Friday, January 1, 2016

"Beam Me Up, Scotty. These Paramount lawyers are not part of the Federation and mean us Harm!"



I read on the /Film Entertainment Website, that the crowd funded 'Star Trek' Fan Film, 'Axanar' led to a lawsuit from Paramount and CBS against the filmmakers. 


I think there are a lot of issues regarding this lawsuit, so before I get to the copyright infringement, I want to mention two other related matters.  

I'm still extremely wary of using "Crowd funding" to finance a film (or any large-scale project) because of the potential issues down the line regarding tax liability; and legal liability regarding what is represented during the initial crowd funding pitch and how the results of the production/product can potentially lead to a lawsuit. I understand that crowd funding has helped to offset the loss of Indie film financing (after the 2009 financial crash) for many filmmakers, but I still strongly encourage anyone contemplating doing a crowd funding project to do their financial and legal due diligence before proceeding forward. 


Regarding the copyright situation -- I don’t believe the lawyers working for Paramount woke up a few days ago and just decided to file a lawsuit without any prior contact with the filmmakers behind the fan film. 
The likely scenario is that someone from the legal department at Paramount got in contact with the filmmakers after the crowd funding was a success. The discussion between Paramount legal (“ParaLegal”) and the Star Trek fan filmmakers (“STff”) would most certainly have centered on what STff could, and could not do with their project, definitely warning them about any areas that would be overstepping into copyright infringement. 
I have no inside information about what I write above, but I firmly believe (based on my experience) that something like this probably occurred. Meaning that the studio didn't just land down on these filmmakers overnight. 
It's simply not the way the industry routinely handles their legal business. 

I've already read online posts written by people who are shitting on Paramount for the lawsuit. This leads me to the most essential point of this legal action -- This is about creative copyright. 
It is not about a big corporation crushing the little guy. 
Imagine if you were the creator of something that you wanted to make the most of both creatively and financially — wouldn't you fight to hold on to the right to do both under your terms? 
There is no way a breakdown of copyright can be allowed, even if the violators do a good job in their creation. 
If the artistic copyright wall comes down creators will not be the only ones suffering dire consequences. Such a breach will lead to consumers of any mass entertainment - movies, TV, books, plays, video games, etc. - suffering as well when they see a massive drop off in the quality of future work. 
It makes no difference that the copyright question here has to do with a large corporation. 
This is about the rights of the creator and the rights of their creation being "assimilated" (Star Trek pun intended) by a third party without their blessing.