In my post below where I focused on patent law it was noted that even more obviously blatant abuses of the spirit of intellectual property occur in copyright. So I was interested to see that George Lucas has lost a law suit in the United Kingdom in relation to the idea of “storm troopers”:
Nevertheless, the High Court rejected the multi-billionaire director’s claim and the focus switched to design rights, specifically whether the helmets sold were works of art or merely industrial props.
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.
The High Court and Court of Appeal found in Mr Ainsworth’s favour, and despite Lucas being backed by directors Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and Peter Jackson, the Supreme Court has now followed suit.
Someone on twitter quipped that Lucas should be paying royalties to the Germans for the idea of stormtroopers. But I immediately recalled that many of the ideas which set the frame for the Star Wars series are actually lifted whole cloth from pre-World War II pulp science fiction. In particular the ideas of E. E. Smith and his Lensman series.