Does the Lucasfilm v Ainsworth decision mean that the UK is wide open for prop making?

OCDChad

New Member
That meaning anyone can make any Star Wars prop he wants and advertise and sell it as such if it's been 15 years since it was first made?
 
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sskunky

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I’ve never had a problem. But I don’t flaunt it. I don’t have a website and I don’t really put prices out in public. I’m only a small business. No big number runs. I don’t believe they copyrighted the costumes which is why the fell under “industrial design” in uk law.
 

sskunky

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
The UK court made a specific ruling in Ainsworth's specific case. That's it.
I’m not sure that’s correct. Uk law is uk law. The ruling was made based on that fact that the costumes were made for a utilitarian purpose therefor fall under industrial design. It was not a specific case. Industrial design holds a 20-25 year term. Ainsworth knew this and so did his lawyers.
 

OCDChad

New Member
The UK court made a specific ruling in Ainsworth's specific case. That's it.

"If Lucasfilm could convince the courts the 3D works were sculptures, they would be protected by copyright for the life of the author plus 70 years.
If not, the copyright protection would be reduced to 15 years from the date they were marketed, meaning it would have expired and Mr Ainsworth would be free to sell them."

"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."

It seems to me like any prop is fair game if it's been 15 years. Is this why RSProps sells openly with a website and all?
 

oblagon

Sr Member
RS Props has a website and sells SW props without a license so I'd say yes. The court ruling sets a precedent.
 

frogfreak

Active Member
This isn't related exactly but is it ok to sell homemade Spider-Man masks?
I just can't seem to find any help!
 

CWOODREPLICAS

Active Member
I consulted my partner (who is a lawyer) about all this and funnily enough the Ainsworth vs Lucasfilm case is a textbook case for intellectual property law in the UK. Her view was that it is a bit of a 'grey' area, and the Ainsworth Case doesn't mean that the UK is wide open to prop making at all. The distinction is as OCDChad sort of says, there is a difference between Copyright/intellectual property and design right. In this case, for it to fall in the copyright category, it had to be considered to be a 'sculpture'/'work of art', which is what Lucasfilm argued. However, the Judge said it wasn't (though perhaps I'm sure we'd all disagree...) and said that the original purpose of this was not to be a sculpture, but a costume, hence design and hence it had expired.

Both design right and copyright are automatically granted (I believe) for different periods of time, but to solidify this, they usually have to be registered. Anyone can go on the Gov.uk website and search for an item to check it. However, it's such a grey area as to what something is and isn't. For example, 'Sonic Screwdriver' is a registered term, but the designs aren't registered? They change and fluctuate and they aren't copyright at all. Still i'd be cautious parading round selling these bits, especially with skilled people who are licensed making them.

With Star Wars, all the items were broadcast to the world before they could be copyright registered, but they all had design right in the UK/EU. Can't copyright the 'Stormtrooper' name as that was kicking around in Germany 40 years previously, so what's left to be registered?

So the answer to the question: Can anyone make any Star Wars prop he wants and advertise and sell it as such if it's been 15 years since it was first made?

Well, yes and no. If in doubt, contact Gov.uk and check the registers. OT Lightsabers, probably, Stormtroopers, probably, E-11s, probably, Any stuff from the recent films, probably not! As always, be cautious with these things.
 

thegnome

Active Member
Perhaps under international law you can, I know that in China it gets very iffy but you can. Perhaps as my final answer. I'll go ask my college prof about it tomorrow because she is teaching International Relations.
 

CWOODREPLICAS

Active Member
I think international legal copyright has to be recognised in each country - So with the Ainsworth case he lost it in the US(?) but won it in the UK as our laws are different on this. China has the same copyright laws as the US, BUT China doesn't have the same "fair use" policy and also is horrendously relaxed about copyright (see Lepin vs Lego, though I believe Lepin has finally been shut down).

Either-way, don't push it folks!
 

Mouse Vader

Well-Known Member
Kind of makes GL look like a money grabbing toe rag to me, as if he hasn't got enough already - beating up one small guy who helped him make it (n)
 
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