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British Court: Stormtroopers Don't Belong To Lucas

Illustration for article titled British Court: Stormtroopers Dont Belong To Lucas

Everyone who wants to make their own Stormtrooper costume without fear of reprisals from George Lucas, move to Britain. That seems to be the message sent by the British courts, which have just declared that Star Wars' Stormtroopers aren't copyrightable.

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The British Court of Appeals upheld the original British verdict that the familiar white-and-black costume couldn't be considered copyrighted because it wasn't art. Instead, the costume has been considered "industrial design," and therefore only allowed to keep copyright for 15 years after creation. British Lord Justices Rix, Jacob and Patten considered the look of the Empire's cloned warriors to have a "utilitarian," rather than artistic, purpose, and denied Lucasfilm the right to enforce their US copyright in the United Kingdom.

It'll be interesting to see how this ruling could affect future British copyright cases. Can British companies now produce merchandise based on any movie or television designs, as long as they're older than 15 years, and use this as a defense? The Cybermen have been around for almost three times that long, let's see if someone's brave enough to test the BBC's legal wrath.

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George Lucas loses court appeal over Star Wars costume copyright [Times Online]

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DISCUSSION

How does one define art? I'm sure the creative minds behind Star Wars view their work as art. I keep seeing news stories about charities and such getting slapped with fees for letting kids sing songs without paying royalties. It seems the legal system in the UK is getting as wonked out as it is here in the US.