Infringement of copyright
Question: > I want to register "my-star-trek.com"
as a domain name
> for a website I am currently building that features star trek
Answer: Copyright is the right of the first artist
of an original work to veto the decision of a second artist to produce a second work of art which incorporates
the work of the first artist.
So for example, if the first artist paints a picture of a vase of flowers, and a second artist paints a picture
of a table with this vase of flowers on it, then the first artist can ask that the vase of flowers be painted out.
In the case of the Internet, if the first artist uploads a picture of a vase of flowers, and the second artist
uploads a picture of a table with the vase of flowers on it, then the first artist can demand that the flowers
The reasoning behind this is that works of art can be libelous. For example if you upload a picture of Leonard
Nimoy which makes him look like a Vulcan, he can sue you for libel. Only the original Copyright holders of the
Star Trek series are allowed to do this:
they have a contract with Leonard Nimoy, and he has an agreement with them that he can be portrayed as a Vulcan.
A famous example was an advertisement for beer which featured a picture of Mr Spock with ears drooping on the left,
and the same picture with the ears refreshed on the right. ("Refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach").
Leonard Nimoy sued the beer maker.
You can only upload material which you have been given permission to use. If a third party uploads a picture which
could be libelous (such as making Leonard Nimoy look like an alien), but it appears to have been painted by you,
then you could be taken to court.
A problem with Star Trek in particular is that although it is often Adult in content, it has to conform to guidelines
for a children's programme. (A set of guidelines for Trek script writers can be obtained by writing to Paramount.).
I remember a case where someone produced Star Trek disks for the Amiga computer, and although this was distributed
free and only done in appreciation of the TV series, Paramount threatened legal action. Their argument was that
Paramount could be vulnerable to legal action if parents mistook substandard material for original Star Trek merchandise.
The situation with Star Trek is very difficult. The relatively easy going Paramount has been bought by Viacom who
now own all the rights to Star Trek. Certain unofficial things like Fanzines were stopped. If the site contains
any screen shots from the series, Captain Picard or Borg cubes, it is quite likely that you will be asked to disable
your website on the grounds that it constitutes infringement.
More information: http://www.treknewsletter.com/
Note that there are non-US sci-fi television series such as Dr Who, Blakes 7 and Red Dwarf which you could feature
on your web site. These are less contentious (although you should still ask permission).