Star Trek Fan Fiction: Copyright Infringement?

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Star Trek Fan Fiction: Copyright Infringement?
Introduction
As I sat in during one of the many Westlaw training sessions this year, I heard rumors that the company instructor and research guru John Lim was a part time actor. A quick trip to IMDB confirmed that John Lim played Hikaru Sulu in a fan fiction series named Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II. With the proliferation of the Internet, it has become easier than ever before to have access to other fans of a certain work and as a result, create alternate versions of their favorite works together to share with the world. However, should this be allowed? As the original creators no doubt have spent pain stacking hours developing its plot and characters, they should have a legitimate right to be worried that such fan fiction could not only besmirch their brand’s reputation but also may deprive them of potential revenue. On the other hand, the science and especially the arts both have a long tradition of using original works as a platform for new creations or adaptations. As a result, balancing the interest of the creators of an original work while not stifling creativity is crucial to fully understanding the conflict that fan fiction potentially presents to the entertainment industry. This paper outlines the basic provisions of copyright law, examines the effects of fan fiction, and provides insight to whether fan fiction of series like Star Trek is a copyright violation through a comparison to cases that we have studied this semester.
Basics of Copyright Law
Under the US Constitution Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 “Congress shall have the Power… to Promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Since its enactment in 1790, there has been a longstanding debate over what works are protectable, how long the protection lasts, and what is considered an infringement. While the

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