For years now, Lucasfilm has been going after Andrew Ainsworth, the man who created the stormtrooper design, for selling unauthorized replicas of the stormtrooper helmet and armor.
In 2006, the U.S. courts ruled in Lucasfilm’s favor, but recently the British courts sent Lucas an entirely different message: The Stormtrooper design is not art.
In Britain, copy protection of art lasts 70 years. But the courts ruled that it’s not art, but rather industrial design – which only carries copyright protection for 15 years.
From CNET: Ainsworth was, at the time of the costumes’ creation, an industrial designer. This is what he told the Times of his design: “I didn’t even know it was for a film to begin with.” At the time the costumes were made, the machine Ainsworth used was, he told the Times, “churning out kayaks and watersports stuff.”
Hmm. It’s not art? How is that possible? Doesn’t seem right to me. If the famous stormtrooper costume is a mere industrial design, then why is Ainsworth getting so rich from Star Wars fans? A stormtrooper costume is not a toaster, it’s not a kitchen appliance or CD player.
Ainsworth is the creator of the stormtrooper, he has the original molds for the helmet and armor. It might be nice if Lucasfilms would allow him to sell his creation – but that’s really a separate issue.
Is it art? I’d say of course it’s art. It will be very interesting to see what happens next when Lucasfilms appeals to Britain’s Supreme Court.