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Internet

Trekkies form rebel alliance

Star Trek fans who pay homage to Spock et al. on their web sites are bucking Viacom's crackdown on unauthorized use.

Several Star Trek fans running Web sites dedicated to the TV series and its spin-offs are defying a Viacom ban of unauthorized Star Trek materials on the Web.

Some sites are ignoring a letter sent by Viacom--the parent company of Paramount, which produces Star Trek--to those maintaining unauthorized Star Trek sites, telling them to stop using copyrighted Star Trek materials on their pages.

Others, such as Star Trek Universe are waiting for their attorneys to hash out the issue.

Tony D. Gelskey, the 15-year-old Webmaster for Star Trek Universe, said he's leaving up pictures and other content that Viacom told him he should take down until his attorney clarifies the issue.

"I am reposting the Star Trek: First Contact page in the FULL content as of tonight, and it will be available until I get a verdict after my lawyer talks to Viacom about this all," Gelskey wrote on the opening page of his site

Like many Trekkies, Gelskey is a bit baffled by Viacom's heavy-handedness.

He said his Web site "is actually promoting the franchise but they object to it for some reason or another."

Some Star Trek fans have said they will boycott Viacom.

While Viacom does not object to discussions of Star Trek, it does object to the reproduction of pictures and other copyrighted material, the letter states.

Trekkies, who put up these Web pages as fans, counter that they're giving Paramount free publicity.

Michael Brown, Webmaster at Mr. Video Productions' Vidiot Web page, said he has been hosting the free Trekkie site--with the full knowledge of the Paramount staff--since December 1987 and suspects he only heard from them recently because Viacom started its own Star Trek page on Microsoft Network.

"The most they're going to do is shoot themselves in the foot," Brown said. "To tick off the fans is not going to help them."

Brown, who for the moment has taken down the material to which Viacom was objecting, said he'll be replying to the letter over the holidays.

"I will be saying, 'You guys are going overboard. Work with the fans. Don't alienate them.'"