Following on the heels of CBS’ extremely detailed lawsuit against the fan film Axanar, we now hear that another Star Trek fan film has been told that it should probably stop. This time, it’s Star Trek: Federation Rising.
Federation Rising was going to be the sequel to last February’s fan film Star Trek: Horizon. It was supposed to begin a $250,000 crowdfunding campaign this Saturday, so it’s kind of a mixed blessing that notice from CBS came when it did. At least there’s no money to return.
Creator Tommy Kraft explained on Facebook what happened, saying in part:
Earlier today, executives from CBS reached out to me and advised me that their legal team strongly suggested that we do not move forward with plans to create a sequel to Horizon. While this is a sign of the current climate that we find ourselves in with Star Trek fan films, I want to personally thank CBS for reaching out to me, rather than including us in their ongoing lawsuit against Axanar.
It was conveyed that the reason CBS was reaching out to me was due to the legal troubles stemming from the Axanar case. Again, CBS did not have to reach out personally. The message I received felt more like they were giving me a heads up before we got too involved in another project, rather than a group of angry executives swinging a hammer.
This sounds like CBS said “We’re not going to sue you (which we could) for money you don’t have... as long as you stop right now.” Given the option between having CBS’ lawyers spend dozens of pages detailing the ways they believe I’ve ripped them off and just ceasing production before anything’s really happened, I know which one I’d pick. And I’d be grateful, too.
It’s an interesting move CBS is taking. The current climate is a lot less hostile to fanworks like fanfic and fanart than they used to be, which also means that fanworks aren’t as underground as they used to be. And so, fan films on the scale of Axanar and Federation Rising—especially when the people involved are asking for other fans to give them money—are probably much more frustrating for studios.
For one thing, the closer the fanwork looks like the original work, the more it likely it is to be copyright infringement. For another, CBS/Paramount is getting ready to launch its own movie and series this year. They certainly don’t want to encourage people to just make their own instead of seeing theirs.
So now we have CBS shutting down both Axanar and Federation Rising. One more and it will be a pattern.