CBS Bullies Fan Star Trek Project To Shut Down Despite Creators' Pleas For Instructions On Being Legit
from the engage-the-lawyers dept
Lawsuits and intellectual property disputes revolving around the Star Trek franchise are legion. This is largely due to just how massive and popular the franchise has been over the past decades and into the present. Still, we’ve seen all kinds of examples of how either the disputes are frivolous or silly, or cases in which IP owners had so many options open to them other than bullying and suing but chose to ignore those alternative routes.
That brings us to Stage 9, a non-commercial labor of love put together by fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Stage 9 is the virtual recreation of TNG’s Enterprise starship that allows fans of the series to explore the beloved vessel and immerse themselves in the chief setting of the series. Stage 9 has been built over the past two years by creators that have taken great pains to state that the project was not affiliated or licensed with CBS or Paramount and that they weren’t doing this to make money, only to artistically demonstrate their fandom.
As you’ve probably already guessed, all that was for nothing as CBS sent them a cease and desist letter anyway.
“This letter was a cease-and-desist order,” Scragnog explains. “Over the next 13 days we did everything we possibly could to open up a dialog with CBS. The member of the CBS legal team that issued the order went on holiday for a week immediately after sending the letter through, which slowed things down considerably.”
Part of the team’s strategy at that point was to remind everyone it could at CBS of the words of John Van Citters, CBS VP for Product Development. Back in 2016, shortly before this project started, Van Citters publicly remarked that the Star Trek franchise owes its success to the fans and the community that creates so much fan-work around the Trek universe. He went so far as to plead with fans to get involved, specifically stating that fans creating fanworks are “not going to hear from us. They’re not going to get a phone call, they’re not going to get an email. They’re not going to get anything that’s going to ruin their day… like they’ve done something wrong.”
Those seem to be in direct contradiction to the very real letter that very much ruined the day of the team behind Stage 9. And so the team reached out to Van Citters directly to see if he could get involved and help. Van Citters failed to even respond, and when CBS’ lawyer finally got back from vacation, it was stated that nobody would be working with these fans to make their project legit, it all just had to go away.
“We were hoping, perhaps naively, that the elements of Stage 9 that CBS did not approve of would be highlighted to us, so we could be sure to remove these elements from the project and create something that met with, if not their approval, then at least their acceptance,” Scragnog explains.
To keep the project alive, the team were prepared to make any changes ordered by CBS. Sadly, CBS said that the project could not continue in any form, no matter what changes were made. They provided no further details and, as noted by Eurogamer, did not indicate how Stage 9 had violated the fan art guidelines previously published by CBS and Paramount.
And so the story of a two year fan-project that would have at worst brought some joy to a bunch of Star Trek fans and, at best, would serve as free marketing material for the show, has come to the most unfortunate of endings. Thanks to mealy mouthed executives who can’t be bothered to either back up their own altruistic statements or engage with fans of their property, two years of work simply gets tossed in the trash.