CBS and Paramount recently filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the creators of Prelude to Axanar, a Star Trek fan film with a $1 million budget. The creators of the film argue that their use of elements from the Star Trek franchise constitutes fair use — especially considering the lax attitude the studios have taken with fan films in the past. Partner Dean Cheley provided legal insight into the controversy in an interview with Reason TV.
“You should be able to use a certain amount of copyrighted works in order to do things like commentary and critique,” Dean said.
Dean observed that fair use might not be enough to protect the film under the eyes of the law. However, that does not mean that CBS should necessarily proceed with shutting down the project.
“If it’s using characters and plot lines and copyrighted elements to simply create a new original story, in this instance a prequel, it’s unlikely that that would be a fair use,” he said. “While legally I think that CBS might have a legitimate claim on its hands, I don’t think it’s in their best interest to pursue it. You don’t want to police this type of fan creation to such an extent that you’re really disenfranchising your audience.”