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Copyrights Entertainment and Sports Law Litigation Trademarks

New York Court Sees No Fair Use in Star-Trek Inspired Fan Film

The creative story-telling that fueled the passion of fans inspired a number of them to expand the Star Trek universe on their own through "fan films," which can challenge the property owners' efforts to maintain the integrity and appeal of their franchise. If unchecked, unauthorized derivatives could lead to an eventual loss of the copyright and trademark rights that underlie the value of the property.

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The Star Trek franchise so far includes six television series (more than 700 episodes) — and another that launches this year —plus 13 feature-length motion pictures, all accompanied by a merchandising juggernaut. Over the last five decades, Star Trek characters, stories, dialogue, and even an invented language ascribed to alien characters, have become culturally pervasive. The enormous value of the TV and film franchise is matched by the desire of its owners, Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios, to protect it.

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