Wednesday, July 27, 2011

LEGAL COMMENTARY: Star Wars is in the Public Domain!

Hah sorry, made you look. It's in the public domain in the UK, in the context of costumes:
Andrew Ainsworth is a Londoner who designed the original Storm Trooper helmets for George Lucas’s Star Wars. Ainsworth has been casting new armour from his original moulds for the past eight years, selling them to fans at up to £1,800 a throw. Lucas sued Ainsworth in a US court, which held that he had violated Lucas’s copyright; but because Ainsworth has no US assets, Lucas had to bring suit in the UK to collect. However, UK law affords only limited copyright to costumes, and the UK Supreme Court held that costumes are not sculptures, and only get a 15 year term of copyright in the UK, meaning that Storm Trooper armour is now in the public domain in Britain. The court also found that Ainsworth had violated US copyright.
Could you imagine what would happen if Star Wars ever entered the public domain? At the earliest, Star Wars becomes public domain in 2072. At the earliest.