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CBS/Paramount Sets Phasers To Kill On Star Trek Fan-Fiction With New Guidelines (audioholics.com) 254

Audiofan writes from a forum post on Audioholics: The Star Trek fan-fiction controversy that resulted in legal battles between CBS/Paramount and Axanar Productions concluded last week. However, CBS/Paramount have finally put forth its long-awaited guidelines intended to clarify acceptable fan-fiction so that it won't get the creative Star Trek fan sued for copyright infringement. But in doing so, it may have launched Star Trek fan-fiction's torpedo casket into space with a solemn salute. To be or not to be is the question which we ask about the future of Star Trek fan film. Some of the new guidelines for avoiding objections when making your own Star Trek movies and posting them to YouTube include: 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. Part of the non-commercial requirements include: 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. The fan production cannot be distributed in a physical format such as DVD or Blu-ray. If the fan production uses commercially-available Star Trek uniforms, accessories, toys and props, these items must be official merchandise and not bootleg items or imitations of such commercially available products.
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CBS/Paramount Sets Phasers To Kill On Star Trek Fan-Fiction With New Guidelines

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 30, 2016 @06:33PM (#52423185)

    Just rewrite the dictionary and make whatever you like; If the story is good and all things being equal it will still be enjoyable.

    Instead of Federation use Union, Collective, .. If Phaser is copyrighted use laser, pulse pistol.
    Instead of Klingon use African American, and so on..

    IMO we need new wider variety of scifi anyway.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Don't use Collective, it's probably copyrighted by The Borg.

    • by John Smith ( 4340437 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @08:16PM (#52423739)
      Commodore Kirker: Best guess, Zulu. Zulu: Aye, sir. (HMS Corporation fires phasors [hey, Master of Orion II got away with that] at HMS Infallible, missing.) (HMS Infallible shakes.) Genghis: Forward missiles, fire! (Missile launches into space, missing.) This, ladies and gentlemen, is what Paramount is going to do to Star Trek.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Will the comms officer be called Ubuntu?

    • Yeah, I can't wait until Major Keerk uses his Maser to take down a charging Klangron warrior before beaming up to his star cruiser and engaging the hyperspeed drive at speed factor 6.

      There, I just invented my own Star Trek knockoff lingo!

    • by irving47 ( 73147 )

      Well, you're close, anyway... It already happened. See: "Gene Roddenberry's : Andromeda" it was a Star Trek adapted to a non-Trek property because Paramount wasn't interested.

      • by Whibla ( 210729 )

        See: "Gene Roddenberry's : Andromeda" ...

        Take my advice, don't.

          Watching re-runs (if there were any) of the 70's show Blake's 7 would be more enjoyable, 30 odd years difference, and the plots, dialogue, and acting all got worse.

    • You jest. But the producers of the Star Wreck series (And eventually, Iron Sky) did exactly that. The last installment before they switched to moon nazis vs. Sarah Palin (No, I did not make that up.), was "In the Pirkinning", which chronicles an adventure of the C.P.P. Potkustartti, commanded by Captain James B. Pirk, with the assistance of crew members Commander Dwarf and Commander Info.

      Through various somethity hole something anomaly blah blah blah; they eventually cross over into the universe of the Ba

  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @06:37PM (#52423203)

    And the guidelines are "1) don't do anything that takes away our precious money or actually competes with us, and 2) oh yeah, we're forcing you to buy all of our expensive prop junk, too."

     

    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @06:41PM (#52423253) Journal

      It's more like "Don't do anything that shows up the absolute crap we've been producing on TV and film for the last 15 years."

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Friday July 01, 2016 @04:44AM (#52425127) Homepage Journal

        This. Star Trek Continues is actually better than the original series. Go watch it on YouTube, it's superior in pretty much every way. The latest episode has a rubber suit monster and it's actually /good/.

        If the fan series had money to Paramount they probably could. After years of saying it was fine and encouraging them to invest so much time, money and effort into fan series they can't just pull the rug now.

        • After years of saying it was fine and encouraging them to invest so much time, money and effort into fan series they can't just pull the rug now.

          Yes they can. A contract's only good until it expires, and they worked under the terms they were given. They made their choice.

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      The prop junk doesn't bother me as much as the rest. It may be a bit of a money grab, but it could be argued that they don't want your production costumes to look like shit.

      Of course, if you have a costume designer that makes *better* stuff than their commercial stuff, which is certainly possible given what I have seen out there, then that's annoying.

  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @06:38PM (#52423225) Journal
    I wasn't too thrilled with any of their 'star trek-flavored' movies anyway, and now they've guaranteed that I will never go see one for any reason or recommend them to anyone else for any reason, either. What a bunch of assholes.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 30, 2016 @06:45PM (#52423281)

      Agreed, they butchered the series with that shitty JJ Abrams movie. and now they're attacking fan fiction that's actually good and actually worth watching for actual star trek fans. FUCK EM

      just another franchise bastardized to make crap tacular summer action blockbusters.

      and a big fuck you to the people of america for flocking to those in droves and making this happen.

      • I tend to agree. I am not a huge fan of the new 'lens flare' Abrams movies either.

        They are ok... but I would never watch any of them in the theater (redbox ftw!)

      • and a big fuck you to the people of america for flocking to those in droves and making this happen.

        http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/franchise/Star-Trek#tab=summary
        Not sure why you threw that in there. Even if not a single person of America saw it, the last two still made almost triple their budget.

  • by cmeans ( 81143 ) <<cmeans> <at> <intfar.com>> on Thursday June 30, 2016 @06:39PM (#52423235) Homepage Journal
    The restrictions are just way too limiting. It's a big universe, and CBS/Paramount should "make" space for proper fan fiction, not beam-it-out in wide-dispersal mode.
    I for one, will think twice before spending any money on any new Star Trek ventures going forward. Very, very disappointed.
    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      If anything it might be time for the people that want to do their own movies to look into starting on some fresh perspective - or scan through the Science Fiction literature for stories that can be used for movies. There's a huge pile to dig into, like E.E. Smiths Lensman series, Jack Vances Demon Princes, Heinlein, Asimov and so on...

      Don't let the opinion that controls one franchise limit you - be creative with something completely different. I wouldn't mind a Sci Fi movie where you have a man with a kilt

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      The restrictions are just way too limiting. It's a big universe, and CBS/Paramount should "make" space for proper fan fiction, not beam-it-out in wide-dispersal mode.
      I for one, will think twice before spending any money on any new Star Trek ventures going forward. Very, very disappointed.

      They are not restrictions They are guidelines.

      Also, the only reason to follow them is to eliminate any risk of getting sued. That's it. If you follow the narrow path it lays out, your production will not raise the ire of CB

  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @06:41PM (#52423247)

    If yucking it up over some 1960's barely acceptable at the time TV series and the host of less than endearing follow on properties including 5 TV series and even more full length movies is going to be controlled by these rules, sell me some tribbles...

    Gee, it's sooo nice that you will now let me make a video using your concept I think I'm going to willingly follow your rules... NOT...

    Best Paramount can hope for is to keep tossing out the DCMA letters and suing folks who violate their copyrights, nobody is going to follow these rules unless they want too. Can you imagine? Sir, prove that Tri-Corder in your parody "Enterprise's last emission" that Kirk is using it to ogle that female yeoman in his quarters is really licensed merchandise..... Do you have a receipt to prove where you got it?

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      Some of the stuff that has been made is pretty professional, though. We're not talking about some cheap short video. These aren't full-on productions, but they spend decent amounts of money. A suit against their production would shut them down. It definitely feels like they only want short items that can't actually tell a complete story or compete with them in any meaningful way.

      It's pretty shitty and all about money and control, but what did you expect from Paramount?

      • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

        Instead of seeing it as competition - see it as supplementary stories. If some fan stuff is good enough, then endorse it instead.

        • Instead of seeing it as competition - see it as supplementary stories. If some fan stuff is good enough, then endorse it instead.

          Why? What does Paramount get out of it?

    • nobody is going to follow these rules unless they want too.

      Nobody follows any rules unless they want to. It's the punishments that, in some cases, are the only reason some people want to. And some people don't want to follow the rules just because there are rules.

      Do you have a receipt to prove where you got it?

      I have no doubt that the "use officially licensed props" clause was put into the restrictions by the lawyers, as a nod to the officially licensed sources of props -- who pay money for the privilege of being able to sell officially licensed props. I think it is reasonably fair if someone is going to produce

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday June 30, 2016 @06:42PM (#52423263) Homepage Journal

    Unfortunately, film and recording studios are still extremely naive about what intellectual property policy should be to maximize income. Obviously, the Star Trek fans are what has kept this franchise going for 40 years. You can count on them as an audience, which means a film is going to be a much safer investment than it would be otherwise.

    To keep the fan base alive, holding intellectual property this close is simply the wrong policy. Coming to some sort of resolution with fan fiction producers would both preserve the fan base and increase profit (you can license them and allow them to make some money, as well as you).

    To think, in the U.S. we just gained the right to sing "Happy Birthday" without intellectual property restrictions. That's how the non-sharing side of the ecology is going. On the sharing side, we have a very healthy Open Source community that has produced software everyone uses (even if they don't know) and that could not be built via the conventional economic paradigm because it can't necessarily be monetized directly. And we have things like Wikipedia that would just be impossible in the conventional paradigm.

    Studios need to catch up. So far, they seem to be incredibly resistant to learning.

    • by nebular ( 76369 )

      Really they need to come up with a very reasonable non-commercial licencing fee and let the content creators have fun with it.
      Add some clauses that allows them to veto if the content is pornographic or too violent or what not, but otherwise let them go.

      They'll be making easy money after that.

  • I knew it (Score:5, Funny)

    by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @06:44PM (#52423267) Homepage Journal

    CBS/Paramount are run by Ferengis.

    • No, Hasbro is run by Ferengis. CBSP is run by idiots. Look at the amount of money and brand loyalty Hasbro got out of My Little Pony.
    • by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @06:57PM (#52423353) Homepage

      No, a Ferengi would have rememberd Rule of Acquisition #57: Good customers are almost as rare as Latinum - treasure them

      • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
        They would also know #62: "The riskier the road, the greater the profit." Losing control is risky. But beneficial.
      • by irving47 ( 73147 )

        111 - "Treat people in your debt like family... exploit them."

        Wow. 239 one seems relevant to our current lineup of movies... ""Never be afraid to mislabel a product."

      • In fact, they'd have started licensing fan fiction, charged for mandatory script approval, and rented props. Which, so long as the fees were reasonable and tied to a 'non profit' condition for the fan production, would have been an excellent solution to the issue.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nope. They make their women wear CLOTHES!

      CBS corporate would be SO much more pleasant if they were Ferangi. But alas, they are of the most vile intergalactic ruthless scum there is - yes, MBAs!

    • Ferengi may be shrewd, but they're interested in maximizing profit . CBS are a bunch of Klingons, trying to claim credit for Shakespeare and ultimately poisoning themselves through stupidity.

      Gas, Captain. They're full of it.

  • Fifteen minutes maximum you say? I suppose that means Kirk/Spock [wikipedia.org] is now limited to quickies, rather than involving lots of character development.

  • by bugnuts ( 94678 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @06:57PM (#52423355) Journal

    The fundraising issue really bothers me. I know that Star Trek Continues [startrekcontinues.com] had done some fundraising and was producing 45m episodes that were excellent. The production value was amazing, and they recreated parts of the set that were very convincing.

    This may shut that down, without special dispensation from cbs/p.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 30, 2016 @10:30PM (#52424273)

      Star Trek Continues recreates an authentic experience for Star Trek: The Original Series fans. I found they even maintain the same campiness as the original series. CBS and Paramount Studios will kill off the fan base if they persist in threatening fan-created episodes similar to Star Trek Continues.

  • Fortunately, we'll always have Star Wreck - In the Pirkining [archive.org]. Watch it or full downloads in various formats from archive.org. It's funny, lots of poking fun at star trek, and CBS can't do squat about it since it's a parody, doesn't use their characters or their universe.
  • Wash, Rinse, Repeat (Score:5, Informative)

    by davmoo ( 63521 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @07:01PM (#52423363)

    I said it last time this topic came up, and I'll say it again now. Its no surprise to me that their rules are so draconian that they would eliminate pretty much all Star Trek fan fiction created thus far, and would make anyone think twice before bothering to create anything new. The reboot is so horrible they can't survive any real competition. Even with just a short at this point, its obvious that Axanar is going to totally blow away Star trek: Fast & Furious In Space.

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      I have to say that I do hate the reboots. Dear CBS Paramount you killed Star Trek but the fans kept it alive and ended up making it a cash cow for you. You blew it with ST:ENG. The reboots are terrible. You made the crew of the USS Enterprise into a bunch wack jobs and the new ship looks like crap.
      You better hope that the Fans save your cash cow for you again or just sell Star Trek to Disney they actually seem to know how to keep a franchise working.

    • The reboot is so horrible they can't survive any real competition.

      The thing is... it's not competition.

      It's not like people have to choose to see one or the other. Most Trek fans would happily watch both and more.

      • Yeah, it seems like the smart thing to do would be to just take a cut of any revenue earned or just hire the best of these fan-fiction creators and bring them in to the fold. They could be the YouTube presence... the outreach to a younger audience...

  • what a joke (Score:5, Insightful)

    by epine ( 68316 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @07:08PM (#52423401)

    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.

    Good grief. This is a geek genre, for people with honest-to-god attention spans. Fifteen minutes is not a bad length of time to reach the opening credits.

    Paramount Pictures can FOAD.

  • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @07:12PM (#52423423)

    Fund primarily via Bitcoin.
    Make it as long as you want, then double, triple, quadruple, etc. the playback rate get it under 15 minutes. I'm sure every hypernerd that watches this shit can play it back at the intended speed. (And no, you won't lose frames if you merely alter the rate.)

  • Injustice Served (Score:5, Informative)

    by transami ( 202700 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @07:13PM (#52423431) Homepage

    Lets back up here a bit CBS/Paramount. You didn't invent Star Trek. You didn't even fund it's creation. You know who did: Lucille Ball (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucille_Ball). Yep. That woman. She sunk her company's last penny into it and sold off all her rights to her own TV show to blood suckers like you to do it, until she could not hold any longer and had to sell out completely. If she could have held out another year she would have made it, but not one of you misogynist pigs in the industry would support a woman. So you buy the rights to Star Trek out from under her for a song, and then what do you decide to do? Cancel the show! CANCEL THE SHOW! Only a massive writing campaign by fans restrain you from canceling it, to your recorded dismay, so in retribution you stuff the last season into the Friday night death slot. It wasn't for the massive rerun support of fans you would have shelved the who thing long long ago, in a closet far far forgotten.

    Paramount, you have no shame and I'm not sure you deserve any of the proceeds you've made off this franchise. I wish Lucille Ball could sue you, but alas, she has a statue of limitation. Meanwhile you get to keep exploiting her and Gene's legacy endlessly.

    • Sigh... typos and Slashdot do not mix. Sorry.

    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      WOW!! - I did not know this, thank you so much for pointing this out!

    • Re:Injustice Served (Score:5, Informative)

      by tipo159 ( 1151047 ) on Friday July 01, 2016 @12:17AM (#52424511)

      A lot of this story is correct, but a lot of it isn't.

      In case you couldn't figure it out, Desilu was Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball's production company, which they ran together. Arnaz handled the business side and Ball handled the creative side. After Ball divorced Arnaz and then remarried, Arnaz couldn't handle working with her anymore. Ball bought him out, but didn't really want to run a company. However, the studio wasn't doing so well at the time and she didn't want the staff to loose their jobs. So, she used 'I Love Lucy' spin-off pilot advance money to pay for shows like 'Star Trek' and 'Mission: Impossible'. Once the studio was doing well enough to be sold for a reasonable price and the staff would keep their jobs, she sold Desilu.

      NBC originally aired 'Star Trek', not CBS. NBC were not inclined to cancel 'Star Trek', because it did well in particular demographics popular with advertisers. Roddenberry started the cancelation rumor and seeded the letter writing campaign. NBC had nothing to do with Gulf + Western's purchase of Desilu; Gulf Western owned Paramount Studios and renamed Desilu as Paramount Television.

      Years later, Viacom bought Paramount. Years after that, Viacom bought CBS. A few years after that, Viacom split into a TV company (now called CBS) and a movie company (now called Paramount). The TV company owns 'Star Trek' and JJ Trek is the movie company licensing Trek from the TV company. And CBS is the current instantiation of the company formerly known as Desilu.

  • why i pirate (Score:4, Informative)

    by n3r0.m4dski11z ( 447312 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @07:25PM (#52423515) Homepage Journal

    Are they doing anything right now to contribute to the franchise. Are they doing anything that is better than the fan made one? The answer is no. Then they should fuck off, move over and let actual interested parties, ACTUALLY DOING THE WORK, get whatever benefits those parties see fit.

    You shouldn't be able to copyright a fictional universe. As long as bullshit money rules, copyright has become the spurning of creativity, not supporting it. How many years do they own "star trek" for? beyond the lifetime of most humans?? and even then, its a 60s era remake!! if you cant make enough fucking money off an idea you BOUGHT from a human, in 60 years, whoes problem is that?

    A company by its nature can not produce a creative work. Humans do this, and the creative work should then remain the property of humanity, not corporations!

    How dare they dictate what people do in their own time, creatively, with their own resources and skills. Fuck CBS. This shit really pisses me off!!

    • Creativity does not arise from dabbling around with existing works -- it involves, well, creating something. Derivative works tend to degrade the original property, not build on it -- look at any and all major TV and cinema adaptations of folklore and mythology in the last several decades: they've never been accurate to sources and they have broken people's connection with the originals. Lots of Robin Hood, for example, but not since the Disney cartoon have any of the traditional episodes been included (e.g
  • Read it like this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @08:04PM (#52423689) Journal

    Your stories can no longer be imaginative and better than our, you must find a way to make them more lame because we don't know how to. Breach these conditions and we will sue you out of existence.

    Personally, I think the fan stories are more interesting. I've kind of given up on paramount's version of star trek because it is usually disappointing so I don't see any point in it any more. I think the fan fiction is the only thing keeping their franchise alive simply because CBS make the movies for a wider audience that isn't interested in ST knowing that fans will go for the eye candy.

    I think that once CBS lamifies the fan fiction, it's all over for star trek, at least for me, simply because it's just not that interesting or challenging anymore.

  • I keep wondering if some billionaire Star Trek fans should settle this argument once and for all, by paying CBS/Paramount enough money to release the rights.

    After all, I think its been established that the official studios can no longer be trusted to produce Star Trek content, and many fans feel as though Star Trek is too important to be left to the official studios.

    • Paul Allen should do it.

      Unfortunately, the last several movies have been profitable, so he'll need to wait another 5-10 years to go back down in value.

  • IANAL, but almost none of the original series or movies used "officially licensed" uniforms or props. They just used whatever the costume department or prop department came up with for an episode. From movie to movie the outfits were always different. Even from season to season, in many cases. What then, do any of the genuine-looking costumes or props have anything in common with the licensed ones which are generally plastic toys, or are made of cheap fabrics that are poorly stitched or just outright gl
    • IANAL, but almost none of the original series or movies used "officially licensed" uniforms or props. They just used whatever the costume department or prop department came up with for an episode.

      What you are saying here is that the copyright/trademark holder cannot authorize the production of props for production of their own intellectual property because it won't be "officially licensed". In other words, the Paramount props department cannot produce props for a Star Trek movie that Paramount is shooting because they don't have a license.

      I think you might be wrong about that.

    • IANAL, but almost none of the original series or movies used "officially licensed" uniforms or props.

      Yeah...there's a reason you're not a lawyer. When you're creating things for the series, you're officially licensed.

      As an aside, Gene Roddenberry was certainly not above making a quick buck off of "officially licensed" Star Trek items. [blogspot.com]

      The only other logical option is revise the requirement so that people trying to make a believable fan fiction are allowed to use self-made articles of, unquestionably, higher quality than the mass produced garbage and NOT SELL THEM.

      If you RTFA, it says:

      If the fan production uses commercially-available Star Trek uniforms, accessories, toys and props [emphasis mine], these items must be official merchandise and not bootleg items or imitations of such commercially available products.

      So if you buy uniforms or props off the rack, they need to be official. If you build your own, you're perfectly fine.

  • Is anyone troubled that an entertainment company is trying to make United State laws?


  • What the heck is this? they are policing their fans? writing rules on how fans can contribute to the zealot-like following?

    Are they doing their best to alienate the fan base? -some starting sci-fi series, books etc would kill to have the sort of mass drone following of Star Trek.

    An exercise to protect their work only diminishes their profits with bad press and unhappy fans.

    They want to police how fans interact with their product?! I say screw Star Trek products! -Vote with your wallet.

    Isnt Star Trek
  • Paramount is attempting to write law using the threat of big-money legal harassment as their police force. Many corporations do this.

    The issue here is that Paramount isn't a lawyer, and their grip on a cultural meme doesn't expire. It's a money game where cultural evolution is dictated by intellectual property rights that are unsupportable for society itself.

    It has been over 50 years since star trek became a part of our culture. It has been propagating through two generations of humanity. The right to c

    • In other words, do the movies in countries near Generistan. The feds there only care for real crimes, not imaginary property.

  • ...the shit Paramount has been putting out under the name "Star Trek", they're just afraid the fan products are worlds better than theirs....

    • Rightfully so, the fan products are by no means worse than anything Paramount cranked out lately.

      It is no longer impossible for amateur groups to come up with something that rivals "professional" quality. The technology has become affordable, props have pretty much been replaced by CGI, so what drives costs is labor.

      And people doing it because they want to do it (often euphemistically called "doing it for love", even though rarely anyone gets laid) are usually far more affordable than people doing it just f

      • Exactly, as you put it, it's a labor of love, so they care more about making it "good" than making it "marketable" to the lowest common denominator....

        How'd the world get this bad?

  • CBS/Paramount? It isn't nice to mess with your fan base. Don't do this.
  • Those who can't, sue.

    It's sad to see that Paramount has to pull such stunts to keep from being upstaged by movies made on zero budget by amateurs.

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