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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

UK Storm Trooper armourer can go on selling his gear; Brit copyright on Star Wars costumes has lapsed

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.

Mr Ainsworth sells his Stormtrooper costumes for up to £1,800
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.
George Lucas loses Stormtrooper battle at Supreme Court
(Thanks, @erichhugo!)

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