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CBS Uses Copyright To Scuttle Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II Episode

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the to-boldly-say-no-and-cackle-with-glee dept.

Sci-Fi 268

McGruber writes "The NY Times ('Cookies Set to Cleared, Captain!') is reporting that CBS is blocking fan-generated internet series 'Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II' from making an episode using an unproduced script from the original series. In a statement, CBS said, 'We fully appreciate and respect the passion and creativity of the "Star Trek" fan and creative communities. This is simply a case of protecting our copyrighted material and the situation has been amicably resolved.'" The original writer of the episode, sci-fi author Norman Spinrad, was enthusiastic about the production, and planned to direct it himself.

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Probably not (-1, Offtopic)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524083)

Probably not first post!

It's a perfectly valid (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524093)

concern. CBS owns the copyright. This isn't about a clip, or anything remotely considered fair use.

Unless CBS has plans for the script, this certainly wasn't the smartest way to resolve it fro their company. That's a different matter.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524165)

Copyright exists to promote the creation of art. If CBS is using it to suppress the creation of art, that's not valid at all.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524199)

Eh, I don't love the idea of them using it to stop fun little projects, but I can see why they'd want to protect ownership of a valuable property.

It's not like Star Trek is as worthless as it was before the most recent flick.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524297)

We need to get away from the idea that you can just sit on something (anything, really) and take it out of usefulness to society for a worthless end result (nothing ends up being done with it, the item doesn't get better, and it doesn't gain value).

Just because you can doesn't make it moral.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524489)

Why?

Did it occur to you that CBS might think the script sucks? And since they're the copyright owner they get to decide if they publish it or not. Do you really want a world where it's OK to publish someone else's work against their objections? Like say you write an erotic fanfic, but don't want to puiblish it. Should I really have the right to then make a feature length film based on your erotic fanfic without your approval?

Re:It's a perfectly valid (4, Interesting)

jordanjay29 (1298951) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524799)

One sapient's trash is another sapient's treasure. Who is anyone to claim that something holds no artistic value, or deem that it 'sucks' and thus should not be available for consumption?

Re:It's a perfectly valid (3, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524875)

The creator (or owner if the creator sold it) of that work, that's who.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (4, Insightful)

Fned (43219) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524851)

Do you really want a world where it's OK to publish someone else's work against their objections?

"Published?" They weren't selling copies of the script, they were making a Phase II episode out of it. That's a "derivative work", not "publishing."

Now, if you're asking if some of us want to live in a world where it's OK to make new works derivative of 40-year-old prior art, then the answer is OF COURSE WE FUCKING DO.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (4, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39525057)

"Published?" They weren't selling copies of the script, they were making a Phase II episode out of it. That's a "derivative work", not "publishing."

Since TV scripts are the means of creating a TV episode, the episode filmed from that script is hardly a derivative work.

If you take the characters from that script and use them in a different way, THAT'S a derivative work.

Now, if you're asking if some of us want to live in a world where it's OK to make new works derivative of 40-year-old prior art, then the answer is OF COURSE WE FUCKING DO.

And if you're asking if some of us want you to take material that wasn't considered suitable for production away from the owner and produce it anyway, then the answer is OF COURSE WE DON'T.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (3, Interesting)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#39525179)

it is derivative, just fails the substantially different test.
Maybe CBS could have licensed it to them for $1.00 (or whatever the actual cost of providing a license is)?
This way CBS is preserving their (C) but allowing the fan base to continue.
-nB

Re:It's a perfectly valid (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524889)

That's an argument based on an author's moral rights -- which are barely recognized at all under US law (IMO rightly so, but YMMV quite drastically, and I don't consider proponents unreasonable), and in countries where they are recognized, are generally non-assignable, so they rest with the original author. In this case the author very much wanted it published, so your example is nonsense.

US copyright, and the English copyright it descends from, is wholly justified as a privilege granted pragmatically by government, to encourage production of new works and avoid the supposed stagnation that would arise if copying were free. In this case, the law is clearly not fulfilling that justification.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (3, Insightful)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 2 years ago | (#39525105)

Most hollywood scripts have multiple authors, so Spinrad probably isn't the only person with 'moral rights' to the story. CBS probably doesn't even know the actual legal status of the script, and would have to rack up the lawyer hours to find out. There always could be some Harlan Ellison-type character waiting around to sue them. File this under CYA.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524925)

Why?

Because that's one of the reasons copyright was made for: to prevent people from sitting on ideas that will never see the light of day.

Did it occur to you that CBS might think the script sucks? And since they're the copyright owner they get to decide if they publish it or not. Do you really want a world where it's OK to publish someone else's work against their objections? Like say you write an erotic fanfic, but don't want to puiblish it. Should I really have the right to then make a feature length film based on your erotic fanfic without your approval?

Yes actually, you should. If I'm not doing anything with the idea then it should enter the public domain to be used by anyone. If I really don't want people using then I shouldn't made it or tell others that I made it. By sitting on it and doing nothing with it society is lesser off, not because we can't use your idea but because the pool of available ideas is diminished and no body has benefited from it.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39525237)

Perhaps yes! The supposed intent of copyright law is promotion of works, not locking them away. There is no reason the law shouldn't reflect that properly. If you don't want your name on the fanfic, that should be your right to insist they credit it to anonymous. There should probably be some sort of compulsory licensing, something like a right of first refusal, or some sort of defined abandonment built in.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (2)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524513)

Because making it easier to proclaim that something someone has should be taken from them because you can't access it easily enough would be sooo much more moral?

Planning that spring release for your book is just too annoying for someone who wants it *now* (and most likely, free), so your copyright is yanked.

Very moral.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524693)

It's actually perfectly in keeping with the justification for private property used by some of the big thinkers in political science shortly before and a bit after the founding of the US, notably John Locke.

Granted his book was mostly fantasy, but a lot of people continue to use it in everyday lay discussion of politics and economics, so why not that part too?

I would guess that the concept of squatter's rights either influenced Locke & co.'s thinking, or vice-versa (too lazy to look it up), for a real-world parallel to the present difficulty.

Of course, this has the added layer that the person who actually created the art in question wants it to be performed, and it's pretty damn old. Hard to argue that this is a good example of copyright working as designed, for the benefit of all involved, even if you don't accept that fallow works should be forfeit to the public domain (or, FFS, at least revert to the creator's ownership).

Re:It's a perfectly valid (4, Interesting)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524901)

Did it occur to any of you that perhaps, just perhaps, CBS isn't hoarding? That the ownership of the script produced and submitted within the Hollywood structure (particularly the one that existed back in the 60's) includes a clause that forbids reassignment? That there may exist terms with the Screen Writers' Guild that forbids subcontracting SWG scripts for production by non SWG-signatory producers (like, y'know, fans)? Crap like that goes on all the time in Hollywood.

Screeching "GIMME GIMME GIMME MINE MINE MINE" like a two-year-old in the toy aisle of a supermarket isn't going to make CBS (or other owners of popular franchises) more likely to cooperate. In fact, it makes them more likely to start cruising through YouTube on a takedown spree. If the fringe fans become more trouble than they're worth, they're going to get shut down.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524311)

It's been sitting on a shelf for over 40 years. It wasn't even resuscitated for any of the "official" series. It would have been a nice nod to the fans.

Well, they can eat it, I suppose.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (-1, Flamebait)

Fned (43219) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524805)

but I can see why they'd want to protect ownership of a valuable property.

Me too, but what the fuck does ownership of property have to do with copyright?

(SPOILER ALERT: "Nothing.")

Re:It's a perfectly valid (2)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39525107)

It's not like Star Trek is as worthless as the most recent flick.

Fixed that for you. Damn, that movie was one of the dumbest pieces of shit to ever bear the Star Trek name.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524247)

Star Trek New Voyages is art?

Only for distressingly small values of the term.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524385)

Star Trek New Voyages is art?

Only for distressingly small values of the term.

Dude, if a can of shit [wikipedia.org] is art, why not Star Trek New Voyages?

Re:It's a perfectly valid (4, Informative)

cpghost (719344) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524259)

Copyright exists to promote the creation of art.

If it ever was the case (and it's doubtful), it was a long, long time ago... when Copyright didn't last more then 2 decades from the time some work of art was created. The perversion of Copyright we have today (life + 70/95 years, or perpetual in case of corporations-owned copyrights) has long outlived its usefulness as promoting art-creation.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (1, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524281)

It's also about protecting your works from being outright copied without your consent which is what they were going to do. But let's ignore that part since it's inconvenient to your point. How horrible that they now have to come up with their own ideas rather than outright copy what is someone else's. The horror!

Re:It's a perfectly valid (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524371)

The original writer is a leading figure in the project. Did you miss that part? The additional perversion here is that copyright somehow allows individuals or corporations to assume the creativity of another. It is an offensive to many in corporate power, but I think an excellent revision to copyright would *require* that original authors, when identifiable, *always* retain full rights to their work in addition to any rights granted to others.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (2)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524639)

The original writer was working for someone and being paid when he wrote those things *for* that someone else.

Did you miss, or ignore, that part?

Re:It's a perfectly valid (4, Insightful)

JATMON (995758) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524735)

As long as CBS paid him for the work, then he should not be able to retain the right to the work. If he wanted to maintain the full rights to the work, he should have not taken the money from CBS or he should have put it in his contract that he retains the rights to all the works that he wrote.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39525089)

>The original writer is a leading figure in the project. Did you miss that part?

The "original writer" doesn't own the copyright. He did not create Star Trek, and wrote derivative art on a work for hire basis. His work was built upon the works of many other people. Do they all get a say in this matter?

>The additional perversion here is that copyright somehow allows individuals or corporations to assume the creativity of another.

As someone mentioned earlier, copyright is to promote the creation of art. Like it or not, creating mass market commercial art that is available cheaply requires funding. Giving corporations copyright is incentivising them to bear the financial burden of such projects. In TV and film, where audience expects a certain minimum level of (surface) quality, and the creative input of hundreds of people are required, funding is the most important element to getting something made.

Work for hire is not a perversion (that doesn't mean it can't be twisted and used for evil). You don't want house painters asserting copyright over your house, or animators copyrighting individual frames, or in this case, a hired scribe to yank the characters away from Gene Roddenberry, do you?

Re:It's a perfectly valid (4, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524321)

So if you publish a best selling book and Warner Brothers makes a movie of it without paying you any royalties you'd be fine with that?

After all, you don't want to suppress the creation of art do you?

Re:It's a perfectly valid (1)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524511)

if it was fans of the book and i was involved in the process, no I wouldn't care. WB has the money and are producing it for the sake of money not art; i would want my share of that.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524777)

Altruism is a truly wonderful thing in the abstract.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524517)

Publishing != writing. From the sounds of it the original author of the work is in support of this. It's the copyright holder that's blocking it. Also there was no mention of royalties or arrangements for royalties. Apples != oranges. The problem is that perpetual copyright is abused by corporations to stifle derivative works. Star Trek has become more than a single work. It's become part of our larger culture and a single corporation shouldn't be the gatekeeper for how people express themselves forever. Copyright should allow you to control your work for short periods of time so that you can profit from it. It shouldn't be used as a bludgeon to allow corporations to milk the last dollar out of every creative work.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (3, Informative)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524727)

"It's the copyright holder that's blocking it."

That would be the company he worked for when he did the writing. You know, got paid for working for someone else and all? Hence the copyright not being his.

Writer != owner. Your apple, your orange.

Once paid, the writer has no claim on the product if so contracted and I'll bet you real money he signed a contract to that effect.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (3, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524905)

That would be the company he worked for when he did the writing. You know, got paid for working for someone else and all? Hence the copyright not being his.

Well duh. The issue isn't the legal rights, those aren't under dispute, but that CBS are being dicks in enforcing those rights when to allow the script, for a series off the air for 45 years could do them no conceivable harm.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (1)

jordanjay29 (1298951) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524883)

If I overload the operator!= to check whether apples and oranges are both fruits, grow on trees, contain seeds and ripen annually, your boolean statement will fail as you wrote it.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (2)

jandrese (485) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524855)

Why should I as the author expect anything from that? I didn't make the movie, why should I expect to get a piece of it just because they used my book as source material? Copyright should protect me from having Random House take my book, slap a different cover on it, and resell it as their own work. It shouldn't prevent people from making derivative works.

It's pretty much impossible to write a completely original novel or movie. Something somewhere in your work is going to be construed as a reference to something before. That's a good thing, it lets people leverage the combined knowledge of society in order to advance the state of the art. The current copyright (and patent) system is undermining this, by letting artists block off their work for effectively indefinite periods and add the specter of lawsuit to any successful work. The copyright realm is not as bad as the patent realm on the lawsuit front (because as I mentioned before, even those people copied existing ideas), but I fully expect the situation to get worse over time unless something is done to nip it in the bud.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (2)

Fned (43219) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524983)

Setting aside the awfully cute assumption you've made that Warner Brothers actually pays royalties to book authors without getting sued first, it would depend a lot on how long ago I wrote the best-selling book. I, for one, don't expect to be paid forever for something I did a long time ago. Don't get me wrong, it would be nice, and I wouldn't turn the money down, but I also wouldn't go around thinking I was entitled to it. What have I done lately?

In fact, now that I think about it, if I was working on a new book and thought I could get it polished and shipped by the time the movie came out, I'd be totally cool with it. Because I could put "by Fned, author of [BEST SELLING BOOK], now a major motion picture" on the paperback cover and shelf-end standie and get a lot of extra promo for the book.

Even if the movie sucked, people would be interested in the book, and if they liked it they'd be interested in my new stuff. They might even contribute to my Kickstarter to publish my next thing.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524329)

Copyright is supposed to encourage producers (be it writers, artists, software engineers, etc.) by granting them a temporary right to legally bar others from copying their creation and making a profit off it.

I think the real argument is why, after so many decades and having abandoned the series, is CBS still allowed to maintain this legal stranglehold over the script? It's not so much the idea that CBS is morally or legally obligated to produce an episode based on the script but rather that it has been so many years. This should be in the public domain by now in my opinion.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (2)

jordanjay29 (1298951) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524899)

Don't worry, when it looks like Lord of the Rings, Star Trek and the other '60's era classics are coming into public domain, the copyright will be extended again to 'protect' these classic works.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (1)

santiagodraco (1254708) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524947)

Your statement sounds nice but it's also a complete misinterpretation of the purpose. Copyright exists to protect the creators and promote creation of works. This much is true.

What it does not exist to do is to give those who would blatantly use the works of others for their own purposes simply because they call it "art".

You do know that Youtube/Google pays video uploaders based on views right? I can gaurantee that while some might see the creation of the episode as art... I see it as creating a video based on someone elses creative work, their script, that's not art to me, but hey, who am I to judge.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524229)

And nothing of value was lost.

(At least in this instance. Come on, this stuff is almost as bad as another Star Wars prequel / sequel / plastic figurine.)

Re:It's a perfectly valid (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524617)

And nothing of value was lost.

(At least in this instance.

That's not the point. The point is the original author of this episode can't even use it after some 40 years. CBS has no desire to ever use this script and Copyright is suppose to encourage creative endeavours not prevent them just because. This sort of misuse of copyright is hurting our culture for no other reason than greed and a desire for unhealthy amounts of control.

Re:It's a perfectly valid (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524437)

Why protect copyrighted material for the sake of copyright? I could understand if they were going to do something with the script but it helps no one if it just sits around and gathers dust. Is someone making money off this series?

Re:It's a perfectly valid (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524587)

Unless CBS has plans for the script...

To play devil's advocate: There is a new Star Trek movie in the works. What if they are using the script/plot/idea as the basis for the next movie? Or they were planning on digging into their "we've already paid for writers" pile in general?

Re:It's a perfectly valid (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39525125)

If this was based on an unused script from the original series that means it is at least 40 years old. While it is true CBS owns the copyright it's a shame that copyrights are granted for such a long period of time. If Copyrights are granted with the idea they encourage the arts this is a clear example of the law not fulfilling its goals. I'm not against copyright but if the terms were shorter this wouldn't be an issue and we would have one more work created.

not hurting anyone (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524105)

CBS's heart must not be *truly* Klingon.

Re:not hurting anyone (1)

kpoole55 (1102793) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524347)

No, the Klingons wouldn't pull this sort of thing. They have more honor and respect those that honour them. The fan based activity are meant to honour the memory of the Star Trek that was.

No, this is purely a Ferengi move. Now where did I put my copy of the Rules of Acquisition.

Or we could cross franchises and use the Pirate's code, "Take what you can, give nothing back."

On second thought, it amounts to the same thing, after all.

Re:not hurting anyone (1)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524537)

+1 funny

lawsuits (5, Insightful)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524111)

It seems entertainment industry spends more time on lawsuits, copyright issues, piracy, etc. rather than producing new entertainment material.

Re:lawsuits (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524191)

As opposed to these people copying material from a 45 year old scripts for creating a derivative of a 45 year old series of shows? Clearly that is the height of creativity and original ideas.

AC is wise (3, Insightful)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524313)

Yes, clearly a new Charlie Sheen sitcom is more artistically valid than a fan effort to bring an unseen script to the web.

After all, all stories older than 45 years are void of legitimate artistic merit. How about all those poor saps continually regurgitating authors like Dickens, Hugo, Homer, Shakespeare... so sad. What did they contribute to the 2012 pilot season?

Re:AC is wise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524467)

Yes, clearly a new Charlie Sheen sitcom is more artistically valid than a fan effort to bring an unseen script to the web.

After all, all stories older than 45 years are void of legitimate artistic merit. How about all those poor saps continually regurgitating authors like Dickens, Hugo, Homer, Shakespeare... so sad. What did they contribute to the 2012 pilot season?

Bad example.

The train-wreck potential alone makes that art.

Re:AC is wise (1)

jordanjay29 (1298951) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524977)

Let's talk about Shit My Dad Says instead, and see what you think. Or is that just the case of actors over 75 years being void of legitimate artistic merit?

Re:lawsuits (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524783)

As opposed to these people copying material from a 45 year old scripts for creating a derivative of a 45 year old series of shows? Clearly that is the height of creativity and original ideas.

Are you taking about fan art, or most new Hollywood productions?

Re:lawsuits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524277)

What, another 16 episodes of Senior Versus Junior on Discovery isn't new?

Definition: Amicably (5, Funny)

Lumbre (1822486) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524159)

Amicably (am i ka blee): An adverb meaning money exchanged hands to simulate a friendly conflict resolution.

Re:Definition: Amicably (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524907)

Surely this is a Ferengi episode!

(OK, I know it's not.)
-l

Seems valid... (3, Insightful)

N0Man74 (1620447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524171)

That sounds disappointing, but it seems valid. It is obviously a fact that works from that time period are still protected by copyright.

Whether it is sane, or whether it promotes the progress of science and useful arts is another matter completely...

This is a lame story. (4, Informative)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524187)

Why is this news? Someone wants to directly copy material from a large corporation's profitable franchise, and the franchise says no. I think a big "Duh?" is in order.

If orignal author of the episode most likely wrote it under contract with CBS, his enthusiasm is immaterial, as the piece was not his to be enthusiastic about once he accepted money for it. If he did not do it under contract, his enthusiasm is immaterial, as the franchise was not his to be enthusiastic about. CBS is the entity that has the rights and trademarks for Star Trek, and if we are to have a productive society, the rights of ownership must be respected.

Re:This is a lame story. (3, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524283)

Why is this news?

Do you think an original unproduced script writer for star trek tries to direct his script on his own every day? Do you think star trek fans would find that interesting if one did?

Isn't that the definition of news? Something somewhat out of the ordinary happens involving something that people are interested in... sounds like the definition of new.

What I can't figure out is why so many people on slashdot can't figure out why things are considered news.

CBS is the entity that has the rights and trademarks for Star Trek, and if we are to have a productive society, the rights of ownership must be respected.

That's a completely unproven assertion.

Re:This is a lame story. (3, Insightful)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39525121)

What I can't figure out is why so many people on slashdot can't figure out why things are considered news.

A lot of people here follow the "if it's not important to me why would it be important to anyone else?" line of thinking.

Re:This is a lame story. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524673)

Why is this news? Someone wants to directly copy material from a large corporation's profitable franchise, and the franchise says no. I think a big "Duh?" is in order.

Because this is Slashdot - where perfectly ordinary and understandable occurrences are [faux] news because it draws eyeballs (ad revenue), and provides the daily Two Minutes Hate.

Re:This is a lame story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524713)

You're so full of righteous bullshit it makes me fucking puke. What are 'ownership rights' on 'intellectual property'? Nothing. Absolutely nothing at all. You can't own ideas. Ideas spring from entire cultures. They may be mediated by individual members of those cultures but they cannot be owned. They do not come into being because of some lone genius. That's just mythology. But in a world in which business has taken on cult status, in which sociopaths like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are idolized as heroes, such talk is hardly surprising.

Re:This is a lame story. (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39525217)

CBS's position is, the script was a 'work for hire', the way any script for an episodic tv show is. Writers were hired specifically to write for that show. Not all scripts or script ideas are used. Those that aren't used go on the shelf, probably to never be seen again. It would have been different if Norman had approached Desilu (the studio that was doing the original Star Trek) with a 'spec script', but that wasn't the case.

Read 'Voyager" at first glance (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524201)

and thought... nothing of value was lost.

Phase II is more Comedy than Sci-Fi (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524215)

Everytime I watch one of the episodes, I can't help LMAO they way they try to act like the old casts. Especially Spock!

Why not just license it? (5, Interesting)

FrankieBaby1986 (1035596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524223)

Why can't CBS just license it for a dollar? Copyright is enforced, license is legit, fans get something that CBS must know they're never going to do anything with. How many unproduced scripts can they have? Would they really ever re-make the series using the old scripts and use this one? Greed, pure and simple. "If we can't use it, nobody can"

We seriously need copyright reform. Copyright terms should be 14 years again. I think as a society, the we (the US) should just ignore copyrights after that time.

Re:Why not just license it? (1)

BMOC (2478408) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524295)

What if the law were changed such that any lawsuit challenging the use must demonstrate efforts to use said copyrighted material? i.e., a grace period under which a copyright/patent/trademark owner may let material sit on a shelf, but beyond which they lose control if they have not created anything from it.

Re:Why not just license it? (1)

FrankieBaby1986 (1035596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524657)

I like that idea better, but the tricky part is what counts as using it? Or efforts to use it? This may become difficult to enforce and create additional court cases arguing over proof of efforts. Far more effective to just set much shorter terms.

Re:Why not just license it? (2)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524803)

Yeah, that would seriously fuck the mouse, now, wouldn't it? Disney wouldn't be able to keep all their old stuff in the vault for decades to keep prices sky high for when they do rerelease stuff.

So when was the last time anybody saw 'Steamboat Willie'?

Re:Why not just license it? (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 2 years ago | (#39525033)

Just put in my DVD of 200 old cartoons in and watched it expressly for the purpose of telling you that it, and the other 199, cost me $5.

Is your point that 2.5 cents for a digital copy is excessive?

Re:Why not just license it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524887)

What if the law were changed such that any lawsuit challenging the use must demonstrate efforts to use said copyrighted material?

i.e., a grace period under which a copyright/patent/trademark owner may let material sit on a shelf, but beyond which they lose control if they have not created anything from it.

Honestly, a good idea in theory.

In practice, however, this would quickly turn into that traditional lawyer game of "Find The Loophole", wherein they would find the bare minimum definition of "use", both in monetary cost, creative effort, and legal wrangling, so they can automate their way back to unlimited copyrights again.

Re:Why not just license it? (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524335)

Or, you know, these peole could come up with their own original idea or an episode? Nooo. That would be silly...

Re:Why not just license it? (1)

FrankieBaby1986 (1035596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524703)

Because, no matter how they try, they aren't one of the original writers, living in the same timeframe, experiencing the same world that the writer was. This script presumably in some way is influenced by the era in which it was written. This is the work that I would want to see performed, as it would be more like the Original Series. While I've enjoyed the New Voyages episodes, this would have been a great opportunity to see something that CBS will simply let rot until it is forgotten and too late.

Re:Why not just license it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524747)

That wouldn't be Star Trek for the last ~10 years...

Re:Why not just license it? (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524761)

Or, you know, these peole could come up with their own original idea or an episode? Nooo. That would be silly...

What is your problem? The original author is involved with this episode. Secondly it wouldn't mater if they wrote a new script CBS would still sue for using their ancient star-teak IP. I don't understand people like you other than you're just negative little do-nothings who will never add anything of value to the world or help in anything that doesn't profit you. It's really fucking sad.

Re:Why not just license it? (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 2 years ago | (#39525115)

"The original author is involved with this episode."

On material he has already been paid for and contractually relinquished copyright of.

What, pray tell, is your problem with honoring contracts?

Re:Why not just license it? (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524971)

Why didn't the movie makers ask first?

Re:Why not just license it? (1)

Fned (43219) | more than 2 years ago | (#39525079)

Greed, pure and simple. "If we can't use it, nobody can"

Pride, Envy, Sloth, and Wrath, yes, but not Greed so much.

Why copyright should be 20 years (1 generation) (4, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524227)

With possibility of renewal if the original human is still alive.

This script is just sitting around, unused. If it were in the public domain, CBS could use it, or New Voyages could use it, or anybody could use it. Public domain PROMOTES artistic endeavors while the copy monopoly stifles it.

IMHO

Re:Why copyright should be 20 years (1 generation) (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524491)

That's a baseless claim. Copyrights may annoy copycats, but the existence of copyrights in their current form do not stop anyone from creating new ideas. Your idea of promoting artistic endeavors means giving artists shortcuts by "borrowing" public domain work. If the path of least resistance is simply taking someone else's IP and making some changes and reselling it, you don't think media corporations would almost exclusively be doing that now instead of trying to create new original ideas?

Re:Why copyright should be 20 years (1 generation) (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524739)

>>> Your idea of promoting artistic endeavors means giving artists shortcuts by "borrowing" public domain work

Yes.
Exactly.
And this copyright blocked the New Voyagers people, and even the original author, from converting a script to video form. It very, very clearly STIFLED creativity. The whole point is that Art is meant to be shared with EVERYONE, not locked up for 150 fucking years like YOU want it Anon. Coward

What's even worse is when the copy monopoly is used to deprive artists of their fair pay, as is typical in music contracts. Or when the record companies stole nearly 1 billion dollars from Canadian artists by taking their songs, putting them on greatest hits compilation CDs, and never paid the artists. All legally.

20 years should be enough time for the original author to make money. Then let it fall into the public domain (unless the author renews the copymonopoly).

Re:Why copyright should be 20 years (1 generation) (1)

oxdas (2447598) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524927)

I challenge you to name one truly "new" idea. Not an incremental change to an older idea, but something done without "taking someone else's IP and making some changes."?

I can't think of one.

Human ideas seem to me to be more about incremental improvement and changes. This is what makes the concept of copyright so valuable. It encourages people to release their changes so others can build upon them. If people are no longer allowed to generate thought through incremental changes to others ideas however, I would view this as damaging to long term human progress.

Re:Why copyright should be 20 years (1 generation) (2)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39525053)

Copyrights may annoy copycats, but the existence of copyrights in their current form do not stop anyone from creating new ideas.

Yes, they do. With a reasonably high priced team of lawyers, you can 'prove' that just about anything is derived from anything else, and derivatives belong to the original copyright holder. If I write a science fiction story and mention Vulcan as a planet, I have 'derived' the story from Star Trek. If I reference Vulcan as an industrial orbital platform, I've 'derived' the story from Cole & Bunch's 'Sten' series. The problem with the information age is two-fold. First, there's tons of media and information out there that can be accessed easily. It's almost impossible to prove you weren't influenced by any particular work. Second, everything is squirrelled away behind copyright and not going back into the public domain. Thus, the 'original artists', or the studios who aquired the copyrights of said works, can stomp on anyone they want.

Your idea of promoting artistic endeavors means giving artists shortcuts by "borrowing" public domain work. If the path of least resistance is simply taking someone else's IP and making some changes and reselling it, you don't think media corporations would almost exclusively be doing that now instead of trying to create new original ideas?

In a word, Disney. About the only 'original' work to come out of the Disney studio that I can think of offhand was 'The Black Hole', and everybody wants to forget that one. Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, The Lion King? All Disney captures of public domain works. John Carter? Yet another Disney capture of the public domain Edgar Rice Burroughs books. Who's 'taking shortcuts' now?

Re:Why copyright should be 20 years (1 generation) (1)

jordanjay29 (1298951) | more than 2 years ago | (#39525097)

Imagine if Newton or Leibniz had copyrighted Calculus. Now try to invent something without using that system of math, you've just lost the basis of modern engineering, computer systems, physics and economics. Good luck!

Even Newton himself admitted to using the works of others in his own. It was he who said, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." The ancient philosophers had the idea, even the Renaissance artists, what's the problem for modern times?

copyright trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524237)

This is the company that halted the distribution of a fun little app called Tricorder for the Android Smart phones. It tied all the different sensors from the phone into a neat little app with a screen appearance that looked passingly like the LCARS interface from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The app was FOSS, ad free, just a wonderful little homage to Star Trek that you could carry in your pocket. CBS said it infringed on their intellectual property rights and issued a cease and desist order of its distribution. They just didn't realize that this sort of fan based activity keeps the franchise in the public eye and really costs them nothing. It's free advertising and, if they work with the fans, good public relations.

I have several more things to say about the situation and the CBS legal department in general but they'd just get the posing banned for bad manners, bad language and all that sort of thing, so I'll leave it up to your imagination what I'd be saying.

IP yeah u know me (4, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524287)

Thankfully the era of media conglomerates owning pop culture will soon be over. With fan efforts like Kickstarter, new IP can be made with a Creative Commons or Copyleft scheme that will preserve it from being captured and abused by corporations while allowing fans free creative reign.

Can you imagine what western culture would be like if Homer's descendants were the Greek Disneys?

public: Hey, he didn't even make up the original myths, he just retold them!

Greek lawyers: Doesn't matter. Copyright extents to the author's death plus 3,000 years.

public: But what about culture?

Greek lawyer: These temples don't pay for themselves, bitch. Now we've gotta take it up with the Hebrews on this Samson character. Clearly they're infringing on our Herakles IP.

Hebrew lawyers: Get in line. We're already filing a lawsuit against those Messianics for unauthorized derivative material. They lifted our entire Torah and just added new material at the end.

St. Paul Diddy: It's called sampling. This book wasn't nothing before I got here.

troll lawyers: Cease and desist all of you. We bought the IP rights to the Sumerian tablets. All of you are in violation.

Re:IP yeah u know me (4, Funny)

cpghost (719344) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524353)

Greek lawyer: These temples don't pay for themselves, bitch.

As a matter of fact, Eurozone countries are already paying back [bloomberg.com] the Greek for the privilege. They just do it under a false pretext.

Re:IP yeah u know me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524571)

Thankfully the era of media conglomerates owning pop culture will soon be over.

It's a nice dream.. and I'd love to see it happen, but I doubt this will be coming any time soon (or ever).

At least in most cases, you still need "the big guys" to make "the big money". Much as we love to talk about media producers as selfless artists, most of them want to make money. When the big media companies come calling offering to make their dreams come true, most are gonna go for it. This will keep them in power for a long time.

There will always be an indie scene, but I think it's gonna stay just that... a scene. I don't see it ever taking over for big media. Lots of people like indie content for what it is, but the big budget stuff we all love to put down is popular for a reason.. it's what most people want.

Re:IP yeah u know me (1)

Fned (43219) | more than 2 years ago | (#39525135)

At least in most cases, you still need "the big guys" to make "the big money".

When a production company sets a budget for a director to produce a film, where does that money come from?

Think hard. I'm sure you'll figure out the answer soon.

(Hint: "They just... already had it, somehow..." is not the correct answer)

Re:IP yeah u know me (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39525167)

Lots of people like indie content for what it is, but the big budget stuff we all love to put down is popular for a reason.. it's what most people want.

No, the big budget stuff is what the studios tell us we want. From everything I'm hearing, even with Disney hyping and advertising it beyond the stars, John Carter is reputedly a flop, and they spent a ton of money telling everybody they want to see John Carter.

Uh-oh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524473)

Looks like the New Voyages site has been Slashdotted....the site won't load!

Dog. Manger. Same old, same old. (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524579)

It's a shame the episode won't be made. Nothing like stuffing creativity in a vault to protect it from ever being recognized.

Re:Dog. Manger. Same old, same old. (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524789)

If CBS can't make money with it, than no one shall enjoy it.

Star Trek as a Religion (1, Funny)

bashibazouk (582054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39524663)

Why could we not just declare Star Trek a religion? It pretty much is one at this point. As long as what is produced is not for profit, I would think the creation of "religious materials" might get better protection.

Of course IANAL constitutional or otherwise...

Re:Star Trek as a Religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39525163)

Religions do get copyright protection too... I believe that is how scientology was able to file a lot of their lawsuits... copyright violation

Even if... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39524763)

Even if copyright terms were reasonable (20 yrs or so), it seems likely that cbs would still have the trademark for Star Trek, which seems reasonable to me (trademark being the only IP designed to protect consumers rather than producers).

If they called it something other than Star Trek they could get around that, but cbs is bound by law to protect their trademark, or lose it. Admittedly they could license it, and maybe they should but they shouldn't be forced to as this would undermine the whole purpose of trademark law (that the consumer can be assured that a 'known' company's standards were applied to the creation of a given product).

As much as we may hate all the other IP laws, trademark law should stay in place, it may not be perfect, but it does facilitate consumers being 'informed' (ie. I trust company X, company Y does things I don't like) more than nearly any other law.

Is there any possibility... (4, Informative)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39525147)

...that mindshare of the older star trek properties, designs and interfaces will fade, since CBS isn't doing much with them and they're absolutely forbidding anyone else to keep old Trek in the public eye? It seems like CBS's interests would be better served to provide license at reasonable cost, and keep the properties in the public eye.

wah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39525159)

They own it you don't boo hoo, go cry over it you 99%ers

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