Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G


I bet the vast majority of you reading this have never heard of the name "Andrew Ainsworth" before (I'll though I'll bet a dollar that boxwatcher knows who he is).  Ainsworth is a fellow from Britain who designed the original Stormtrooper armor for the first Star Wars movies.  In his little studio in Twickenham, he made those pieces of pop culture history.

Eight years ago, Ainsworth saw all the people cosplaying in Stormtrooper costumes and thought, "Why don't I get in on this?"  He started making Stormtrooper armor and selling it.  Among Star Wars nerds, this was awesome.  It was the guy who designed and built the originals!  He charged $2,500 just for a helmet, but people bought it.

Including a few in America.

I'm willing to bet that was how Lucas found out -- some Star Wars convention and someone blabbed and word got back to him.  He filed a $20 mil lawsuit against Ainsworth for copyright violation and to tell him to stop that shit.  Ainsworth said, "Bring it on."

The court case was interesting.  Ainsworth's argument was that the Stormtrooper armor was functional, not artistic.  There's a reason for this distinction.  Artistic depictions are protected by copyright for the lifetime of the creator/rightsholder plus 70 years.  Functional works, like sculptures, are only protected in Britain for 15 years.  The court sided with this logic, ruled the copyright expired long ago, and told Lucas to get on his bike.

I'm just surprised he came out unscathed (and in Britain, the loser in a lawsuit has to pay court costs, so Ainsworth is out nothing).  Lucas is notoriously aggressive about protecting Star Wars, to the point he sued NASA for developing a prototype laser cutter that operated suspiciously like a light saber.  In fact, I'm pretty sure, in any other country, Lucas would have won (the court ruled that Ainsworth violated American copyright laws, but they have no authority to enforce that.  Doesn't matter, Ainsworth doesn't sell his stuff to Americans anymore anyway).

The upshot?  Another way for fanboys to establish geek superiority over their peers.  "It's an Ainsworth!"  I can't wait to see news reporters at San Diego asking Stormtroopers who are they wearing.
Tags: art, did not do the research, don't try this at home, important life lessons, this ought to be interesting

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