JJ Abrams makes Paramount drop its lawsuit over fan Star Trek movie

[Read the post]


Every corporation from Paramount to Disney to IKEA seems stubbornly determined to alienate and punish the people giving their products free publicity. At this point it seems to be evil for evil’s sake rather than any actual concerns over protecting their brand.


Okay, show of hands, everyone. Does anyone who is not a lawyer, has not been a lawyer, or is currently studying law think this lawsuit is a good idea?



per Streisand the lawsuit helped to publicise the fan movie and the archaic copyright views of Paramount. kind of a win in my book.


Okay, that’s nice. You got me there, but good. They could have whipped up a lawsuit for the publicity, with plans to drop it at the last moment when everyone is really riled, and blame the nasty lawyers. That would be an awesome scam, and I really wish that was it. Hell, I wish I had thought of it.

I bet it ain’t, tho’. Amirite?


it’s not a win for Paramount, though…



Honestly, though, this is almost enough to make me forgive Abrams for STID.



There are certainly people who think so. You can find them with the googles. I’d rather not link.

I’m confused.
I thought Paramount was allowing Trek fan films to happen.

Some, yes. This one they chose to sue. Now it looks like they’ll back off in some way. We don’t know the details yet; nothing’s yet been filed in the case. (I’m on the PACER NEF list for the case, so I would know immediately if it were.)

Unlike trademark, copyright is not (very roughly speaking) an “enforce it or lose it” situation.


I’ve noticed that too. My guess is that the lawyers know a gravy train when they see one, and they’re really good at scaring executives into signing off on their fees. Right and wrong don’t actually figure into it.



Has an awesomeness sound to it.


I think the legal department leaderships at a lot of entertainment conglomerates really just don’t understand that a lawsuit like this damages the brand they’re tasked with protecting. Passing the bar isn’t easy, but it only requires a knowledge of the law, not the wider context of the domains in which is may be applied. Lawyers aren’t PR experts or marketing experts or experts on the virtues of embracing a strong fanbase. You might think it should be obvious this was a bad idea, but I’ve met a few myopic corporate lawyers in my travels. Not that it makes it okay, hurting your client with bad advice is never okay. But I think their clients like Paramount and Disney should learn to get second opinions beyond their legal eagles advice. I know it seems like this lawsuit is an example of corporate malfeasance for its own sake. But these companies are out to make money and this lawsuit is counterproductive to that pursuit. If they can see that, that attacking the fans is not profitable, they’ll find a profitable way to work with their fanbase instead of against us.


“STID”; Sexually Transmitted Infectious Disease?


I mean, I loathed Star Trek: Into Plotholes more than Star Trek V: The Search for God, and almost as much as I hated Star Trek IX: Flower Power. But Abrams did better than I’d expected on the first Star Trek reboot movie, and I’m willing to hold off the verdict until I see Beyond.


But less fun.


The Star Trek “fan” projects are interestingly cases and more ambiguous than you might think, because they’ve actually been sidling into being large commercial enterprises (no pun intended). The point at which Paramount objected was the point at which they were raising in excess of a million dollars via crowdsourcing which was going to pay for not just well-known actors and sets, but salaries for, it seems, everyone involved. (And, if I remember correctly, some of that money was being spent on things like equipment and stages that were going to be used as the basis for subsequent commercial filmmaking - i.e. they were, in some sense, to some degree, using the Star Trek brand to launch a business.) It could simply be seen as a well-funded indie movie. Since people were actually making money off of it, the fact that they weren’t putting any products up for sale didn’t mean much, especially now that corporate entertainment companies see crowdsourcing as a strategy to use themselves.
Personally, I have no problems with even these kinds of fan films, but I can understand why Paramount lawyers might get worked up by both this particular instance and the precedent it might set. After all, how much money is someone allowed to make off your “intellectual property” before what they’re doing can’t be considered a fan project? (Though I think this is a perfect example supporting an argument for intellectual property reform - after all, Paramount’s “Star Trek” movies share nothing with the original series/films, and could be made by anyone. No one involved in creating the original series is around to be involved or benefits in any way. Why shouldn’t someone who wants to make films truer to the original spirit be allowed to at this point?)


And then there’s the fact that this indie film isn’t taking money away from Paramount. On the contrary, it’s creating support for the franchise which benefits Paramount. Obviously they have a legitimate interest in protecting their copyright. But a Pyrrhic victory is no real victory at all.


IME with lawyers — I’ve had a few — they always take PR into account, not just “can we win this case”.

I would be shocked if media lawyers like Paramount’s did not. It would border on malpractice.

Their bottom line is: make money. Shutting down something that might draw paying fans away from their own release is one way to achieve that — but it is balanced w/ the cost of litigation & the cost of bad PR. (Megacorps aren’t stupidly evil; they’re just amoral.)

One can only assume that their estimate of one of the latter two factors has changed since they filed suit, or that they have gotten close to a settlement that they wanted in the first place. Which, frankly, is how most lawsuits end. The legal stuff (& PR) is usually best viewed as leverage for settlement on one side or the other, not just on its legal merits per se. (There’s always uncertainty in legal cases anyway; parties will settle to avoid the risk that the judge comes down against them.)


But what is it beyond?

1 Like