Axanar Productions Files Second Motion to Dismiss Against CBS/Paramount in Copyright Lawsuit

The next phase of the lawsuit between CBS and Paramount Pictures and Axanar Productions, headed by Alec Peters, has begun, with the latter filing a motion to dismiss the copyright infringement lawsuit brought by the two production companies.

The motion, filed on March 28, is the second such attempt at dismissal since plaintiffs CBS and Paramount brought the suit against Peters and Axanar Productions’ Star Trek fan film, Axanar, in late December. CBS and Paramount claim the fan feature film and its prequel, Prelude to Axanar, violates their Star Trek intellectual property copyright.

In their motion for dismissal, Peters and his team claimed that Axanar and its prequel contains, among other things, elements not protected by copyright, that the allegations made by CBS/Paramount aren’t specific enough. Also, because Axanar has not been released yet, an attempt to halt production would be considered censorship.

“Given that [CBS and Paramount’s] list of allegedly infringing elements is non-exhaustive, [Axanar Productions] have no way of determining which copyrights, or how many copyrights, [they] allegedly infringed among the ‘more than 700’ copyrights that [CBS and Paramount] allege they own,” states the court document. “Given the vast differences among the motion pictures, television series, and episodes, more specificity is needed.”

Peters and Axanar Productions also claim that certain elements, such as the words Vulcan, Nausicaa, Rigel, Terra, and Warp Drive, are terms not exclusive to Star Trek and therefore cannot be copyrighted by CBS and Paramount. Axanar Productions also claims that the Klingon language, a property the television studios claim they own, can’t be copyrighted thanks to the language being “an idea or a system.” They use the 1879 case Baker v. Selden as precedent, which upheld that a book did not give the author the right to prevent others from practicing what was described in the book.

CBS and Paramount have long held the rights to the Star Trek television and movie properties, respectively, and have generally encouraged fan productions in the past. However, they brought a lawsuit against Axanar Productions, even though Prelude to Axanar and Axanar are not designed to make money. Even so, Axanar Productions have said they are reworking the script in light of the lawsuit.

Axanar earned $638,471 from more than 8,500 backers in its Kickstarter campaign last year, with an additional $574,434 raised from Indiegogo. The film stars Star Trek alumni Tony Todd., J.G. Hertzler, and Gary Graham, along with Richard Hatch, Kate Vernon, and Peters himself.

The next phase of the case begins on April 18, when both sides will submit their discovery plans, the process where each party obtains evidence to use in the lawsuit. The full court document detailing Axanar Production’s motion can be viewed here.

(photo: Star Trek Axanar)

Kyle Hadyniak

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At 22 years old, Kyle Hadyniak has been a lifelong Star Trek fan. A graduate student at the University of Maine, Kyle spends his time either doing school work, playing music, reading history, or studying a replica of the Enterprise-E he has above his desk.

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  • Anthony Shuh

    The Axanar defense team is grabbing air, there is no way this case will not go to court and Alec Peters knows that court will be the end to his money train project ! Now he’s actually saying in his defense that Axanar isn’t even produced yet and he’s right it hasn’t, however this should show everybody who contributed to this project how easy Alec dumps it to save him the court judgement with the fines – all to late now ! Most of the Trek based fan productions are entertaining and have good intentions, however this Axanar film had many red flags – renting a massive overpriced warehouse in Los Angeles, spending crowdfunding money in decorating and furnishing your offices before the first set was even built, outright selling branded copyright articles in your store including shirts which even steal the cartoon Minons character, then add giving yourself and anyone who’s on your buddy list a salery to build this project – forget about this entire project being conceived so it can be the smokescreen for forming a for-profit company using crowdfunding money !
    Now they even have a few stooges touring the warehouse and putting out PR bullshit to keep the supportive fans from crying foul !
    The mistake was the making of “Prelude to Axanar” and “Introduction to Axanar” which is all solid evidence which CBS/Paramount will use to show clear violations of copyright have already been produced – Axanar is dead in the water !

    • James Stephen Edge

      If CBS/Paramount want to sink Axanar they can just like any other fan made production, the only question has historically been are they willing to suffer the resulting wrath/disgust of Star Trek fans and damage to their public image. Previously the answer has been no however the amount of donations Axanar received has meant it’s quality has surpassed that of any previous dan film and it’s trailer looks significantly better than those of CBS/Paramount’s recent Star Trek films so now they will probably see the backlash they will take from sinking it as the least damaging course of action.

  • ericphillips

    I hope CBS does not get so tired of this garbage they pull the plug on all fan films.

  • j4m3S

    http://axamonitor.com/doku.php?id=winston_strawn

    I feel so sorry for the Donors – Their money is not going on the film they donated to while Axanar keep fighting this the donations they gave may or may not be used to pay fees etc..

    As : …..

    Pro-bono does NOT! Mean completely free at no cost to the party who they are representing.

    This means the billable hours for the law firm have been waved but the other expenses such as court Filing costs, courts fees, third-party service fees, courier fees, travel expenses stuff like that. All they got is a free lawyer, everything else that costs have to come out of their pocket.

    So what does that mean well tbh i am not totally sure as Alec himself may! Be paying for this out of his own pocket or this money may be coming from the nice amount of money that has been raised by donors.

    SO the claim by Alec Peters of “no donor money will be used for legal costs” may or may not be true only Axanar knows this.

    Either way this is not a good thing as unlike CBS/Paramount who have millions in a legal budget (at a guess it may be more or less but you can be certain they will not run out of money before Axanar do)Axanar do not have this thus meaning at some point the money that they are using will run out and mean the legal fight will become untenable to them which will leave them with only 3 options but to stop the fight, Hope W&S wave all costs or hope they can get free legal aid.

  • James Stephen Edge

    CBS/Paramount should be ashamed of themselves, they have never tried to block fan made films before, their only issue here is that because people donated money to this one the production value is higher and it’s making their own NuTrek films look lame by comparison!

  • Anthony Shuh

    If your interested how this is going to play out in court, and it doesn’t look promising for Alec Peters, Axanar, and those poor fans who contribhttp://www.webcitation.org/66nXqShx7uted see:

  • Walt

    I’m boycotting CBS and Paramount until they drop this crap. Into Darkness sucked, Beyond looks worse, and they obviously have no idea what they’re doing. The only problem they have with Axanar is that it’s better than the garbage they’re producing.