What just happened? Another day, another cease and desist letter aimed at a fan-made project. Unusually, it wasn’t a game that incurred the license holder’s wrath on this occasion; it was a virtual recreation of the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
As reported by Eurogamer, the Stage 9 project was the creation of a British Trekkie going by the name ‘Scragnog,’ who had been working on the Unreal engine-powered piece for two years. “I originally created Stage-9 in 2016 as a piece of fan-art,” he explained. “To be able to walk around on the Enterprise-D always excited me.”
Stage 9 could be experienced on PC and supported the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive VR headsets. Users were able to explore the ship, travel to various decks using the turbolift, enter different rooms, and interact with objects. It was all pretty impressive.
Scragnog had emphasized that Stage 9 was not an officially licensed product—in his words, the project was always just fan-art. “We had no affiliation with CBS or Paramount, and the IP we were trying our hardest to treat with respect was not our own,” he said. And there was no money involved, either; the team that helped with the project consisted of volunteers.
But this didn’t save Stage 9 from the CBS legal department, who sent the cease and desist letter on September 12. The team tried to reach a compromise with the company’s lawyers, offering to change everything from the use of the Enterprise-D, dropping VR support, and altering the name, but to no avail.
For fans making Star Trek films, CBS and Paramount Pictures say they will not object to, or take legal action against, productions that are non-professional and amateur, provided they meet the guidelines. But it seems they do object to virtual recreations.
Earlier this week, a fan-made Spyro game was also hit with a cease and desist letter, though it will be reworked as a new title that doesn’t infringe on any IPs.