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Fan Productions Creating our own Trek canon!

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Old January 31 2013, 03:51 AM   #1
Melakon
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Legal concerns

I have a cgi animated Trek parody that I made in 2004.

I've only posted it openly at two locations since that time, though others have found it, and I once saw it mentioned in a list someone made a few years later. It's possible some people here have seen it. Apparently, even the ST:ENT art department saw it during its first two weeks online.

I've intentionally kept it low profile, as it consists of perhaps over a hundred episode voice clips assembled out of context to create a new story, along with authentic music and sound effects. The characters are cartoonish, and not in any way true likenesses of the actors. The film is about 10 minutes.

I'm concerned whether this constitutes fair use, as it is a parody/satire, but makes extensive use of copyrighted material. All the animating and rendering are my own work, some models were free downloads, and those modelers are credited. I even put in a notice acknowledging Paramount's copyright, and that no infringement was intended or should be inferred.

Am I covered? Or could I be issued an infringement claim by any Joe Blow who just doesn't like it and wants to make trouble for me?

I've had 60 seconds of it on YouTube for about 6 or 7 years, and not seen any flags on it, but it seems YT has changed their automatic monitoring system since then.
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Old January 31 2013, 08:31 AM   #2
Barbreader
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Re: Legal concerns

There is more leverage with Parody than with drama, but your admixture of original sound makes the issue of 'fair use' here complicated. However, the truth is, most folk just go forward and if they get a C&D (cease and desist) letter from CBS or Paramount, they don't test their rights, they do cease and desist. You probably have nothing to lose by posting it. Chances are nothing worse will happen than it will be taken down.

If you do post it, I'd like a head-up so I could add it to my website, which is an index of Star Trek Fan Films. Even if you don't post it, I'd like to have it's name so I can include it on my list of Star Trek Fan Films not available for viewing by the general public.
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Old January 31 2013, 09:48 AM   #3
Melakon
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Re: Legal concerns

This 60 seconds is from a fake preview just before the end titles, and admittedly the most exciting part of the ten minutes. It has nothing to do with the main story. I put it up about 6 years ago. It gives an idea of how the whole thing was assembled. You might even recognize it from years ago. I did post it as an embed in a non-related TOS thread a few weeks ago, so I hope this isn't spamming. This clip's title is not the name of the full film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dRTygP4oJQ

Another user at YT had found the full thing and posted it, thankfully including the credits. It did get flagged for mature content (in the main story, Kirk gets it on with the guest star right on the bridge) and was age restricted, but there are no naughty bits on display though there is implied nudity and other suggestive situations. The main story is entirely on the bridge, so it's a bit static. Eventually it disappeared, so I don't know if it was due to the restriction, a C&D, or if the user just took it down himself, or the account closed.

I've been considering tackling it again in higher resolution since I have most of the project files, but my animation skills have not improved.
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Last edited by Melakon; January 31 2013 at 10:09 AM.
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Old January 31 2013, 05:35 PM   #4
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Re: Legal concerns

Why not try to contact the person who already posted it and find out why it's down? The content you mentioned would wind up on my "Star Trek Restricted" website, which holds the links for non-G and PG rated fare.
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Old January 31 2013, 06:31 PM   #5
Melakon
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Re: Legal concerns

I don't remember who had the full version up. I may open it up anyway, but I'd prefer more opinions first. Someone who has seen it recently also recommends Vimeo, but I'm not familiar with their standards.

I know it will get a good number of dislikes, like the preview, due to it not being state of the art cgi, but it was never intended to be. I'm just a nonprofessional with a cheap computer and lowend software and no classroom experience. I always wanted to take a film production course, but when I was in college, none of my schools offered such a thing. On the bright side, tuition and dorm costs were only $900 a semester back then. I probably could have gotten into Northwestern but I was an idiot and didn't apply.
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Last edited by Melakon; January 31 2013 at 07:02 PM.
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Old January 31 2013, 06:58 PM   #6
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Re: Legal concerns

My problem with the preview, which I just added to my Parody and Comedy shorts ( http://startrekreviewed.blogspot.com/2009/06/208.html listed alphabetically) is the quality of the sound is uneven.
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Old January 31 2013, 10:52 PM   #7
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Re: Legal concerns

That was mentioned to me recently. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of sometimes doing edits in blocks and splicing them into the main work as they were completed. There were never separate voice, music, and effects tracks except for voice in each take, which the animation was synced to. If I "remaster" it, I'd go for higher resolution, perhaps 720x480, and lay in music and effects separately. I didn't have a way to filter out background noise in the voice clips.

The entire film took 5 months. The preview was something of an afterthought, and took a full week of 12-18 hour days.

The biggest problem is the film was never completed to how I wanted. My animation software wouldn't boot due to a conflict with Sims 2, and whenever I tried to do anything with it for scene reshoots, I got a blue screen of death. I sat on it for another 4 months before finally deciding to show it at a single fan site.

It was my first attempt at anything longer than randomly done scifi tests, and perhaps too ambitious for a major project working alone with no one around to ask for technical advice.
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Last edited by Melakon; January 31 2013 at 11:19 PM.
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Old February 1 2013, 01:06 AM   #8
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Re: Legal concerns

How else you gonna learn? No need to kick yourself over roads not taken.

My personal suggestion would be to start from scratch with a new project. I bet you would be amazed at how much better your work will be and how much more quickly you will be able to do it. Just my 2 quatloos!
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Old February 1 2013, 01:51 AM   #9
Melakon
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Re: Legal concerns

I do have a non-Trek concept I call a "long-term" project I've been developing since 1998 (when I was without a computer for 2 years and learned about a product cheaper than Lightwave, 3DS Max, and Maya). Occasionally I do tests of it. I've established some central characters, the universe (no transporters, some sort of ftl drive assisted with artificial jumpgates of limited range, and the primary star systems and aliens), and a military crisis. There are four alien races, but only two are heavily involved, and we're less than 100ly from Earth. I arbitrarily chose 200 years from my birth, which puts it right where ENT was later set, to my dismay.

Originally I had characters resembling Starfleet types as the leads, but I shifted the focus to two civilians caught in the middle, so that most of the military guys could become expendable characters.

So it borrows a little from Trek, a little from Star Wars, a little from B5, and a little from Fireball XL5.

There's still no script, and I don't know what I'd do for voices.
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Old February 1 2013, 07:52 PM   #10
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Re: Legal concerns

Melakon wrote: View Post
I do have a non-Trek concept I call a "long-term" project I've been developing since 1998 (when I was without a computer for 2 years and learned about a product cheaper than Lightwave, 3DS Max, and Maya). Occasionally I do tests of it. I've established some central characters, the universe (no transporters, some sort of ftl drive assisted with artificial jumpgates of limited range, and the primary star systems and aliens), and a military crisis. There are four alien races, but only two are heavily involved, and we're less than 100ly from Earth. I arbitrarily chose 200 years from my birth, which puts it right where ENT was later set, to my dismay.

Originally I had characters resembling Starfleet types as the leads, but I shifted the focus to two civilians caught in the middle, so that most of the military guys could become expendable characters.

So it borrows a little from Trek, a little from Star Wars, a little from B5, and a little from Fireball XL5.

There's still no script, and I don't know what I'd do for voices.
Well, I don't think finding voices will be much of a problem. Our own production Star Trek: Excelsior has developed an outstanding company of voice actors and there are certainly plenty of other places to put out casting calls when/if.

Good luck!
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Old February 1 2013, 08:10 PM   #11
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Re: Legal concerns

To quote my favorite lawyer, "Let them come."
Worst case scenario is a cease and desist.
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Old February 1 2013, 08:35 PM   #12
Melakon
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Re: Legal concerns

I might risk letting it loose. I uploaded it to YT the other day, but currently it's private. Only one person here has seen it that I know of, but they were given authorization to show it to trusted individuals. No, I won't tell you who has it.

It didn't get a "matched third party content" notice like some theme songs I turned into music videos, but maybe that's because it's not public. Nor did an edit of Orion dancing girls from ENT: Bound cued to "Vina's Dance", which has been public since last March.
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Last edited by Melakon; February 1 2013 at 08:51 PM.
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