The attorneys representing CBS Studios and Paramount Pictures are demanding the producer of an embattled Star Trek “fan-film” turn over hundreds of emails as part of an ongoing copyright infringement lawsuit.
Jennifer Jason, an attorney representing the Star Trek studios, filed the demand with a Los Angeles federal court on Thursday claiming Axanar Productions principal Alec Peters failed to share the email communications he’s had with a former director on his Star Trek project, and even with CBS itself. Jason not only wants the emails, but wants a second chance to depose Peters ahead of trial to talk about those missing documents.
The move is part of an ongoing lawsuit filed by CBS and Paramount against Peters and Axanar over Star Trek: Axanar, which raised a reported $1.5 million. The studios have claimed Axanar is a commercial entity banking on intellectual property it doesn’t own, while Axanar has said it’s nothing more than a bunch of fans showing their love for Star Trek.
Jason became aware of the missing emails last Saturday after she deposed Christian Gossett, the director of a short known as Prelude to Axanar that was one of just two shorts ever produced by the company. As part of his deposition, Gossett “produced thousands of pages of documents, including hundreds of emails between himself and Mr. Peters.” Those were emails, Jason said, that have yet to be shared by Peters himself.
Erin Ranahan, the attorney representing Axanar in the copyright infringement suit, told Jason they would turn over additional documents and allow CBS and Paramount a second chance to interview Peters on a limited basis. Jason wants the judge in the case to order Peters to meet with the Star Trek attorneys again to talk about his communication with Gossett and with CBS.
A request for comment from Axanar late Thursday was pending return.
Jason also wants the court to “declassify” Axanar’s financial report. Axanar’s attorneys shared that report with CBS and Paramount, but labeled it “highly confidential” because, according to the court filing, “Mr. Peters does not want to reveal the amounts that he paid to himself and his colleagues, or the amounts he spent on personal expenses.”
Yet, the “highly confidential” designation means that only the attorneys for CBS and Paramount can review the report. Jason wants to share that report with two witnesses she’s scheduled to depose before the trial’s January start and needs the judge to lift the “highly confidential” classification. She cited past claims from Axanar that they “pride ourselves on … being the most transparent and accountable crowdfunded film out there” after it released a financial report of its Prelude short to donors.
CBS and Paramount sued Axanar and Peters last December claiming its Star Trek film production and the Los Angeles studio it created around it violated its copyrights. Axanar has maintained it is nothing more than a fan-film like the dozens of others CBS and Paramount allow to exist, and more recently hinted they would claim Axanar is covered under “fair use” in copyright laws.
The trial is expected to start this January in Los Angeles.
(h/t Jody Wheeler)
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