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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 54
06-07-2011, 03:15 AM
Originally Posted by Nagorak View Post
The ad hoc responses have rendered the entire Terms of Use completely moot. Reading the terms of use doesn't actually tell you what's allowed anymore (basically nothing), you instead have to read a collection of dev responses.
The rules have always been that you can reference an existing characters offscreen ("James Kirk wrote in his report..."), but can't SHOW a character and have him implied to be Kirk. You can't reference or knowingly use the names of actors or production staff (Nimoy, Shatner, Roddenberry), nor may you make a character who is obviously intended to resemble William Shatner, and call him John Smith.

These are pretty obvious, straightforward rules.

The intent, in my estimation, is to steer people towards writing their own stories, rather than writing sequels to existing stories. V'Ger is a character, as is Ilia. So we can't easily make a Motion Picture II story that involves either some construct we say is V'Ger, nor some bald woman claiming to be the ilia probe. Instead, what you could do, is have an admiral read an account of what transpired in the Motion Picture, and then send the player off to encounter something entirely new. let's say some machine lifeforms.. that when questioned, say that their race is teh result of the joining between Decker and the V'Ger probe.

Now you've made a story which is wholly original, and relies on some existing IP in ways that are permitted. It is still very Star Trek, and still very connected to the history of Star Trek.

What they don't want to see, is everyone trying to edge up on the letter of the law. Oh Kirk is a Character, but is Kirk's son a character? What about Kirk's girlfriend from the nexus, we never see her? What about Dead actors? what if I go and pester the Kelley estate to get permission to use DeForrest's likeness in my story? Can you imagine the ensuing legal drama as the estate begins complaining to CBS/Cryptic?

Character appearances are out. They require an ACTOR to give permission for their likeness to be used.

Ships are not Characters, because they are not ACTORS.

That said, there may be specific limitations on using existing trademarked vessels. Namely Enterprises NX01, 1701 _-F, Defiant, and Voyager. Additionally one should probably steer clear of ANY ship mentioned in the films, since CBS may or may not have full rights to those names (Grissom, Reliant, Botany Bay, Kobayashi Maru, Bounty, Scimitar, Q'onos One, etc).

I'd personally go further and say that if you have a ship show up that's named Farragut, that's fine.. unless it's supposed to be THE FARRAGUT that was seen in episode ___. If it's the refitted Farragut, or a new ship named Farragut, with a new Captain, then it's probably in the realm of safe.

There are a lot of ships out there, and a lot of names have been used. Some (Defiant, Saratoga, Enterprise) have been used more than once (2 Saratogas existed a hundred years apart, yet both were Miranda Class). Obviously, just like with names, we're going to occassionally pick one that's been used before, simply by accident.

What I'd do is run my character and ship names through Memory Alpha, and see if the names have been used, and if so, consider choosing another name. Frankly, while we're allowed to recycle some stuff from the IP.. your stories will generally turn out MUCH better if you don't do it.

Which is better.. an enigmatic Vulcan who has rejected logic and embraced his emotions, who has a cult-like following.. Or Spock's half brother that no one ever mentioned before? The answer of course is that it's always better for your story to stand on it's own two feet, than to lean on the works of others. You don't HAVE to always go to "that planet they visited in that episode in TOS" you don't HAVE to have a ship that is "that same ship that was lost in that one episode of Enterprise"... there were plenty of ships that had vanished and gone missing in TOS, yet the writers of TNG made up a whole new ship called "Bozeman" when they needed a ship from the past to come through a vortex.

Would Wrath of Khan have been as good if Khan were just some guy we never knew about before? maybe not.. but we're expressly forbidden from having characters from the IP make a physical appearance. And unfortunately, that means an implied appearance, offscreen, but at the helm of a ship as well.