‘Star Trek’ Fan Film Violates Copyrights on Klingon Language, Vulcan Ears, Says Lawsuit

     March 14, 2016

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At the close of 2015, we reported that Paramount Pictures and CBS had teamed up to file suit over copyright violations of their shared property Star Trek by the planned fan film Axanar and its already-produced Prelude to Axanar. The defendants in this claim, Axanar Productions Inc. and producer Alec Peters, responded with a dismissal notion stating that Paramount/CBS did not provide enough specificity as to the “thousands” of copyright infringements of both the Star Trek TV series and films. Not to be denied, the rights-holders have provided those specifics. And they’re rather silly.

As THR reports, Paramount/CBS responded to a number of counter arguments from Axanar Productions, but the most interesting details of the newly amended complaint include just which specific Star Trek hallmarks the fan-funded film have violated. These include–wait for it–the Klingon language, Vulcan ears, and gold shirts. Take a look at some of the evidence for these claims below:


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Image via Paramount/CBS

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Image via Paramount/CBS


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Image via Paramount/CBS

On one hand, I completely understand the need to defend the companies’ copyrights, especially as both the movie and TV owners of Star Trek are cranking out new installments: Paramount’s Star Trek Beyond and CBS’ untitled 2017 TV series. On that same hand, Axanar Productions raised over $1 million through Kickstarter and Indiegogo for their “fully professional independent Star Trek film” so they put a fairly large target on their own backs and then advertised it, almost daring the rights-holders to try and stop them. I’m fully in support of copyright owners retaining and controlling their intellectual property, even if they do silly things with it like licensing Klingon and Vulcan beer.

On the other hand, the combined juggernaut of the movie/TV studios aren’t just looking to shut down production of an unlicensed film, they’re seeking $150,000 per violation. If they’re actually citing thousands of those violations, that fan-funded piggy bank is going to be shattered very quickly. If we follow this to its logical conclusion in which Paramount/CBS wins and Axanar is forced to pony up the dough, I’ll be curious to see if the small-time production company will violate Kickstarter/Indiegogo’s policies by trying to use that fan-funding to buy their way out of the lawsuit. (And don’t even get me started on whether or not you can copyright a language.)


It’s a crappy situation all around. Here’s how Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin feels about the lawsuit:

I’m sure his studio bosses will be thrilled with that, but at least he’s sticking up for the fans. That makes it slightly more difficult to suggest that, if you support the fan film and decry Paramount/CBS’ decision to squash it, you can always protest by not seeing Star Trek Beyond in theaters on July 22nd.

For more on all things Star Trek, be sure to take a look at some of our recent stories below:


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