For two years, a group of die-hard Star Trek fans labored to create Stage 9, a totally noncommercial virtual replica of the USS Enterprise built with Unreal Engine; they assumed that when CBS Vice President for Product Development John Van Citters was serious in 2016, when he publicly acknowledged the debt that Star Trek owes to its fans and assured people creating fan media that "They’re not going to hear from us. They’re not going to get a phone call, they’re not going to get an email. They’re not going to get anything that’s going to ruin their day one way or another and make them feel bad, like they’ve done something wrong."
But then the fans got a cease and desist from CBS, ordering them to shut down Stage 9.
They tried to talk to the lawyer who sent the letter (that person left for vacation right after sending it); they tried to talk to Van Citters. No one would return their calls. Finally, they got in touch with the lawyer who sent the letter, offering to make any changes that would put CBS at ease. The lawyer told them they had to take their project down -- or else.
CBS and Paramount publish fan art guidelines that Stage 9 seems to have adhered to. When CBS/Paramount sued the team behind the crowdfunded Star Trek fan-film Axanar (previously) the company pointed to these guidelines as evidence of their good faith.
Star Trek was famously saved from cancellation by fans who had kept the story alive through unauthorized fiction and art, and who rallied to keep the show on the air.
However, thirteen days after receiving the cease-and-desist, Stage 9 was able to speak with their original contact in the CBS legal department. It proved a complete waste of time.
“We were hoping, perhaps naively, that the elements of Stage 9 that CBS did not approve of would be highlighted to us, so we could be sure to remove these elements from the project and create something that met with, if not their approval, then at least their acceptance,” Scragnog explains.
To keep the project alive, the team were prepared to make any changes ordered by CBS. Sadly, CBS said that the project could not continue in any form, no matter what changes were made. They provided no further details and, as noted by Eurogamer, did not indicate how Stage 9 had violated the fan art guidelines previously published by CBS and Paramount.
“It’s a truly horrible situation to be in when something that tries to respect Star Trek can be eliminated without any opportunity for open dialog,” Scragnog concludes.
CBS Shuts Down Stage 9, a Fan-Made Recreation of the USS Enterprise [Andy/Torrentfreak]