Help us help Paul and creators everywhere.

The phenomenon of fans attacking creators has been building for some time now. This behavior jeopardizes everything we love and hold dear about fandom.  

One year ago, Paul Jenkins, a fan-favorite writer (TNMT, SPIDER-MAN, INCREDIBLE HULK, WOLVERINE) was surprised to learn he had been sued by a toxic fan named Alec Peters: a notorious hobbyist behind the Star Trek fan film, AXANAR.  

In the ultimate expression of “no act of kindness goes unpunished,” Paul had freely donated his time and efforts as a writer and director for the Axanar project. But Peters’ toxic behavior online and lack of transparency about the use of crowd funded money were an ongoing obstacle. In 2017, Peters raised over $1.3 million to make his film… and never delivered it. After expressing concern, Paul and his company, META Studios, were fired from the production and immediately sued “for defamation” by the very person they had volunteered to help. It seemed almost impossible to believe. 

Much to his dismay, Paul now discovered Peters had a long-term history of vexatious litigation against multiple parties – notably involving both former directors of his fan film project, Christian Gossett and Robert Meyer Burnett. These included multiple similar suits “for defamation,” multiple suits filed intentionally in incorrect jurisdictions, and even a SLAPP violation and sanctions in the state of California. Peters was – by his own admission - involved in up to five lawsuits at any one time. In his 32-year career, Paul Jenkins had never once been involved in a single lawsuit.  

To understand the person suddenly suing him for simply trying to help complete a fan film, one only needs to look at Alec Peters’ own admissions about his litigious behavior on his almost daily live streams. This is the person who frequently claims injury via “defamation” from others.

Though he once passed the bar exam in North Carolina, Peters has never held a law license. He essentially engages in the unauthorized practice of law by writing most of his own filings and briefs, then passing his work to an attorney to sign off on. This loophole – one of many Peters takes advantage of – essentially has him paying pennies on the dollar for his many lawsuits. Without a means of employment, lawsuits are Peters’ apparent means of primary income; that, and the unauthorized sale of unlicensed merchandise in his webstore – in violation of his Settlement Agreement with CBS/Viacom. Indeed, the impetus for Peters’ move to Georgia, where he needed to try and restart his film production, was a protracted legal battle with Star Trek's IP owners, CBS Studios and Paramount Pictures, in a widely publicized copyright infringement case.  

Peters has a history of pure vexatious litigation. He was previously sanctioned in the State of California for violating SLAPP laws there. He brags frequently about suing people in the incorrect jurisdiction, costing them tens of thousands of dollars, only to threaten a new lawsuit in the correct jurisdiction. His lawsuits in multiple cities across multiple states go back decades. He speaks only of trying to force settlements; in an excruciating twist, Peters has yet to appear in any courtroom that would expose his usury behavior. He accomplishes this by using his legal training to essentially flood his opponents with motions, filings, and discovery. In his own words, he makes the process as painful and expensive as possible and he sues, “to pay off bills, to pay off debt… which always makes you feel good.”  

The case and its circumstances.
By his own admission on his live stream, Peters is suing to force Paul Jenkins to hand over the copyright to his derivative work. However, any copyright issue would usually be handled in a federal court. Thanks to his previous lawsuit with CBS, Peters is forbidden to file any copyright in Axanar, which property belongs to CBS/Viacom. To get around this, Peters sued Paul Jenkins for defamation for, in his words, “filing a false copyright.”  

That lawsuit, filed against both Paul and his production company (META Studios), seemed to be a reaction to a press release META had issued explaining their recent departure from the production of AXANAR. The project and its producer, Alec Peters, had moved to the Atlanta area following a Paul was recruited to re-write parts of the script to create two, fifteen-minute filmed segments that would conform to the terms of the settlement reached between all the parties. 

And while Peters had complimented Paul and his work for years, the tune changed with the filing of the lawsuit. Allegations and accusations started to fly. Amendments to the complaint were made, changed and changed again to continually re-shape the nature of the complaints. To date, Peters has – amazingly – amended his original legal complaint FOUR times.  

Work that was created and performances that were directed by Paul - and met with rave reviews when they debuted - were now criticized and ridiculed by Peters. Requests for the production of documents by Paul and his team seemed to never end while similar requests made of Peters either went unanswered or were belligerently rebuffed. 

The goal posts were moved - and that was the goal.
It seemed that the harder Paul, his team at META and his attorneys worked to move ahead to trial, the more obstacles were thrown in their way. And after expressing his frustration, Paul started to hear from others that everything he was going through had happened before to other people involved with AXANAR and its producer. 

It seems that both Alec and the Axanar production had been at the center of legal controversies for years. In addition to the lawsuit involving CBS and Paramount that had gained national attention, the beleaguered fan production and its producer had threatened or filed legal action against several others involved with the production or who were critical of the production and its producer's failure to deliver on promises made to backers. 

And there seemed to be a pattern around each of them: threats would be issued via email and social media, progress on the production of AXANAR (or the short films) would be delayed, legal complaints would be filed by Alec, the rhetoric on social media would intensify while behind the scenes complaints were often changed, an one-sided settlement would be offered by Alec and a flurry of correspondence would occupy the time of the respondent and his (or her) attorney. 

The outcome of this strategy came in the form of ever-increasing legal bills, delays getting to trial, nearly constant harassment on social media and, eventually, exhaustion of the responding party resulting in either a settlement or dismissal. 

Alec would win without ever having to actually go to trial. 

It's time for the game to stop.
Paul is in the middle of it all now. His legal fees have gone into six-figure territory and efforts to mediate a solution were recently abandoned. Alec Peters continues to refuse to provide most of the information requested of him through discovery yet persists in asking for information that is immaterial to the case that would identify more people to put in the "legal cross-hairs" for future lawsuits. 

Alec Peters has already started the game again on social media - identifying his next "possible victims." And it's reasonable to assume that unless Paul can prevail in court, Peters will continue to use his legal misadventures as a way to continually delay the production of his promised short films and live off the near-constant stream of fundraisers and merchandising he's created around Axanar. 

The only way to bring the madness to an end is to bring this case to trial and – for the first time ever – put Alec peters in front of a judge. But that takes money and that's why your help is vital. Please help put a stop to the abuse of creators by toxic fans.

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Mike Bawden 
Bettendorf, IA