Iím just asking the questionóWhere is the line drawn, here? When do fan productions stray too far, and, on the flipside, when do corporations come across as Goliath unnecessarily beating down David rather than merely protecting their assets?
I donít really have an answer, myself. However, Iím interested in seeing what yíall have to say. And, of course, JB has worked on actual licensed STAR TREK products for CBS, so he has an insiderís perspective.
Personally, I vote with my wallet. I have zero interest in STD, and therefore I havenít subscribed to it or purchased any related merchandise. Nor have I resorted to extralegal means to watch it without paying for it. Meanwhile, I DO support officially-licensed products like NEW VISIONS, because thatís the sort of STAR TREK product I want to see more of. So, Iíve purchased both the individual issues as well as the trade collections.
I may be a passionate STAR TREK fan, but Iím not the type who would go off and create his own, unlicensed fan production. Nor would I pay to support such fan productions. Iíd rather support the official productions when I deem them worthy. AXANAR didnít do anything for me, and I donít have a dog in that race. I enjoyed STAR TREK CONTINUES, but was a bit uneasy at the showís use of actors, writers, and directors from actual STAR TREK productions. That really blurred the line between amateur fan production and unlicensed, illegal production which could generate brand confusion.
The Internet is full of unlicensed fan art, merchandise, video clips, etc. The bulk of which are non-profit and therefore ďharmlessĒ. So, the question then becomes, ďWhich sort of non-profit projects step over the line into territory thatís potentially harmful to the IP and its owners?Ē. Most of these non-profit projects (fan art, etc.) are just paying tribute to STAR TREK, or are artistic expressions of fans who love the IP. Others are deliberately and illegally profiting from copyrighted material.
Obviously, there are a ton of passionate fans out there who A) Are passionate enough and inspired enough to want to play with toys which are legalled owned by someone else; B) Are so dissatisfied with the official product that they begin producing their own versions so as to fill that void.
Of course, STAR TREK certainly owes its continued existence and longevity to the grassroots fan movement of the 70s. All of those unlicensed fanzines, props, costumes, and artwork kept the flame alive, and convinced Paramount that there was a market out there demanding new STAR TREK.
Fans could certainly be inspired enough by their love of STAR TREK to create their own derivative works, merely inspired by STAR TREK. Heck, Seth MacFarlane pitched a TREK series to CBS, and, when they turned him down, he went an created THE ORVILLE so as to scratch that itch. THE ORVILLE is (in theory) protected, since itís a parody/homage, but it does at times skew pretty darn close to its inspiration. Close, but not too close.
On the flipside, you have fan projects like AXANAR and STAR TREK CONTINUES, both of which use characters and concepts taken directly from the IP owned by CBS. Alec Peters and AXANAR made the huge mistake of creating and selling merchandise based on their fanfilm, which they profited from. Which led to CBS rightfully bringing the hammer down. However, this also ruined the fanfilm gig for everyone, even the non-profit productions, since CBS subsequently deemed it necessary to establish a strict (and crippling) set of rules for all future fan productions.
Previously, both CBS/Paramount and Lucasfilm turned a blind eye to fanfilms, as long as they didnít profit from them, or misrepresent them as being an official, licensed product. And Lucasfilm even held fanfilm award events to celebrate both the films and the sense of community which they generated.
Now, things seem to have degenerated into pure lawsuit and C&D territory. And this isnít helping fan relations with these corporations, since numerous fandoms have developed increasingly contentious relationship with the holders of their beloved IPs. Iím not saying that IP holders should kowtow to fans who overstep their bounds, but this STAGE 9 thing, among other events, is not exactly generating warm feelings between the fans and the IP holders.