Friday, January 1, 2016

To boldy infringe...

Hey remember the good old days when you could just up and make a crowd-funded fan movie based on intellectual property owned by a massive corporation? No? Well, you could until Paramount suddenly decided it wasn't cool.
"Copyright schmopyright, go nuts." 
-Paramount Pictures official stance
on fan-films, until like, Wednesday
Remember the one about Newt Gingrich
and his slave-children on the moon?
You don't? I see how it is.
What the hell am I talking about? Remember back in June of 2014 when we talked about-huh? You mean you don't commit every post on this blog to memory or periodically review older posts on the off chance that a topic might come up again? I...I had no idea. I guess the truth comes out, huh? I suppose I should be glad you told me but still, stings you know? Anyway, here, click on this. Or just wait until I give up and summarize for you, like I always do. You know, we should really have a long talk about where this relationship is going.

You heard me.
Ok, so back in June of 2014, a group of trekkies released a sort of teaser trailer for their homemade Star Trek movie, Axanar. It's based on some vaguely referenced space war that happens after Star Trek: Enterprise (the one with Scott Bakula) but before the original Trek series. Anyway, because fans are hungry for new Star Trek that isn't all rehashed plot lines, explosions and Beastie Boys soundtracks, the project took in a ton of funding, beating its Kickstarted goal by all the money in the world (or something).

Fan-made Star Trek isn't anything new, nerds have been doing it for years. Sure, a lot of it is poorly acted fanon filmed in front of a green screen in someone's laundry room, but some of it is pretty well done.
Of course the laundry-room stuff outnumbers
the professional stuff by a fairly wide margin.
They got Chekov, Uhura and, uh,
Cameron from Ferris Bueller's
Day Off.'s a long story.
The New Voyages series has authentic-looking sets and impressive special effects and Of Gods and Men stars a Comic-Con's worth of former cast members lending it an air of legitimacy even if the story is an an incoherent jumble of fan fiction. The important thing is that up until now, Paramount has apparently not minded if serious fans want to shoot their own Star Trek shows as long as they don't make any money off of it. But then suddenly they did mind. Like, out of nowhere.

"We're simply leveraging our branding
so as to better monetize our content."
On Wednesday, Paramount and CBS announced that they'd be suing the shit out the people behind Axanar. How come?

"The producers of Axanar are making a Star Trek picture they themselves describe as a fully professional independent Star Trek film. Their activity clearly violates our Star Trek copyrights, which, of course, we will continue to vigorously protect."

-Paramount explaining that they're suing their
 own fans for having good production values

The company is asking for an injunction and damages which, wait, damages? How are they 'damaged' by it, if hasn't even come out yet? Hey, can the fans sue for sitting through Nemesis? That was pretty damaging...
Pictured: A scene from Star Trek: Nemesis in which Captain Picard
is menaced by his clone, who's also a vampire I guess. It's kind of a blur.
Again, a zero percent chance of confusing
 fan-made Star Trek for the real thing.
Ok, Paramount does kind of have point. I get that they've got to be able to exercise control over their intellectual property. There's a new movie coming out this year and a new series in 2017, but c'mon. This film was not going to 'dilute their brand' of whatever the company is afraid of. Nobody's going to mistake fan films for official productions. Also, Axanar was going to be freely available on the internet, it's not like they're taking money away from Paramount. If anything, cracking down on it will do more to damage the studio in the long run.

I mean, they're suing the very fanbase that's kept Star Trek popular (and profitable) for like fifty years. These are people who love Star Trek so much they're willing and eager to put on ill-fitting costumes and immortalize their geekery on the internet for all time. Not for money, but for the love of their nerdom. Going after them is not only a dick move, but it also seems like it'd be bad for business.
To be clear, this is a fandom that spends weeks sewing costumes,
spirit-gum-ing forehead-ridges to their face and making their own
bat'leths. What I'm saying is, don't make an enemy of these people.

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