by casey andrews
Lucas Films©’ Lawyers Strike Again. Proving once more that they can’t play nice.
Lucasfilm comes down hard on Star Wars-themed events
“For three months we have been aggressively pursued by Lucasfilm over the use of the word ‘lightsaber’ in our events,…”lightsaber battles” for eight years with no pushback, but in January, perhaps because the multi-city battles had drawn media coverage, a letter arrived from the Lucasfilm lawyers. We immediately stopped using the words ‘lightsaber,’ ‘Jedi,’ ‘Sith’ and ‘The Force,’” ….READ ARTICLE HERE from siliconbeat.com
So in other words, don’t associate any sort of fun activity with anything that might be connected, whatsoever, to Lucas Films© Property.
I’ve done a couple of art shows, and of course share my work with friends and family. The question that ALWAYS comes up without fail – “Do you paint any Star Wars©?” And the answer is always the same – “Not openly.”
What I mean by that is, if you REALLY want a character portrait of someone associated with a certain genre, you are more then welcome to commission a piece. But will I ever display my glorious Han Solo© for all to see? Not a fat chance in hell. Copyright Law is tricky, and yes I am well versed. (They beat us over the head with it in art school.) One thing is clear, there is a lot of badlands type gray area.
Here’s the thing – Most large successful studios welcome fan attention within reason. Remaking Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and attempting to pass it off as legit is one thing, and creating fan art based off something is completely different. It comes down to the intellectual property owners definition of the term “Fan Art”. Fan Art falls into the gray area.
Some intellectual property owners may see a specific use as free advertising, fan art, or otherwise fair. However, others may see a similar use as lost licensing profits, branding issues, and/or copyright infringement. The intellectual property owner’s conclusion may depend on a number of factors and may vary from use to use.
The “Art” is also a broad term, with example to these Light Saber© Fights. You see that Lucas Films©?! I just used the word “Light Saber©”…fuck me right? All kinds of tangible and intangible things can fall into the copyright and trademarked trap. These can include: Colors, Slogans, Logos, Mascots, and Terms – like “Light Saber©”. Are most people anal assholes that will come after you for using a term? Not usually, but Lucas Films© is a Giant Asshole.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Star Wars© (it’s nothing like it’s far superior cousin Star Trek but I digress). Another well know A-Hole in the industry is Disney©. And who’s in bed together these days? You guessed it! Lucas Films© and Disney©. That is not to say I’m not happy about it. In fact I absolutely LOVE what Disney© is doing with the franchise. They just don’t tend to leave a lot of creative room for fun.
In the case of the Light Saber© Battles, you have to consider one of the big reasons behind the legal mumbo-jumbo of it all. Is the art infringing on the brand’s profit or growth, or have the possibility of being confused for the real thing? Well, I haven’t heard of any “Official” Star Wars© Light Saber© fights, so it’s not like people are paying money (they’re free), to the wrong party. My personal opinion is that Lucas Films© went “omg that’s a great idea, why didn’t we think of that? SHUT IT DOWN!” …dicks.
They had another option other than to rename their weapons. They could have elected to remind Disney of something called “nominative use”, which permits the usage of trademarks, even for public usage, while still being considered to not dilute the trademark. While technically all they have to do to qualify for nominative use is to not suggest that there was a sponsorship or endorsement by Disney, it would be wisest if they explicitly claimed that there was no such relationship, dispelling any possible confusion that Disney might have something to do with an event that would otherwise be considered to infringe on trademarks that are owned by Disney, and Disney would not have any legally sustainable grounds to sue in the first place.
I’m not entirely sure of the legal accuracy of this statement but it lends a hand to my point.
Nominative use, also “nominative fair use”, is a legal doctrine that provides an affirmative defense to trademark infringement as enunciated by the United States Ninth Circuit, by which a person may use the trademark of another as a reference to describe the other product, or to compare it to their own. – wikipedia.com
Seems to check out Mark, nice work!
In conclusion, Star Wars© and Disney© aren’t known for playing nice. In my artistic and fan-based opinion, imitation is the surest form of flattery. Don’t alienate your fans by dragging them all to court. That sucks.casey andrews