According to the lawyers representing Axanar Productions, the project was meant as a mockumentary, and did not, therefore, infringe upon Star Trek and did not financially harm the studios.
“Prelude (and potentially Axanar) uses a unique ‘mockumentary’ style previously unused in plaintiffs’ works to tell an original story,” said Erin Ranahan, the lawyer representing Axanar Productions. “A ‘mockumentary’ has been defined on Wikipedia as a ‘parody.'”
Lawyers for CBS and Paramount did not agree with the claim that it was a parody, however. “The Axanar works do not ‘transform’ plaintiffs’ intellectual property into any new or different medium,” they said. “Defendants intended to, and did, create audio visual Star Trek works. Defendants have expanded upon a Star Trek story, and they have set that story a few years before the timeline of the original Star Trek television series.
“Defendants have not cited a single case in the history of copyright jurisprudence that finds this kind of activity ‘transformative,’ or that would permit what defendants are attempting to do here.”
As for creating original characters, those characters are based on races created by Star Trek and are therefore not original,” claim the CBS/Paramount lawyers. “Defendants have not merely taken a smattering of unprotectable elements and combined them,” they said. “Instead, defendants have faithfully recreated every possible element of the Star Trek universe, down to excruciating details.
“Further, while defendants assert that they have included additional ‘original’ characters in the Axanar works, these additional characters are by no means ‘original’ – they are Klingons, Vulcans and Federation officers and are, therefore, not ‘original’ to defendants.”
Both sides of the lawsuit are hoping for summary judgment. That hearing is due December 19, with a trial set to start at the end of January if the case is not settled by then.