Lucas loses bid to ban replicas
Britain's Supreme Court on Wednesday defeated a bid by George Lucas' company to stop a prop designer making and selling replicas of the iconic storm trooper helmets from the Star Wars films. The court did, however, prevent him from selling them in the United States.
Andrew Ainsworth sculpted the white helmets worn by the sinister galactic warriors in the original Star Wars film in 1977, and now sells replica costumes, made from the original molds, over the Internet. Lucasfilm Ltd. has been trying for years to stop him, in a battle that has climbed through the British courts.
Lucasfilm's lawyers argued that the storm trooper suits are sculptures and therefore works of art covered by British copyright law. Two lower courts ruled in 2008 and 2009 that the costumes were props, not artworks, and so covered by a much shorter copyright period that has now expired.
The country's highest court on Wednesday upheld those decisions. The panel of five judges said "it was the Star Wars film that was the work of art that Mr. Lucas and his companies created. The helmet was utilitarian in the sense that it was an element in the process of production of the film."
But the judges agreed with Lucasfilm's lawyers — and a lower court — that Ainsworth had violated Lucas' copyright in the United States by selling costumes there.
Ainsworth, 62, said he was delighted.
"I am proud to report that in the English legal system David can prevail against Goliath if his cause is right," he said. "If there is a Force, then it has been with me these past five years."
— Associated Press
Winehouse's pal says she was fine Friday
Details about Amy Winehouse's final days are emerging, with British tabloids saying she was riding a self-destructive streak straight to her demise. "She has spent the last seven days on a massive bender, and people were saying she's going to drink herself to death," a source told the U.K.'s Mirror. Indeed, the 27-year-old looked barely coherent while onstage with 15-year-old goddaughter Dionne Bromfield at the iTunes festival July 20. Pal Kelly Osbourne went on the record as saying she thought Amy was doing well, and she and Winehouse talked for a good hour on Friday. "I was speaking to her last night, she seemed absolutely fine," Osbourne told the Mirror. "I don't understand how this could have happened." Winehouse was found dead in her London home Saturday.
Rapper T-Pain sues AutoTune company
In a twist worthy of an M. Night Shyamalan film (the good one, at least), rapper T-Pain is suing the company that created Auto-Tune. Next week: The cast of Jersey Shore sues MTV. T-Pain (nee Faheem Najm) filed a suit in California on Monday against Antares Technologies, claiming the company was using his name, likeness and voice (well, kind of) despite the fact that his association with it ended in June, AllHipHop.com reports. He says Antares has also licensed out his image and likeness to other companies with competing products. Gee, could this have anything to do with T-Pain starting his own company called Izotope that will market a line of audio manipulation products called "the T-Pain Effect"? T-Pain seeks a full accounting of how much Antares made off the product, and at least $1 million in damages. Yes, that will be sufficient seed money for Izotope, we'd think.