Stardate 1977

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Name: Stardate 1977
Date(s): late 1976, early 1977
Profit/Nonprofit: no
Country based in:
Focus:
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Stardate 1977 was a commercial outfit that gained notoriety in the mid-1970s for selling illegal copies of Star Trek episodes. It was inferred by that fans were the ones behind this enterprise. As it were.

Letters advertising these films were sent to many fan clubs. Letters from Susan Sackett from Paramount were sent to fan clubs warning fans not to buy these films. Fan clubs, in turn, warned fellow fans off of purchasing these films.

These letters are an example of how Gene Roddenberry and TPTB interacted directly with fans to further various interests and fostered a scene of implied cooperation. It was also, in some ways, an example of using fans against other fans to police a situation from an unequal position.

"Star Trek clubs were used by Roddenberry, not just for the promotion of Star Trek in its various forms, but also as a tool to track down licence violations by appealing to the fans’ loyalty to the show, and to him.... In this letter, fans were encouraged by Sackett, Roddenberry’s personal assistant, to keep up their support of the show, and thanked for “dobbing in” illegally produced goods. The warning that Roddenberry would not like his “friends” to get into trouble and should boycott such people is explicit in the language, with the underlined illegal and not authorised: he is only thinking of his friends when sending out this letter as he would not like to see them “being taken advantage of”. Once again, it came from the Office of Gene Roddenberry, rather than Paramount Studios and he was appealing to the fans as the entity of the show/creator, rather than that of a Paramount employee, which he was at the time. [1]

Text of a 1977 Open Letter

copy of a January 7, 1977 letter that was printed in Alpha-Omega #3; other clubs printed a copy of this letter as well, including At the Helm
There is a flyer currently being mailed to fan club leaders from a group in Houston, Texas calling itself "Stardate 1977." This group offers super 8 and 16mm films of each STAR TREK episode for sale.

This operation is not authorized by Paramount nor Desilu, despite their statement to the contrary. They are running an illegal operation. There is considerable question whether or not they even have the films.

You, the fans, stand to lose, and we here are naturally concerned when we see our loyal fans being taken advantage of. We urge your boycott of these people. We do not wish our fans and friends to be caught up in anything which will cause them harm. Many of you have contacted our office to inform us of these operators, for which we thank you wholeheartedly. Your continued support of STAR TREK has made it what it is today, and what it will bring in the future. Please keep up your fine efforts!

With sincerest thanks.

Susan Sackett, Assistant to Gene Roddenberry

Reactions from Fans

Paramount has informed us of a group based in Houston, Tx. which may be illegally selling super 8 and 16mm ST films. There is doubt that they even have the films, and for W.A.F.S.T.S. and Paramount, I suggest you boycott these people who are most likely out to "rip you off." The group is called "Stardate 1977," so be on the alert! [2]

References

  1. Effect of Commercialisation and Direct Intervention by the Owners of Intellectual Copyright : A Case Study: The Australian Star Trek Fan Community
  2. from Horta #4