Andrew Breese

Musings of a professional geek

CBS lawyers pull Trek iPhone theme

Here is a quick what-in-hell action – the owners of the Star Trek franchise have had an iphone theme pulled as it infringes their material. A total screw-up of a great opportunity to encourage and guide the Star Trek community. Initiating Nerd-Rage.

 “we certainly don’t have the legal backing or the ability to fund a defensive lawsuit,”

  • How about helping the guy with the app?
  • How about telling him its not to be released until its up to a very high standard, and them promoting it through the blogs, forums, and Internet?
  • Or even just staying out of the way and letting the fanbase get a few hours of fun from it.

Somebody explain to me how in hell this would be a legit attack on their ownership? Oh, yes – the money they’ll make. Then get involved, take a percentage, and leave the guy in peace to make a small stripend per sale.

How does this damage their brand? Um, can’t help you there, no idea. maybe the risk is if its done badly, then it’ll look bad. Not as bad as killing the project from the outset in my opinion.

Oh also, if you don’t protect it apparently you loose it (or somesuch), and CBS did so much work creating that design and IP  in the first place (buying a TV show is way different from actually creating a show…) that they really feel the need to shelter their baby. Sheltered workshop more likely.

Then there is the no-AT-AT for America outcome, which has the Star Wars IP owners doing the same thing. This is nothing new from Lucas, but in a strange turn up for the history books it seems that Lucas actually didn’t tread heavily on this one at all, and the guy who started the ATAT-for-A project is cool with the outcome. So a bit of kudos for Lucus Films for not shashing it all, and handling it in an OK manner. Strange days when Lucas does that well, but maybe the tards* who used to work at Lucas are now up the road at CBS.

These are powerful IPs and should be protected against fraud and misuse – don’t get me wrong. But fans creating an iphone theme, or a fan trying to create a life sized ATAT is exactly the type of dream hype that these studios should want, especially if they are looking to keep the fan-base alive. Should they be asking for cash from the public – no, and that seems to be where the crux of the issue is. The studio has to control and be paid, all else is secondary.

Has Lucas or CBS (et al) done anything in the last 5 years except drain the wallets of the fanbase? Oh, the clonewars cartoons? Well they’re ok. I find them almost impossible to catch at a consistent time, unless I’m willing to watch them through a silly kids TV show. But wait, maybe its more about the franchise toys than anything else. And Star Trek has done next to sweet f-all of value. Please consider that William Shattner has a larger profile than Star Trek, and you get the point that the show’s presence  is dying a very slow and painful death.

These were two seriously huge “social media” opportunities which were not only missed, but crashed by protectionist attitudes. Both could have been influeneced and supported, with a bit of brand control and a lot of thinking time. Both could have been nice stories of a positive experience, and even if the outcome was the same, both could have been good stories to incite joy in the fans, rather than ire.

What next – A cease and desist for Chad Vader?

How about this – next Star Wars/Trek convention somebody go dressed up as a batch the studio reps. Nice big shard suits, a nerdly looking guy with a legal briefcase behind them. A copy of Law for Dummies under one arm, and an EftPos machine in the other. Walkthrough the Con handing out cease and desist letters to all the cos-play players, and put an electronic payment form on the bottom of the form in case the cos-player wished to buy the rights to walk in costume.

Happy playing, but please use all your own IP, or they’ll send the lawyers.

* Tard: you know the meaning, its just the best word I can summon without getting a tripple x rating and getting banned from the Internet, again.

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