How would you react if you put your heart and soul into an idea and then one day realize that it was used illegally by others?
That's exactly what independent game developer Anas Abdin is going through right now. He is in a clinch with the media company CBS and the streaming service Netflix because of the series Star Trek Discovery. However, his concern is not the quality of the series or whether it fits in with 50 years of Star Trek history. No, the accusations go much deeper: While the Star Trek series and movies are about tolerance, mutual respect and sincerity, the creators themselves don't seem to take it too seriously. Central elements of the series Star Trek Discovery, which premiered in September 2017 on CBS All Access and Netflix, should not have sprung from the creativity of the producers, but from a computer game by Anas Abdin.
In May 2014 he had started to report online about his new game Tardigrades. He designed the complete story, the individual characters and all designs as well as the music himself and converted it into programming code.
In October 2017, more than three years later, friends made him aware of similarities between his game and the new series. After trying in vain to resolve this obvious copyright infringement with CBS, he decided to sue CBS and Netflix in August 2018. CBS had previously even had the audacity to tell him they would not sue him - a complete and absurd distortion of the whole situation.
So, what exactly is this about? It's about parallels between individual elements from Star Trek Discovery and Tardigrades, the game of Anas Abdin. He has compared this very nicely on his Twitter account @AnasAbdin.
It starts with the tardigrade. In the series as well as in the game it can move from one place in space to another without any time delay. In addition, the tardigrade is a creature of several metres in size, whereby the animals existing in reality are tiny. In the story of his game, Anas Abdin ascribed to the tardigrades characteristics that no one else had done before him. CBS even went so far as to claim that he wanted to copyright the tardigrades, which of course was also an absurd claim.
Further similarities lie with the individual characters. Not only in appearance, but also in personal details such as the homosexual relationship between a dark-skinned man with a beard and a blond scientist. In the game the two are called Aziz and Carter, viewers of the series may know them as Dr. Hugh Culber and Paul Stamets.
You don't have to be a lawyer to see that there are many similarities. And there are too many similarities to speak of a coincidence - especially when you consider that Anas had reported about his game long before and had published pictures when U.S.S. Discovery first crossed the screens.
The behavior of CBS in the whole dispute shows nothing but the uncanny arrogance of a company that thinks it can handle everything in its own sense with money and smart lawyers. The work of independent developers and creative people is only something where you can help yourself without asking questions. Accordingly, the topic has made quite a splash among YouTubers and bloggers who deal with pop culture and the entertainment industry. Unfortunately, the topic has never reached the wider public. This could be because many news sites that report on TV series, films and games belong to the big studios and media groups. Even though it's a different topic in the end, CBS's appearance vis-à-vis Anas fits very well with CBS's restrictive approach as rights owner of Star Trek vis-à-vis the fan productions.
In September of this year, however, Anas received the message that a judge had rejected the case, so that a court hearing would not take place. However, Anas Abdin and many others who have expressed their solidarity with him, want to continue the legal dispute with CBS in any case. But this also requires money to pay the costs. The well-known YouTuber Nerdrotic, who has accompanied the dispute between Anas and CBS on his channel for quite some time, has therefore launched a crowdfunding campaign to support Anas.
Regardless of whether you think Star Trek Discovery is good or bad, it's not acceptable for a big company like CBS or the makers of a TV series to be so audacious and simply use the creative work of third parties when they themselves no longer have any ideas. And then it comes to the top that they try to turn the whole thing around and blame him. For this reason we link here to the Justice For Anas fundraising campaign, which we also support ourselves and hope that you will also join us. On his blog anastronaut you can read more about Anas Abdin and his projects.