A Simple WTF?! on Star Trek Fan Films

So with the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek looming overhead, I felt nostalgic over the past few years. I was hoping we’d get our first REAL glimpse of a Star Trek television series but alas they missed the mark and we will however get to see it January 2017. Although I’ve made my peace with the mess that was the film Star Trek Into Darkness, I have enjoyed the 2009 film and feel the 2016 will be no different. Moving onto the main concern there has been a lot of on again and off again comments for the lawsuit CBS/Paramount are amassing against fan projects and films. We had an answer in May from the CBS/Paramount vs Axanar fan film when J.J. Abrams said that the lawsuit was being dropped. This was thought to be a win for Trek fans. However the last few weeks we learned that was not so. In a way to further control the situation and more or less eliminate the lawsuit CBS/Paramount came up with the following to swing things in their favor. I will break it down and leave my thoughts below but it doesn’t say we CAN’T do fan films, just that they now have governing rules.


CBS and Paramount Pictures are big believers in reasonable fan fiction and fan creativity, and, in particular, want amateur fan filmmakers to showcase their passion for Star Trek.  Therefore, CBS and Paramount Pictures will not object to, or take legal action against, Star Trek fan productions that are non-professional and amateur and meet the following guidelines.

Guidelines for Avoiding Objections:

  1.  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.  
  2. The title of the fan production or any parts cannot include the name “Star Trek.” However, the title must contain a subtitle with the phrase: “A STAR TREK FAN PRODUCTION” in plain typeface. The fan production cannot use the term “official” in either its title or subtitle or in any marketing, promotions or social media for the fan production.
  3. The content in the fan production must be original, not reproductions, recreations or clips from any Star Trek production. If non-Star Trek third party content is used, all necessary permissions for any third party content should be obtained in writing.
  4. 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.
  5. The fan production must be a real “fan” production, i.e., creators, actors and all other participants must be amateurs, cannot be compensated for their services, and cannot be currently or previously employed on any Star Trek series, films, production of DVDs or with any of CBS or Paramount Pictures’ licensees.
  6. The fan production must be non-commercial:
    • 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 must only be exhibited or distributed on a no-charge basis and/or shared via streaming services without generating revenue.
    • The fan production cannot be distributed in a physical format such as DVD or Blu-ray.
    • The fan production cannot be used to derive advertising revenue including, but not limited to, through for example, the use of pre or post-roll advertising, click-through advertising banners, that is associated with the fan production.
    • No unlicensed Star Trek-related or fan production-related merchandise or services can be offered for sale or given away as premiums, perks or rewards or in connection with the fan production fundraising.
    • The fan production cannot derive revenue by selling or licensing fan-created production sets, props or costumes.
  7. The fan production must be family friendly and suitable for public presentation. Videos must not include profanity, nudity, obscenity, pornography, depictions of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or any harmful or illegal activity, or any material that is offensive, fraudulent, defamatory, libelous, disparaging, sexually explicit, threatening, hateful, or any other inappropriate content. The content of the fan production cannot violate any individual’s right of privacy.
  8. The fan production must display the following disclaimer in the on-screen credits of the fan productions and on any marketing material including the fan production website or page hosting the fan production:
    • “Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made film intended for recreational use.  No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.”
  9. Creators of fan productions must not seek to register their works, nor any elements of the works, under copyright or trademark law.
  10. Fan productions cannot create or imply any association or endorsement by CBS or Paramount Pictures.

CBS and Paramount Pictures reserve the right to revise, revoke and/or withdraw these guidelines at any time in their own discretion. These guidelines are not a license and do not constitute approval or authorization of any fan productions or a waiver of any rights that CBS or Paramount Pictures may have with respect to fan fiction created outside of these guidelines.

– See more at:

I went through these and some things stood out to me as problematic. The first being the length “has to be less than 15 minutes and self contained. No seasons and no more than 2 segments creating a 30 minute product. No sequels, no remakes, no episodes”, etc. This I find distasteful if one is to do a proper episode of Trek as it’s saying no one off films like we’ve gotten or episodes. I can agree with the Seasons to some degree. “It cannot include Star Trek” in the name which that I can agree on. The “subtitle has to say a Star Trek Fan Production”, which I can see and understand but anyone who KNOWS Star Trek would see that just based on the titles or the content.

It goes on to mention, “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.” This screams buy our stuff or don’t have it in your production. This has to a purely money thing to stop people like Scott Nakada from producing his Star Trek esque props for the fan films. They’ve also attacked saying no amount on Kickstarters going over “$50,000 goal and when the goal is reached, all fundraising must cease.” Again a ploy to stop Axanar and other productions like Renegades.

They also go on to mention NO ONE who’ve previously worked for CBS or Paramount is allowed to be on the productions whatsoever.

So with those rules we also received this information courtesy of where they reached out to the Axanar crew on the issue at hand and we get this information:

Obviously the part of these rules stating that no professional is permitted to make a Trek fan film, especially if they’ve worked on Star Trek previously, is in direct opposition to Axanar. We’ve reached out that team and are awaiting their official response.


Executive Producer for Axanar, Alec Peter has released this official statement:

“After a review of CBS and Paramount’s announcement of their guidelines for Star Trek fan films, I’m really disappointed that this set of guidelines represents the studios’ best efforts on behalf of fans.  These guidelines appear to have been tailor-made to shut down all of the major fan productions and stifle fandom. In no way can that be seen as supportive or encouraging, which is very disheartening.

While CBS and Paramount claim to want to encourage the passion of fans to produce “reasonable fan fiction”, the restrictions presented do just the opposite, willfully ignoring over forty years of fan works that helped buoy the Star Trek franchise through some very lean years and enthusiastically spread the magic of the franchise in more plentiful times.

Around the franchise’s 50th anniversary, we would have hoped CBS and Paramount would have taken this opportunity to unite with Star Trek fans in celebration of their creativity, not seek to crush it.”

So more or less CBS/Paramount is strangling the good productions we’ve gotten and given a more or less cease and desist to the past 50 years of cast and crew as well as their fans. With the fans being the driving force of this franchise I feel hurt and betrayed towards the franchise due to CBS/Paramount wanting to be money hungry and spiteful towards the fan projects. I agree the fans shouldn’t profit from it but we should have the ability to create stories and have the original casts and crews work on it if they so choose since they themselves are fans as well.

What CBS/Paramount COULD be doing to give the fans what they want and what CBS/Paramount wants is this and hold on for it.

  1. Put a short film production division together – for essentially CBS/Paramount sanctioned fan films with some funding from them much like a film incentive. Maybe do this as a method of grooming for future crew and actors on Trek productions.
  2. Allow the Actors and Crew of Past CBS/Paramount Trek Productions to work on the projects – Allowing them to work in Trek and again help the ranks of those to come and still be fans themselves.
  3. Monetize the fan projects – Much like YouTube does with claims on the copy-written material. If a fan film wants to do a Star Trek film / series / One off, allow the videos to be monetized by CBS/Paramount but put 1/2 the money back into the short film fan production division I mentioned before.  This would allow fans to still do what they’re doing but CBS/Paramount can reap the benefits and the fans can still produce the same content. Can be sticky for CBS/Paramount on the monetize side but again it could work in both sides here.
  4. Provide the fans with the props or hire the prop makers for their current shows – If they’re technically in league with CBS/Paramount and the fans, we could have a sharing of the gear as it were.
  5. Keep it Unofficial – Yes even if CBS/Paramount helped in the providing phase to the fans, they would still need remain like Star Wars Extended Universe. Keep it separate but allow it TO EXIST.
  6. Provide these on DVD/BD – CBS/Paramount has stated the fan films were not to do this but if they were to sell them for say $10-$20 to monetize and give some of these profits into the fund I mentioned in #1, then we could still see these and it would be a win win all around.
  7. Remember the Fans – CBS/Paramount seems to have forgotten this since the days of old. I realize it’s a money game, as is the ways of Hollywood but the only reason it still exists is the fanbase of 50 years!

But what do you think? Do you agree with CBS/Paramount or my concept to help the fans? Do you feel like CBS/Paramount is completely justified or do you feel like they’ve slapped the fans in the face and told us to not have fun with it anymore? Sound off below and give me your thoughts.

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Steve "Megatron"

Co-Creator @GeekCastRadio | Creator @AlteredGeek | Voice Actor | Podcaster, Husband | Father | Web/Graphic Design | A/V Editor | Geek of Games, Tech, Film, TV.

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