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CBS, Paramount to beam away lawsuit against Star Trek fan-made film

The network and studio are also working on guidelines for fan-made Star Trek movies so they don't infringe on copyrights.

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Director J.J. Abrams (on left) announces the dropping of a lawsuit against fan-made film "Star Trek: Axanar."

TrekNews.net/YouTube

"Star Trek: Axanar" may now be able to live long and prosper.

Developed by Star Trek fan and writer/producer Alec Peters, "Star Trek: Axanar" is an Indiegogo crowdfunded film that was slated to begin production this past December. That's when it ran into a roadblock, namely a lawsuit from CBS and Paramount, accusing the producer of copyright infringement. (Editors' note: CNET is owned by CBS.)

The two entertainment giants, which split the rights to "Star Trek" as a TV show and as a movie series, have in the past allowed fan-made films to exist though they have tried to clamp down certain efforts.

During an event for Paramount's upcoming "Star Trek Beyond" film, J.J. Abrams, who directed the last two Trek films, said the lawsuit would be dropped, as shown in a video by Star Trek blog site TrekNews.net. Abrams praised "Star Trek Beyond" director Justin Lin who pushed the studio to drop the lawsuit for the benefit of fans, especially in light of the franchise's 50th anniversary this year.

Fan-made films sometimes tread a fine line as far as the networks and studios are concerned. Such films can generate greater excitement for a TV show or movie series. Yet they can also run afoul of copyright issues, especially if the guidelines for copyright infringement aren't clear.

"The fans should be celebrating this thing," Abrams said at the event. "Fans of Star Trek are part of this world. So [director Justin Lin] went to the studio and pushed them to stop this lawsuit and now, within the next few weeks, it will be announced this is going away, and that fans would be able to continue working on their project."

CBS and Paramount acknowledged the news to CNET though their statement was more toned down: "We are pleased to confirm we are in settlement discussions and are also working on a set of fan film guidelines."

On a blog posted Sunday on the Axanar website, Peters said he was excited by the news but reminded people that the lawyers first need to hammer out the details before the suit is officially resolved. He also said he's anxious to see the new guidelines for fan-made films so he and his staff have a better idea of what to do.

"Once that process is done (and it could take a while), then we'll be able to explain where we're headed and what we're going to do," Peters added.