Paramount Takes Aim at Star Trek Fan Movie Over Copyright

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By Peter Leung

Jan. 4 — Paramount Pictures Corp. and CBS Studios Inc. have sued a company using Kickstarter to fund an unauthorized Star Trek movie.

In a complaint filed at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Dec. 29, the plaintiffs accuse defendant Axanar Productions, Inc. of contributory and vicarious copyright infringement as well as direct infringement. They are seeking statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringed work and injunctive relief. Alec Peters, listed as executive producer of the film, is also named as a defendant.

According to fundraising pages associated with the project, the goal is to create the “first fully-professional, independent Star Trek film.” The pages are hosted on crowdfunding sites Kickstarter and Indiegogo and state that the final product will be a 90- minute feature film entitled “Star Trek - Axanar.” There are also links to several videos, including a pitch video, a finished scene from the final film, and a 20-minute short called “Prelude to Axanar.”

The Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns have raised nearly $1.2 million in total.

In an August interview, Peters told thewrap.com that he had met with CBS about the project and implied that the studio tacitly gave him the green light to go forward due to what he described as CBS's “long history of accepting fan films” and their directive that he not make money on the film.

“Axanar” is one of several unauthorized Star Trek fan projects that have been made. One fan film, “Renegades,” featured regulars from the authorized television shows and has been mentioned on the official Star Trek website.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Leung in Washington at pleung@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek in Washington at mwilczek@bna.com

The complaint is available at: http://src.bna.com/bNp.