Axanar anthology

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by F. King Daniel, Jan 26, 2015.

  1. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2008
    Location:
    King Daniel Beyond
    Aren't there unlicensed Doctor Who companion spin-off novels which dance around the copyrighted stuff? Maybe they'll try something similar here.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    That's different, because the copyright laws are different in the UK. There, whoever creates a character owns the character and gets royalties for their use -- so Terry Nation's estate owns the Daleks, Robert Holmes's estate owns the Sontarans, Mervyn Haisman's and Henry Lincoln's estates own the Brigadier and the Yeti, etc. The BBC has to license those characters' use from their creators, which is why there were long stretches in the original series with no Dalek stories when Nation was recalcitrant about licensing them. And conversely, the owners of those characters are free to use them elsewhere as long as they don't explicitly use characters or concepts belonging to the BBC -- which is why Baker was able to do an Australian K9 series in which K9 changed his appearance (since the BBC owns the character's design) and lost all memory of the Doctor.

    But in America, writing for a screen franchise is work-for-hire. Anything a writer creates for Star Trek is the property of the studio (Desilu/Paramount/CBS). So I wouldn't have the right to sell a story about T'Ryssa Chen or the Manraloth to another publisher, since CBS owns them even though I created them.

    I suppose that if these fan-film makers created their own original characters, they might be able to sell stories about them, but I think they'd have to avoid any mention of anything from onscreen Trek, including Starfleet, the Federation, phasers, tricorders, transporters, Axanar, and the Klingons. It'd be pretty hard to do that.
     
  3. aj1981

    aj1981 Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2015
    Location:
    England
    Alec Peters touched a bit on the legalities of Axanar during an interview with Trekmovie last year:

    TrekMovie: Has there been any interaction with CBS?
    Alec Peters: No, but I am told they are very aware of us.
    TrekMovie: Would it be fair to say that the relationship with CBS for these types of productions is sort of a "don’t ask, don’t tell" kind of thing? They aren’t involved, but they don’t stop you either.
    Alec Peters: Exactly. They just want us to behave and not rock the boat…So we don’t charge for anything or make any money. There are certain requirements as to how big "Star Trek" is within the logo – like Star Trek can’t be bigger than "Axanar." We respect their IP. There is boilerplate that is supposed to on the website at the bottom. You do things like that, and we try to minimize the use of actual Star Trek IP in "Axanar." We aren’t using the chevron logo uniforms for example. More and more we will just be using the branding "Axanar," because people know what that is now.
     
  4. Idran

    Idran Commodore Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2011
    That's not quite right; it's not really that the laws are different, as the owning corporation of a screen franchise could hire authors under a situation that isn't work-for-hire, they just choose not to. Like the situation with Siegel and Shuster regarding Superman; the (successful) legal argument in the 1999 lawsuit was that Action Comics #1 wasn't under a work-for-hire contract but rather as an independent contractor, and that the work for hire relationship only started with #2.

    Work-for-hire in the UK, though, is pretty much exactly the same as it is in the US as far as I can tell. It seems that the difference is the same thing; Nation wrote as an independent contractor, not under a work-for-hire contract. Either that, or the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act, 1988 changed the situation from what it was previously when he created them. Those are the only explanations I can think of, as the CDPA 1988 spells out the work-for-hire situation pretty much the same as the way it works in the US.

    (One other correction, Nation doesn't have total ownership over the Daleks the way you describe. The IP is jointly owned by the BBC and Terry Nation, so any usage requires the consent of both parties.)

    Edit: Checking more into it, it looks like the BBC just actually preferred to give their writers shared ownership back then; they explicitly went out of their way to hire writers as independent contractors with a shared copyright rather than under work-for-hire contracts? So it was more of a kinder corporate culture thing. By offering shared ownership, they allowed their writers more agency and more chances to use their creations elsewhere while also ensuring that IP they were involved with couldn't be used willy-nilly.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2015
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    ^Well, it seems to me that the BBC still does that today, at least judging by the Doctor Who rewatch I'm currently on (inspired by the news that it was going to be pulled from Netflix at the end of the month -- though they've renewed the contract, so it's staying after all, which is good news since I wasn't going to finish in time). Not only do the episodes feature credits like "Daleks created by Terry Nation" and "K9 created by Bob Baker and Dave Martin," but in the Steven Moffat-produced episodes they have things like "Ood created by Russell T. Davies" (ditto for the Judoon). Although it may be optional, since they left out Malcolm Hulke's creator credit in the 2-parter that reintroduced the Silurians, although it was used later.
     
  6. Idran

    Idran Commodore Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2011
    It's definitely possible, then. Everything I saw in a quick bout of research said boilerplate work-for-hire in the UK worked the same as it did in the US when it comes to copyright, so it sounds like the BBC just prefers to give its creators a greater degree of control over their creation than companies on this side of the pond? Or at least the executives behind Doctor Who do; could be different for other BBC shows, I suppose.

    Then again, maybe those credits are just the equivalent of the similar credits stuck on Marvel and DC productions over here acknowledging the creators of various comic characters. Or like Treklit writers calling out the writers of the various specific episodes or books they drew upon in their Acknowledgements, to give a more on-topic comparison. Perhaps the newer creators have no legal control, and those credits are just meant to give a nod of thanks to the people that made the alien races involved.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    No, because credits carry specific meaning and have specific compensation attached to them. They aren't arbitrary in how they're phrased. The "Created by" credit entitles a person to royalties. That's the reason the Marvel shows only say "Special thanks" to the various character creators -- because those creators aren't contractually entitled to a "Created by" credit (even though they should be). Contrast this to various Justice League animated movies where they always include "Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster," "Batman created by Bob Kane," and "Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston." Some creators have contracts that entitle them to that credit, and others don't. (Indeed, Bob Kane's creator credit for Batman is a lie; Bill Finger did 95% of the work of creating the character, but Kane insisted on contractual language that perpetually banned DC from ever giving Finger the creator credit he deserved. Credits are about who gets paid, regardless of who did the work.) So the makers of the Marvel shows and movies want to acknowledge all these creators, but they can't legally say the actual words "Created by," since that would entitle them to money that the corporation isn't willing to shell out. So they have to settle for the vague "Special thanks" credit.

    So if the rules are the same in both countries, then the credits on Doctor Who that actually do say "Created by" must come with royalties, and perhaps with shared ownership of the characters, rather than being a simple courtesy.
     
  8. Idran

    Idran Commodore Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2011
    I'm not finding anything about any sort of restriction on the definition of credits in UK productions outside the usual writers' guild screenwriting definitions; definitely nothing about the legal definition of a "created by" credit with regard to IP ownership. The full list of credit restrictions, requirements, and guidelines for BBC productions can be found here, and you can see that it's pretty open in terms of the specific terms used.

    As best as I can tell, it has no legal force, and so doesn't imply anything about IP ownership, but I could just be failing in my research.
     
  9. elric428

    elric428 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2006
  10. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Location:
    No matter where you go, there you are.
    Pretty obviously, I'd think. And of course, as usual, zero apparent reason for anyone to be "shocked that CBS legal hasn't intervened."
     
  11. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    They are really starting to kick the arse out of this one - I'm amazed the Lawyers keep on looking the other way.
     
  12. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Location:
    No matter where you go, there you are.
    Why, it's almost like they thought through the project and crafted its elements so as not to piss off CBS. That would sort of explain why the imagined scenario of "the lawyers swooping in" never seems to materialize, wouldn't it? ;)
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015
  13. Indysolo

    Indysolo Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2001
    Location:
    Sunny California
    Why isn't Jacobs/Brown putting this out? ;)

    Neil
     
  14. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2001
    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    "As Mistress Beata is so fond of saying, 'Good question!'"
    --Tasha Yar.

    :lol:
     
  15. ryan123450

    ryan123450 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    Location:
    Woodward, OK
    On the Official Axanar Podcast on Trek.FM, a few more details were announced.

    • There will be six novellas.
    • Each story will be 60-80 pages
    • 5 authors are known Treklit authors including James Swallow
    • The other author is NYTB Aaron Dembski-Bowden
    • There will be a story about each of the following characters: Captain Garth, Admiral Ramirez, Captain Alexander, Commander Kharn, Captain Travis, and Ambassador Soval. The stories are set during the Four Years War.
    • Aaron Dembski-Bowden will write the Captain Alexander story.
    • James Swallow will write the Captain Garth story.
    • Aaron Dembski-Bowden will probably write the Axanar novelization
    I'm most looking forward to the Soval story, that is if I can ever get my hands on a copy.
     
  16. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2001
    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    And yet, despite being written by professional authors, they'll still be relegated to the category of fan fiction as they are not officially sanctioned by CBS or Paramount.

    I am absolutely amazed that somehow this is being permitted to go forward, legally.
     
  17. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Location:
    No matter where you go, there you are.
    No great mystery. I'd wager they're novellas within the Axanar brand that are working within the same legal lines that the rest of their content and perks do, and about as likely to draw legal attention as anything else they've done.

    But, hey, it's something else Axanar-related that people can profess to be darkly suspicious about for a while, God knows the TATV kickstarter wasn't cutting it. :techman: The even better news is that they're apparently planning new fundraising perks on a monthly basis, including shotglasses; so not only can we look forward to the "where are the lawyers?!" ritual every month, but we can make a drinking game of it! Won't that be fun? I know I'm excited.
     
  18. Indysolo

    Indysolo Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2001
    Location:
    Sunny California
    Published authors are writing fan fiction?

    Neil
     
  19. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Location:
    No matter where you go, there you are.
  20. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2001
    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    Some professional actors ...and Alec Peters, yes.

    Tie-in writers face enough angst from people who decry their work merely fan fiction or just plain unoriginal. That professional authors are now going to be penning actual fan fiction seems hardly helpful to the cause. And whether it's legal or not, whether it's ok by the rules or not, and whether CBS, Paramount, or Simon and Schuster are ok with it, effectively this is no different than if some professional filmmaker unassociated with the brand made his or her own Star Trek fan film and released it for free.

    After this, what on God's green earth with compel anyone to ever spend money on a Star Trek novel again? The writers are writing them for free now!

    Nice to see you are able to keep your trolling fangs so perfectly sharpened. Stay classy!