Is there actually some sort of definitive document of any kind that spells out what trek fan productions can and can't do? It seems to be something amorphous that is passed around via word of mouth only.
My interpretation is that you can not "profit" from it. But I have noticed that the larger productions like Phase II that accept donations do so through a non-profit corporation. This is to, I presume, provide a proper accounting for money taken in and money spent.
I think in some cases it would be very hard to track "cost" on a fan production. What if someone is attempting to do the entire work themselves, such as me? Can I bill myself for hiring myself? If I have to work on it fulltime and not have a dayjob, can I bill myself a living wage? I'm probably unique in not currently having a dayjob to pay the bills. So my "price" to do Fem Trekz would be my living expenses. I'm pretty sure CBS would not like that. So even if I formed a non-profit and threw the project on Kickstarter, if they actually ran through the figures, they would say it's bogus and I am effectively making a "living" off of my show.
Similarly, if I were to hire a freelancer to work on this, as I have in the past, and used the funds to pay them, what's the difference between paying them and paying myself? Are they not, for the duration of the contract, a part of the crew? Am I NOT a part of the crew? Cost is cost, whether they are a 3rd party or not. Cost is not simply lumber and paint and computer hardware and software. It's labor.
So I think the instant you take donations for a fan production you create an accounting nightmare. It's fine as long as CBS doesn't complain, but if they do, then I'm sure they could find issue in one thing or another.
When I read through Farragut's press releases, for instance, I get the sense that there is a very fine line between the fan production wing that will make Continues and their profit wing that provides production services for others. One could argue that Continues is a promotional vehicle for the profitable wing. Indirectly, therefore, the fan production is meant to gain Farragut Films credibility and future business. Would that be considered a violation?
Likewise, my intention has always been to use the work on Fem Trekz to further my career just as a demo reel. Is that equally indirectly "for profit"?
And can we sell DVDs as long as we only break-even? And I've heard conflicting things about showing work at conventions. Phase II showed a rough-cut of Kitumba at a convention, for instance. Why is that considered OK? (I think barring fan films from conventions is pretty stupid, IMHO.)
So it just seems like a total mine-field to me, and the only thing I wouldn't do is try to take donations or put things on kickstarter. But then you have Renegades going on Kickstarter. Would CBS slap-down two Trek veterans over this? If they wouldn't, are they just giving them special privileges and engaging in selective enforcement?
So it really would be beneficial for there to be some official statement issued.