There's a lot of things you can do with the Internet. You can sit around all day, strip-mining the Net for free movies. You can disappear into virtual worlds. You can log onto your favourite website and leave a comment that will cause readers to wonder whether the planet wouldn't have been better off left to the dolphins.
You can buy a webcam and do something profoundly embarrassing that will render you unemployable for years. You can spend your days filling up Facebook with a hollow performance of yourself. You can create a Web service that seems destined to change everything, only to discover – several billion dollars later – that it really changed nothing, because people are people, and the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Or you can make something. On the sunniest days, I look at the Web and I see a world of people making things. Maybe they're cat videos; maybe they're full-blown recreations of science-fiction series from the late sixties. Either way, the creative process never happens in a vacuum. It's an endless back and forth of ideas and materials, and some of them will always cross the lines of ownership and copyright.
It's unusual to tell a story of an online project that takes a corporate work, uses its intellectual property to make something new, and gets rewarded instead of sued. But then, Star Trek has always envisioned an inexplicably cheery future in which creativity trumps commerce. It's science fiction, all right, but let's run with that.