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Lucas Loses Star Wars Stormtrooper Copyright Case

CmdrTaco posted about 3 years ago | from the helmets-for-everyone dept.

Star Wars Prequels 325

An anonymous reader writes "A prop designer who made the original Stormtrooper helmets for Star Wars has won his copyright battle with director George Lucas over his right to sell replicas. The five-year saga, which ended in the highest court in the land, has stakes of galactic proportions."

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So goes a once-talented filmmaker (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#36894170)

This may be hard for a lot of younger people to believe, but there was actually a time in Hollywood when George Lucas was considered an incredible up-and-coming young director. Coming off of American Graffiti, a lot of people were thinking he would be the next Francis Ford Coppola. He was widely regarded as being in the same league (maybe an even better one) as Martin Scorsese coming off Mean Streets.

But then the greed got him. An afterthought merchandising deal on Star Wars meant that his big money-maker from that point on was toys and merchandise, not movies. He stopped directing and let his best years pass him by. The ten-year-rule for directors is that, give or take, most directors have about 10 years of truly creative energy. And with the mountain of money he was sitting on from toys, he just sat back and let his expire. Now we'll never know what he might have done if he had to struggle, if he had kept working.

That's a great lesson for you young creative types out there. Careful what you wish for.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36894242)

American Griffiti sucked. Lucas was always total fail.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36894470)

American Griffiti sucked. Lucas was always total fail.

Agreed. I never saw what the big deal was. I could barely stay awake while watching it.

Star Wars was such a huge hit because of timing and his special effects. I remember back then - there wasn't anything like it before: special effects is what made it.

He's all special effects and no story. The last Star Wars made, it was all: Anakin turns completely evil, fight, Anakin kills, Yoda says something trite, pseudo Zen like and backwards, Palpatine says something trite and "evil", fight, more fighting, and Anakin dressed as Vader.

Tada! Star Wars III.

Isn't there a Perl script that writes Star Wars scripts?!

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1, Insightful)

JosKarith (757063) | about 3 years ago | (#36894630)

I agree that 1-3 were a terrible disappointment. They were a perfect opportunity to paint a horrific personal slide as an idealistic young man with the galaxy laid out before him becomes everything he hates becuase of hubris.
Instead we got Meesa, younglings and _every_ lightsaber duel ending with hands chopped off. Screw you Lucas. I could have eaten a bowl of alphabet soup and shat a better plot than that.
Let it go. Star Wars isn't your baby any more. Your combination of control freakery and abuse have destroyed any love that might have once existed for you. Go back to counting your huge pile of money - we all know that's all you're capable of loving now.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (2)

cozzbp (1845636) | about 3 years ago | (#36894782)

Well, from what I've been told, George Lucas' old wife helped touch up a lot of the original scripts (she actually won numerous awards for her work). Star Wars episode I was long after they were divorced, and she wasn't there to fix a lot of his mistakes.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about 3 years ago | (#36895138)

Well, from what I've been told, George Lucas' old wife helped touch up a lot of the original scripts (she actually won numerous awards for her work). Star Wars episode I was long after they were divorced, and she wasn't there to fix a lot of his mistakes.

I see. So she was the one who could write dialogue?

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36895314)

I didn't think the prequels could disappoint me any further, until I watched them again last week: then I noticed for the first time that it was Jar-Jar who brought ruin on the galaxy, by proposing the motion granting Palpatine emergency presidential powers, the critical moment in his term of office. I was dumbfounded at the stupidity of it all.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36894664)

Isn't there a Perl script that writes Star Wars scripts?!

There is, but it's even bigger and convoluted than the scripts from Episodes I,II, and III.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36894860)

you mean it is over 5 lines of code !?!

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 3 years ago | (#36894604)

But that's something of a subjective opinion. The majority of critics considered it a fantastic film. Your opinion, although perfctly valid, doesn't really count for much in this respect.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36895028)

But that's something of a subjective opinion.

Redundant much? Opinions by their very nature are subjective. But please, tell me how I can have an "objective" opinion?

The majority of critics considered it a fantastic film.

Great for them. Why am I supposed to care? Some of us actually can form our own opinions of things without caring what others think.

Your opinion, although perfctly valid, doesn't really count for much in this respect.

Once again, you think I care what you say why?

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 3 years ago | (#36895060)

Given your views on the matter, why did you feel that anyone else would be remotely concerned with your opinion of how much Ameerican Grafitti sucked?

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36895296)

why did you feel that anyone else would be remotely concerned with your opinion of how much Ameerican Grafitti sucked?

I didn't. Though last time I checked Slashdot was a place where we discuss things and *gasp* post our opinions on subjects. If my opinion bothers you so much maybe you should either GTFO or get thicker skin?

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

Literaphile (927079) | about 3 years ago | (#36894298)

That's a great lesson for you young creative types out there. Careful what you wish for.

I'm not sure what you're getting at. Are you implying that George Lucas' career is a failure? Because I'm sure he wouldn't see it that way, and, given the massive empires he's created (Star Wars and Indiana Jones most prominently), I don't agree with you either. He may not have focused on directing for much of his career, but, looking back, you can't really say that he failed.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (3, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#36894366)

His failure was in never coming even close to living up to his creative potential.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

Literaphile (927079) | about 3 years ago | (#36894524)

His failure was in never coming even close to living up to his creative potential.

In other words, by "failure" you mean in the eyes of others (i.e. you), not his own. Because I'm sure he wouldn't see his own career as a failure, especially since he's probably too busy counting all of his money to care about what others think.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (2)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#36894784)

Of course. I was the one who wrote the original post, not him. I'm sure *he* also thinks his shit doesn't stink.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36894878)

He has hundreds of millions of dollars in merchandising cash, him and his family will be living comfortably long after he's gone.

You, on the other hand, are a troll on Slashdot.

I'm thinking this little tirade of yours has more to do with the fact that you're a jealous little punk than any sort of artistic squabbling. Feel free to correct me in a post that I'll never read of course, paying attention to people like you is only encouraging you.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (2)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#36895014)

Who's the bigger fool? The troll, or the anonymous coward who follows him?

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

jitterman (987991) | about 3 years ago | (#36894900)

The term "failure" certainly can be applied if one is discussing opinions on quality film making. If we're discussing how to make a boatload of cash, OTOH, then of course failure would not describe his outcome. You're correct that in his own eyes he's done a great job of making movies; it is painfully obvious that even the collaborators on his films (watch this [slashfilm.com] ) feel he has not. I agree with elrous0 - he failed to live up to the expectations and hopes of those of us who spent our formative years watching his first films and dreaming that we were a part of the story.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 3 years ago | (#36895368)

What good is toiling away in obscurity making great films that nobody will see, and dying in poverty?

I know a guy who writes lots and lots of songs that nobody will ever hear. It is sad.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

Lashat (1041424) | about 3 years ago | (#36895208)

Yeah, but he has an entire Marin county valley named after him in Northern California. Smith Ranch Road became Lucas Valley Road west of Highway 101. This while still being alive. Usually, people don't have things named after them until they are dead. (presidential libraries excepted).

Having the county name a geographical region after you is a success.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (3, Interesting)

Ucklak (755284) | about 3 years ago | (#36894474)

Not a failure in a business sense but a failure in a creative sense.

He surrounds himself with 'yes' people. Once he lost Kurtz, he never had that struggle to give his creative properties that extra push that made them great.

Even Phillip Kaufmann is credited with Indiana Jones.

Rick Mcallum is a total YES man and could have saved Prequel Star Wars if he would have had balls.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (3, Informative)

dunezone (899268) | about 3 years ago | (#36894840)

There is a "Making of the Phantom Menance" video that you can watch on youtube. The look on Rick Mcallum's face after the first cut of The Phantom Menace is priceless. Then they go talk to the editors who tell them they cant fix any of the problems they see. This was a main point on the Red Letter Media review of the movie also. The only thing that saved them was that the movie would be a box office success no matter what.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (2)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 3 years ago | (#36894932)

I think that main problem with the prequels was the fact he was in total control and no one challenged him on anything. With the original three there were others that brought in their ideas like script writing and directing. I'm not advocating creating by committee but sometimes a fresh perspective can make something better.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 3 years ago | (#36894850)

So you are saying in terms of the art world the only measure of success is money? I call bullshit. In business he sure has won big, but not as a moving maker. And that was the point of the OP. So your comment is off base.

I really liked the first Starwars movie that came out (Episode IV for you anal retentive types), as well as enjoyed the second that came out. But when he figured out that marketing would make him even more money than a well done and still very profitable movie, he began his epic failures with the ewoks. They ruined the third movie for me and I can't watch it (I could overlook Mark Hamel's bad acting but the ewoks jumped the shark. The rest of the movies just sucked shit.

I wish the studio hadn't given Lucas the marketing rights. Then the last four Starwars movies he did would be worth watching more than once. Hopefully he loses more court cases like this and decides to redo those movies properly. i.e. so they don't have so many stupid gimmicks like ewoks and jar jar movie ruiner (I'd like to sue Lucas for the money I spent on the tickets and popcorn for episode 1... and I never went to the theatre for the last two).

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36894300)

He's responsible for many innovations in SFX. He's had a far greater impact than just directing a few more movies would have done.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (2)

Hylandr (813770) | about 3 years ago | (#36894344)

What's amazing is those innovations started when he was a kid.

- Dan.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

Ucklak (755284) | about 3 years ago | (#36894504)

His team is responsible for the innovations in SFX, Dykstra, Muren, Johnston, Kuran, Tippett, Knoll.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (5, Insightful)

redemtionboy (890616) | about 3 years ago | (#36894308)

Ehhh, I don't think it has anything to do with greed. I think it has to do with that George Lucas is a great producer but a horrible director. Any director that says "I don't like the talking parts" should never be a director. If you think he is any different now than he was then, all you need to do is look at the original script to Empire Strikes Back. which features Darth Vader's subterranean castle with gargoyles and lava and that Luke's real father wasn't Darth Vader nor was Leia his sister. The thing that kept Lucas under control wasn't less licensing, it was smaller budget constraints and a lack of a team of yes men. No one dare tell Lucas that anything he did with Episodes I-III was garbage, He had a blank check to make the movies and a team telling him he could do no wrong. I couldn't expect anything different to happen.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

garcia (6573) | about 3 years ago | (#36894502)

Based on the number of financially successful movies which rely little on dialogue, I'm going to guess you're wrong.

However, I do agree that *I* much prefer movies with dialogue and clever scripts but it would appear that the general movie-going-public doesn't give a shit about thinking.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

Nineteen-Delta (1892866) | about 3 years ago | (#36894606)

Still a talented filmmaker, though maye a bit faded now. - But he wrote for a child and young-adult audience. He succeeded. Yes it was a mistake to wait so many years between making the original trilogy and the prequels. Much as I'm no fan of JK Rowling and the Harry Potter frnachise, the films and the books and the characters more-or less kept pace with the target audience. If Lucas had used his influence to do that, then we might have an epic franachinse by now. - Ask a 7-year old how good the prequel trilogy are or the Clone Wars animations. They're the target audience, much as we were a long, long time ago....

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 3 years ago | (#36894902)

This has a lot to do with it. Empire Strikes Back was on TV a while ago, so I decided to watch it. It's a terrible movie. This move has lost so much since I watched it 10 years ago. With Episodes I, II, and III, everybody who loved the first ones was now 30 years old, yet it was still made for young people to watch. This is why there was so much hate for tme.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (2)

AvitarX (172628) | about 3 years ago | (#36895222)

I thought the clone wars non-cgi animations were the best part of the new bits.

Grevious as an undeterable jedi killing robot was actually a decent villain.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (3, Insightful)

Chucky_M (1708842) | about 3 years ago | (#36894516)

Plinkett covered this in detail via http://redlettermedia.com/plinkett/ [redlettermedia.com] His reviews were easily the best thing about episode 1-3, GL is a great business man and nobody will take that away from him but he is the Microsoft of the film world.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36894728)

I rather agree with this.

I think that Lucas and Spielberg, were largely as good as they were because they dreamed big, and pushed the limits of what was possible, but when they couldn't push the limit any further they made good choices about what to keep and what to throw out. Now in the age of CGI, they don't have to throw anything out, they can have everything they wanted, and that lessens the quality of the work because in fiction it's the creator's choices about what's important and what's not important that make the difference in quality.

Give them a shoestring budget and a cast of good actors who tend to ad-lob rather than follow the script too closely, and you'll get a good movie. Give them unlimited resources and a cast of yes-men and you'll get a mediocre special effects piece.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (2)

SirWhoopass (108232) | about 3 years ago | (#36895016)

I agree, the "Lucas is greedy" bit is far overblown. Yes, he makes a ton of money. But he doesn't live like Donald Trump, even though he easily could. From all accounts, he has a rather modest lifestyle for someone of his wealth. He pours the money into what he likes: making films. He seems to enjoy it from the macro level, and isn't so good at the details.

Plus, a lot of people overlook the influence of his former wife, Marcia. She edited Graffiti, Scorsese's Taxi Driver, and all three in the original Star Wars trilogy. For the prequel trilogy there was no studio or editor who could force hard decisions on Lucas.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (4, Interesting)

Pope (17780) | about 3 years ago | (#36895250)

I would tend to agree: Lucas is a great technologist (THX sound, ILM effects, starting Pixar), a man who had a great imagination and desire for story telling, but an absolutely lousy director. You need to connect with your actors to get great performances from them, and Lucas wasn't interested enough in that. There's a behind the scenes clip from "Star Wars" that takes place on the Death Star. The good guys finish the scene, Lucas yells "Cut!" and the actors ask how it was. Lucas says nothing for a while, then finally says it was OK. The actors sarcastically say "Finally! Thanks, George!" or similar.

Then look at the making of Episode 1 and some of the clips on Red Letter Media, especially about the casting of Anakin. George chooses a worse actor and everyone just agrees with him so they don't rock the boat. Then during filming, he provides barely any direction to the actors at all, which is why everyone except for Obi-Wan comes off so damn stiff. I think Ewan realized early on he wasn't going to get any feedback and just had fun with it.

I'm certainly willing to cut Lucas some slack on "Star Wars" due to studio pressure and his own relative inexperience, but he was never and actor's director and I doubt ever wanted to be.

Now back to the topic: Hooray for the little guy! :)

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

MotorMachineMercenar (124135) | about 3 years ago | (#36895288)

Uh, what? The #1 rule of screenwriting is show, don't tell. This is extended to dialogue, where terseness is a highly valued characteristic across the entire medium's history.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36894310)

Wow, pretty good post. Well-written and posted within two minutes of the story appearing. No typos.

Were you saving this blurb for the eventuality that a Lucas-related story popped up? Well done!

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about 3 years ago | (#36894434)

Look at the little asterisk by his name - he is a subscriber. Subscribers get to see stories early.

<waves hand>
This is not the troll you're looking for.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (2)

alphatel (1450715) | about 3 years ago | (#36894360)

You're forgetting about THX 1138 [wikipedia.org] which for a student project, starring Duvall and Pleasence, was a true sci-fi piece of brilliance. Too bad about most everything afterwards.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

Dragon_Eater (829389) | about 3 years ago | (#36894372)

That's a great lesson for you young creative types out there. Careful what you wish for.

Because being filthy stinking rich and not having to struggle to make a name for yourself is NOT the goal of many up and coming -insert art form here-.

I think George is OK with where he is, rolling around in all that money.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (2)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#36894428)

Yes, he made a lot of money before his directing career had even begun to mature. I'm just glad Scorsese didn't.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (0)

dainer (678561) | about 3 years ago | (#36894590)

Lucas a good director? Oh don't be silly. At best he had good timing.

"Hollywood" will say anyone is "up and coming", or the "brightest start.." blah blah blah. It is all echo chamber hype.

These are the folks that give themselves awards every year from themselves!

Please lets start "Celebrating" the real people in our society.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (3, Insightful)

multisync (218450) | about 3 years ago | (#36894636)

The ten-year-rule for directors is that, give or take, most directors have about 10 years of truly creative energy.

Lolz ...

Well, I guess someone better tell Scorsese, Eastwood, Woody Allen, David Lynch, the Cohen brothers, Cronenberg, Richard Linklater, Errol Morriss, Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, Ang Lee, Gus Van Sant, and Wim Wenders their careers are over.

Oh, and considering Lucas helmed two of the most successful movie franchises of the late 20th century, while founding companies that set the standard for cinima sound (THX) and special effects (ILM), no, I'm not surprised he was considered "an incredible up-and-coming young director." Along with contemporaries like Copola and Scorsese, he has had a dramatic influence on the art and science of making movies.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (3, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#36894858)

Out of your entire list, only Scorsese is an exception to that rule. He got about 20 years instead of the usual 10.

And the only influence that Lucas ultimately had on the "art and science of making movies" was in the influence that the special effects innovators working *FOR* him had.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36895086)

Eastwood, the Cohen Brothers and Allen all have pretty strong cases for staying on the list. However, Lynch, Cronenberg, Tarantino, Anderson, Lee and Van Sant are pretty much the poster children of why the list exists in the first place.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36895168)

I agree. This 10 year rule is entirely bogus. Look at some of the greatest film directors int the world: Jean-Luc Godard, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Yasujiro Ozu, Akira Kurosawa etc. I could easily list another 50 directors that have been producing films for greater than 10 years. Any film student would laugh at the original remark.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (2)

tg123 (1409503) | about 3 years ago | (#36894644)

Seriously, you make a handshake deal (Bet this deal was done in a pub)

turn a few drawings into props for a major film and you lose all rights to use /make those props again ???

How does that work ???

Show me the paperwork that was signed.

Sounds to me like George Lucas was being a cheapskate and ripping someone off.

Is this great Wheel of Karma coming back or is it Luke defeating the Evil Emperor again ??? Use the Force .........

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 3 years ago | (#36894688)

But...but...him making these items was piracy!!!!

A Lucasfilm spokeswoman said: "We believe the imaginative characters, props, costumes, and other visual assets that go into making a film deserve protection in Britain. The UK should not allow itself to become a safe haven for piracy."

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36894668)

I have one of the Darth Vader light sabers. In the sense that it is one of the flashlight holders that was rented to the movie by the props agency. I bought it when the props agency closed. At the time of the movie, no-one knew it would be a success. A lot of stuff was rented from the various agencies in LA. My version of the saber can be seen hanging from DV's belt. Once the movies became successful, the franchise has rewritten the history of its props and has mislead people in the various exhibitions it has staged. In the first movie, no-one was designing kit for posterity, they were renting junk for a single movie.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 3 years ago | (#36894806)

Lucas has been rewriting history of Star Wars for quite some time. What's especially funny are the people who still believe the BS about the "nine stories" that he supposedly wrote. Yet in one of the documentaries for Episode 1 he said he didn't even start writing the story for Phantom Menace until the mid to late 90s. He's got a good scam going, though. There are very few groups of people that are more easily milked out of cash than Star Wars fanbois. The sad part is that in most cases Lucas barely has to spend any money to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in return on his investment.

Losing It (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36894776)

Some are born to move the world
To live their fantasies

But most of us just dream about
The things we'd like to be

Sadder still to watch it die
Than never to have known it

For you, the blind who once could see
The bell tolls for thee...

-- Rush

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 3 years ago | (#36894790)

That's a great lesson for you young creative types out there. Careful what you wish for.

With a net worth of $3.2 billion, I seriously doubt George is regretting much these days. The people who say "money can't buy happiness" are typically all poor.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36895084)

Clearly, then, they are all wrong. You said so.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36894938)

While I like Star Wars ( even saw the original in the movie theatre back in the 70's ) THX-1138 is way better. Low budget and dystopian to the extreme, he should have made more like THX!

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36895044)

An afterthought merchandising deal on Star Wars meant that his big money-maker from that point on was toys and merchandise, not movies.

Toys and merch make more money than movies? So you're saying he foretold the golden age of internet piracy and the new marketing strategies it forced upon us long before the internet was in everyone's homes? I'd call the man a visionary, then.

Re:So goes a once-talented filmmaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36895106)

You realise he's only directed 3 films that weren't Star Wars episodes 1,2 and 3 right and that they were all great?

Good. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36894182)

Fuck george lucas.

Was this guy... (1)

SwampChicken (1383905) | about 3 years ago | (#36894306)

....responsible for any other SW helmet designs? [slowly caresses credit-card]

"galactic proportions" (1, Insightful)

exabrial (818005) | about 3 years ago | (#36894322)

facepalm, ow

List of Lucas supporters (5, Informative)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 3 years ago | (#36894514)

From the article, a list of people that supported Lucasfilms in the lawsuits: Spielburg, Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Jon Landau, Brian Henson (Jim Henson's son). These guys just saw a lot of their monopolistic merchandising rights in the UK disappear.

Re:List of Lucas supporters (5, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | about 3 years ago | (#36894552)

Yes, and the UK just saw the first evidence for 10 years that in a small hidden away part of the universe, sane copyrights do exist!

Even though this guy won, the case basically said Lucas had 15 years to monetise the design, and since then this guy, who moulded the original helmets, may now make some money off that having seemingly made fuck all from the original billions the Star Wars franchises netted Lucas and friends.

All in all, it seems like a decent outcome. Lucas got to make his money from story telling and directing, this guy got to make money from his talent- creating props. Is that such a bad thing? Should Lucas really have been able to make money on even the bits he was talentless at? Even there he had 15 years to do so it would seem!

Re:List of Lucas supporters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36894854)

...plus have a look at this picture [wikimedia.org] . Don't they just look like little Darth Vaders? So who owns the copyright to the Darth Vader likeness?

Unmitigated gall and greed (5, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | about 3 years ago | (#36894992)

You are so correct. And make money he did--during the late 70s and 80s, George Lucas and 20th Century Fox made millions off this movie. Apparently, that's not enough though, nosiree. In spite of the piles of cash in both of their respective bank accounts--and the piles of cash that are still flowing into their respective bank accounts because of the franchise--they're going to begrudge this schmo living a very modest life a few thousand dollars for physically making something that he originally designed that helped contribute those millions to their bank accounts.

And then they have the unmitigated gall to accuse the guy of piracy--the guy who designed and built the things to begin with!

You know, I could understand this if it was some jerk who has no relationship to Lucas or the movies making them and selling them as "Authentic Star Wars Stormtrooper Helmets," but that's clearly not the case. What should have happened is that George Lucas should have said, "You know, even if he's technically breaking copyright law, I'm going to give this guy a pass." Or if he were worried about holding onto his IP rights (even though there's a snowball's chance in hell of him losing them if he chooses not to pursue one single guy because of personal reasons), then he should have called the guy up and said, "Hey, how about giving me a token cut of the profit of each one sold for legal reasons, like say, one penny, and you can even tell people that they're authentic and authorized by George Lucas?" Oh yeah, because that would mean that their piles of millions of dollars would be shorter by a few thousand dollars, which is antithetical to the principle of being so damn greedy that it's not enough that you succeed, but everyone else must fail.

Watching the Star Wars is one of the most cherished memories of my childhood, and I've always wanted to share those movies with kids growing up today. This crap makes me sick, though. It makes me wish that I had never seen the damn movies to begin with and stop sharing them with other people.

Personally, I wish that they would restore the copyright length here in the U.S. back to its original 28 years. 28 years seems like plenty to make money off of your creation, and making it any longer stifles creativity and innovation of others and takes away from the public domain that which belongs in it. I know this case took place in Britain, and I wish that they would enforce a similar copyright period, which would have made this whole case a non-issue. The way I'm reading the article, although the outcome was fair to Mr. Ainsworth, it's still not a best-case scenario. He really only scraped by because the court found that his creation was an "industrial prop," not a work of art. Still, whatever, I'm glad the guy won.

Re:Unmitigated gall and greed (1)

Lieutenant_Dan (583843) | about 3 years ago | (#36895178)

You know, I could understand this if it was some jerk who has no relationship to Lucas or the movies making them and selling them as "Authentic Star Wars Stormtrooper Helmets," but that's clearly not the case. What should have happened is that George Lucas should have said, "You know, even if he's technically breaking copyright law, I'm going to give this guy a pass." Or if he were worried about holding onto his IP rights (even though there's a snowball's chance in hell of him losing them if he chooses not to pursue one single guy because of personal reasons), then he should have called the guy up and said, "Hey, how about giving me a token cut of the profit of each one sold for legal reasons, like say, one penny, and you can even tell people that they're authentic and authorized by George Lucas?" Oh yeah, because that would mean that their piles of millions of dollars would be shorter by a few thousand dollars, which is antithetical to the principle of being so damn greedy that it's not enough that you succeed, but everyone else must fail.

All of what you describe is what a sensible and decent person would have done. Agree 100%.

It's clear that George Lucas is not a decent or sensible person in the same sense that you and I (and I would argue the majority of people) understand.
Seriously, how many millions/billions does one need.
George should have said; "you did a great job for me back in 76, and yes, it's cool for you to make good money as well. You made this all possible."
Lucas (and his corp) is an a**hole.

Re:List of Lucas supporters (1)

mcvos (645701) | about 3 years ago | (#36894616)

What I don't get about this is: Lucas claims the helmets are sculptures and therefore protected by copyright. But why would Lucas hold that copyright? Andrew Ainsworth made the prototype and all individual helmets, and as I understand it, the deal was sealed on a handshake, so he didn't sign away any rights whatsoever. So even if it's death + 70, it's still his, and only his. Right?

Re:List of Lucas supporters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36894906)

Exactly. If Lucas had designed the helmets and Ainswort merely built them, he'd have a case. But it wasn't like that. It was more like "That's a cool helmet, I wanna buy some for my movie." With no rights transferred, Ainsworth should have been able to sell helmets even the first 15 years. Lucas has other cash cows - the movies themeselves and all the stuff he did design (or actually purchased the design for).

Re:List of Lucas supporters (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 3 years ago | (#36894962)

I was wondering that myself. Presumably the article is written by someone without a good understanding of how the law works and there are some relevant aspects he's missed.

Re:List of Lucas supporters (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 3 years ago | (#36895024)

Actually, the article even says the helmet prototype was made from a clay mock-up by Nick Pemberton, which was itself based on drawings made by Ralph McQuarry. So, the only way Lucas would own the copyright is if they were sculptures and were therefore commissioned by him, I would guess.

Re:List of Lucas supporters (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 3 years ago | (#36895180)

The problem is without a written contract there is far more argument on what Ainsworth and Lucas agreed upon. Ainsworth can rightfully argue he sold the props pieces and not the rights since the rights were apparently never discussed. Lucas argues that the rights were implied. Most contracts have to be be explicit in what is being exchanged and normally courts rule heavily on what is explicit not implied.

Re:List of Lucas supporters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36895328)

I'm not a lawyer, but probably because George Lucas holds the merchandising rights. These helmets have extra value because they are recognized in the context of Star Wars (and ONLY Star Wars). He is merchandising these helmets whose value is 100% based upon Star Wars, despite someone else holding those merchandising rights. If it were something a bit more generic (let's say a tan Fedora), then I would agree with him, since Fedoras can have their own recognized value outside of movies (even if it were to bring to mind thoughts of a movie 95% of the time). The helmet though would have no value though if it weren't for the one movie series that it was created for.

Re:List of Lucas supporters (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 3 years ago | (#36895266)

Yes and no. This case is a little different in that Lucas didn't contract Ainsworth to only make the helmets. The article states he also designed them as well. It does pose some risk to other copyright holders but in individual cases there has to be some understanding of how much involvement they holders were in the actual design.

I have mixed feelings about it. (4, Insightful)

gfxguy (98788) | about 3 years ago | (#36894558)

I have mixed feelings about it, but I like the way the decision went. I think the "implied contract" BS is just that... BS. That this ruling might "hurt" artists in Britain because movie makers will not want to use them is also BS - all they have to do is have, you know, an ACTUAL contract.

That what this artist is doing is "piracy" is also BS... he's actually making physical objects... the same physical objects he created over 30 years ago. Calling it piracy is like a record label calling their own artists pirates for doing live performances, even though there was no clause in their contracts not to.

Re:I have mixed feelings about it. (1)

mcvos (645701) | about 3 years ago | (#36894646)

Not only is he making physical objects, he's the designer and creator of the originals. If there's no contract, shouldn't any copyright simply be his?

I feel a great disturbance in the Force... (3, Funny)

ozbird (127571) | about 3 years ago | (#36894566)

... as if millions of voices suddenly cried out "F*ck you, Jar Jar Binks!" and were suddenly smug.

A Miscarriage of justice! (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 years ago | (#36894580)

Apparently, the UK case hinged on whether the stormtrooper armor was a sculptural work of art(entitled to copyright in hahaha-not-quite-perpetuity) or a merely functional design(15 years). The court decided the latter.

However, as a nerd and pedant in good standing, I cannot allow this ridiculous assertion to go unchallenged: can armor that fails to protect its wearer from being clubbed to death by mere teddy-bears, and reduces the accuracy of the Empire's finest to one notch above slapstick truly be called "functional"? Absurd.

Re:A Miscarriage of justice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36894802)

It's not the armor that reduces their accuracy, it's their role as cannon-fodder fighting the stories' heroes. A hero in the same armor would remain every bit as accurate as he is outside the armor. Stormtroopers are inaccurate because of the simple fact that, if they were *accurate*, Star Wars would have ended as soon as the heroes were first shot at. Not much of a movie to watch then, is it?

Re:A Miscarriage of justice! (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 years ago | (#36894886)

Quoth young Skywalker: "I can't see a thing in this helmet."

So it is written.

Re:A Miscarriage of justice! (1)

c (8461) | about 3 years ago | (#36895246)

I cannot allow this ridiculous assertion to go unchallenged: can armor that fails to protect its wearer from being clubbed to death by mere teddy-bears, and reduces the accuracy of the Empire's finest to one notch above slapstick truly be called "functional"?

Dude, relax. They were just using stunt armor in the movie. Creative liberties, etc. The real stuff is apparently a lot better.

Re:A Miscarriage of justice! (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | about 3 years ago | (#36895336)

Dude, relax.

He was joking....

Re:A Miscarriage of justice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36895272)

Apparently, the UK case hinged on whether the stormtrooper armor was a sculptural work of art(entitled to copyright in hahaha-not-quite-perpetuity) or a merely functional design

Yeah, because Stormtrooper armor is oh-so-effective against things like Blaster bolts and Ewoks.

When is it enough? (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 3 years ago | (#36894628)

Seriously does Lucas not have enough money? I can understand he is worried about the Logo, because let's face it Star Wars is a brand name.

Corrective Justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36894702)

If any of the judges have ever seen Jar Jar, Lucas will never win a court case.

Why did Lucasarts have any rights at all? (2)

91degrees (207121) | about 3 years ago | (#36894780)

The writeup suggests that Lucas just bought a load of armour from a supplier. No contract to indicate this was a work for hire. The artist designed and manfuactured the armour and then sold it. They were just sold as props. I seem to agree with the supreme court here.

What I don't see is why Lucas has rights for those first 15 years. If I use any other commercial product in a movie do I have full rights for 15 years to explit it? If I have my hero drive a Ferarri does this mean I can refuse to allow Ferarri to make their own cars for 15 years?

Also it's a bit rich for the spokeswoman to say "We believe the imaginative characters, props, costumes, and other visual assets that go into making a film deserve protection in Britain." I didn't see anything in the article about the artist getting royalties for the millions of stormtrooper figures sold.

Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36894788)

I'm not sure if I agree with this verdict. The decision basically said that the helmets were not works of art or sculpture, but instead 'industrial props', meaning that it only gets 15 years of copyright protection. I think that's an odd distinction to make since props can be very artful and creative. I'm more curious about the 'implied contract' that the Court found to exist, which would distinguish a work for hire from an independently created work. I'd have to see the details of exactly how he was hired to actually say much about this though.

Re:Interesting (2)

Desler (1608317) | about 3 years ago | (#36894870)

The decision basically said that the helmets were not works of art or sculpture, but instead 'industrial props',

Yes, because at the time that was all they were viewed as by Lucas when purchasing them. It was not until after the success of Star Wars and the merchandising rights started to become lucrative were all these props considered "works of art". It's historical revisionism to claim otherwise.

Re:Interesting (2)

Joe U (443617) | about 3 years ago | (#36894978)

I see the opposite.

'Design and produce 50 helmets and suits, based on a sketch, for a movie I'm filming' doesn't equal 'Design and produce a statue, based on a sketch, for my garden'.

It was obviously a mass production of props for a movie set, the fact that they became popular doesn't change that.

Lucas has washed out... (1)

fallen1 (230220) | about 3 years ago | (#36894894)

and yet, it seems the fans/fanboys (and girls) keep throwing money towards him - in the hope that something new will capture the spirit of the original trilogy (I believe). Unfortunately, George seems bound and determined to fill all the roles of director, producer, main grip, scriptwriter, lighting, and so forth (except music and sound). Everyone who was around for the original trilogy when it first came out all know that Lucas should _NEVER_ direct another movie -- hell, not even a commercial! -- in his life. Ever again.

I'd like to clone Irvin Kirshner (may he rest in peace) and let him re-shoot Episodes 1, 2, and 3 as the director with Lucas bound, gagged, and drugged out in the trailer with his name on it. Maybe then they would be better acted since Kirshner was famous for character development.

Personally, I'm glad the little guy won this round. Lucas doesn't deserve to sit on his "creation" for eternity+90 years. No one deserves to sit on a patent or design idea for that long. All we are doing is stifling innovation in the long run -- not preserving the benefit for the creator of "insert cool thing here".

Absurd (0)

llZENll (545605) | about 3 years ago | (#36895010)

How much money Lucasfilms has is irrelevant. This is yet another strike against business by government. The sculptor was hired by Lucasfilms, therefore any creations of his during employment are the property of Lucasfilms forevermore. The sculptor did not take any risks with his money, he was getting a paycheck, Lucasfilms bear all the risk in the production of the film and thus should bear all the profits. Unless there are prearranged royalty or profit sharing contracts, which I have no idea why there would be as sculptors are a dime a dozen, then he is entitled to nothing. One day soon people will wake up to the fact that government can not provide everything for you and businesses takes risks and therefor must be compensated for it, the good news is that day of economic reckoning is coming much sooner than everyone thinks.

Re:Absurd (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 3 years ago | (#36895116)

And all you say may very well be true but these helmets were purchased and constructed as nothing more than industrial props and as such their copyright has expired. Lucas can try to respin history all he wants with respect to this but apparently some people aren't stupid enough to fall for it which is a good thing.

Re:Absurd (1)

F.Ultra (1673484) | about 3 years ago | (#36895256)

Apparently he was not contracted as a sculptor. Lucas seams to have bought the helmets as props from this guy, and that makes the copyright belong to him and not Lucas.

Re:Absurd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36895350)

Bzzzt the art part of this was just the drawings that he worked from, the minor amount of artistic license he was able to take in "fabricating" them for Lucas was near nill. Copyright Law in the UK says such works are only protected for 15 years.

insert standing ovation here (0)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 3 years ago | (#36895020)

Nothing makes my eyes water more than stories about working people getting a slice of the pie despite having filthy rich cock suckers attacking them. If I were British I would sing God Save the Queen. What the hell, I'm singing it anyway.

This victory will certainly change things. (2)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | about 3 years ago | (#36895144)

While this certainly is a victory for this guy, things will change in the movie industry. No longer will props be bought without huge contracts that take away every single right of the people who design and build them. I foresee this causing the elimination of most independent shops designing and developing props. Movie studios will instead go to (or create their own) industrial prop houses and hire cheap talent to crank out props. The really good artists will be replaced by wage slaves just showing up for a paycheck. Sadly, winning this battle may eventually cause the war to be lost.

Re:This victory will certainly change things. (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 3 years ago | (#36895372)

Yes indeed! I'm a bit excited about that too. But I wonder how far it goes. Clearly, there will be a flood of storm trooper costumes on eBay... this guy who originally created them and makes new ones for original moulds will still be able to price his output higher than others, but he will still have to lower his prices.... something I welcome as I have always wanted one of those suits myself. And only recently have I reduced myself back to a size 32 waist so that I can actually wear one without looking like a total dufus... (covering my face really helps in that regard but not having a gut, bulges and rolls popping out from among the bits of armor also helps.)

Also, I wonder about public appearances... so far, only "charity" and non-profit appearances have really been allowed. Will that change from this? I wonder.

I love Star Wars and all that, but I do not worship at Lucas's feet and I subscribe to the view that many hold that the more Lucas controls things, the worse they get.

So what are the implications? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 3 years ago | (#36895212)

Does this mean that I as an engineer may at some point in the future be able to make millions off of my inventions instead of having to hand them over to my employer?

Re:So what are the implications? (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | about 3 years ago | (#36895406)

No because most likely you have a contract that prevents you from doing so because you signed away your rights to your works to your company. On the other hand, this was a case of Lucas purchasing industrial props and because of this the copyright expired thus allowing this guy to make replicas. Now if your company's copyrights to the works you did for them happened to also expire, yes, you could start creating and selling what you invented for your company.

Indiana Jones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36895284)

I downloaded and watched a blueray rip of Crystal Skull, and I'd like to point the movie out as a good example of why I don't pay for this garbage anymore. Didn't even finish it. Thankfully I didn't pay for it.

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