The Extension Of Copyright Is Necessary To Protect The Rights Of Artists And Ensure Future Creativity

2544 words - 11 pages

Like the famous Pablo Picasso once said: “Bad artists copy. Good artists steal” (Whittaker 2008, p.131). The focus of this essay is on copyright and the laws and legislations that are put in place to uphold this right. The presence of copyright is necessary particularly focusing on intellectual property rights in film, and whether it should be put in place not only to protect the rights of the artists but also to promote future creativity in the industry. The definition of copyright is the exclusive rights to produce copies and to control literary, musical, or artistic work for a number of years; within the United Kingdom this is 70 years from the artist or producers death or from the date ...view middle of the document...

It no longer is art for art sake but more for business opportunity, in trading and production of the works. Film is a relevant and interesting example of copyright due to the explosion in the media in the 21st century.
The case study that will be the main focus of this essay is of George Lucas versus Andrew Ainsworth (Jackson, 2011) in which Ainsworth created and distributed the Stormtrooper ‘replica’ outfits that were first seen in George Lucas’s Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977). Ainsworth as a young designer was hired by Lucas to create the prototypes of the costumes based on drawings that Lucas had drawn up, while working on the first of the saga of films. No written contractual copyright agreement was put in place between the two individuals for the said costume props to be protected against reproduction and distribution, but it was recognized by the courts that an “implied agreement” was put in place to protect these pieces. Lucas’ arguments for winning such case had to be with the stormtrooper uniforms being art pieces, such as sculptures rather than just an industrial prop. If Lucas were to win the case it would mean that he would have 70 years intellectual property rights to the costume. As the case moved on through the courts they ruled in favour of Ainsworth meaning that the rights of the stormtrooper prop costume only held a 15 year copyright clause this meant that he was in his right to carry on creating and distributing the costume and even expand upon his business, without breaking copyright laws.

The main problem Lucas had stated by Ainsworth’s lawyer, was with others copying what Ainsworth had done in the UK already. The case ruled in favour with Ainsworth, claiming that he was not breaking any copyright laws under UK legislation, as it was not recreating an artistic piece (which meant it only had copyright protection for 15 years). However had he been in an American court of law the costumes copyright laws would have lasted for 70 years after the films release. 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”(Thompson, 2011). This statement questions UK legislation by allowing such reproductions to occur. Statistics taken in 2007 for the total money lost to piracy in the UK nearly hit half a billion pounds, with £200,000 of that in pirate DVD sales alone (IPSOS, 2007). With such an amount being lost in this industry within UK it would set a standard for UK courts to rule in favour of Lucas to ensure that such cases are not brought to the courts again or it does not promote to others to go ahead and commit similar replication acts.

The problem with this case can be seen with the ownership of the prop itself and how the prop or art piece can be viewed, as this determines what side of the law it falls upon. Lucas should have had...

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