Mallory, the head of CBS legal, is in contact with James and I constantly; and, frankly, "they" are on our website and forums on a daily basis. She is the "recently new sheriff in town" and since she took over, spent some time going through sites one at a time and contacting the folks involved. If you run a fan film that is currently in production and have not heard from her, expect to.
Because of our visibility, New Voyages/Phase II actually faces stricter standards than other fan films...and we are happy to comply with every one of their requests. Every contact with them has been overwhelmingly pleasant.
In general, the guidelines are:
- you cannot use the word "Official" in anything with the words "Star Trek" in it.
- you cannot use ANY elements from the movie directed by JJ Abrams. That includes uniforms or the universe established by it. (In other words, if you are talking about Pike and George on the Kelvin in your fan film, they are going to yank it.)
- you cannot sell DVDs, posters, or other merchandise with the word "Star Trek" on it. Giving such things away is a grey area that fan films would do well to avoid.
- you cannot use any images from the licensed franchise. ("free use" clips not included.)
- you cannot use anything that Desilu/CBS/Paramount/Viacom/etc has paid for at any time in the past. The franchise is alive again and they may want to use it themselves...even if the script or concept drawing is 50 years old. (That's why you'll never see James Cawley selling the patterns Bill Theiss willed him.)
- anything with the words "Star Trek" on it must also have the following statement on it, or one like it provided by CBS legal. "STAR TREK and all related marks, logos and characters are owned by CBS Studios Inc. “********”, the website, the promotion thereof and/or any exhibition of material created by ******* are not endorsed or sponsored by or affiliated with CBS/Paramount Pictures or the STAR TREK franchise."
If you run any site that has any copyrighted material on it, or deals with Star Trek, you would do yourself a favor and buy endless good will with TPTB by going right now and adding that disclaimer to every page in it. It's the least you can do to show you respect their rights and show that you acknowledge what you owe them.
- you cannot ask or take donations or contributions to generally fund your production, fan film, or studio connected to it. (Hence the "donate here" button C&D from CBS that went out to most fan film sites in the last year.) Frankly, there is no way to prove that you are not making a profit from such donations. (other than a very long accounting process to CBS)
- you can ask for donations for a specific purpose. "Please help us buy a keg of beer" "please help us pay the electric bill". "Please help us buy a plane ticket". CBS is okay with those. Perhaps because for these kinds of things, if CBS ever wanted an accounting it would be easy to do... "we got $ and here is the bill we paid with it." The PayPal buttons on our site fall into this category. So does our Indiegogo campaign. We are not asking for donations to "fund the production". We are asking for donations to pay very specific bills associated with this one shoot, which can be quickly detailed to CBS legal. (For that reason "Kickstarter" campaigns immediately qualify as a no-no: as Kickstarter requires the campaigns on it's site to be funding an entire project, not just a piece of it.)
I agree with both Linnear and Potempkin Productions. The above guidelines, given by CBS legal, are helpful to share with all fans, and can only buy goodwill with CBS as people that could be contacted comply with them before that email comes.
On the other hand, there have been many conversations with Mallory regarding Phase II or the people involved in it or work that we are doing that are our private business and should not be shared with the public due to confidentiality of the business dealings: except generally as it affects our fans. (Such as the broad statement about not filming Spinrad's script.)
A few things people should remember:
- They own Star Trek. Plain and simple.
- They are making a considerable profit on it now and do not want competition. (hence the "no JJ stuff" rule.)
- They are not unreasonable. (In fact, one of our artists negotiated a deal to sell a commercially produced and marketed book with his some of his Star Trek art he did for us in it.)
- Mallory doesn't just sit around watching fan film sites and dealings...she is the head of CBS legal. Though Linnear posted her name, she does not want fans contacting her or writing to her. If you are a fan film producer, website designer, etc, and want to reach out to her, contact me through my email and I will provide her contact information: or send yours and your concern on to her. (based on what she's told me to do with each type of request.)
As a P.S. I'd like to clear up two things.
First, "copyright infringement" in these kinds of cases can only be brought to court when the copyright holder can prove harm to the copyright owner's ability to profit from their product. Including profits you are making (and thus taking them away from the owner) or damage to the product that results in reduced profits. (this is why fan films and fan film producers need to keep any bad blood out of the courts. Having CBS news carrying a story on Trek fan films battling it out in front of a judge would give them bad PR...and, no, not all PR is good for the product.)
Second, as far as the uniforms go...the only thing copyrighted regarding the TOS uniforms is the insignia. Legally, you cannot sell reproduction uniforms on eBay with the insignia on them. You cannot sell the insignia. Do people do it? Yes. CBS let's most of them do it. But it's illegal and CBS could shut them down any time they want, and have in some cases. (You could take them to court and win on a technicality I won't go into, but who has the money to battle CBS?)
FYI: fashion law is it's own book. You cannot copyright a "pattern" that "defines" a piece of clothing. CBS cannot legally issue a C&D that says "you cannot sell a piece of clothing that looks like the clothing worn on our copyrighted show." Do I believe they said that to Potempkin? Sure. But they can't enforce it and they're banking on the group not knowing that, or not wanting to piss them off. In fact, they did bring a costumer to court several years ago (long before Mallory took over) and the result was the first day of the trail the judge laughed them out of court and advised them to get a lawyer that knew what the hell he was doing.