A full, virtual recreation of the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation, known as Stage-9, has been forced to shut down after a cease and desist order from the CBS legal department.
The creator of the project (username: "ScragNog") explained the situation in an 11-minute video, highlighting the many achievements of Stage-9 since its inception in 2016, and addressing the eventual intervention from CBS over the use of its intellectual property.
"We made it as clear as we possibly could that this was not an officially licensed project. We had no affiliation with CBS or Paramount, and the IP we were trying to treat with respect was not our own. It was owned by those companies, and we were just fans creating fan art, and I thought we made that pretty clear," he says in the video entitled "All Good Things..."
The cease and desist letter arrived on Sep. 12, prompting the Stage-9 team to shut down the main website, Discord page, YouTube channel, and subreddit the very next day. They attempted to open up a dialogue with CBS, but according to ScragNog, the individual who had sent the order went on vacation right after it was sent.
The team's one hope of becoming reinstated online rested with a 2016 interview given by John Van Citters, CBS's vice president for product development. While appearing on the fifth episode of Engage: The Official Star Trek podcast, Citters touched upon the impact of fans and their passion for creating fan-based homages like short films, for which there are a litany of official guidelines, rules, and prohibitions.
"We want fans involved, very much so. We just want them involved in the right way that’s going to … help us evolve and bring Star Trek to a bigger and brighter future," Citters said on the podcast. "It's easy to think that Star Trek, in terms of fan initiatives, is all about fan films, and that's not it at all. We've long encouraged fan creativity and fan participation in Star Trek ... [Fans are] not going to hear from us. They're not gonna get a phone call, they're not gonna get an email, they're not going to get anything that is going to ruin their day, one way or another, and make them feel bad or like they've done anything wrong."
Of course, this was all in reference to fan-made films. With that in mind, the folks at Stage-9 appealed to Citters, reaching out to him twice, and while they did get confirmation that their pleas were received, Citters has yet to respond. However, they did finally get in contact with the initial member of CBS's legal department, asking if it would be possible for the network to provide a list of specific Stage-9 elements they did not approve of, the idea being that they would be removed or tweaked in order to make all parties happy.
In the end, CBS has thus far refused any placating measures, standing firm over its order for the Stage-9 crew to cease all of their operations on all platforms.
ScragNog also insists that there was an awareness among the developers that no money could be made from any facets of Stage-9, and that nobody involved with the project sought any financial gain. He even conceived of a way to pitch the simulation to CBS in an effort to become a fully accredited licensee, but it proved to be too cumbersome a task and was abandoned.
While the official channels have been shut down, you can still view a nearly 20-minute walkthrough of the highly detailed ship recreation in the video above. Before its shutdown, Stage-9 began as a desktop experience for Mac, Windows, and Linux before branching off into the world of virtual reality and other mobile devices.