Just days if not hours after proclaiming to his small cadre of fans that he plans to defy new fan-film guidelines published by CBS Corp. and Paramount Pictures, David Whitney has decided to change his mind.
Whitney, the producer of the fan-film formerly called “Star Trek: Raven,” now says he intends to follow the guidelines, even expressing gratitude to the studios for offering them.
“I’d like to thank CBS for making the (guidelines) public, so we know what their law team and their licensing team are looking for,” Whitney wrote on the production’s official website.
The letter appears similar to one posted on the same page of “Raven’s” website last week where Whitney made it clear he was going to ignore some of the guidelines CBS and Paramount issued after one executive said the fan-film community turned into an “arm’s race.”
“We are going to try to conform our film … to the new rules, but I do have some small but not unimportant issues with the newly published guidelines,” Whitney said in his original letter. “The rules which pertain to direct copyright infringement and intellectual property will be adhered to. The rules which do not directly support their copyright, and copyright law, will be ignored.”
The guidelines Whitney originally said he would defy included limiting productions to 15 minutes, not compensating those who work on the production, and the prohibition of providing rewards to those who donate to a production. Whitney added that CBS and Paramount would “have a hard time making a complaint in court, should they decide to do so.”
However, all of that language is missing from the revised letter, and Whitney did not disclose with this new letter that the language and position had changed significantly. The letter includes a line that disclaims the statements as Whitney’s, and that they can “change tomorrow,” but Whitney does not indicate to new readers of the letter that they have indeed already changed.
When asked about why he changed his statement, Whitney told 1701News in an email that this new letter is not a retraction, but “more of a clarification.”
“I still have issues with the guidelines,” he said. “And I can express those however I feel. That’s what being a free American is all about.”
Whitney added that he was “informed on some things. Things I can’t share. I’d sure like to, but can’t.”
“I think I got some good advice,” he said. “I like my team. They tend to stear [sic] me in the right direction.”
Raven is an Iowa production that takes place a year after the USS Voyager is lost in “Star Trek: Voyager.” Whitney included a timeline for production that filming would take place at the end of 2015, with the first episode being made available this month. It’s not clear if the production has adhered to that timeline.
AxaMonitor, a resource site that focuses solely on the Axanar case and ancillary news surrounding it, maintains a partial list of how various fan productions have responded to the new guidelines. Many have suspended production, awaiting clarification of the guidelines, while others — like the former “Star Trek: Renegades” — have dropped all Star Trek elements from the production.