Studios, Axanar Release Trial's Witness List
Table of Contents
Defendant Alec Peters was scheduled for the longest time on the witness stand, according to the list of expected witnesses filed by attorneys for Axanar and the studios suing him and his production company for copyright infringement.
A list of witnesses expected to testify at Axanar’s trial, scheduled to begin January 31, 2017, is required ahead of the trial under the rules of the U.S. district court. It was filed as a joint statement
The witness list submitted by attorneys for CBS and Paramount Pictures was filed December 19. It did not include any witnesses who could be called for rebuttal or to challenge other witnesses’ credibility. The studios also reserved the right to call any witness on the defendants’ witness list, even if they are not called by the defense.
- Alec Peters — 6 hrs testimony, unknown cross-examination
- Peters is a defendant and president of Axanar Productions Inc. He was expected to testify about the development, production, and content of Prelude to Axanar, the screenplay for the feature Axanar Script and other Axanar works (e.g., the Vulcan Scene). His testimony was expected to focus on the Star Trek source material he used to create the Axanar works. His testimony was expected to describe his ownership and control of Axanar Productions, as well as to how he spent donor money and about his public statements about Axanar.
- Diana Kingsbury — 1 hr testimony, 1 hr cross
Kingsbury is Axanar’s director of fulfillment, overseeing shipping of Axanar merchandise. She was Peters’ girlfriend for much of the time covered by the lawsuit. She was expected to testify about how donor funds were spent, and about her income from 2013 through 2016.
- Terry McIntosh — 30 mins testimony, cross unknown
McIntosh was Axanar’s chief technology officer. He was expected to testify about issues regarding Peters’ attempt to assert intellectual property rights in Axanar, and how Peters decided who in the Axanar project was to be paid from donor funds, and how much.
- Christian Gossett — 2 hrs testimony, cross unknown
Gossett was director of the short film, Prelude to Axanar. He was expected to testify about extensive communication with Peters about Axanar, including discussion of the project’s source material such as Star Trek the Original Series and the game sourcebook, “The Four Years War.” His testimony was expected to focus on the copying of Star Trek design elements in the Axanar works, communication with Peters about the commercial studio built with donor funds and to Peters’ claimed discussions with CBS, Netflix and Amazon. He was also to testify about his opinion on whether Prelude to Axanar infringed upon Star Trek.
- Bill Burke — 1 hr testimony, unknown cross
Burke is senior vice-president of marketing at CBS Consumer Products. He works in New York City. Burke leads marketing strategy for CBS properties. He was expected to testify about his contacts with Peters and Star Trek product licensing.
- John Van Citters — 5 hrs testimony, unknown cross
Van Citters is vice president of product development at CBS Consumer Products in Los Angeles. He was expected to testify about CBS’ ownership and licensing of Star Trek, as well as his contact with Peters and Axanar’s infringement of Star Trek’s copyrights — specifically, the various characters and works copied by Axanar. Van Citters’ testimony as an expert on Star Trek’s copyrighted works has been challenged by the defense.
- Daniel O'Rourke — 1 hr testimony, 1 hr cross
- O’Rourke is Paramount Pictures’ vice president for rights and research. He was expected to testify about Paramount’s ownership of Star Trek works and the extent of damage from Axanar’s copyright infringement.
- Alec Peters — 2 hrs testimony, 3 hrs cross
- As the founder of Axanar, Peters was expected testify in the defense case about what the defense called “the mockumentary style of Prelude and current plans for producing Axanar in the same format. He was expected to testify about the history of his relationship with CBS regarding Star Trek, including his volunteer service for CBS. He is expected to testify about his ‘innocent intent with respect to any infringement,” and how he relied on longstanding fan film tradition in Star Trek in attempting to produce Axanar. He expected to testify about his history as a fan of Star Trek. The defense has challenged the admissibility of many of these associated topics.
- Robert Meyer Burnett — 2 hrs testimony, 1½ hrs cross
Burnett was the intended director of Axanar. He was expected to testify to the various inspirations and plans for the feature film. He was also expected to describe his former relationship with CBS in connection with Star Trek.
- Bill Hunt — 2 hrs testimony, 1 hr cross
Hunt co-wrote the Axanar script. He was expected to testify about various iterations of the screenplay, current plans and how he relied on the statements of Star Trek director Justin Lin and producer J.J. Abrams in revising the script. He was expected to explain how the script has changed since Axanar’s self-described “fully revised, locked” draft that led the plaintiffs to file their copyright infringement lawsuit. The plaintiffs have challenged the admissibility of scripts written after they filed suit.
- Reece Watkins — 45 mins testimony, 30 mins cross
Watkins is an Axanar fan and donor, and a Star Trek fan. He had claimed his passion for Star Trek was reinvigorated by his watching Prelude to Axanar, leading him to purchase more official Star Trek merchandise. He also took part in polling Axanar fans on Facebook about their own experiences. The plaintiffs have challenged the relevance of Watkins’ testimony.
- Christian Tregillis — 1 hr testimony, 1 hr cross
Tregillis is a certified public accountant and avowed expert expected to offer an expert opinion on whether Axanar resulted in real damages to the studios’ copyrighted property. He had prepared a report finding indications that fan films generally benefit the studios’ franchises, and that Axanar specifically has benefited the plaintiffs, and that the defendants had earned no profits as any possible copyright infringement.
- Dr. Henry Jenkins — 1 hr testimony, 1 hr cross
Jenkins, a media studies professor at the University of Southern California, is an expert witness and purported preeminent scholar on Star Trek fan fiction culture. Jenkins has been writing about Star Trek fans and their works for 30 years. He was expected to testify about the benefit of fan fiction and the transformative nature of fan fiction, including Prelude to Axanar. The plaintiffs have challenged his status as an expert given his legal conclusions about copyright law without formal legal training, and his alleged lack of disclosure that he relied on outside legal experts in forming his conclusions.
- Jonathan Lane —2 hrs testimony, 1 hr cross
Jonathan Lane is an Axanar donor and surrogate who blogs at Fan Film Factor and has led a fundraising effort on Axanar’s behalf. At the defendant’s request he compiled a document purporting to present the history of fan films. Lane planned to discuss the extent to which specific fan films exist and have proliferated as part of Star Trek fan culture. The plaintiffs have challenged his status as an expert witness and the relevance of his report to the case, since they have alleged Axanar was, in Peters’ own words, intended as a professional production rather than a fan film.
- John Van Citters — 2 hrs testimony, 1 hr cross
- The defense planned to examine Van Citters regarding his previous communication and relationships with Peters and proposed fan film expert witness Lane. Van Citters was at the center of many email communications about Axanar and other Star Trek fan films. The defense had challenged plaintiff’s plans to have Van Citters testify about substantial similarity between Star Trek and Axanar.
- Liz Kalodner — 1 hr testimony, 30 mins cross
Kalodner is the executive vice-president of CBS Consumer Products. She was expected by the defense to testify regarding her previous communications Peters, and about other fan films. The defense also planned to question her about the relationship CBS has with Star Trek New Voyages producer James Cawley, with whom CBS has licensed a tour of his Star Trek sets, presumably drawing a parallel between Cawley's licensed sets and Peters’ commercial soundstage business, built with funds raised from Star Trek fans to produce Axanar.
- Bill Burke — 1 hr testimony, 30 mins cross
- CBS executive Burke was expected to testify regarding email communications about Axanar, as well as his longstanding knowledge about the existence of Star Trek fan films. The defense also planned to question him regarding CBS’ relationship with fan producer James Cawley regarding his licensed tour of Star Trek sets, presumably drawing a parallel between the licensed commercialization of Cawley’s studio and Peters' studio, built with funds raised for the production of his unlicensed Star Trek film.
- Justin Lin — 40 mins testimony, 30 mins cross
- As director of Paramount’s feature, Star Trek Beyond, Lin tweeted support for fan films after the lawsuit was filed, stating, “Star Trek belongs to all of us [fans].” The defense planned to question him about his part in a public effort to end the lawsuit. He was also expected by the defense to testify as a longtime Star Trek fan that he wasn’t familiar with the Star Trek character Garth of Izar, upon whom the Axanar works are based., and that Lin wasn’t aware of any effect on his Star Trek efforts as a result of Axanar. The plaintiffs have challenged the admissibility of Lin’s testimony since he is not a spokesman for, or employee of, Paramount or CBS, and that any comments he made after the filing of the suit were irrelevant.
- J.J. Abrams — 40 mins testimony, 30 mins cross
- Abrams is the producer of Star Trek projects for Paramount. Months after the lawsuit was filed he announced at a public event the lawsuit would be “going away.” The defense also planned for him to testify about internal communications in which Abrams explored potential partnerships with fan filmmakers and expressed hope about the end of the lawsuit; he was also expected to testify there was no adverse impact on Star Trek because of Axanar. The plaintiffs have challenged the admissibility of Abrams’ testimony since he is not a spokesman for, or employee of, Paramount or CBS, and that any comments he made after the filing of the suit were irrelevant.
See also: Abrams' and Lin's Testimony
Expected Length of Trial
Testimony and cross-examination of these witnesses were expected as part of a 10-15 day trial beginning January 31.