At last night’s Star Trek fan event, the latest trailer for Star Trek Beyond wasn’t the only newsworthy event: J.J. Abrams announced that Paramount Pictures’ lawsuit against Axanar Productions was “going away.”
io9 was at the fan event, where Abrams noted that Star Trek Beyond’s director, Justin Lin, was outraged at the legal situation that had arisen:
“A few months back there was a fan film, Axonar, that was getting made and there was this lawsuit that happened between the studio and these fans and Justin, I’ll tell the story because he probably wouldn’t, was sort of outraged by this as a long time fan. We started talking about it and realized this was not an appropriate way to deal with the fans.
The fans should be celebrating this thing. Fans of Star Trek are part of this world. So he went to the studio and pushed them to stop this lawsuit and now, within the next few weeks, it will be announced this is going away, and that fans would be able to continue working on their project”
The fan film has been embroiled in legal issues since December when CBS sued it for “direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement.” In April, the Language Creation Society filed an amicus brief in the case, making the argument that the Klingon language isn’t copyrightable.
The reversal of fortunes is good news for Axanar, and for other Star Trek fan productions. “What it means for us is we can breathe again,” Jim Bray, the creator of Star Trek Anthology, noted. “We’ve been holding our breaths waiting for the other shoe to drop when it comes to all the other films.”
That said, the lawsuit has left a chilled environment for the Star Trek fan film community. Bray noted that the lawsuit has left some amateur filmmakers rattled. Donating money to fund a production is “more of a gamble than it was before. I’m very concerned that trust has been broken about this.”
Undoubtably, while productions will be moving forward, they will likely be changing how they fund and produce their films.
Axanar released a statement regarding the news:
While we’re grateful to receive the public support of JJ Abrams and Justin Lin, as the lawsuit remains pending, we want to make sure we go through all the proper steps to make sure all matters are settled with CBS and Paramount. Our goal from the beginning of this legal matter has been to address the concerns of the plaintiffs in a way that still allows us to tell the story of AXANAR and meets the expectations of the over 10,000 fans who financially supported our project.
There is still a lot of work to do, but receiving this kind of public support helps immensely.
Axanar noted that it didn’t know that the announcement would be made during the Friday fan event, and noted that it would be working with counsel this weekend to figure out the next steps, “proceeding with cautious optimism.”
Additional Reporting by Germain Lussier.