3 Count: Legal Empire

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1: George Lucas Loses U.K. ‘Star Wars’ Copyright Case

First off today, Andrew Ainsworth, a London-based prop designer who first created the iconic “stormtrooper” helmet for the first Star Wars movie, has won a legal battle against the movie’s director, George Lucas, that will allow him to continue to sell copies of the helmets made from the original mold. The Supreme Court upheld a 2009 Appeals Court ruling that said the helmets were costumes, not sculptures, and thus were not protected by copyright law. However, the court also ruled that Ainsworth had violated copyright law in the U.S, thus barring him from exporting his helmets here. Ainsworth, however, had already stopped shipping to the U.S. after losing a similar court case in the U.S.

2: News Aggregator Loses Online Copyright Appeal

Next up today, UK news aggregator Meltwater lost its appeal against the Newspaper Licensing Authority (NLA) which said that, as a distributor of aggregation software, its end users must get licenses from the NLA or respective publishers to use their content. This lawsuit began in September 2009 after the NLA introduced a licensing scheme that made such a requirement and, though 22 aggregators and 280 companies signed on, Meltwater did not and opted instead to litigate.

3: French Downloaders Face Government Grilling

Finally today, ten alleged file sharers are being called before HADOPI, the organization overseeing the nation’s three strikes system, to explain their actions. The users each have been the subject of three reports of copyright infringement via their Internet connection and are not being asked to explain their actions. HADOPI, if the user doesn’t show or doesn’t provide a compelling explanation, may take the matter before a judge who can issue a fine of up to 1,500 euros or diconnect them from the Web for a period of a month. Some say that conviction may be difficult as HADOPI only has their IP address but the group says that they have additional proof in that the users received the second warning letter and took no other action.


That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

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