I certainly don't want to change the name for my NX-class ships, the USS ImmersionBreaker.
(I personally don't think the ship is an immersion breaker, but I name them all that because of all the stink it raised before it came into the game, lol.)
Also, I name all my Miranda-class ships USS Faerie Queene, after the ship you had to command in Super Star Trek if you self-destructed the Enterprise.
As for my bridge officers, I have 3 named after characters in The Fifth Element (Leeloo, Korben, and Zorg). Big shocker, right?
I don't see any problems with people using names that others might think are 'unoriginal,' as long as they don't break Cryptic's rules of naming. (Having said that, I probably am guilty of breaking them, but meh. If I have to, I'll change them.)
Honestly, I think Star Trek is somewhat less resistance to Sci-Fi homage, as it practices it so much itself. And I agree that while you should not be PLAYING James T. Kick or Jean-Luc Picard, a ship named that would be completely logical in the game's time frame.
I think the argument is that when is so obvious as to lead to EVERY ship being named that that it breaks immersion. So yeah, try and come up with a little variety.
Although my main Captain is based on old role playing characters of my own, and thus would not relate to Star Trek or even sci-fi in general, my secondary Captain is based on Tita of the Anime Plastic Little. Her ship is even named the Cha-Cha Maru. However, her full name is Tita Uzuki Readman, adding references to Xenosaga (Shion Uziki) and Read or Die. (Yumiko Readman)
As I like to say, when you steal from one source, it's plagiarism. When you steal from more than one source, it's research.
I also use the names Elysse (her civilan Science Officer) and Balboa (her Escort) from Plastic Little, but again Elysse is an amalgam of characters, and Balboa is a ship, not a person's name. Her backstory is also mixed in with the backstory of my other Captain, as I play them as if they are all one crew, but when I play Dragoncove Tita is in my Bridge Crew, and when I play Dragoncove, Tita is a BO. So while her story is similar to Tita's (teenaged girl who found herself unexpectedy in command of a ship) the similarities end there.
Well, if we want to review the legal consequences of naming your Captain after a commonly known sci fi character, let's review a similar case that occurred recently:
I can't remember if the game in question was City of Heroes/Villians or Champions Online.
I think it was actually both.
You had hundreds of players making carbon copies of Superman, Batman and pretty much any hero you can name.
This is one reason why I mentioned that I don't think Star Trek has quite that problem. The copyright for comic book superheroes is essentially collected into two or three companies. The moment that... um... other game came out it was essentially going to attract the attention of those parties. The GMs there reacted as required by the legal action, they cracked down on the copyright infringement and moved on.
Here, Star Trek is certainly active in protecting its own intellectual property, but isn't particularly pressured to protect OTHER'S property. The owners of Star Wars, Babylon 5, or Stargate MIGHT sue Star Trek/Atari over it, but they might not. Until someone does stand up and take action, we can't say for sure what the policy here is on the matter, outside of your being required to sign and obey the spirit of the TOS.
Besides, a lot of the copyrighted material we are talking about here is not American, but Japanese Sci-Fi. The laws and culture are very different over there, and use of copyrighted material is much more acceptable. Series such as Outlaw Star, Cowboy Bebop, or even Naruto or DBZ, which are always popular to the audience of online games, are not likely to become involved unless the American owners of those licenses become involved.
The short answer is, we don't really know, and I don't feel I'm in violation of any copyrights personally. I used a few names, which I mixed up with some other names to make my own creation. As Star Trek has themselves done that for characters they have created for their series, I'm sure they don't want to open the door to that being declared an improper use. (Besides, a name is not copyrighted, it is trademarked. That's subject to different laws)
Also, the Starfleet policy is to have one ship using one name.
I.E: if there's one Enterprise, there's not going to be another Enterprise.
The names are handed down from one ship to the next.
Well, that's canon, and this is a game. AFAIK the game does not attempt to restrict each ship in the game to a unique name. First of all, that would be far more difficult in the game than in the actual Star Trek universe as there are liiterally thousands of ships here, while Star Trek would probably measure a fleet in the hundreds, if that. (The TOS canon stated that there were only about 12-14 ships in the Constitution line. So that right there means that realistically there should be no more than 14 TOS Connies in THIS WHOLE GAME)
Even character names do not have to be unique, although as far as I know the player's account name has to be unique. I think the <character>@<player> means that you and I can both name our character Frank. Even if we can't, and you have to be Frank1843 (or I do), you can still set your characters "real name" to Frank Franklin and that won't check if there's another Frank Franklin. That would require a separate search of the database, and it's already required when creating a unique account name.
Now, is STO going to crack down on ships actually named Enterprise? I don't know, it is their property, or at least their license. They've got every right to say you can call your ship Enterprise if you want to. After all, the REAL Enterprise is in this game, commanded by the REAL Spock (well, real as a TV show is anyway) and you get to fight alongside it, so you're obviously another Enterprise, not that one...
I'll also add that one of your complaints, that players are just using the name and not basing the appearance or bio of the ship or character on that name, is actually A DEFENSE against the very accusation of copyright violation you are making. A name is a trademark, not a copyright, and if I create a "James Kirk" and he is a sword swinging Scotsman in medieval times fighting against the oppression of the British then Star Trek is going to have to demonstrate that in some way that James Kirk could be confused with mine.
Mind you, I try to have more creativity than that. But have you considered that perhaps the reason the characters' appearance doesn't refer to their name is that they originally did, and the GMs told them to change it? (And since you can't create a Babylon 5 or Stargate ship in this game, or a Tardis, that's probably not as big an issue as character appearance)
Personally I don't really what people name their ships. It's there choice. I for one name my ships what ever I want because they are MY ships, and it is MY choice. If people dont like it, they don't have to look at it.
I agre with one person earlier stating a ship named the USS James T Kirk would be fitting with ST timeline and naming and also someone pointed out the stupidity of the USS Poothrower.
I think common sense should be used when naming ships but we are all different and we are all allowed to name our own ships. Heaven forbid the day should come when a n00b has to get permission from 5000 other players to name their ship something...
We're not all going to like each others choices, but we all have common sense too in what we can name something.
I don't care if someone uses the name of a person or ship from one of the various incarnations of Star Trek. I've used the Phoenix and the Kelvin. There's no reason that we wouldn't see new ships with these names perhaps even with a letter in the registry, but I really don't like seeing 20 U.S.S. Enterprizes or Captain Jane-way or Cisco. Not to offend anyone but I think you can be a little more creative. And that's how Sue... C's it.