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Merch Gwyar

Lucas Loses Star Wars Copyright Case At Supreme Court

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Lucas loses Star Wars copyright case at Supreme Court

A prop designer who made the original Stormtrooper helmets for Star Wars has won his battle with director George Lucas over his right to sell replicas.

 

Andrew Ainsworth, 62, of south London, successfully argued the costumes were functional not artistic works, and so not subject to full copyright laws.

 

Judges at the Supreme Court upheld a 2009 Court of Appeal decision allowing Mr Ainsworth to continue selling them.

 

But they also ruled that the director's copyright had been violated in the US.

 

Mr Ainsworth told the BBC: "This is a massive victory, a total victory, we've already got the champagne out."

 

He said he went to court on a principle and he was not going to allow the director to "buy his soul".

 

'David and Goliath'

 

The ruling about violating US copyright was a moot point, he added, as all it meant was that he could not sell his outfits there, which he had already stopped doing.

 

"Art is like a Rodin sculpture, film production is an industry and that's what these products are, they were always industrial designs," he said.

 

"I am proud to report that in the English legal system David can prevail against Goliath if his cause is right. If there is a force, then it has been with me these past five years."

 

Both the Court of Appeal and the High Court had already ruled in Mr Ainsworth's favour in his multi-million pound battle with Mr Lucas's production company.

 

The father-of-two has been selling copies of his plastic composite armour and helmets - from the original 1977 film - for eight years.

 

He uses the same studio in Twickenham from which he made the original costumes, and charges up to £1,800.

 

In 2004, Lucasfilm sued for $20m (£12m) arguing he did not hold the intellectual property rights and had no right to sell them - a point upheld by a US court.

 

But the judgement could not be enforced because the designer held no assets in the US, so the battle moved to the UK.

 

The Star Wars creator, worth an estimated £2bn, claimed Mr Ainsworth was breaching his copyright.

 

He took his case to the High Court in 2008, Court of Appeal a year later, and earlier this year to the Supreme Court - the highest court in the land.

 

That court has now also ruled that the 3D works should not be considered sculptures, which means their copyright protection is 15 years from the date they were marketed, and had therefore expired.

 

But the judges agreed with Lucasfilm lawyers that the director's copyright had been violated in the US by Mr Ainsworth selling his costumes there.

 

They ruled that those infringed rights were enforceable in the UK, banning him from selling his outfits in the US.

 

'Anomaly'

 

A Lucasfilm spokesman said the court's decision maintained "an anomaly of British copyright law under which the creative and highly artistic works made for use in films... may not be entitled to copyright protection in the UK".

 

The company said that protection would have been given in "virtually every other country in the world".

 

On the issue of the jurisdiction of UK courts over infringements abroad, the company said: "The judgement is an important step in modernising UK law and bringing it into line with the EU."

 

The spokesman added: "Lucasfilm remains committed to aggressively protecting its intellectual property rights relating to Star Wars in the UK and around the globe."

 

Source: Lucas loses Star Wars copyright case at Supreme Court

 

So, because Britain doesn't have the same laws as the USA, we need to 'modernise'...

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Ah, dang. I hoped that it would entail that Lucas wouldn't be allowed to rape the corpse of the original trilogy any more.

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So, because Britain doesn't have the same laws as the USA, we need to 'modernise'...

Or the EU, or "virtually anywhere else." I'm not a lawyer, but if this article is to be believed, this isn't about the USA being some anomaly here.

 

I'm a bit surprised by this, although I don't really care - since this guy is profiting in large part over peoples' fascination with stormtrooper helmets, he ought to be respecting the fact that his profit is only possible because somebody else made stormtroopers super-popular. But since Lucasfilm doesn't need any more money, it's not as if this is some big tragedy or anything.

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And here I was hoping this would mean no more Expanded Universe cr*p, no more Clone Wars that nobody cares about, and that that video game they're coming out with would be cancelled. Sigh..... I can only dream.

 

Ah, dang. I hoped that it would entail that Lucas wouldn't be allowed to rape the corpse of the original trilogy any more.

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So, because Britain doesn't have the same laws as the USA, we need to 'modernise'...

Or the EU, or "virtually anywhere else." I'm not a lawyer, but if this article is to be believed, this isn't about the USA being some anomaly here.

Well, a copyright law being extended every time terms approach is an anomaly. :(

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Ah, dang. I hoped that it would entail that Lucas wouldn't be allowed to rape the corpse of the original trilogy any more.

As you said before, Winful comment is winful.

Edited by Fake

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So, because Britain doesn't have the same laws as the USA, we need to 'modernise'...

Or the EU, or "virtually anywhere else." I'm not a lawyer, but if this article is to be believed, this isn't about the USA being some anomaly here.

Well, a copyright law being extended every time terms approach is an anomaly. :(

 

Plus where do you draw the line? It was stated up there that this was over 15 years ago and therefore the copyright has expired.

 

If we really want to push the boundaries, then it should be remembered that George Lucas was originally writing a version of the Arthurian legend set in space (Arthur = Luke; Merlin = Obi Wan; Vortigern = Darth Vader etc). That legend originated in Wales, through oral history, before being written down in the Annales Cambraie, the Black Book of Carmarthen and the Mabinogion, amongst other sources. If we change the laws to allow copyright to go on into infinity, then there would have been no Star Wars.

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So, because Britain doesn't have the same laws as the USA, we need to 'modernise'...

Or the EU, or "virtually anywhere else." I'm not a lawyer, but if this article is to be believed, this isn't about the USA being some anomaly here.

Well, a copyright law being extended every time terms approach is an anomaly. :(

 

Plus where do you draw the line? It was stated up there that this was over 15 years ago and therefore the copyright has expired.

 

If we really want to push the boundaries, then it should be remembered that George Lucas was originally writing a version of the Arthurian legend set in space (Arthur = Luke; Merlin = Obi Wan; Vortigern = Darth Vader etc). That legend originated in Wales, through oral history, before being written down in the Annales Cambraie, the Black Book of Carmarthen and the Mabinogion, amongst other sources. If we change the laws to allow copyright to go on into infinity, then there would have been no Star Wars.

Yeah, but that's irrelevant, because the helmets had no more to do with the Arthurian legends than, say, the gas masks designed in World War I - i.e. virtually nothing. We're not talking infinity here, we're talking about copyright law when the undisputed creator of a product/brand is still living. I don't have a problem with the law as it stands (I might, if Lucasfilm wasn't involved - petty, I know - because I think it's silly for somebody's intellectual property to be sold by someone who had no part in creating it why that somebody is still alive, at least if the creator is not benefiting from the sale), it's merely an anomaly, because most nations don't allow copyrights to products to expire so quickly.

 

Also, Dani, I read that article several times and couldn't find any mention of any copyright being extended, so could you please clarify what you mean?

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Also, Dani, I read that article several times and couldn't find any mention of any copyright being extended, so could you please clarify what you mean?

In fact, it's not in the article, it's in a comment of yours about the US not being some sort of anomaly.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Term_Extension_Act

 

www.free-culture.cc

www.freeculture.org

 

We're not talking infinity here, we're talking about copyright law when the undisputed creator of a product/brand is still living.
Funny you should say that: ever seen The Hidden Fortress [1958] by Akira Kurosawa?

 

The film begins with two bedraggled peasants, Tahei and Matashichi (Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara) escaping the aftermath of a battle. They are attempting to make their way across the border to the Hayamata country where they lived, but they find it blocked by border guards and are forced into slavery.
peasants = robots

border = Tatooine

border guards = Jawas

 

:(

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Your face when Star Wars was influenced by a non-fiction book

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hero_with_a_Thousand_Faces

 

Also this is obligatory

86990_harrypotterstarwars.jpg

 

As for the article, I thought it was a good middle finger to Lucas, although he's only going to take it out on his fans. And even if he doesn't he'll still unintentionally take it out on his fans. Episode one was probably because someone stared at him funny or something.

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Your face when Star Wars was influenced by a non-fiction book

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hero_with_a_Thousand_Faces

 

Also this is obligatory

86990_harrypotterstarwars.jpg

 

As for the article, I thought it was a good middle finger to Lucas, although he's only going to take it out on his fans. And even if he doesn't he'll still unintentionally take it out on his fans. Episode one was probably because someone stared at him funny or something.

Good heavens, Jar Jar Binks therefore is because someone murdered his family up until five times removed

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So, because Britain doesn't have the same laws as the USA, we need to 'modernise'...

Or the EU, or "virtually anywhere else." I'm not a lawyer, but if this article is to be believed, this isn't about the USA being some anomaly here.

Well, a copyright law being extended every time terms approach is an anomaly. :(

 

Plus where do you draw the line? It was stated up there that this was over 15 years ago and therefore the copyright has expired.

 

If we really want to push the boundaries, then it should be remembered that George Lucas was originally writing a version of the Arthurian legend set in space (Arthur = Luke; Merlin = Obi Wan; Vortigern = Darth Vader etc). That legend originated in Wales, through oral history, before being written down in the Annales Cambraie, the Black Book of Carmarthen and the Mabinogion, amongst other sources. If we change the laws to allow copyright to go on into infinity, then there would have been no Star Wars.

 

But....then that god awful Eragon (Tri?)(Quadri?)logy could have never existed. I'm divided on this honestly.

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ITT: People discover that all fantasy stories follow the same basic plotline. :(

Edited by heb0

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ITT: People discover that all fantasy stories follow the same basic plotline. :(

Speak for yourself. Isildur/Elrond/Agent Smith slash-time-self-fiction is the way to go.

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