Disclaimer 1: This story is in regards to the on-going litigation surrounding a Star Trek "fan film" called "Axanar". If you've never heard about it, don't worry – most fans haven't. It's a tempest in a teapot. For the complete saga, see this very well done website dedicated to the subject: Axamonitor.
Disclaimer 2: I've been called a "hater" of Alec Peters. It's true, but then I hate all narcissistic douchecanoes (thanks Wil Wheaton!) who threaten my life, so...
Dear Mr. Peters: be careful what you wish for.
One of the key elements that Mr. Peters and company have bemoaned during the on-going Axanar litigation was the lack of specific guidelines for Star Trek fan films. For decades, other fan film productions did just fine playing in the Star Trek sandbox without said guidelines, with one even getting tacit approval from CBS/Paramount with their production, providing they didn't cross the line into commerce.
The First Rule of Star Trek Fan Films: Don't Make Money. Second Rule: See Rule Number One.
While this may seem like common sense, apparently Mr. Peters and Company didn't understand that rule. I guess common sense is a rare commodity inside the echo chamber that is Axanar. But, just to make sure going forward that everyone – no matter how dense they might be – understands the rules, CBS and Paramount have now quantified them (found HERE). When all the elements of these guidelines are taken together as a whole, there's only one production that violates every aspect: Axanar. So there can be no doubt that these new rules were written specifically with Axanar in mind. All fan films break some of these rules but, up to now, they didn't shatter them. Only Axanar breaks them all. Breaks them, spits on them and then wipes their ass with them and sets them on fire. And that sucks for all the other fan productions who have tried to play nice in the sandbox for years but are now subject to these new draconian regulations that will cover all productions, all care of Mr. Peters and Axanar.
Make no mistake. Breaking Rule Number One is the equivalent of crapping in the
sandbox. And if my own toddler memories can be relied upon, when you
crap in the sandbox, everybody gets covered in shit.
The folks at Axanar would have us believe that they weren't doing
anything that other fan films haven't been doing for years. That is a
blatant lie that only the stupid would promulgate.
For those not in the know, here are just some of the main highlights of Peters'/Axanar's sandbox crapping:
• Raised over $1,000,000 in the name of Star Trek via crowdfunding
• Used some of that crowdfunding to build a for-profit studio
• Paid himself (Peters) at least $38,000 (that we know of)
• Sold unlicensed "Axanar Coffee" (no, I'm not making that up!)
• Sold unlicensed Axanar model kits
And on and on. Without exception no other fan film production ever did any of these things.
The basic fallout from all this is found in the first of the ten new guidelines:
"1. The fan production must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than 2 segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total, with no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes."
The take-away here is that the most Star Trek any group can ever produce in the future is 30 minutes worth of story, period. No on-going stories, no episodes, no nothing beyond 30 minutes. This means that every existing Star Trek fan production is obsolete because they have already produced more than the 30-minute limit. They're done.
All thanks to Mr. Peters and his colossal ego. Contrary to what he and his rabid followers would have you believe, this is not about huge companies smothering the little guy. Not at all. Rather, this is about a narcissist whose reach exceeded his grasp. He wanted to exploit the property of others for his own personal gain and he got caught. It's no more complex than than that.
Here's a list of known fan productions that can thank Alec Peters for his efforts on their behalf:
Star Trek: Ajax, Ambush, Anthology, Constellation, Continues, Dark Armada,
Excelsior, Farragut, Hood, Intrepid, Lexington, Melbourne, New Voyages,
Pegasus, Phoenix, Potemkin, Renegades, Starbase Studios, Valiant,
ALL of these productions made their contributions to fan films without raising the ire of CBS/Paramount. Then along came Axanar and crapped all over their efforts because Peters couldn't keep his own ego in check.
Well played, Mr. Peters. Well played. I'm sure you are Mr. Popular with the fan film world today.