The Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines

I know that a lot of people are angry about the guidelines. Hell, angry is possibly the biggest understatement that I've made on this blog. Now I don't have a dog in this fight so to speak. I don't write fan fiction or make fan films, though I have seen some. But I just remember reading the guidelines and it seemed obvious what they were doing. Paramount/CBS is making it clear what a fan film can be and it  has to be completely different from what they do.

They want a wall (god in this election season I feel horrible using that metaphor) between their Star Trek projects and fan projects with no overlap.

Now anytime that copyright or rights or credit gets discussed online someone chimes in and says, copyright shouldn't exist! I'm not going to get into that. I think corporations have extended copyright and that's absurd but that's not what we're discussing. The point is though that they're saying, do what you want, but it can't be mistaken for what we do on any level.

Now there are two reasons for this. One is simply that a couple people behind Axanar forced their hand as has been discussed elsewhere. Once lawsuits get involved, well, hammers are going fall somewhere somehow.

But the truth is that years ago (hell, not even that long ago) technology was such that a fan project was obvious. There was no way in the 1970's that a fan film would be anything close to what we saw on screen. Today, though, you can create something of broadcast level quality using tools you bought at a big box store

Of course it's still possible to make different things. Go make your 29 minute fan episode of Star Trek. (and as a writer, believe me, shorter is better 99% of the time) Go perform it in the park as a theater show. Go write up a story and post it online. But the rule has always been, you can't make money off it.

The people behind Axanar forced Paramount's hand on this. They wanted to make a film and make money and this is where they got in trouble. This is why most of the people who worked on the project including Christian Gossett and others have said that they were lied to, and have distanced themselves from the project.

Ultimately the thing about fan fiction is: you can not make money off it.

Hell, you can change the names and a few details and publish it as an original work. You can make a parody and publish it and make money. But you cannot write fan fiction of copyrighted material and make money.

Look at 50 Shades of Gray which was Twilight fan fiction where the author changed names and some details. It's huge. That is what's possible.

So either work with these guidelines or make your own thing.

Either watch them or don't.

Maybe this is a sign of how far removed I am from the fan fiction community or maybe it's just a sign of how much of a curmudgeon I am, but I don't get why people are so up at arms over it.

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