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Star Wars Prequels Media Movies

Lucas Restricts Fan-Made Films To Documentaries, Parodies 236

Posted by timothy
from the he'd-frown-on-fansmut dept.
garagekubrick writes: "A great piece at the Houston Chronicle discusses how the community of fan made Star Wars films received a boon in December when Lucasfilm loaned their sponsorship to the event, and George Lucas himself would be a judge. Unfortunately, they've limited the contest to parodies and documentaries, thereby shutting out hundreds of entries. As a Lucas rep says, 'if in fact somebody is using our characters to create a story unto itself, that's not in the spirit of what we think fandom is about. Fandom is about celebrating the story the way it is.' Pretty rich coming from the filmmaker who constantly cites greed as being the root of the dark side, and who keeps discussing the liberating values of digital filmmaking. Guess as long as it doesn't hurt his Empire..."
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Lucas Restricts Fan-Made Films To Documentaries, Parodies

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  • Fan FICTION? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The_Xnuiem (558191) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @12:24PM (#3421079)
    I guess, once again, Lucas proves he just doesnt care about his fans, just his franchise. He has attempted to kill, maim, destroy all types of fan sites and fan fiction based on SW, aka bobafett.com Makes you wonder why he even bothers to deny its about the money, when he finds ways to discourage everything else it could be about.
    • by Zekk (411637)
      Maybe he's worried someone else will make a movie with Jar Jar in it...
      • Maybe he's worried someone else will make a movie with Jar Jar in it...

        Wait, that's what I thought *we* were worried about...
      • New Movie (Score:2, Funny)

        by orangeguru (411012)
        Return of the Jar Jar Clones?!

        Imagine the whole thing with Back street boys as the only human actors plus gazillions of animated JJs ... brrrrrrr ...

        orangeguru

    • by evilpaul13 (181626) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @02:50PM (#3421518)
      Lucas is legally entitled to do just this. Under US Copyright law, "...the owner of copyright.. has the exclusive rights... to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work"* i.e. Lucas has the sole right to create a sequel, write another Jar Jar adventure, or whatever. The only stuff he's "allowing" is stuff that he doesn't have a legal right to prevent anyway. Commentary and parody are protected as Fair Uses.**

      If you don't like the law, think it is ridiculously restrictive of free speech maybe, then perhaps you should write your Congressman?

      Sources:
      * Title 17 Section 106 [cornell.edu]
      ** Title 17 Section 107 [cornell.edu]
      • I think it's obvious tha tno one is attacking the law here...well, then again, I'm sure there are a few people here that are...but the main point is, fans are upset that Lucas seems to be going to many lengths lately to protect his franchise, at the expense of some of the most die-hard fans.
    • ... or it could be that he is incredibly and jealously protective of his story, his characters, and his other assorted intellectual property. Its quite possible to fight to protect something because its your's and you should be the only one to screw it up *cough*jarjar*cough*.

      Don't get me wrong, I still think Lucas is a nazi and a sell-out, but I still hope that Episodes 2 and 3 can fix what he broke.

  • by alen (225700) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @12:28PM (#3421088)
    Part of it could be legal. If he allowed it once, he wouldn't be able to fight true piracy in the courts later on. Kind of like people have to pay to sell a book that takes place in the SW universe. If he allowed royalty free once, it may not stand up in court the next time.

    But Lucas is the king of special edition versions. Each of his movies have appeared in so many various special editions and formats that the fans must have paid many times over for each of the movies. The RIAA and MPAA must be envious.
    • There are many different versions of cheese out there. Each one could be considered a special edition. I only by a few types, the types that I like.

      Believe it or not, I'm not being exploited by the cheese manufacturers. There is no law stating that I must buy each and every type of cheese out there. When I go to the grocery store, I make a decision on what I want to take home. I don't mindlessly walk around picking up everything in the store simply because it is there.

      You seem to think that the consumer has no will, or personal desire, or even capacity to make a decision about their purchases.
    • by Witchblade (9771) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @03:18PM (#3421612) Homepage

      I just wish all of the fans of these films would use all of their creativity and imagination to create something of their own. Lucas liked space opera serials, old myths, and fast cars. So he created a world based on such things.

      Instead of screaming that they can't regurgitate Lucas' vision over and over, fans interested in film making should develop their own. Maybe just start with what they like most about Star Wars, whether it's comical droids, spiritual warriors, or whatever, then run with it in their own way.

      Okay, I'm not going to rant on this. I just think George has a long-range idea of what he's doing with is supossed anti-fan stance on some issues. One day he's going to die, and probably much sooner stop making movies. We need someone who will create something that will replace Star Wars, not just an army of directors making sequel after sequel of another's ideas.

      • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @04:40PM (#3421885) Homepage
        Yeah, the many, many similarities between Star Wars and the Lensman series, or Akira Kurosawa movies were total coincidences, hm? (early drafts are pratically identical to "The Hidden Fortress")

        There's nothing wrong with changing an existing story. Disney does it all the time. So did Shakespeare. In fact, that was the predominant sort of writing throughout history; continual refinement of stories using stock characters and situations.

        Original works are nice too -- within reason. Total originality is hard to come by and not very useful if carried to extremes.

        Take a look at how useful the revision of preexisting works has been to the arts in the past. It's not something to be ignored.
    • There's really no pleasing some star wars geeks. How many directors come out and do stuff like this for their fans? I think we're going to have to accept the fact that he's just a filmmaker. He's not some overbearing CEO bent on world econmic control. He's not a fanboy ready to lose his copyrights and business. Might I add- a very profitable business which employs more than a few individuals. Heck, his companies have won rewards for being a great place to work at. (sorry too lazy to find link) Do these Star Wars fanatics really expect him to jeopardize all of this because of a crappy $300 "lightsabre duel" made on someone's iMac?

      Citing a need to protect its copyrights, Lucasfilm limited the contest to spoofs and documentaries, shutting out some of Lucas' most ardent fans, many of whom have reinterpreted his famous storyline to create online comedies, dramas and light-saber duels of their own.


      Don't like it? Don't participate, but at least give the man credit. I don't see fan favorites like Fincher or Spielberg jumping through hoops to please their fans like this.
    • by autopr0n (534291) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @07:18PM (#3422421) Homepage Journal
      If he allowed it once, he wouldn't be able to fight true piracy in the courts later on.

      GOD DAMNIT! WHY DO PEOPLE BELIVE THIS!?

      That's just not true. If you don't protect a trademark, you can lose it. The same is not true w.r.t copyrights or patents!!
  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @12:30PM (#3421094)

    "if in fact somebody is using our characters to create a story unto itself, that's not in the spirit of what we think fandom is about. Fandom is about celebrating the story the way it is."

    Remember kids - when you use your *imagination*, only use it to twist your favorite characters, like Big Bird, into ironic circumstances, where they do something you'd never expect of them.

    Otherwise, you could be hurting their value as characters.

    Have fun kids!

    ;^)

    Ryan Fenton
    • by parliboy (233658)
      Um... ok...

      We had Star Wars Special Edition. We had Empire Strikes Back Special Edition. We had Return of the Jedi Special Edition.

      We've had hundred of fiction books.

      I certainly don't remember Kyle Katarn being a central point of the trilogy.

      And, we've just had to deal with rumors of another editing of A New Hope.

      Perhaps... perhaps before Mr. Lucas makes this statement, he would be so nice as to decide just which way the story is in the first place.

  • I think what LucasArts fears most is not that a fan will make a `better' Star Wars -- unlikely, too much resources required -- rather, what they're scared about is the lack of control over what they feel are their trademarks. Sad. This control-freakish attitude costs will cost them viewer in the long run, as Eric Flint pointed out [baen.com] a few stories ago.
  • Blame the law (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @12:34PM (#3421105) Homepage
    According to current law, if Lucasfilms shows the propensity to forgive others using their trademarked material, their ownership of those trademarks would be jeopardized. It would mean anyone could make Star Wars films or merchandise and sell them. Parodies and documentaries are protected as fair use, so Lucasfilms can promote them without threatening their trademark ownership. I don't know of many IP production companies that'll even go that far.

    I can live with getting the Phantom Edit in DivX over P2P file sharing programs. Just let me see Troops on the big screen.
    • Re:Blame the law (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TheKAVH (196883)
      So what's stop Lucas from selling liscenses to these amateur films at a low low price, say a $1?
      • I'm not sure. There may be reasons why selling licenses ex-post-facto would also cause problems. I don't think anyone does that; I've never seen anyone settle an IP case that way; either the offender loses the right, or the court upholds the usage. IANAL, so you might want to ask one.
    • According to current law, if Lucasfilms shows the propensity to forgive others using their trademarked material, their ownership of those trademarks would be jeopardized.

      This is really not an issue. Lucasfilm could easily license its trademarked products at nominal cost to participants in the contest without losing control of those trademarks.
  • by mttlg (174815) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @12:35PM (#3421108) Homepage Journal
    Why am I suddenly getting the image of George Lucas and Hilary Rosen on a date, discussing how to completely dominate the entertainment industry and control every possible use of the content they produce, complete with evil laughter, creepy background music, and a slow fade to black, followed by narration setting the scene for a rebellion against an all-powerful enemy? Will there be another Star Wars film contest next year?
  • by cowscows (103644) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @12:36PM (#3421115) Journal
    Call me crazy, but shouldn't the fans, and not the creators decide what fandom is all about?

    Will sports arenas try to throw people out for cheering for the visiting team? Will they decide that it's illegal for me to get a hometeam jersey printed up with my name on the back, instead of an actual player's name, because we should celebrate the game how it actually is, not how we'll enjoy it the best?

    It's silly.
  • by ArsSineArtificio (150115) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @12:39PM (#3421129) Homepage
    Lucas' attitude is the proper one.

    Parodies are legally protected speech (subject to a few tweaks, etc.). That's why Spaceballs or Weird Al's "Amish Paradise" don't require the payment of royalties, and don't require the original creator's permission. So all Lucas is doing with regard to parodies is acknowledging that there's nothing he can do about them, and saying that he enjoys watching them and so will assist in their circulation.

    Documentaries don't really use copyrighted materials - the story they're telling is not about Luke Skywalker, it's about Lucasfilm (or whomever is the subject of the documentary).

    New non-parody works, though (like fanfiction), which utilize the characters to create original fiction, are legally problematic. If Lucas acquiesced in the creation of these, then he would be yielding his copyright into the public domain. This would be a hugely bad idea for him. (Every movie production company would set to work making cheap-ass Star Wars flicks, to start with.) It would mean he was relinquishing his right to royalties from the use of the characters, etc. He would be insane to do this.

    Unfortunately, there's not much in the way of middle ground, where he could say "well, fans can make little fanfiction movies, but commercial movie producers can't". IIRC, Mercedes Lackey got into a lot of trouble this way once, trying to turn over a portion of one of her fantasy worlds into the public domain for fans to write fanfiction in -- ended up as a mess.

    The best Lucas can do is what he has done here - applaud the parodies and apologetically forbid "Star Wars" fanfiction.

    • If Lucas acquiesced in the creation of these, then he would be yielding his copyright into the public domain.

      No he wouldn't. Its trademarks that you have to defend or lose. All Lucas has to do is not sue the film makers in question, but that doesn't mean that Star Wars goes into the public domain.
      • No he wouldn't. Its trademarks that you have to defend or lose. All Lucas has to do is not sue the film makers in question, but that doesn't mean that Star Wars goes into the public domain.

        Yes - you're right. What I meant, and should have said, is that Lucas would be granting an implied license to all fans to use his copyrighted materials in any way they wished. And this would make things very blurry for him legally, down the road.

    • Surely fanfiction (eg Star Wars books like the Jedi Academy trilogy etc) only serve to give Star Wars free advertising and should therefore be encouraged! I think what Lucas wants to avoid is more "Phantom Edits" - he can do that by making the next Star Wars films better than The Phantom Menace.
    • by Phanatic1a (413374) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @01:43PM (#3421292)
      New non-parody works, though (like fanfiction), which utilize the characters to create original fiction, are legally problematic. If Lucas acquiesced in the creation of these, then he would be yielding his copyright into the public domain.

      That is completely and utterly untrue.

      Copyright gives the rightholder the power to determine who does or does not get to create derivative works. Lucas would be acting completely within his powers as rightsholder to say "Okay, you can make these works, that's fine. You other people, you can't make these other works." Being able to exercise control and selectivity is part of the entire point of copyright in the first place; suggesting that actually exercising that control requires the rightsholder to surrender his copyright is just stoopit.

      What you might be thinking of is trademark law, where if you don't actively defend your trademarks, you lose them. Copyright law is entirely different; the only way your work can end up in the public domain prior to the natural expiration of the copyright is for the rightsholder to expressly declare "I surrender my copyright and place this work in the public domain."
    • by Raetsel (34442) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @02:01PM (#3421351)

      Heh... interesting you should pick that particular reference. I caught the Weird Al episode of "Behind the Music" (I think that's what it's called) on VH1 recently. I remember one part in particular, after they showed Coolio's reaction to "Amish Paradise" -- to paraphrase:
      • "... he must have enjoyed that check we sent him!"
      Coolio did get paid for Weird Al's use of his song. How much, or precisely why, were not revealed. If Coolio was as displeased with "Amish Paradise" as he claimed to be, he could have sued... but he didn't. Parody may be protected, but copyright is copyright -- considering (in this case) the tune, not the words. Weird Al's version is easily identifiable as the same tune, thus would (in my mind, IANAL) require royalty payments.

      Spaceballs is different, I suppose... although using identifiable characters, Mel Brooks wrote his own story -- instead of having to use an existing song. Also, the characters themselves are parodies of the originals.

      Odd how the human mind works -- we can relate things by visual cues easily (a large (tall | fat) furry character, someone wearing a black helmet, Mel Brooks as Yogurt...) -- but to identify similar diversity in music takes significant training. Go figure.

      • No, Al is just a very nice guy. In fact, he always asks for permission and was amazed to find out that somehow Coolio hadn't heard of what he wanted to do with regards to that particular song.

        But Al could totally ignore the original artist and proceed anyway. There are no royalties needed for anything with regards to legitimate parodies. If there were, it would be impossible to properly do it!

        • Coolio got paid because "Al is just a very nice guy?"

          Bullshit, I don't buy it.

          Asking permission "because he's a nice guy", sure. That I can explain as "nice."

          When it comes to money, he's not foolish. He's (okay, his record company is...) writing large checks to the authors of music he parodies. Nice? No way. That's a royalty payment by definition.

          • royalty [dictionary.com]

            • (Skipping parts 1 to 7, which refer to monarchies, kingdoms, etc...)

              8: "A share paid to a writer or composer out of the proceeds resulting from the sale or performance of his or her work."

          Note that I didn't say anything about permission stopping him -- he can do his thing regardless. But he has to play by the rules; that means proper attribution and royalty payments where necessary. He may have changed the words, but the music was the same -- just in a different key. (Or perhaps they changed the pitch...)

          In closing, you might wish to read some of the Weird Al FAQ [weirdal.com], which addresses this situation:

          • Does Al get permission to do his parodies?

            Al does get permission from the original writers of the songs that he parodies. While the law supports his ability to parody without permission, he feels it's important for him to maintain the relationships that he's built with artists and writers over the years. Plus, Al wants to make sure that he gets his songwriter credit (as writer of new lyrics) as well as his rightful share of the royalties.

          (Original writer of the song... Stevie Wonder? There seems to be some ... contention ... about this point. I've heard "Pastime Paradise," it's obvious where the tune came from. Still, it was Coolio that got paid, so there must be something to it...)
          • What do the original artists think of the parodies?

            Most artists are genuinely flattered and consider it an honor to have Weird Al parody their work. Some groups (including Nirvana) claim that they didn't realize that they had really "made it" until Weird Al did a parody of them!

          • What about Coolio? I heard that he was upset with Al about "Amish Paradise."

            That was a very unfortunate case of misunderstanding between Al's people and Coolio's people. Short version of the story: Al recorded "Amish Paradise" after being told by his record label that Coolio had given his permission for the parody. When Al's album came out, Coolio publicly contended that he had never given his blessing, and that he was in fact very offended by the song. Al immediately sent Coolio a very sincere letter of apology for the misunderstanding, but has yet to hear back from him.

      • I admit it, I actually have a few Weird Al records (bought long ago, obviously --- vinyl, back in the good old days when I didn't have to boycott the evil RIAA). On (for example) Eat It, the credit actually says "By Michael Jackson and Weird Al Yanokivic," meaning that Jackson did the music and Yankovic did the words.


        Parodies might be able to get away with using something that sounds a bit like the original, but Weird Al prefers to stay on good terms with the targets of his parodies, at least as singles. He'll frequently perform other stuff at concerts that the original artist hasn't given him permission to release.

      • Al asked Coolio's 'people' and they gave him permission. Al assumed that it was coolio himself that gave him permission, in fact, coolio was never consulted.

        Weird Al has absolutely no obligation to ask for or pay for any of the music he parodies. He does as a courtesy, however.
      • Coolio did get paid for Weird Al's use of his song.

        Why would Wierd Al pay Coolio for a Stevie Wonder song?

        On "Songs in the Key of Life", the track was called "Past time paradise."

        -jcr

          • "Why would Wierd Al pay Coolio for a Stevie Wonder song?"
          I don't know why he did that, why don't you ask him? I note that Coolio appears in the credits to Amish Paradise, at least from a quick Google search [google.com] and reading from an unofficial site (first result). That could explain things somewhat...
          • "...the track was called "Past time paradise."
          Found a copy, tried to listen to the whole thing... couldn't.

          Perhaps the distinction is this: Pastime Paradise sounds very similar, many parts match, but it's not the nearly-perfect match (ignoring pitch and tempo differences) that occurs between Gangsta's Paradise and Amish Paradise.

          Like I acronymed before, IANAL.

          I'd wonder if Coolio is paying Stevie Wonder, but that's a new thread.

      • I believe that SpaceBalls got the OK from Lucas because Mel Brooks promised not to create merchandise based on the movie. That's why there is a scene with "Space Balls: The Lunch Box!" and other merchandise.

    • Yes, greed is legal (Score:3, Interesting)

      by the red pen (3138)
      You're basically right about Lucas' legal position. (One nitpick: documentaries can use copyrighted material without permission under "fair use" provisions of Title 17.)

      Star Wars has made George Lucas a billionaire (or close to it) and you have to ask exactly what he thinks he's got to lose by letting loose of the franchise. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did this with his Sherlock Holmes character and greatly enriched popular culture. For example, Sherlock Holmes appears in more films than any other recurring character.

      Lucas has also been very grandiose over the years with his association with Joseph Campbell. The two have promted Star Wars from "successful pop culture" to "modern-day myth making." You'd think that releasing his tight-fisted grasp on the material would cement Lucas' mythmaker status. Sure, Tolkein never let loose of his canon, but then again, he never claimed to be the new Homer.

      Episode I demonstrated that Lucas was pretty much out of new or even good ideas. If Episode II continues this, then we can pretty much bet that Episode III will draw a shameful end to what the original Star Wars started so brilliantly. If Lucas wants to live up to his own hype and ensure that Star Wars has the new ideas to make it a legacy, he should let loose of it.

      If he just wants to make a couple more hundred million dollars before he dies, then, yeah, he's doing exactly the right thing.

      • Star Wars has made George Lucas a billionaire (or close to it) and you have to ask exactly what he thinks he's got to lose by letting loose of the franchise. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did this with his Sherlock Holmes character and greatly enriched popular culture. For example, Sherlock Holmes appears in more films than any other recurring character.

        Sorry, but I don't think that's the entire story. For example:

        "Elementary, Dear Data"

        Episode Number 29
        Season 2
        Stardate 42286.3
        Original airdate 12/5/88

        Writer Brian Alan Lane
        Director Rob Bowman

        Synopsis
        Data and Geordi play Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson on the holodeck. The computer creates a powerful foe, Dr. Moriarty, who kidnaps Dr. Pulaski and learns to control the ship.

        Main Characters and Guest Cast
        Brent Spiner (Lt. Commander Data)
        LeVar Burton (Lt. Geordi La Forge)
        Diana Muldaur (Dr. Katherine Pulaski)
        Daniel Davis (Dr. James Moriarty)
        Alan Shearman (Inspector Lestrade)
        Anne Elizabeth Ramsey (Ensign Clancy)

        Notes
        Professor Moriarty returns to the holodeck in sixth season's "Ship in a Bottle."
        This is the only episode Data plays Sherlock Holmes, due to a lawsuit from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's estate.
    • New non-parody works, though (like fanfiction), which utilize the characters to create original fiction, are legally problematic. If Lucas acquiesced in the creation of these, then he would be yielding his copyright into the public domain. This would be a hugely bad idea for him.

      NO HE WOULD NOT

      You simply cannot 'yield' your copyright to the public domain. That only happens to trademarks, not copyrights, not patents.

      You know the movie Its a wonderful life? They used to play it on every station ever Christmas. Then, a couple years ago someone discovered they owned the copyright. Despite the movie being in the 'public domain' for decades, it's now only shown on one station each Christmas.

      Copyright enforcement is totally and absolutely optional you lose it. If you let people copy your stuff around all they want, you still retain copyright.

      In other words, you're totally misinformed and do not deserve a five for this moronic screed.
  • by EReidJ (551124) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @12:43PM (#3421137) Homepage
    Student works, documentaries and pariodies, huh? OK.

    Why I hope someone submits the complete Episode I in this contest:

    1) It's a great documentary about filmmakers after they lose their talent and get greedy.

    2) It'a a terrific parody of the Star Wars series. If a student filmmaker had made this, Jar Jar Binks would have been hysterical, not insulting.

    3) The quality of directing was that of a student parody. After all, no one's done those cheesy side-to-side wipe-away scene changes since... well, since Star Wars.

    4) The acting was so bad, it was obvious that the actors weren't being paid anything. Not to mention I'm sure Anakin was the casting agent's grandkid or something.

    5) You walked out of the theater thinking, "Man, that sucked, but the guy's got potential. Maybe someone will give him a chance someday."

    • 2) It'a a terrific parody of the Star Wars series. If a student filmmaker had made this, Jar Jar Binks would have been hysterical, not insulting.

      uhh dude... he was funny! get a life and a sense of humor :)

    • 1) It's a great documentary about filmmakers after they lose their talent and get greedy.

      Yeah because the first set of Star War movies had nothing to do with cheesy commercialization, toys, posters, and other junk. Thanks for keeping it real.
  • ... lucas owns the right to decide how his characters are used. i can't go out and write a sequel to the "wheel of time" using the same characters without jordan's permission. it's not about being controlling or greedy, it's not wanting a million 'leia and luke as incestual lovers' crap, or 'han and chewie as gay lovers' crap.

    personally, i think it's about damn time lucas did this, publicly give permission to do these parodies, etc, which mostly are crap, but a few are quite funny. this helps people understand where the line is drawn, and go forth and create.

    -rp


  • Limit this, limit that; Can't do this, shouldn't do that ...

    Is that the only thing Media Giants know ?

    I thank God that the Media Giants weren't present when paper was first being made, or else, the Media Giants will purchase the RIGHTS to make paper, and dictate what people can and cannot do with their baby - paper.

    What can we, the people do ?

    Why are we tolerating so much nonsense ?

    We can't copy songs, we shouldn't do e-books, they say it's all piracy.

    What's next ?

    We can't utter the word "Coke" or "Mickey Mouse" just because those words are "copyrighted" or "trademarked" ?

    Should I say :

    "I just finished that black, sugarly liquid, which came from a white and red can"

    instead of :

    "I just finished my Coke" ?

    That'll be a new dimension of "Political Correctness".
  • by pjdepasq (214609) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @12:47PM (#3421150)
    I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further.
  • Blame the lawyers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jpmorgan (517966) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @12:48PM (#3421151) Homepage
    Given Lucas' reaction to most fan stuff (for example, the Phantom Edit), I think he would honestly like to see the fan stuff ... but his legal advice thinks it's a very bad idea, and he's willing to go along with their judgement. His lawyers are probably right, too.

    Beyond simple trademark dilution, Lucas puts himself at risk for copyright infringement suits since he is actively producing more movies in the same series. If Lucas sees one of these movies, then he risks the creator of the movie suing him for copyright infringement when he releases Episode 3, a long and possibly quite costly lawsuit. A lawsuit with base and no purpose other than to extort money from Lucas.

    Does this happen? Well, I haven't heard of it happening in the movie biz, but most filmmakers are rarely in a position like this. In the music industry it does happen, quite a lot, to the point where one of the first things any professional musician (particularly successfull ones) learns is if someone hands you a demo tape, you hand it right back to them on the spot! It means nothing about the musician's opinion of you, or your music if he or she does this to you - it is simply an important legal defence in this age where you find unscrupulous people who will abuse the courts for their own personal gain, at the expense of others.

    Just another situation where our litigous culture and the unscruplous few(?) screw things over for everybody.

    C'est la vie.

  • FanFic? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CamelTrader (311519)
    These guys have obviously never heard of Fan Fiction. I wonder what they'd do if we mentioned lemon fan fics?

    Seriously though, some of the best Star Wars videos I've seen have followed these lines. Ever see TROOPS? It was excellent.

    I agree that its just one more neon sign flashing "sell-out" to tack onto George Lucas' Motel of Movies. And I'm still going to go see all the rest of the star wars movies, because who can't??. Star Wars is burned into my brain along with Indiana Jones. George Lucas knows he owns us, and there's little we (or at least I) can do about it.
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @12:56PM (#3421176) Homepage
    Realistically, George Lucas is someone who used to be a director, then stopped making films for twenty years and went into the effects and support technology business. His businesses included Pixar, ILM, Sprocket Systems, Skywalker Studios, and THX. All successfully provided production services for the films of others.

    After twenty successful years with those businesses, he tried to make a movie. And it was, unsuprisingly, overproduced crap.

    Lucas needs to accept his destiny, which is to be a suit.

  • Yoda voice: (Score:3, Funny)

    by A_Non_Moose (413034) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @12:59PM (#3421181) Homepage Journal
    Begun this parody has.

    And put it at the beginning of the phantom edit.
  • He can't put his backing behind any new Star Wars movies that other people decide to make, because then that would is some way legitimise that story arc into the Star Wars Galaxy. He'd lose control, and it is his creation.

    Anyway, these are simply the rules of the competition. It's not like you can't go off and make your own little Star Wars-based video if you like (although you probably can't sell it...)

    Oh No! Somebody's done something I don't like! GREED! GREED!
  • by IAmATuringMachine! (62994) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @01:10PM (#3421204)
    Fandom is about celebrating the story the way it is.

    It sounds like Lucas is trying to avoid the fandom menace.

    Sometime's I just kill me.
  • They are limiting entries into the CONTEST to documentaries and parodies

    I'm sure good ol' George is fully aware that there is plenty O' FanFic out there, and he's not looking to stamp that out, he simply doesn't want any of it being entered into this contest because It likely WOULD conflict with the official canon.

    And as someone else said, it's about control. It's his property, he can do with it whatever he wants, and obviously he doesn't want to allow any fan created universe fiction into an official function. That might be contruded as him sanctioning the material.

    I don't know if any of you have watched the "Making of" [starwars.com] videos on the official Star wars site, but in one of them, (Wedgie Em' Out) A stunt Coordinater starts talking a little bit about the droid in Obi Wan's Starfighter.

    "The R4 is really an R2 painted Red.."

    George interupts him saying "Be careful.. what you say about the R4. Because you'll get bopped on the head real quick."

    Then then the next clip shows George mockingly "beating up" the guy.

    It was already well known that George is very possessive about Star Wars and related information being released, and as we said, it's his property, he can do with it what he wants.

    • Here we go again...

      It is NOT his property. The copyright is his property, which, unfortunately, includes the right to derivative works. The actual movies aren't his anymore, not after publication.

      Because of the control he is allowed where derivatives are concerned, he can decide not to allow works that fall under the aegis of derivatives. Documentaries and Parodies do not. Therefore, he is allowing NOTHING at all that he could prevent. Probably, he only agreed to be one of the judges so he would have a say about the winners - something that doesn't show his creations in a bad light.
  • lucas has the right and should defend his trademark - otherwise he can lose it if it is shown that they are complacent about it. however, I think he is an idiot personally - and I think that he is just bitter about the fact that leo's movie made more money than his [imdb.com]
  • "Fandom is about celebrating the story the way it is."

    Oh, I'm sure that Gangsta Rap versions, puppet characters, and slapstick comedy are just "celebrating the story the way it is." Parody and satire distort the story -- deliberately - for comic effect. True fan fiction is going to be a lot closer to the real story. But parody cannot be outlawed, so they are stuck with it.

    And Lucas has used elements from plenty other stories in star wars -- he must have decided that he wasn't going to celebrate those as they were, but take the ideas and reshape them into a new story.

    That comment is just propaganda from someone trying to put a spin on the notion that "We created this franchise, millions of you love it and want to add your own ideas, but we still want complete control." The only reason they are allowing parody and documentary is because they have to. So they make up something that sounds like all the spin you hear from corporations, politicians, and anyone else who wants to keep their true motives from being exposed.

    And the original "endorsement" by Lucas was just another piece of propaganda to mollify fans when they realized that they had started to alienate their customers, ala RIAA. There's nothing behind it but some lame PR.

  • by PenguinX (18932)
    But legally speaking many companies believe that a parody doesn't have to be funny - it just has to imitate. As an example some may recall the slashdot story [slashdot.org] on Tierra - who is re-creating old Sierra games in a new engine. They have this sort of view on parodies [qknowledge.net].

    I think that the point is that Lucas does not get to decide what a parody is if it came to legal action.
  • So what if he says only certain things are allowed in his contest. That is his prerogative.

    You seem to forget 1 thing - this is a series of movies that Lucas made for YOUR entertainment. So what if they were so good they spawned off this whole pseudo-culture that we see today. These movies were made for your enjoyment, and Lucas has no obligation to make them or more importantly make them to YOUR specifications.

    Look, I like the whole Star Wars franchise, but I also realize that if Lucas screws it up, so be it, his loss, not mine (there are a hell of a lot better movies out to see than Eps 1-3).

    RonB
  • In other news, making Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead [imdb.com] obviously means that Tom Stoppard doesn't appreciate the original story!
  • by The Ape With No Name (213531) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @01:42PM (#3421290) Homepage
    Star Wars Episode III: "I wipe my ass with your money"
  • As a Lucas rep says, 'if in fact somebody is using our characters to create a story unto itself, that's not in the spirit of what we think fandom is about. Fandom is about celebrating the story the way it is.'
    So remember, if you take the story the way it is and, say, change it so that Greedo shoots first, or Luke screams like a cartoon character, or suddenly increase the size of the Rebel fleet 10 fold, then that is not in the spirit of what we think fandom is about!

    Mr. Lucas, it's tough to celebrate the story the way it is if you keep changing it.


  • ...was Star Wars a documentary about Hidden Fortress, or a parody of it?

    • Seeing as neither the setting, nor the plot, nor character names (as opposed to character types, and by no means all of them), were taken from Hidden Fortress, the connection between the two movies has been drastically overblown, IMHO. Lucas acknowledges it, and Kurosawa's other works, as inspiration, as well as the rest of the list: classical mythology, pulp sci-fi, westerns--you know the drill. There is no way, however, that anyone who's actually seen the two movies would be able to say "oh, he just substituted this character for that, and spaceships for horses"--it just isn't that close a match.
      • Wrong. In the Hidden Fortress, as the two peasants leave the battle scene at the beginning, they walk away and argue after their inexplicable escape. A New Hope has r2d2 and c3po walking into the desert after the battle and their miraculous escape by lifepod. They argue and fuss. Sure the dialog is not the same and the plots of the two movies are dissimilar, but this pull is much more than a tip-of-the-hat. I'd equate it to the various movies depicting baby carriages tumbling down stairs a la Battleship Potemkin -- a wretched example being "The Untouchables."
        • I'd equate it to the various movies depicting baby carriages tumbling down stairs a la Battleship Potemkin -- a wretched example being "The Untouchables."
          But that's my point. You wouldn't say that The Untouchables was a remake of Potemkin, or even a rip-off. It's a completely different story, even though it contains a shot that's obviously lifted from the original. And the similarity between Star Wars and The Hidden Fortress isn't much stronger.
          • Well there is those two peasants again. Don't they become vassals (wanted or otherwise) of Toshiro Mifune? Read: Obi-wan Kenobi. I think the similarities are stronger than simply a lifted scene. Of course, we could be putting a bit too much brain power into this anyhoo. :-)
  • Here [missingleftsocks.com] you can pick up the Attack of the Clones script and I also have downloads of trailers and other stuff here [missingleftsocks.com].


    Enjoy!

  • "Fandom is about celebrating the story the way it is."
    If he wanted to maintain the integrity of the Star Wars universe, he should never have released a Christmas Special known as the "Star Wars Christmas Special".... Because there's know Christ in the Star Wars universe, they substituted in something called "Life Day". Among the events, we see Bea Atrhur running the cantina and singing, Chewie's wife trying to follow along on a cookiing show, and guest appearances by all the major cast members.

    Of course, I'd love to see someone film a documentary on this subject ;)
  • I think not, I have heard a lot of people make comparisons oh Star Wars to Authurian legend or Greek Mythos, but both of those genera have plenty of derivative work. All Lucas is doing by only allowing documentary or parody is basically making sure that Star Wars won't live on for any where near as long as King Arthur and his court or Homer and his great Odyssey.
  • I found the first script of Star wars once at a film bookstore in SF and decided to buy the copy just as to document myself about script writing. I was amazed as how much content from the Hidden Fortress from Kurosawa the script contained. Luke was a farmer, the princess was carrying stolen treasures, etc... In short the Kurosawa's story had been rewritten for a Science fiction epic. I realized that the storyline had been stollen from one of the most creative movie makers of all time and adapted to the western world. In short I was discusted by the whole SW phenomenom. Like Picasso, use to say: To be an artist: steal, don't copy.

    Trully, if Lucas was playing in one of its own movies, he would be acting as someone from the dark force. This guy has shown only greed and bad taste for the past 20 years (the movies he made and came close to direct himself where mere failures if it wasn't for the SW brand name that was attached to them.)

    How can you spend money on stuff that makes this thief even more rich is out of my understanding.

    PPA, the girl next door.
  • by FurryFeet (562847) <joudanx@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Saturday April 27, 2002 @02:19PM (#3421417)
    Check out Lucas' opinion of critics in this Salon piece [salon.com]

    An excerpt: "I mean, they aren't like the rest of us. They don't have any knowledge of anything. They're not successful in any world that I've ... They certainly don't know anything about history; they don't know anything about film. They don't know anything about politics. They don't know anything about sociology or psychology or anything. I mean, it's like, you get into a conversation with them and it's hard to find a subject that they can actually converse on."

    What can I add? Not exaclty Mr. Open-Mind. I don't like the idea of him as a judge.
  • Star Wars: Broken Allegiance [theforce.net]: It's decent for a homemade video. It got space fights, light saber (kind of cheesy but hey it's homemade), Darth Vader, stormtroopers, forces, and long (23 minutes!). Crank up your bass, you bass freaks!

  • by Drath (50447)
    Oh darn. Now we don't get to see the home made film where Luke and Han try to escape from 35-year old Bill's mother's basment.

  • ' Pretty rich coming from the filmmaker who constantly cites greed as being the root of the dark side, and who keeps discussing the liberating values of digital filmmaking. Guess as long as it doesn't hurt his Empire..."

    Whoa?!?! I don't know about that. MAYBE it's because it's his story and he wants to know what happens in it. I mean, if your fan fiction becomes generally accepted and screws up the story he is trying to tell, then he has lost control of his work. I mean, what if he kills Luke Skywalker in one episode, and you have him doing something in a fan fic that is set later?
  • This is both a blatant plug and a serious question. I have written a video game that is inspired by Star Wars. You can find it here [angelfire.com]. I wrote it for a school project. There is more explanantion of how it came about on the web page.

    I recently discovered another game written for the same class that is a even more blatant rip-off. It is here [stanford.edu]. Strangely, this second game was developed without any knowledge of mine. Both seem to be inspired by Star Wars and specifically by the asteroid field scene in ESB.

    So could we get sued?

  • 'if in fact somebody is using our characters to create a story unto itself, that's not in the spirit of what we think fandom is about. Fandom is about celebrating the story the way it is.'

    Oh, the iorny [salon.com]
  • Hmm, now where did I put my clue-by-four...

    Only documentaries and parodies in the CONTEST. CONTEST--as in the CONTEST. That is to say, the rules of the CONTEST will be allowing in the CONTEST only parodies and documentaries.

    Why is this? Probably because yes, Lucas doesn't want people telling a serious alternative to his Star Wars universe. I say his because it is his. He created it. He made the original movies. Hie company authorizes all official fiction and technical supplements. It is his creation.

    Now, I will address all the comments I've been reading.

    This does not equal a crackdown on fan fiction. This means that in said CONTEST fan fiction-esque films may not be submitted. No, you will not be arrested for shooting your own film about *your* version of Star Wars. Just don't expect official sanction for it.

    Those of you who expect more: I ask on what grounds do you expect this. George Lucas is under absolutely no obligation to do anything for you. Just as you are under no obligation to do anything for him.

    He is the artist. He is the owner and the creator of the material. Yes, he based it off Hidden Fortress and B-movie serials. However, his story was about some droids, not some Japanese, therefore it is PARODY and not "fan fiction."

    I see many people comparing Lucas to Vader, twisting story dialogue to demonize him...etc. First, I find it quietly funny that you parody Star Wars to attack him, but I digress. Personal attacks, while always modded up on this site, don't accomplish much of anything. Bill Clinton, an expert on personal attacks, said he welcomed them in campaings since that meant his opponents had nothing left.

    All this is a long way of saying RTFS. This is a contest in which certain types of films will be allowed an other types will not. You might as well flame the Obfuscated C contest for not allowing your "elite" Visual Basic program.

    Thank you and good day, ~Chazzf

  • Lucas makes a mint off of Star War tie ins, including sales of novels set in the Star Wars universe. He has to maintain a monopoly over his character and concepts. Otherwise the value of all those tie-in novels and comic books goes way down, and he's out big bugs.

    Note that this applies only to "serious" fanfiction. Parodies [csustan.edu] and documentaries don't dilute the IP in the same way.

    Don't write off Lucas's attitude as simple greed. He likes to make movies without studio 3-piece idiots looking over his shoulder. Only way he can do that is to be the majority backer in his own projects. For that he needs a steady stream of tie-in income.

    Still, I find this supposed protectiveness of Lucas's creativity to be a little hypocritical. It isn't just that the writing in the Star Wars movies has gotten more and more childish. If he wants to control the story, why doesn't Lucas pay closer attention to what the tie-in authors write? When The Empire Strikes Back came out, a friend of mine who was into Star Wars comics was pretty upset — DV being Luke's father invalidated more story lines than the return of Bobby Ewing [ndirect.co.uk].

    Hey, it's just business!

  • Look for the small print: "Fandom is about celebrating the story the way it is, hence this game system is only to be used for acting out movie scenes exactly as they were presented."

    (okay, maybe that's 5 words)
  • The reason I say that (and I thought this was newsworthy) is because Lucas' actions and the public perception he attempts to display are so out of wack. On the one hand he's attempting a damage control campaign to placate fans by claiming that their criticisms of The Phantom Menace have been taken on board, while at the same time dissing them. From a recent Time cover story: [time.com]

    Lucas blames the anti-Jar Jar sentiment on "37-year-old guys who spend all their time on the Internet. But you have to remember that when we did The Empire Strikes Back, some people hated C-3PO. When we did Jedi, they just loathed the Ewoks. There was no Internet to jazz it up, but there was the same conversation. Fans are very opinionated, and that's good. But I can't make a movie for fans." Nonetheless, Jar Jar has a far less prominent role this time. In movie theaters you will hear a cheer from Binks-ophobes when, as he launches into an anecdote, Padme cursorily cuts him off.

    Lucas is continually at the forefront of discussing how liberating digital technologies will be to filmmakers; the problem is his actions belie a complete ignorance and arrogance that denies there can be any other effect than making it cheaper for him to make his films in his own weird way. He seems to be totally unaware of the effect the universe he created has had on millions of imaginations; or if he is, he wants to control that in a manner that suits him. Thus fandom is a thing which can be used to promotional effect and to make his hardcore constitiuency feel that he adores them... But when he slips in caveats to a contest that he's controlling in order to limit how that can be expressed he's really saying, "You can use those new technologies, just as long as you don't do it how I want you to." He's opened up a can of worms and seems totally oblivious that he's done so.

    I'm a paid, working filmmaker. My first film is coming out this fall. I would never make a fan fiction film; I prefer to make my own. But I do feel that as cultural artifacts (and in my opinion very cheesy ones at that) some of the fan made Star Wars films are impressive enough and show such hard work with limited resources that they deserve some genuine praise and are sterling examples of exactly what doors digital filmmaking are going to open.

    God, if I had a dollar for every genuine working filmmaker I know of my generation who wasn't influenced or their imagination fired by the original Star Wars, I'd be funding my own damn movies. Under those auspices I believe that given the line Lucas likes to spout he ought to pay attention to them. After all, he continually revises the continuity of his own universe when it suits his franchises and spin offs into other media to make more money. He allowed and has even admitted to letting the marketing tie ins to The Phantom Menace run rampant. Read this even better Newsweek story [msnbc.com]. Does Lucas play through all the video games made from his Empire to ensure quality control of continuity? I seriously doubt it. In other words, it's fine to do this as long as he's making some money off of it, or it's unenforceable since he lost the Starballz [starballz.com] suit.

  • by Cyberllama (113628) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @09:51PM (#3422933)
    Does anyone honestly think that Lucas would be so protective just because of money? Because quite frankly I strongly doubt "money" is a factor in the creation of fan-made films. The odds of any of these films making any money is about 0%; money is simply not the real issue.

    George lucas has just always been protective of his story. If he doesn't anway anyone else taking over where he leaves off, just respect it.

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