A few weeks ago it looked like that the legal battle between CBS and Paramount and the group of “Star Trek” fans producing a film set before the events of the classic series entitled “Axanar” would have a happy Hollywood ending. But, The Hollywood Reporter suggests that the lawsuit is definitely still on. J.J. Abrams had stated that the two plaintiffs were willing to settle and allow the fan film to proceed thanks to pressure from Justin Lin, the director of the upcoming sanctioned Trek film.

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In the latest in the tit for tat court filings, Paramount and CBS reiterated their denial that concepts from “Star Trek” such as the Klingon language, the pointed ears of Vulcans, and the idea of a United Federation of Planets were subject to “fair use” and that the law suit lives on. “Axanar Productions.,” referencing Abrams’ statement, had previously suggested in court that talks to settle were ongoing and so that the court should issue a declarative relief ruling.

Star Trek Logo (Credit YouTube)
Star Trek Logo (Credit YouTube)

The upshot is that Paramount, which is coming out with a new “Star Trek” movie” and CBS, which is developing a new Trek series, still maintain that the “Axanar” project represents copyright infringement, even though talks seem to still be ongoing that would allow the fan film to proceed. What the judge will make of all of this remains to be seen.

On one level, Paramount and CBS, by continuing to play legal hard ball, risk alienating fans and souring the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the premier of the first “Star Trek” series.

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Of course, on another level, the two plaintiffs are maintaining their legal position as leverage while the bargaining continues behind the scenes.

The original TV show lasted but three seasons, but wound up establishing its own universe and a media empire that has proven lucrative ever since. The case may well be ground breaking in that it will establish how far outside entities can go in developing derived works of copyrighted material. Thus far fans have been able to produce stories and films at the sufferance of the studio and the network.

The main sin committed by “Axanar” is that their product may be too good to be allowed. On the other hand, it may be best for the two parties to settle and allow the project to proceed, perhaps with the participation rather than the opposition of Paramount and CBS. That kind of settlement would be ground breaking as well, setting up the possibility of legally sanctioned derived works.

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