The Star Trek lawsuit drama over the Axanar fan film has been going on for a while, and it seems like the Star Trek rights holders are determined to shut the film down one way or another. Guidelines for fan productions were designed so that films like Axanar couldn’t be made, while CBS and Paramount have been aggressive in their efforts to make sure that the film gets shut down for good. It seemed like all of the legal drama was finally going away, though, when director J.J. Abrams commented at a Star Trek event that the lawsuit should go away soon.
That’s apparently not the case, however. The lawsuit continues to move forward, with CBS and Paramount now claiming that Abrams’ comments have no bearing on the case since he is simply a third party and not an authorized representative of the companies’ interests.
Originally, Abrams stated that he and Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin had gone to the studio heads and convinced them to drop the lawsuit; he said that an announcement that the lawsuit was being dropped should come “within a few weeks.” That didn’t happen, however, and THR reveals that the Axanar defense team requested copies of any communications that CBS and Paramount had with Abrams or Lin about the film. According to the Axanar legal team:
“Statements that Star Trek belongs to all of us and that the lawsuit is ridiculous and was going to be ‘dropped’ is relevant to the impact on the market prong of the fair use analysis, and Plaintiffs utter lack of damages. Though these documents and deposition testimony are directly relevant to demonstrating the impact of the Axanar Works on the market for the Star Trek Copyrighted Works, and Plaintiffs’ allegations of willful infringement, Plaintiffs have either refused to produce, or produced insufficient documents.”
CBS and Paramount refuted this claim as irrelevant, however, and maintain that the film infringes on their intellectual property:
“First, statements made in May of 2016, six months after the filing of this suit, could not possibly have any bearing on Defendants’ ‘state of mind’ when they created the infringing works. Second, Defendants have provided no authority for the proposition that their subjective ‘belief’ has any bearing on whether or not they committed copyright infringement, or on whether or not Plaintiffs’ were damaged by that infringing conduct.”
TorrentFreak revealed further filings from the case in which CBS/Paramount refused to supply the requested communications because they were not relevant, and questioned whether they even existed. They also detailed why Abrams and Lin’s comments have no bearing on the case:
“J.J. Abrams is a producer/director of certain Star Trek Copyrighted Works and Justin Lin was the director of Star Trek Beyond. Neither Mr. Abrams nor Mr. Lin is an authorized representative of either of the Plaintiffs.”
“A third party’s statement about the merits of this lawsuit has absolutely no bearing on the amount of money Defendants’ obtained by their infringing conduct, nor does it bear on any other aspect of damages.”
While it’s possible that a peaceful resolution will still be found, CBS and Paramount seem to be doubling down on their claim and pressing forward with the lawsuit. Screen Rant will keep you updated as more twists and turns emerge in this lawsuit drama.