FOR SALE An Alabama bookseller announced her sale of donor-funded Axanar merchandise on the Axanar Atlanta Volunteers Facebook group.

Website Sells Axanar Merchandise for Big Potential Profits

Seller Claims No Affiliation with Axanar Productions and that Peters Discarded the Items

AN ALABAMA website has begun selling allegedly abandoned Axanar Productions merchandise potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, claiming no affiliation with the company, and that lawyers cleared the items for sale despite the copyright infringement cloud over Axanar’s operations.

AXA-STUFF Merchandise created with Axanar donors’ money offers a profit-making opportunity for someone else.

Profiting from Axanar Merch

Axanar donors were surprised to find on October 25, 2017, that patches and other items manufactured with the money they had contributed toward the never-to-be-produced Axanar feature film were being sold on Author, Author! website, an Alabama-based bookseller.

Donors' Money Paid for Merchandise

According to his financial statements, Axanar producer Alec Peters spent at least $25,142 on producing perks for his donors, even though the most popular promised perks depended on production of the Axanar feature film, now prohibited by the settlement of the copyright infringement lawsuit against him brought by Star Trek owners CBS and Paramount Pictures.

Contributors’ money instead went to produce patches and other merchandise offered for sale on the Axanar website’s Donor Store. Merchandise sales — including coffee, books, posters, clothing, Blu-rays DVDs and especially patches — drawing from Star Trek intellectual property was one of the chief criticisms of Axanar during the copyright lawsuit.

No detailed accounting of revenue produced by Axanar’s Donor Store has never been disclosed by Peters.

That online store was shut down in the aftermath of the copyright settlement, leaving Peters saddled with thousands of items for which he had to raise more money to move from his failed Industry Studios outside Los Angeles to his new location in Lawrenceville, Ga.

TAKING STOCK Author, Author!'s Laura Beard Hayden attended Axanar’s October 21, 2017, open house, where she appeared to take inventory of merchandise she was to sell on her website.

Inventory

Peters appeared to have manufactured many more patches than he actually needed to fulfill donors’ perks. Apparently prohibited from selling the excess inventory himself, he struck a deal the woman who operates the Author, Author! website, Laura Beard Hayden.

Along with her promise of “adding more items soon,” 1) Hayden’s website offered:

  • A set of five Fleet Patches for $34.99
  • Seven individual patches at $8 apiece
  • The original soundtrack for the short film, Prelude to Axanar, on CD, for $15

Peters reportedly had tens of thousands of patches on hand. Sold at $8 apiece, the merchandise would be worth hundreds of thousands in profits to Hayden.

No Comment from Seller

Hayden, however, refused to answer any questions posed by AxaMonitor about her Axanar merchandise sales:

I have no evidence that you are a bonafide journalist. A review of your website indicates otherwise. I’m not interested in your witch hunt. At that, have a good day.2)
FAN CONNECTION Laura Beard Hayden claims no association with Axanar, except for her pledge to help Alec Peters.

Examining Website's Claims

In email responses to others’ queries about the provenance of the Axanar merchandise, Hayden claimed:

  • Peters gave her his excess inventory for free.
  • Her re-sale of the merchandise did not violate CBS’ fan film guidelines.
  • Her merchandise did not violate Star Trek copyrights or trademarks.
  • Neither she nor her website were “associated with Axanar Productions in any way.”3)

Excess Inventory

According to Hayden, Peters, who was constrained from selling the merchandise, allowed her to have it all — for free:

When learning the only other recourse for these items was probably the county dump, we asked and were allowed to take them, and we were told we could do with them as we liked. No strings, no conditions, no payments made, no repayments required, no return.4)

« This was vetted by the original lawyers involved in the CBS/Paramount case. » Laura Hayden Beard, Author, Author! Bookseller

Alec Peters

Peters, through spokesman Mike Bawden, refused to confirm Hayden’s account that he’d given her the products for her to sell, describing the situation as “a case of an Axanar donor selling some Axanar merchandise.”5)

“The sale has nothing to do with Axanar Productions,” Peters said.6)

"Best Bet for Axanar Swag"

Peters described the arrangement with Hayden somewhat differently on the closed Axanar Fan Group on Facebook:

Laura is your best bet for Axanar swag. … If you want any Axanar swag, Laura has it all! We will only be handling merchandise that are the perks our donors are due.7)

In a later edit, Peters changed his post, saying, “If you want any Axanar swag, Laura has a good selection.”8)

See also: What's Up With the Perks? to learn the history of Axanar’s perks and how they were paid for.

Fan Film Guidelines

Hayden also claimed her sales of merchandise from the Axanar fan production did not run afoul of CBS’ guidelines:

Because we are lovers of all things Star Trek, we’ve made sure the items meet the tenets and/or requirements of the fan film guidelines. Therefore, we’ve made sure that the items we are selling — in no way — violate the Star Trek IP, and, unless and until the owner(s) of the Axanar IP asks us to suspend sales, we are within all legal [bounds] to offer these items for purchase.9)

Not a Fan Film

However, Hayden is not a fan film producer; whatever protection the guidelines offer fan filmmakers from copyright infringement claims do not apply to her or her website. Moreover, Axanar’s disposition of its inventory would still appear to fall under the guidelines’ copyright constraints as “unlicensed Star Trek-related or fan production-related merchandise” precluded from sale or being given away.

Star Trek IP

Hayden also claimed “no item we have in stock contains any wording or reference to Star Trek.”10)

NO MORE STAR TREK After claiming no merchandise referred to Star Trek, an actual reference to Star Trek on the Prelude soundtrack appeared to have been scrubbed from the Author, Author! website.
THE ACTUAL CD features an additional Star Trek reference, to Axanar’s now-defunct Web address, contrary to the image used to sell the product. Click image to view full-size.

However, at least two pieces of merchandise did, including the Prelude soundtrack, whose back cover as displayed on Hayden’s website on October 26 included the words, “Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry,” and Axanar’s now-defunct Web address, www.StarTrekAxanar.com.

By October 27, that image was replaced with one in which those words and the Web address no longer appeared. Also, one of the patches displayed the copyrighted Vulcan IDIC symbol.

Soon after the initial publication of this article, Hayden’s website completely eliminated its image of the back cover of the Prelude soundtrack CD, while continuing to sell the item, presumably with the Star Trek references intact.

Meanwhile, the CD continued to be featured in a category on the site along with explicit Star Trek products, until suddenly pulled less than a week later from the website with a notice it was out of stock.

Soundtrack for Free

While Hayden’s website charges $15 for the Prelude soundtrack, the composer, Alexander Bornstein, actually offers all the tracks from the CD for free on his personal website.

"Vetted by Lawyers"

Hayden further claimed that her sale of Axanar’s merchandise had legal sanction:

This was vetted by the original lawyers involved in the CBS/Paramount case.11)

It was not clear whether she referred to Axanar’s lawyers from Winston & Strawn or CBS/Paramount’s lawyers from Loeb & Loeb. It also was not clear whether her claimed vetting was done directly on her behalf, or if she was merely informed of such secondhand by Peters.

In a Facebook post, Peters indicated Hayden was acting on his advice:

I advised her not to sell anything with Star Trek IP on it, and being that there is no Star Trek IP on the items she is selling, CBS has no say in what she does.12)
SECRET GROUP Laura Beard Hayden, claiming no association with any Axanar fan group is a member of this secret Facebook group. Click image to view full size.

Without a connection to Axanar Productions, it’s not likely Winston lawyers would have provided legal advice to a third party not involved in CBS/Paramount’s suit against Axanar and Peters.

No Connection to Axanar?

Hayden, however, claimed there was no such connection between her and Peters. “We are not associated with Axanar Productions in any way,” she stated.13)

Indeed, the talking point came from Peters himself:

Note there is no connection between Axanar Productions and Laura, and we have no deal with her. She is under no obligation to give any money to Axanar Productions.14)

Donation Back to Axanar?

That language — “under no obligation to give any money” — appeared to not preclude Hayden from voluntarily donating any proceeds back to Axanar. Meanwhile, Hayden refused to answer any questions about proceeds from her sales of the merchandise she received for free.

Soliciting Donations for Axanar

PASS-THROUGH Despite protestations of no association with Axanar, Laura Beard Hayden’s website initially offered to raise money on its behalf. Click image to view full size

Despite her claim she had no association with Axanar Productions, Hayden’s website initially provided a link for buyers to donate money to Peters through her website, an apparent end run around the settlement’s prohibition against Axanar conducting any public fundraising.

Peters dismissed any financial connection between him and Hayden: “The sale has nothing to do with Axanar Productions.”15)

After an emailed inquiry asking whether such a link was allowed under Axanar’s settlement, Hayden deleted the donation link from the page by the following day.

For his part, Peters described Hayden merely as “an Axanar donor.”16)

Unaffiliated with Axanar Fan Groups?

Hayden went on to claim she was “not associated with nor represent Axanar Productions or their Fan Club/Fan Group or any other group that has formed in their support.”17)

That appeared to contradict what Hayden pledged to Peters on Facebook on May 21:

Laura Beard Hayden
May 21
Alec, count on the Haydens to be your Birmingham connection for Alabama-area fans.
18)

A Secret

Also, Hayden was listed as a member of the closed Facebook group, Axanar Atlanta Volunteers, whose status was changed from “closed” to “secret,” making the group and its members invisible to Facebook’s public search engine.

A fan group also purporting to be independent was caught selling Axanar merchandise at Dragon*Con in September 2017, running afoul of the convention’s rules and spurring a complaint by Prelude actor Tony Todd that his image shouldn’t be used to sell Axanar merchandise.

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Keywords

1)
Laura Beard Hayden post to Axanar Atlanta Volunteers Facebook group, 10/25/17.
2)
Email from Laura Beard Hayden to AxaMonitor editor Carlos Pedraza, 10/27/17.
3) , 4) , 9)
Laura Beard Hayden email to B——, 10/26/17.
5) , 6) , 15) , 16)
Email from Axanar spokesman Mike Bawden to AxaMonitor editor Carlos Pedraza, 10/27/17.
7) , 12) , 14)
Alec Peters comment on Laura Beard Hayden’s post on the Axanar Fan Group on Facebook, 10/25/17.
8)
Edit of Alec Peters’ comment on Laura Beard Hayden’s post on the Axanar Fan Group on Facebook, 10/25/17.
10) , 11)
Laura Beard Hayden email to G——, 10/26/17.
13) , 17)
Laura Beard Hayden emails to B——, 10/26/17.
18)
Laura Beard Hayden post on Facebook, 5/21/27.