Helpful CBS Lawyers Explain the Many, Many Ways a Star Trek Fan Film Is Ripping Them Off

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Remember how CBS is suing to prevent the crowdfunded fan film Axanar from being completed? Now the channel is suing the filmmakers even harder. CBS’s lawyer have submitted 28 pages of documents detailing every possible thing that they claim Axanar infringed on, alleging basically every type of copyright infringement known to man.

After CBS originally filed its motion last December, the defendants—the makers of Axanar—asked for more specificity. Which of the many, many copyrighted parts of Star Trek material were they being accused of infringing on?


Since lawyers love nothing more than responding to those kinds of queries by throwing a giant pile of documents straight into your face, that’s exactly what happened. Twenty-eight pages show original the Star Trek on one side and Axanar on the other, so that even a judge who has managed to never even heard of Star Trek could understand their claim.

The 28 pages of examples range from specific names to broad conceptual notions of Star Trek. I don’t know many legal documents that have a side-by-side comparison of Vulcan ears, for example:


The costume bits don’t sound too damning, until Axanar’s perfect replicas are placed next to stills from the shows. “Uniform with Gold Shirt” sounds like a pretty basic concept, but the outfits worn in Axanar outfit still look a lot like the uniforms worn by Kirk. The most weirdly specific costume bit has to be “Triangular medals on uniform”:


More than once, CBS lists stardates as a copyrighted element. And, of course, how can else anyone speak Klingon, since CBS owns the copyright on the language? (By the way, this lawsuit should be read in the original Klingon, for full effect.)

In case you were wondering what the legal mood and theme of Star Trek was, the amended document describes it as “Science fiction action adventure,” defined thusly:

The mood and theme of Star Trek as a science fiction action adventure first appeared in The Original Series episode “The Cage” (Reg. No. PA 314-430), and has appeared in all subsequent episodes of The Original Series and other derivative Star Trek Copyrighted Works


Honestly, I’d take someone to court over the assertion that the mood and theme of Star Trek is anything that simple.

Here’s the whole amended complaint, if you wish to peruse it:


[The Hollywood Reporter]

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