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The New Guidelines For Star Trek Fan Films Are Here, and They’re Pretty Strict

The New Guidelines For Star Trek Fan Films Are Here, and They’re Pretty Strict

It’s a weird time to be a Star Trek fan. We haven’t had TV show since Star Trek: Enterprise (though some fans would respond with, “what’s that?”) and the new Abrams-verse movies are retellings of stories we know (and admittedly love).  So as fans, we’ve generally been subsisting on officially licensed stories in novels and video games (like Star Trek Online) and fan-made productions like Star Trek Continues and Star Trek New Voyages.

With Justin Lin’s new Trek movie set to release, a new Trek series just on the horizon, and – probably more pertinently – amidst the Axanar lawsuit, CBC and Paramount have released guidelines for fan-produced projects, promising not to sue the comm-badges off of fans provided they work within these rules. While we were hopeful when CBS announced they were working on creating fan-project guidelines, many fans are disappointed by how restrictive they are, and how they may actually hinder the future projects the likes of  Star Trek Continues and Star Trek New Voyages. 

Reading the guidelines, it’s pretty clear that a lot of these rules are informed by the ongoing litigation about Axanar.  Specifically:

  • 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.
  • 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.

And:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Given that Axanar’s production team includes several people who have worked on Star Trek projects, that’s a serious obstacle.  And yes, the project’s $1.2M crowdsourced funding drive further did inform the guidelines.

What’s interesting is how these guidelines have also made the kinds of beloved fan-made projects like Star Trek: Gods of Men (which included performances from Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols) now impossible, unless you’re willing to face down CBS & Paramount’s legal team.

In the midst of all this, it seems that Paramount and CBS aren’t backing off from litigation against Axanar, despite JJ Abrams and Justin Lin’s protestations.

What do you think of the guidelines? Which are your favorite Star Trek Fan productions? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured Image Credit: William Tung -Flickr (CC 2.0 – Cropped)


Teri Litorco is a YouTuber, past Geek & Sundry Vlogger, and all-around tabletop gaming geek. She’s also a HUGE Star Trek fan, co-hosting a Twitter discussion about various episodes of Trek called #StarTrekHour every Tuesday at 1PM PT.  Find her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

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