Way to go ...
... free enterprise system!
Andrew Ainsworth, the man who designed the Imperial Stormtrooper uniforms, has won the right to sell replicas. George Lucas has been suing Ainsworth since at least 2008 and the case finally ended up in London's Supreme Court. Ainsworth made the original helmets in 1977 – the legal action treated the helmets as the paradigm …
It would all depend on where and when you were when you were saying it was a long time ago and far away. It could well be that the author of the giant spaceborne text seen at the start of the movies is speaking from our future of events that still happen in our future (but were in his past).
So, er, yeah to summarise people read way too much into these films ;-)
"nope that suggests to me bloody long long time ago (this assumes the films were shot with the mother of all zoom lenses)"
Well obviously -- that's why the text's so squint at the start. Proper alignment would have involved travelling several light-centuries due galactic north....
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Billionaires == "job creators" over here.
Supposedly, if you tax them too much they get flustered and stop creating jobs. Meanwhile, if caressed properly, they might forget themselves for a few seconds -- presumably while blowing a load -- and let 0.0001% of their wealth "trickle down" to mere mortals.
At least that's the Tea Party's "logic."
You are implying that because the Lucas enterprise's valuation was noted during the article that somehow it has a bearing on the damages award. Please explain your implied connection.
Do you mean that if Lucas enterprise were valued lower, then the award would have been lower? Or that if Lucas had no enterprise to value then he would not have been awarded anything at all?
Or are you saying that the justice system is messed up, in some way, due to the valuation of Lucas' enterprise?
And your evidence for this is a damages award that has now been overturned ... leading you to decry American justice as a practice that once rewarded Lucas, but has now stripped him of that reward, and is therefore ... righteous? Or not righteous, due to the reversal?
You also imply that Ainsworth in some way "deserved" to sell what he calls "replicas", but which are actually no less "official" than the units used in the films.
Please explain why you think that an artisan employed under contract by Lucas for the express purpose of manufacturing costumes for a film series is now entitled to continue producing costumes for personal gain, identical to and in direct competition with those costumes produced for retail sale by the Lucas enterprise under its own copyright, and using the molds and materials Lucas owns the exclusive intellectual property rights to.
You seem to be advocating for any worker in a production line to produce and sell the product that comes off that production line for their own benefit, and at the expense of the company that actually owns and operates that production line.
Strange sense of "justice", you have there.
Lucas did not lose 20 000 000 USD because someone else sold some helmets and made up to 30 000 GBP, so the damages claimed and awarded in the US were fictional. In other parts of the world, claimants have to prove the levels of damages which they claim, not simply pluck large numbers from thin air. That is the issue with US justice in this case.
Lucas's substantial wealth is relevant in that, by pursuing an individual over such a small sum, he looks like a vindictive bully.
"...using the molds and materials Lucas owns the exclusive intellectual property rights to"
Ainsworth owns the intellectual property rights as it was he that designed and built the original helmets, using his own materials - apparently, this is more important than being rich, having expensive lawyers and well-known friends.
Well, yes. If Lucas Enterprises were valued at $500, do you seriously think they'd ever have persuaded a court to grant them a $20 million judgment? There's definitely a connection there, for starters.
And it's not American justice that's stripped the reward. As far as American justice is concerned, Lucas is in the right. As I understand it, it if Ainsworth ever sets foot in the Land of the Free, Lucas will be entitled to the shirt off his back and about 800 years of indentured servitude.
"which are actually no less "official" than the units used in the films" - please define "official" in that context?
As for "why an artisan ... is now entitled to continue producing costumes for personal gain"... because the design was Ainsworth's in the first place. He never sold it to Lucasfilm - all he sold was a number of helmets and costumes. If anyone should be sued for copyright violation here, it's Lucas himself.
You seem to be advocating that when an artist does work for hire, the copyright should automatically belong to their employer. If that were the case, then there wouldn't have needed to be clauses in every employment contract I've ever signed saying that the copyrights in works I create as part of my work belong to my employer. If Lucas didn't have a contract to that effect with Ainsworth, he doesn't have a leg to stand on.
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Unless he had an explicit clause in the contract prohibiting him, he's free to make them. The BBC reports that because the helmets are functional and not sculptures (as decreed by the court), they're not works of art and so copyright expires after fifteen years. So in the UK he's free to make and market them.
Only if that is part of your employment terms, which it usually is at least by implication.
If you use a designer or advertising agency or..... to do a logo for you, or a website, or advertising material, or a special table or......
Then unless you get them to give you the copyright etc it remains theirs.
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Did beardy pay any money for the 'likeness rights' or for re-using the design in the new films.
I seriously doubt it
So does copyright only protect the organisation that made a thing famous rather than the creative's that made the thing?
I seem to remember a story about Eidos having to stop using uzi's in TombRaider because of copyright.
I'm sure all recent and futures arrangements of the sort use a bog standard contract. Something to the effect of:
* All your base are belong to Lucas.
* All your future base, firstborn, Droit du seigneur, etc. are also belong to Lucas.
* If there's ever a problem, you'll agree to binding arbitration overseen by a firm of Lucas' choosing, for which you'll pay all costs regardless.
* If anything goes wrong, it's your fault.
* If all goes well, Lucas takes the spoils.
* Take it or leave it.
I've wasted countless hours haggling this kind of nonsense away. Apparently, most folks will just sign anything and hope for the best.
> the helmets and armour wouldnt be worth squat if it wasnt for the flms.
Not *completely* true.
There was a documentary made a few years ago about the Humboldt squid - a particularly vicious and cunning predator. The divers all wore armour to protect themaselves from the squid, and were attached to the boat with steel cables to prevent them being dragged off.
The armour was all Storm Trooper stuff. It was claimed in the film that it had been made by the same guys as did the Star Wars armour, so it's probably this geezer.
Nevertheless, the intrinsic value of this armour is not nearly as much as the additional merchandising value...
Yes, indeedy. I find the general reactions to this case curious. It seems that we're now so used to copyright being "essentially forever" that when confronted by an instance of "no longer in copyright" we can't quite believe that it's true.
I expect one reason why Lucas fought this case is that one could probably argue that other props from the original film are now similarly out of copyright. Is a light-sabre functional or sculptural?
I come up with an idea and ask a bloke to make something related to that idea, pay him for his time and tell him I maintain the copyrights on the designs which he can't have. He can then bugger off and make as many copies as he wishes, he can make money from my designs and there's fuck all I can do about it?
I don't give a monkey's about Lucas or Star Wars quite frankly ( yes I was old enough to have seen it at the cinema as a nipper in the 70's, I just don't think it's that great ) but surely I must have missed something technical in the case? This seems the complete opposite to what normally happens in these sorts of cases, you rip my ideas off and I take you to the cleaners.
You must have missed the bit about the copyright on art being much longer than functional designs.
If he proves they are a functional design (which he did) then the copyright has expired. If they are deemed to be art (which I agree, they aren't) then the copyright has not expired.
>and tell him I maintain the copyrights on the designs which he can't have.
Lucas didn't do this bit.
I know this wasn't what was argued in the case, but if you start making up facts to support your case then your whole post is... doomed (last word said in a generic voice, def not sounding like a slightly depressed android, sorry droid)
What you missed was what was missing: A written contract.
You also missed another important point: The props were out of copyright by the time they were being sold.
So, in your analogy above: You weren't ripped off as the guy didn't just bugger off immediately and make as many copies as he wanted. He had to wait until your rights had expired before doing so. So you had time to capitalize on your design before he could make a penny outside of sales to you. Oh, and you didn't issue him with a limited license that restricted sales of your design to you so you can't stop him from producing genuine copies from your original design, either.
The winners here were the lawyers. I'll bet if it was up to Mr. Lucas the man he would have said, these are a great niche product that harms our brand not one bit, just ask for $25 an individually made helmet, and we're good to go.
But sadly Lucas the corporation would rather have 25c a helmet on a cheap manufactured product that sells in millions and is thrown in the bin after six months, because one will make maybe $10 thou. at most, and the other $20 Million.
Are you mad.
This is George "let's make another figure of floppy hatted Luke" Lucas, the world's premiere money grabbing bastard. Star Wars special editions, another reissue of the films on dvd, this time with 3 minutes added fluff, the fecking prequels, STAR WARS IN 3D FFS.
They sold a lit sabre figure of ObiWan Kenobi with a green lightsabre instead of a blue one because a blue LED cost 0.02 cents more than a green one. The man is an souless accountant (my apologies to accountants everywhere)
I would go on but my bile cup has run over
an ex-Star wars fan
depends how the contracts were done. remember that when star wars was first created, it wasnt a huge thing. lucas might well have looked at various helmets different people were making, sent specs to a few places, that sort of thing. lucas didnt, at that time, have the power to dictate terms to people. i'd guess it was only after the films were so succeful that he decided that he shouldve got the rights on all the imagery and items and such, by which time its a bit late really - but hey, if you've got billions you can try to shout louder and longer than your opposition.
...and you can make 3 prequel movies (that you 'planned to make all along, honest') that have less 'essence-of-star-wars' to them than do the 5 minute videos made for SW:TOR :P
"depends how the contracts were done."
No, it doesn't. It depends on the copyright law that said that these are out of copyright and therefore ANYONE can make them now. This guy, since he was the original maker, was in a prime position to do so, but you or I could have done so too. Possibly, he could have been restrained from making them even once copyright had expired but that would not bind anyone else and, given that no one else would be bound, a court would probably strike out that clause in his contract anyway if he asked.
Same way as if you hire a wedding photographer, they keep the copyright on the pictures they take of you.
It's the difference between saying to an artist, "design some scary helmet" and saying to an employee "make the mold curve exactly this way at this point and put an eye hole this shape at that point"
It's particularly disengenous of Peter Jackson to chime in. They were very careful to do all the designs for their creatures and costumes at a design house they own - so they (Weta) rather than New Line (the film producers) would own the designs
"You mean the same way that Lucas' various companies ended up owning everything Star Wars related rather than Fox?"
Due to the belief of Fox that it would completely bomb, Lucas specifically took a risk on getting very little pay for his work, to ensure it got made at all, on the proviso that he got to keep the 'worthless' merchandising rights. Fox were laughing all the way to the bank with that deal... for a few years anyway.
"Same way as if you hire a wedding photographer, they keep the copyright on the pictures they take of you."
That's a bad example for two reasons.
Firstly the photographer may retain copyright, but that's not the same as reproduction rights. Unless you sign a release allowing the photographer to publish the images then s/he has no right to do so. The laws relating to photographs are not the same as those relating original designs.
The second reason is even simpler. The copyright on the helmets expired many years ago.
The phrase, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away is slightly redundant - what we percieve travels to our eyes at the speed of light so everything is in the past. The further away the older it is. For ir to be in someones future they would have to be even further away.
Paris, becuase she loves physics...
Those of you going on about contracts have missed an important point. The law will always override what is contained in a contract. So it doesn't really matter what was contained in the original contract, if such a contract existed at all. If the helmets are out of copyright (as the court decided they were) then anybody has the right to manufacture and sell them. It would be ridiculous if a contract could restrict the original manufacturer from selling the helmets while the law would allow anybody else to sell them.
BTW I agree with the court that the items are not art. They were built to fulfil a function, that function being props in a film.
Contracts are for clarifying rights/responsibilities under the law. They are not accepted to replace the law or any parts of.
Same reason most click-through EULAs are not worth the paper they are printed on - they are either re-iterating existing law or contradicting it, neither of which means much in a court.
The judgment references the 1988 copyright designs and patent act.
Section 52 of that acts reads that any use under license of an artistic design through an industrial process renders the design applicable for public use 25 years after the end of the calendar year it was first marketed, so long as it was marketed in the UK.
Unless all those toys in the late 70s were hand made then most of the prime star-wars designs now go to public domain in the UK.
From what i am reading here the court ruling was that because it was classed as a functional item and not work of art the copyright expired after 15 years.
Does this therefore mean that its not only Ainsworth who can now reproduce copies of the stormtrooper helmet but any one else can start making and selling them outside the US because its out of copyright?
Thanks to the state of modern IP laws and their related legal precedents, it is now easier than ever for a company to rob one of its employees of his life's work. Now you can own the patents for everything he invents, own the copyrights for every creative work he produces, and generally screw him over if he ever does anything with those ideas that doesn't involve giving you money, because you can tell him he can either sign this contract or get a job elsewhere (where a similar contract awaits).
Half a century ago, it might have required a bit more effort, or at least have been considered immoral. Now and then, one of the people who gets screwed over wins a protracted court battle at enormous personal expense, and we like to think it means things are getting better.
Do mechanisms for the legal recognition of the ownership of ideas really benefit society, or just the people with the money to stuff those ideas in a safe and sue the crap out of anybody who objects?
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