exceed $50,000, including all platform fees, and when the $50,000 goal is reached, all fundraising must cease.
That seems rather limiting.
Some of the other terms are more reasonable, but it seems clear that these guidelines are pretty specifically designed to cut off an Axanar style fan film, and seem to be trying to cut off a lot more than fair use almost certainly allows. While for the sake of the folks working on Axanar, I still hope that this settles amicably, it might be a lot nicer to have Axanar be able to win a fair use claim in court over this.