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Star Trek is a largely known for becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest phenomena and establishing a cult-like following. People across the world have embraced and proliferated the Star Trek brand to unprecedented levels, and this comes years after the television show has been over. The development of this franchise has enabled CBS and Paramount, the copyright holders, to enjoy years of consistent affluence from all sorts of avenues. Despite the end of the television show fans conceived of alternative means to display their passion for the franchise. One of which has been thrust into the public limelight due to a dispute between the copyright owners and a fan-made work.

The dispute boils down to an allegation from CBS and Paramount that their Star Trek copyrights have been infringed on by a fan-made film. For years, CBS and Paramount have disregarded fan-made works, but the one at hand, unlike the countless other creations implores a professional quality that has prompted CBS and Paramount to take action. Although CBS and Paramount want fans to enjoy the brand, they want to be able to determine the guidelines as to how.

Alec Peters began a crowd finding site to solicit funding for his short-film that takes after a war referenced in the 1960s original television version. CBS and Paramount threatened with litigation because they believe Peters incorporated copyrighted elements into his short film that he did not have the license for. Peter’s weary of the unquantifiable costs of litigation attempted to end the dispute with a summary judgment motion arguing that even if he did infringe on the rights of CBS and Paramount it would qualify as fair use. The judge struck that motion down leaving Peters with only two options. Proceed to trial where he would be forced to convince jury members that his film has a total concept and feel dissimilar from Star Trek or reach a settlement.

Peters elected for the latter option, which in all likelihood was the most sensible decision from a financial standpoint. Had he proceeded down the long road of trial it is hard to decipher what elements of his film were infringing, and more importantly, how many. The details of the settlement have not been released yet, but on the bright side his film will still be released in the coming summer. However, it will have CBS and Paramount fingerprints all over it.

Credit: Mark Milshteyn


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