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CBS Paramount Pictures Release Strict Guidelines for Star Trek Fan Films

Star Trek is big.  That is a fact.  It is one of the most iconic television shows from each decade that it had new episodes airing.  Starting in the second half of the last century, Star Trek has been around for quite a while and signs usually point to it being around even longer.  Recently, CBS and Paramount Pictures released new, stricter, guidelines for Star Trek fan films.  This is not good, folks.

There are 10 rules setting new standards for fans that wish to continue making films using Star Trek copyrights and trademarks in any way and avoid legal action.

Basically, fans are screwed.

Let’s go down the list and see what we have here:

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. 

Okay, so anyone making any fan films based in the Star Trek universe are limited in time allotted.  Okay.  Sucks but this is their property.

2- The title of the fan production or any parts cannot include the name “Star Trek.” However, the title must contain a subtitle with the phrase: “A STAR TREK FAN PRODUCTION” in plain typeface. The fan production cannot use the term “official” in either its title or subtitle or in any marketing, promotions or social media for the fan production.

Okay, they are simply protecting their official properties from fan productions in hopes of stopping confusion with the rest of the fan base.  No biggie.

3- The content in the fan production must be original, not reproductions, recreations or clips from any Star Trek production. If non-Star Trek third party content is used, all necessary permissions for any third party content should be obtained in writing.

Okay, now we are getting a little rough with the rules.  This SEVERELY limits fans in creating “fan films”.  Basically this just makes EVERYTHING fans make “non-canon” which is surely understood already by fans.

4- If the fan production uses commercially-available Star Trek uniforms, accessories, toys and props, these items must be official merchandise and not bootleg items or imitations of such commercially available products.

This one is kind of a dick move.  You can’t make money off the fan film (understandable) but for you to make that film “legally” it better use nothing but officially licensed props, clothing, etc (that CBS and Paramount are earning licensing royalties, possibly more, off of).

5- The fan production must be a real “fan” production, i.e., creators, actors and all other participants must be amateurs, cannot be compensated for their services, and cannot be currently or previously employed on any Star Trek series, films, production of DVDs or with any of CBS or Paramount Pictures’ licensees.

This is one of those “blanket” statements that would be hard for a fan to really enforce (Star Trek is a far reaching product).  It would probably be easy for CBS and Paramount Pictures to use in potential lawsuits over someone that may have been a lighting guy on a Star Trek episode but “star” in a fan film or something similar.

6-  The fan production must be non-commercial:

  • CBS and Paramount Pictures do not object to limited fundraising for the creation of a fan production, whether 1 or 2 segments and consistent with these guidelines, so long as the total amount does not exceed $50,000, including all platform fees, and when the $50,000 goal is reached, all fundraising must cease.
  • The fan production must only be exhibited or distributed on a no-charge basis and/or shared via streaming services without generating revenue.
  • The fan production cannot be distributed in a physical format such as DVD or Blu-ray.
  • The fan production cannot be used to derive advertising revenue including, but not limited to, through for example, the use of pre or post-roll advertising, click-through advertising banners, that is associated with the fan production.
  • No unlicensed Star Trek-related or fan production-related merchandise or services can be offered for sale or given away as premiums, perks or rewards or in connection with the fan production fundraising.
  • The fan production cannot derive revenue by selling or licensing fan-created production sets, props or costumes.

Again, this is understandable.  They don’t want fans making money off of non-official product.  Want to sell your work?  Pay the fees to license it.

7- The fan production must be family friendly and suitable for public presentation. Videos must not include profanity, nudity, obscenity, pornography, depictions of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or any harmful or illegal activity, or any material that is offensive, fraudulent, defamatory, libelous, disparaging, sexually explicit, threatening, hateful, or any other inappropriate content. The content of the fan production cannot violate any individual’s right of privacy.

This is also understandable.  CBS and Paramount Pictures is just protecting their property from “slander” or damage by fan films.

8- The fan production must display the following disclaimer in the on-screen credits of the fan productions and on any marketing material including the fan production website or page hosting the fan production:

“Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made film intended for recreational use.  No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.”

This is, again, understandable.  They simply want to make sure that fan productions are distanced from officially licensed materials.

9- Creators of fan productions must not seek to register their works, nor any elements of the works, under copyright or trademark law.

Another understandable rule.  If they don’t enforce this then there is a chance a fan could possibly tie up production of new official movies, television shows and other related content in court battles.  Totally understandable rule.

10-Fan productions cannot create or imply any association or endorsement by CBS or Paramount Pictures.

Again, they have to distance fan product.  Totally understandable rule.

There you have it.  Some really wild rules coupled with some honest to goodness decent ones.  What are your thoughts on these rules?

Source: StarTrek.com/fan-films

Carl Williams

It is time gaming journalism takes its rightful place as proper sources and not fanboys giving free advertising. If you wish to support writers like Carl please use the links below.

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  • Darth Trulane

    The new Star Trek fan film guidelines are draconian and shows that CBS/Paramount is 100% tone deaf regarding their relationship with the very fans they aim to serve.

    • Carl Williams

      I agree. They are really hurting the very fans that make the product so much money in the first place.

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