Last December, Paramount Pictures and CBS Corp. filed a lawsuit against Alec Peters and Axanar Productions for copyright infringement regarding Star Trek.
Stating he was making a fan-film and couldn’t understand why he was being sued, Peters told The Hollywood Reporter he’d long “asked CBS to give [him] guidelines similar to what Lucasfilm had done for fans of Star Wars” fan-films. Any infringement was only because no clear rules existed.
“There is nothing,” Alec later wrote on his website, “that the Axanar team would like to see more than a set of guidelines from CBS so all fan-films can operate in a way that benefits everyone.”
This past week, Paramount and CBS released those long-requested guidelines, a common set of rules which, if followed, both corporations say they “will not object to, or take legal action against” any fan-film production that follows them. Shortly after the rules were published, Axanar director Robert Meyer Burnett labeled them “draconian,” a term that has since been picked up by others and used in numerous conversations.
But, are these rules “draconian.” If so, how? And in comparison to what?
To answer those questions, I made a side-by-side breakdown of the Star Trek guidelines vs. Star Wars rules. Wherever possible, I tried to make a direct comparison using Trek as the starting point and referencing the comparable language in the Star Wars licensing agreement/entry form. Here I will summarize the endless similarities between the two sets of rules, with an eye to addressing the most common objections floating around the Web. From time to time, I’ll use the general “you” to refer to a hypothetical fan-filmmaker.