Boldly Going Where No Copyright Lawsuit Has Gone Before: Fan Films & the Battle for Axanar
Speaker: Erin R. Ranahan, Partner, Winston & Strawn
Monday, March 13, 2017
Meeting Location: DOMA Beverly Hills (Downstairs)
Was the Axanar copyright infringement case brought by Paramount and CBS the final frontier of lawsuits against fan films – or just the beginning? With advances in technology enabling fan filmmakers to create low-budget films that look more and more like big-budget features, studios are left to decide whether to threaten and/or pursue litigation against some of their biggest fans, or allow fan films to live long and prosper.
In Axanar, Plaintiffs alleged that a 21-minute “mockumentary” fan film, Prelude to Axanar, and various draft screenplays for a yet-to-be produced longer fan film based on Prelude, constituted copyright infringement of fifty separate Star Trek works. After a year of hotly contested litigation, the Axanar case recently settled on the eve of trial. This was not before a wild ride in the media that featured surprising public statements by a Star Trek producer and director, the issuance of Star Trek fan film guidelines in the middle of the lawsuit, media scrutiny, and strong fan reaction.
Winston & Strawn partner Erin Ranahan will discuss her experience as lead defense counsel in the case, including what factors led Plaintiffs to target Defendants (despite the existence of hundreds of other Star Trek fan films), various challenges in the case, and rulings along the way, including those involving substantial similarity, liability and fair use. She will also address the potential impact this litigation will have on future cases.
Erin Ranahan is a Litigation Partner of Winston & Strawn, where she focuses her practice on copyright, new media, entertainment, trademark, right of publicity, and false advertising litigation. She has handled several high-profile intellectual property matters, including Axanar, and was on the team that won an important legal victory on behalf of Veoh in the landmark battle in UMG Recordings v. Veoh. Erin also successfully defended Myxer, a ringtone company and leader in ad-supported mobile entertainment, in a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by several of the world’s largest record companies, and represented several EMI entities that won summary judgment in the Nafal a copyright case, the original copyright infringement lawsuit against Jay-Z about the song “Big Pimpin.” She has and continues to represent Wolfgang’s Vault in various copyright and other intellectual property disputes. In 2016, Erin was recognized as a Law360 Rising Star, named to Benchmark Litigation’s “Under 40 Hot List,” and selected as one of the top “40 Under 40” attorneys by the Daily Journal. She was also recognized in The Legal 500 2016 for her work in copyright. She was named one of “Hollywood’s New Leaders” in Law in the October 2014 issue of Variety Magazine.
Monday, March 13, 2017
DOMA Beverly Hills (Downstairs)
362 North Camden Drive
Beverly Hills, California 90210
Check-In: 6:30 PM
Dinner: 7:00 PM
Program: 8:00 PM
The price for the dinner will be $75.00 for members and $85.00 for guests of members, associates, and members who miss the noon deadline.