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Fan-Film Snubs CBS, Paramount Guidelines

Former 'Star Trek: Raven' production challenging key rules

As dozens of Star Trek fan-films conform to new guidelines set out by CBS Corp. and Paramount Pictures, one has decided to instead test the studios on enforcement.

"Starfleet Studios Raven," formerly called "Star Trek: Raven," says while it will comply with some of the guidelines shared by CBS and Paramount, it has chosen to ignore others. David Whitney, the producer of the fan-film, said he will not limit his runtime to 15 minutes, nor will he not compensate anyone who works on the film. "Raven" also would not follow guidelines that discourage fan-films from providing perks to donors.

"We are going to try to conform our film ... to the new rules, but I do have some small but not unimportant issues with the newly published guidelines," Whitney said on his production's official website. "The rules which pertain to direct copyright infringement and intellectual property will be adhered to. The rules which do not directly support their copyright, and copyright law, will be ignored."

CBS and Paramount are going beyond what they can legally require fan-films to do, Whitney said. Because of that, the studios would "have a hard time making a complaint in court, should they decide to do so."

Raven is an Iowa production that takes place a year after the USS Voyager is lost in "Star Trek: Voyager." The fan-film's "about" page adds a caveat from Whitney that says other productions that raise money and include Hollywood actors "drives me insane." Raven does accept cash donations, however.

Whitney also included a timeline for production that filming would take place at the end of 2015, with the first episode being made available this month. It's not clear if the production has adhered to that timeline.

CBS and Paramount issued the fan-film guidelines last month after filing a copyright infringement lawsuit in December against Axanar Productions and its principal Alec Peters. AxaMonitor, a resource site that focuses solely on the Axanar case and ancillary news surrounding it, maintains a partial list of how various fan productions have responded to the new guidelines. Many have suspended production, awaiting clarification of the guidelines, while others — like the former "Star Trek: Renegades" — have dropped all Star Trek elements from the production.

Among other things, the guidelines restrict fundraising to $50,000 per 15 minutes, do not allow "Star Trek" to be in a production's name, and places restrictions on filming and writing.

John Van Citters, vice president of development at CBS who will lead enforcement of the rules, told the official Star Trek podcast last week the guidelines are not intended to be rules, and those in compliance will likely never hear anything from the studios.

"What we are doing is creating a set of guidelines that are out there, and enable people to know that if we stick within the guidelines, we are not going to hear from CBS, and we're not going to hear from Paramount," Van Citters said. "And we have nothing to worry about."

h/t James Hams

About the Author
Michael Hinman is the founder and editor-in-chief for 1701News, Airlock Alpha and the entire GenreNexus. He owns Nexus Media Group Inc., the parent corporation of the GenreNexus, and a co-founder of 1701News. He lives in Tampa, Fla.Email author