Paramount is suing a group - or, to use the proper collective noun, a Tribble - of Star Trek aficionados for making a fan film which it says steals from Star Trek.
The complaint the movie studio's lawyers have filed is a strong contender for the geekiest thing ever to be researched, written, paginated and proof read. It is a treasure trove of Trek trivia, detailing the first appearance of everything from "Planet Archanis IV" to the "Teachings of Surak". Its existence means that an actual attorney had to actually type, "Klingonese is the native language of Qo'noS" to get paid.
At the risk of incurring the wrath of Gorn -
|"What's cooking gang?"
Not now Gorn - here are the highlights of Paramount's complaint.
1. The disputed work is called Prelude to Axanar.
That title is helpful to Paramount, since Prelude to Axanar is the Star Trekkiest thing in the history of Star Trek. Alec Peters, its writer and producer, has made several other Trek fan films, including Star Trek: Renegades and Star Trek Voyages Phase II: Mind-Sifter. Yes, he's quite a fan. Here he is ready for bed:
2. The hero is called Garth.
The plot of Prelude to Axanar, its makers promise, answers the question, "How did Garth of Izar come to be regarded as the greatest Starfleet Captain of his time?" Burdened with the name Garth, it must have been difficult. In fact, given that the hero's name is Garth, Paramount's whinge looks a shade inflated. Was it ever going to build a movie franchise, a TV series, an episode, a webisode, a podcast, even a chat at the urinals, around someone called 'Garth of Izar'? Star Trek stars have always been alpha specimens with solid, square-jawed names. Spot the odd one out:
- James T. Kirk
- Jonathan Archer
- Benjamin Sisko
- Kathryn Janeway
- Jean-Luc Picard
- Garth of Izar
|"I found a Coke can. I made a crown out of it. I am Garth of Izar."
If this fellow is integral to Paramount's franchise, it's in trouble.
3. Lawyers had to cut and paste pictures of Klingons.
Garth isn't the only alleged infringement. Paramount's team cites loads, which required hard-working attorneys to cancel social engagements to list. Someone missed a funeral for this:
No detail was too small:
Paramount has demanded $150,000 from the fans in respect of their alleged triangular medal infringement, and every other instance of infringement, too. It will presumably settle for Peters scrubbing the film from YouTube. But perhaps he should fight? Because:
4. Paramount's lawyers got Vulcans wrong.
The 'Vulcan' used to illustrate Paramount's complaint is Spock, who is not technically a Vulcan. He's half Vulcan! His mum was human! Fools! Only a complete newb would make that mistake.
5. Paramount's lawyers debased themselves to make this claim.
You're an associate at Loeb & Loeb LLP. You don't like or understand Star Trek. At high school you were into track and field. In fact, you mocked the kids who stayed inside during breaks to shout "Make it so" at each other. Instead of mucking about, you fought your way to law school. You incurred $160,000 of debt. And now here you are, at two in the morning, poring over pictures of Garth of fucking Izar, to make this:
6. Paramount's lawyers are sneaky.
Witness some classic litigation pick 'n choose:
Paramount's attorneys bold underline the fans' claim that their short film "will be Star Trek", an incriminating admission of copying, but don't highlight their subsequent promise: "like you have never seen it before", which indicates the opposite.
Although Prelude to Axanar does look exactly like Star Trek.
7. They miss the answer.
Peters has argued that homages like his are free advertising for Star Trek, and it's reasonable to ask what on Archanis IV Paramount is thinking. After all, hardcore Trekkies like Peters kept the flame alive during dark times for Trek, like that series with the Quantum Leap guy in it, and are loyal ticket buyers. Why close them down now?
The problem is that they got too good at dressing up. Fan films used to feature incredible bodyshapes stuffed into tunics throwing themselves over cardboard consoles in a garage, whereas Prelude to Axanar looks pretty professional. You could almost mistake it for an official product. With Peters raising funds to film a feature-length sequel, Axanar, it's not so surprising that Paramount is taking action.
The solution, I would suggest, is for the parties to agree that he can make his movie, but only using cloth, rubber and cardboard. Then it will look like this, and everyone will be happy: