For a number of years, Paramount has politely ignored/suffered the attempts of Star Trek fans to generate their own fan films online, the tacit understanding being that they will not protest as long as the fan films are not done for a commercial profit. There are dozens of attempts to do variations of the original Star Trek online. Arguably one of the best of these is done by these folks:
and these folks:
A few others out there also use actors that were in various original Trek episodes or films, but their sets, special effects, lighting, and overall level of "finish" are not as good. I think that's another reason Paramount left these fans alone; there was a clear difference in quality level between what Paramount put out, versus the fan efforts.
But now, comes a new kind of Trek-based project, in a format never seen before, with some original Trek actors, decent writing, and top-notch execution of the production on every level. Even though it's 99 percent green screen shots and CGI, on a shoestring budget, it looks arguably as good or better than "Enterprise", the last Paramount attempt at a Trek series, and it makes a lot more sense than J.J. Abrams' re-booted trek movie.
I present to you, "Axanar". Please watch the whole short. We'll wait.
Over a million views. And just killing it over on their Kickstarter page to fund the full version.
Now Paramount's lawyers say: "Gik'tal!" (Klingon for: "It's ON!")
I think maybe the Axanar team stepped over the line when selling merchandise on the Kickstarter. Paramount saw actual branded product being sold without them seeing a cut, in violation of the Ferengi Rule of Acquisition number 21.
On the Axenar team's side, is the argument that Paramount has created a history of forbearance for so many other Trek fandom efforts, for it to suddenly "turn-about" on Axenar looks incongruous and inconsistent to a court.
I really hope they work it out. My guess is a settlement that shares the product marketing profits with Paramount, or that surrenders the merchandising entirely to paramount/CBS, would be the obvious option.
The future of video on the web will include an ever-growing amount of such content, so it is important to nail down the legalities sooner, rather than later.