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Star Trek fans are likely reacting in some way to the news that the Axanar fan film has settled the lawsuit against it filed by CBS and Paramount. Shockingly, the settlement will allow the fan fic film to be made, but just not as a feature length film as originally intended. Also, the settlement includes numerous other demands the fan film must comply with to proceed with the film and all future projects.
The settlement allows Axanar to make their movie, but it must be no more than two 15 minute pieces, and follow all the other fan film guidelines, including not using the name Star Trek. Also, the film cannot have advertising or really attempt to generate revenue in anyway per the guidelines CBS and Paramount released for fan films to not be objectionable.
Set Phasers to Settlement
While the settlement seems to allow Axanar off the hook for their alleged violations of the copyright, the fact that a jury was going to be deciding the fate of the film was something CBS and Paramount likely did not want to risk.
A jury verdict in favor of the fan film could have set a dangerous precedent in the industry. Settling the case completely avoids that risk, as well as allows them to control the outcome.
Fans Giving It All They've Got, Captain!
The initial 20 minute teaser/movie, Prelude to Axanar, which is available on YouTube, was allowed to stay online as part of the settlement. However, that video generated enough buzz that Axanar was able to crowdfund nearly a million dollars to continue production, which is likely what spurred the lawsuit. The CBS and Paramount guidelines limit fundraising to $50,000.
Generally, fan fiction pieces are going to violate copyright laws. However, most copyright holders don't enforce the copyright laws unless the fan fiction creator is doing something to damage the original author or the copyright holder's reputation, or ability to make money with their copyright. Also, if the fan fiction creator is making money by violating the copyright, the copyright holder is likely to want to put an end to that as well as seek to recover monetary damages.