Star Trek Self Destruct Initiated

LCARSSelfDestructWhat’s the best way to destroy an entertainment franchise?
Piss off its biggest fans.

That’s what CBS and Paramount are now risking by bringing a copyright infringement lawsuit against Axanar, the latest of a long string of fan-produced Star Trek films. While many of these are distinctly amateurish, with weak scripts, poor acting, and cardboard and duct tape sets, a few of the more recent ones have a far more professional appearance. Some are quite good. Axanar promises to be one of the best yet.

Despite all the time, effort, and money needed to produce them, these fan films don’t make a profit. They aren’t intended to. Actually, the producers spend their own money, along with that of contributors, to make them, and they are free to watch on YouTube and other places. Profit is not the goal. Fans produce them as an expression of admiration for Star Trek, which many see as distinctly different (and better) than most science fiction and fantasy entertainment offerings. It’s not just a juvenile, action-packed explosion-fest.

I can’t know why CBS and Paramount have decided to target Axanar. Is it because it promises a truly professional product? Is it because it has generated a million dollars from contributors to help produce it? Is it because it is already generating a following and people are looking forward to seeing it? Are they jealous? Are they worried it may be better than the stuff they’re producing? Like I said, I can’t know, but I do know this lawsuit isn’t earning them any friends. I’ve already seen comments on social media from fans threatening to boycott Star Trek Beyond, the next official Trek movie. (It has a $150 million budget and a planned release in the summer of 2016).

I can understand the big corporations wanting to protect their copyrights. They ‘own’ Star Trek. They don’t want others cutting into their profits. But I don’t think fan films do that. Quite the contrary. Fan films are like free advertising for the franchise. They provide additional exposure and can generate new followers. They keep fans engaged between the official films and TV series. They promote discussions in online forums and maintain interest. Rather than bringing a lawsuit against Axanar, CBS and Paramount should be thanking them.

That’s just my opinion, of course. I’ve been following Star Trek pretty much since the beginning. I’ve seen all the TV shows, watched all the movies, and own several DVDs. I have signed photos and Trek posters hanging on the walls of my office. My Christmas tree this year was hung with Star Trek ornaments…. I can’t say I’m Trek’s number one fan, but I appreciate it, and I especially appreciate all the hard work that the producers of fan films (even the bad ones) put in to keeping it alive. Unlike the big corporations, their work isn’t motivated by profit. It’s motivated by a love for the show. The people who make and watch the fan films are Star Trek’s strongest followers and advocates. Alienating them would be an extremely bad business move. Bringing suit against Axanar could do that. It seems petty. It may, I fear, turn Trek’s greatest fans against the corporate owners and harm the franchise.

About Dave

A reader and writer of speculative fiction. See my website for more information on me and my writing.

Posted on December 31, 2015, in Speculative Fiction and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. A long time ago on a blog I mentioned if it would be inevitable once the technology of computers became advanced enough to create life like movies in a small desktop computer. Like the movie “Looker” which had the premise of using digital actors to create ads or continue a show or series. I can see that this is slowly becoming a reality. Will that mean that fans will be able soon to “resurrect” shows like “Firefly”, or “Space Above And Beyond”…”Terra Nova”, to name a few, through independent productions kickstarted by fans.
    I read the rules of Paramount and CBS. Draconian to say the least, with one purpose only. To crush any fan-made production. Your greed Paramount and CBS is blinding you to the infinite possibilities of embracing productions that would only enrich the mythos of the shows you are trying to keep for yourselves, as per your vision.
    I question too, the hubris of prohibiting actors from undertaking any roles in such productions. Have we gone returned to the days of Louis B. Meyer?
    Here is a thought Paramount and CBS. Soon…very soon, indy productions will eventually create original, smarter, and popular productions for a fraction of the money you spend on company commissaries.
    Here is another sobering thought Paramount and CBS. The independent productions will eventually have more fans than what you churn out. And it only is going to get worse. Give it time. It is closer than you think.
    And if you are not careful enough, you might just be the one’s being sued by the independents for copywright infringement. Chew on that.
    You…Paramount and CBS are showing limited thinking in your handling of this situation. You are coming-off as greedy carpetbaggers regardless of your legal position.
    Isn’t it nice to be so right and still shooting yourself in the foot at the same time.
    Well…that’ s my two cents. And by the way, I am not going to see any more Star Trek Movies.
    I’ll see them years later, when you cannot profit by such. I do not need to see them to survive. I can cope with not giving you my money. Furthermore, I no longer have cable, DVD machine, tape player, or a television set. So personally boycotting your products is easy.
    Have a nice day Paramount and CBS.

  2. Boycott
    Star Trek Beyond.

    • Michael Barger

      I have been increasingly disappointed with Star Trek going in the direction of Star Wars rather than the Finesse of Star Trek and the vision of Gene Roddenberry. Yachts in our project seems to embody the soul of what Star Trek was in the beginning and it was very refreshing. I support accident

  3. I am hardcore Star Trek fan and watched all the new voyages which makes me hungry for more Star Trek. However seeing CBS Paramount sue Star Trek fans makes me want to do nothing but abandoned Star Trek altogether. I will boycott this movie

  4. Clearly the corporate lawyers were twiddling their thumbs and had to dream up something to bleed a bit more cash from their client.

    It’s like the Neil Gaiman thing. His books were getting pirated in Russia. As the pirate downloads grew, so his legitimate sales there started to grow as well. His view is that anything that introduces people to your work is intrinsically beneficial. This is even more clear cut than that, it’s just fan fiction but on celluloid.

    Ho hum. I hope the Axanar folks win.



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