The Dark Side Wins: Lucasfilm Shuts Down Star Wars Fan Movie Marathon

from the the-force-is-not-with-you dept

AdamR was the first of a few of you to send in this story of how lawyers for Lucasfilm sent a cease-and-desist letter to a group of Star Wars fans who had organized a (free, not for profit) Star Wars movie marathon (all 13-hours) at a bar in Brooklyn. It's the sort of fun thing that Star Wars fans might enjoy and which would increase their connection to the franchise. But Lucasfilm, of course, calls it copyright infringement, and says that there's a ban on public display of the film right now. Legally, there's no doubt that Lucasfilm is in the right here. But, practically speaking, why would the company do this? What good does it do? Would it have hurt Lucasfilm in any way to allow this to go on? Instead, you have about 200 annoyed (former?) fans. This is exactly how you don't connect with fans, but piss them off.


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  1.  
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    Tom Landry (profile), Jul 8th, 2011 @ 6:01pm

    "If we don't protect our copyrights......"

     

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  2.  
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    Andreas, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 6:10pm

    I love Star Wars (New Hope through Return of the Jedi, I can't bring myself to accept Episode 1-3 as canonical), but I have grown tired of George Lucas and Lucasfilm. One lesson I learned as a child was sometimes exercising your rights is not the right thing to do.

     

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  3.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 6:17pm

    Maybe you ought to re-examine your premise,

    that the movie industry -- the /real/ industry, not the few independents you highlight -- wants to "connect with fans". You maintain your notions in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. You're just blatantly wrong, college boy.

     

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  4.  
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    jimbo, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 6:21pm

    par for the course! control is much more important than any customers or fans! you all should know that!

     

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  5.  
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    Beta (profile), Jul 8th, 2011 @ 6:27pm

    Han shot first

    If only they had started with the theatrical release version-- and Lucas had stopped them after 121 minutes. A new generation of fans could have seen what we saw so long ago, and been spared the sight of whatever the hell it was that happened to Lucas later.

     

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  6.  
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    LegitTroll (profile), Jul 8th, 2011 @ 6:28pm

    I sense a disturbance in the force..... As though a cloud has settled over Skywalker Ranch. Strong with the Dark Side that ranch is.

     

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  7.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jul 8th, 2011 @ 6:41pm

    Re: Maybe you ought to re-examine your premise,

    Hemorrhoidal flare-up got you again? Gingivitis getting you down? Try new minty-fresh tartar control Toof 'n' Bung. Warning: do not use applicator rectally after using orally.

    Eh, it made as much sense as most of what ootb spouts.

     

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  8.  
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    Darth Copyrightus, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 6:48pm

    Where is the Death Star when you need it

    I will take my vintage lightsaber and burn it, along with my Star Wars tshirts and all the other Star Wars merchandise I've bought over the years. They should be paying us to watch the movies at this point, give me a freaking break! We should start a class action to get back our money for paying to see Star Wars 6 and 1.

     

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  9.  
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    Blatant Coward (profile), Jul 8th, 2011 @ 6:51pm

    Re:

    The empire will win?

     

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  10.  
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    el_segfaulto (profile), Jul 8th, 2011 @ 6:53pm

    Re: Maybe you ought to re-examine your premise,

    ootb is right! We don't need any of this high-fallutin college talk! Why, if I can't understand it with my pig in my left arm, and my favorite sheep in my right, I don't wants no train with it. Shucks howdy.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 6:54pm

    A perfect example...

    ... of culture being locked down through copyright.

    Lucasfilms could have handled this SOOOO much better. They could have stepped up and sponsored the event, arranged an appearance or two, set up some booths of "Official Merchandise" and made some money off this free event, and whatever else to make it profitable for them and something truly special.

    It's shameful how lawyers, greed, and bad law have completely ruined the world of entertainment and all the joy it SHOULD bring.

     

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  12.  
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    el_segfaulto (profile), Jul 8th, 2011 @ 6:54pm

    Re:

    In all fairness, Lucas may have been sparing the poor fans the horror of watching the prequels and the holiday special. It may have been an act of mercy.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 7:14pm

    Re: A perfect example...

    I marked this as funny because you know darn well this will never happen.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 7:19pm

    I can't help but think that their depiction of the Empire as evil is just self-deprecation at this point.

     

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  15.  
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    Nicedoggy, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 7:25pm

    Unfortunately it will take some time until legal alternatives for the locked culture are created but it is here right now.

    PRISM - Action/Scifi Film!

    Although the acting is bad and the special effects although technically well done lack some creativity, the fact that a group of people could make that and put it on Youtube and people can watch it for free all over the world without geocraplocking or limitations is just blows the mind.

    I don't know the copyright terms in that movie, but if they can do it so can other, fans of movies should band together and start forming groups to finance and produce their own free versions like it happened in music with.

    Maybe something like PLORK but for movies.

    It is time to move away from those stupid people.
    Every single geek should find artists that are in favor of this and start making derivative works of them, and sending them whatever they could sell, every geek should be a salesman and representative authorized or not for free-artists and should help them flourish and speed the process up.

     

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  16.  
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    Nicedoggy, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 7:31pm

    Re:

    CLMP - Colaborative Laptop Movie Production.

    Yay!

     

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  17.  
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    ervserver (profile), Jul 8th, 2011 @ 7:57pm

    Dollar Wars

    Lucasfilms would have allowed it if you sent them a hundred billion dollars

     

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  18.  
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    Enigmatic, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 8:07pm

    If we let the flood gates open...

    I think the point Lucasfilm is making here is not to stop fans from being able to see the movie, or the fact that they would be seeing it for free, but the fact that allowing this would open the flood gates to allow anyone to show it at any time anywhere.

    So they have to ask people to cease and desist, otherwise it would be an open slather. Considering they are in the process of re-releating it in 3D at the movies in the near future, its in their best interests to now have it open to the public.

    Good on them for protecting their god given rights! Its a shame for those wanting to see it, but you should be blaming those who would take advantage of other peoples work, not those trying to protect it.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 8:31pm

    Re: If we let the flood gates open...

    "its in their best interests to now have it open to the public"

    Well put;)

    Good on them for protecting their god given rights!

    If you believe the government is "god"... you're one to worry about.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 9:09pm

    If there's one thing I learned from Star Wars fans, it's that they'll continue to swallow whatever Lucas shoves in their face because they love his work that much.

    If they keep rewarding or forgiving bad behavior, it will not be seen as bad behavior.

    If you were Lucas and could do whatever you wanted without consequence, would YOU change?

     

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  21.  
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    Ken, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 9:15pm

    The Copyright Evil Empire

    Princess Leia: "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

    Lucasfilm should heed their own words.

     

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  22.  
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    cgibinladen, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 9:54pm

    Re: Re: If we let the flood gates open...

    I concur! I think he's one to be truly terrified of with a statement like that mate!

     

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  23.  
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    kryptonianjorel (profile), Jul 8th, 2011 @ 9:56pm

    Re:

    But they shouldn't have this control at all. If I own a dvd, I should be able to play it when I want, wherever I want, for whomever I want. But some lawmakers decided public viewing rights should exist, and wham, there goes my right to use a product that I paid for

     

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  24.  
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    That Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 10:28pm

    "says that there's a ban on public display of the film right now."

    Was this just meant to cover parts 1-3 to save us form the schlock that was built out of the carcass of the original films?

    Or are you busily digitally changing JarJar into something non-threatening non-offensive, like a walkie talkie that shoots bullets?

    In their defense, it was only 200 fans this time. If they had looked away the next time would have been 2000 fans and they would loose control of the entire Star Wars world!

    The evil evil people who just wanted to share something they loved with others would have turned it into a orgy of murder as the movies were shown without paying Lucas!

    Hopefully someday the fans will get tired of playing Tina to Lucasfilms Ike, and just walk away. Think you could get his attention if not a single one of the over priced licensed doohickeys sold for a year?

     

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  25.  
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    Ben (profile), Jul 8th, 2011 @ 10:57pm

    Re: Maybe you ought to re-examine your premise,

    If Mike is wrong then the movie studios don't want to connect with fans, and thus their downfall is ensured.

    Why would they not want to connect with fans? It's common sense in this interconnected two-way entertainment world we now live in.

     

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  26.  
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    HothMonster, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 11:14pm

    Re: Maybe you ought to re-examine your premise,

    Its like double secret trolling.

    You're wrong the industry is just a bunch of douche-bags, shame on you for thinking any of those industry fucks care. Way to think rich people still have their humanity, fucking optimist.

     

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  27.  
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    HothMonster, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 11:17pm

    Re: Where is the Death Star when you need it

    "We should start a class action to get back our money for paying to see Star Wars 6 and 1."

    um Return of the Jedi is awesome. Sure its not Empire but its a good movie. Why just 1? Did you give up and not see 2 and 3? Bravo if you did, I sat through those pieces of nonsensical shit.

     

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  28.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Jul 8th, 2011 @ 11:17pm

    Re: If we let the flood gates open...

    but you should be blaming those who would take advantage

    Right, so who has taken advantage of whom?

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 11:18pm

    Re: Re: A perfect example...

    Because George knows if 200 fans get together they are just gonna end up talking about what a fat worthless piece of shit he turned out to be.

     

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  30.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 12:35am

    Re: Maybe you ought to re-examine your premise,

    "Maybe you ought to re-examine your premise,that the movie industry -- the /real/ industry, not the few independents you highlight -- wants to "connect with fans"."

    Reading comprehension failing you again. The argument is not that they *want* to connect with fans, but that they *should*. Here we have another example as to why they should - this has achieved nothing and saved no sales, but has pissed off a crowd of actual fans who may no longer be in line to buy their new product. When they lose money due to this failure, they don't get to scream "piracy" because the people they pissed off don't want their product any more.

    Sadly, George Lucas should know this. He made his fortune by connecting with fans and made far more money from the merchandising rights (previously considered almost worthless) than the actual films. He seems to have forgotten how to service his audience in recent years.

     

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  31.  
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    jt, Jul 9th, 2011 @ 2:44am

    star wars

    Unfortunately Star Wars was simply a stroke of good fortune for Lucas. He has proven himself,with his recent work and his recent behavior,to be less of a visionary genius and more of an egomaniacal turd with poor judgement and worse artistic vision.

    Stop reworking your old movies and do something original,you hyped up HACK.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2011 @ 3:00am

    How dare LucasFilm try to stop people from showing their movies for free. Everyone should be able to watch these movies anytime, anywhere, completely free of charge. I don't understand what the problem is, they must really not want fans.

     

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  33.  
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    rooben (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 4:57am

    Re:

    Ice cream bullets, my friend, they're ice cream bullets.

     

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  34.  
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    rooben (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 5:05am

    Re:

    Considering they are fans, dont you think they all already own these movies on VHS, DVD and even got their handson the Star Wars Christmas Special?

    What profit are they missing out on, since these films are not in theatres right now? Does anyone think these 200 people wont rush off to purchase the blu-ray release on day one?

    What the apolpgists need to get through their heads is that some things are worth more than today's profits.....that is next year's profits.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2011 @ 5:16am

    My guess would be that Mr Lucas didnt send that letter. The lawyers did and they probably did it without his prior knowledge. This is what happens when you get lawyers involved.

     

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    ASTROBOI, Jul 9th, 2011 @ 5:43am

    While I question the point of the showing since real fans probably have their own copies anyway, I also question if they did anything wrong. If I screen my dvd copy of the movie and invite some friends, am I not in the clear? If I live in a hotel room and I do the same, am I not still legal? Now if I invite so many friends that they won't fit in my room, can I not legally rent the party room and hold my private party which involves showing my legal copy of the movie? When do I go from legal to illegal? When I show it outside my own room? When I invite too many people? And how many people are allowed? 10? 50? I once read that a movie company would "allow" you to invite relatives but unrelated friends were forbidden....they had to buy their own copy. So what if each of the people attending had brought their dvds with them? Where do you draw the line? I always thought you got into trouble when you started charging money or allowing strangers to attend. Guess not.

     

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  37.  
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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 6:08am

    The reason why...

    I won't purchase any more Star Wars movies, or go to see them at the cinema...

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2011 @ 7:09am

    I think Lucas p****d off enough fans with "The Phantom Menace".

     

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  39.  
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    PolyPusher (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 8:16am

    Seth Mcfarland...

    Seth Mcfarland of Family Guy got to interview Lucas based on the spoofs that were created for Family Guy. You could tell McFarland was in ecstasy just being in Lucas' presence. Despite my feelings about what he has done to the franchise, I think I would feel the same.

    McFarland tells Lucas that he loves his films and he has all of them on DVD. Lucas replies that he loves Family Guy and has all the episodes on Tivo... At that point Mcfarland maintained his grace but you can see his expression twist from awe to "WTF? Seriously? Tivo? I buy your movies and you copy my TV show? Lucas was totally shameless about this... A little continuity please Mr. Lucas.

     

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  40.  
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    abc gum, Jul 9th, 2011 @ 8:18am

    Re:

    I'm absolutely positive there would be 200 lost sales if this event had been allowed to proceed.

     

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  41.  
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    That Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2011 @ 9:07am

    Re:

    Its been a while since I saw an FBI warning but I thought it said you could not have a public performance of the content.

    While they might have had the "right" to do what they did, in not looking for a way to keep it legal and make the fans happy they shot themselves in the foot.

    Imagine if everyone checked a disc out of redbox and then invited the whole neighborhood over, no one there would ever rent that movie or go out and buy it ever! Movie theatres would collapse, the popcorn industry would fail, blood would rain from the skies!

     

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  42.  
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    Obiwan1968 (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 10:15am

    Thats "Poppa George" for Ya!

    I will never understand what goes through Lucas' mind sometimes. OK so the original trilogy is coming out in 3D. Wouldn't some Uberfans watching a marathon pay homage to your work? Wouldn't it make them want to go out and see the newly revamped movies when they come out? George you are one unique individual.

     

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  43.  
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    Eugene (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 10:16am

    Maybe the lawyers were just trying to help them. I mean, 13 hours - that suggests they were going to *shudder* watch the prequels as well. If I was a lawyer for Lucasfilm, I know I'd be working overtime to make sure every star wars marathon began with Hope and ended with Jedi. And if they wanted to watch anything beyond that, maybe include Genndy Tartovsky's clone wars miniseries as well.

     

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  44.  
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    Eugene (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    Re: Re: Maybe you ought to re-examine your premise,

    This is very true - Lucas pioneered making Comic Con a venue for showing off upcoming action/sci-fi movies, knowing that this was the place where potential fans of the genre would congregate. People take it for granted now and studios complain that it's not as effective as it appears, but that kind of wonderful oversaturation wouldn't even exist if it weren't for the get Lucas intelligently marketed A New Hope. A real movie studio sure as hell wouldn't have thought to do that. Lucas did though, because he recognized that completing the film was just step one.

    Unfortunately, today Lucas has found himself on the other side of the Hollywood line, looking at fans as a cynical source of revenue rather than a actual people to connect with. Indeed, Lucasfilm is pretty much worse than Hollywood at this point. And he's so heavily protected, so separated from reality and buffered with assistants and producers and lawyers, he probably doesn't even realize it.

     

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  45.  
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    FuzzyDuck, Jul 9th, 2011 @ 1:12pm

    Not to mention

    Not to mention that most Star Wars fans (at least the ones I know) already own at least one copy of every episode.

     

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  46.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 6:06pm

    Re: Re:

    The fans should show The Holiday Special instead. That'd show him.

     

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  47.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jul 9th, 2011 @ 11:38pm

    Re: Considering they are fans, dont you think they all already own these movies on VHS, DVD and even got their handson the Star Wars Christmas Special?

    But in the end, all that counts for naught. The statutory penalties for just one instance of copyright infringement are so many orders of magnitude greater than all the money they spent on those legitimate copies, that they might as well not have bothered.

     

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  48.  
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    JMT (profile), Jul 10th, 2011 @ 4:11am

    Re:

    "While I question the point of the showing since real fans probably have their own copies anyway..."

    Have you never been to a fan screening of a popular or cult film? It cannot in any way be compared to watching the film at home, even with a small group. Plus it was at a bar!

     

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  49.  
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    mike allen (profile), Jul 10th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    Re: If we let the flood gates open...

    you are wrong this kind of thing happens all the time in the UK star wars star trek etc and why not only no one bothers telling Lucus. Im no fan of star wars the films were crap and as to 3D WHY INFLICT THE TORTURE ON BOTH EYES ?

     

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  50.  
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    Find The Missing (profile), Jul 10th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    So how does one show support for the craft?

    Did the cease and desist letter offer guidance to the fans on how to obtain "Express written consent"?

    Is there a communication channel lined up, publicly, to obtain consent?

    How much does it cost?

     

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  51.  
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    Andrew F (profile), Jul 10th, 2011 @ 11:48am

    Re:

    Isn't the easiest way to protect the copyright just to ask for a $1 license fee? Or even to say:

    We know you're doing this. It's technically not legal. We'll let you get away with it this time, but we're not waiving our right to sue you if you do anything more than that.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2011 @ 12:30pm

    Re:

    Of those 200 people that were going to show up and watch it, how many of them own at least one full trilogy? How many of them have purchased the original trilogy more than once as technologies changed?

    By not allowing this instead these 200 people went to 20 peoples houses and watched them there.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2011 @ 2:52pm

    Was the bar giving away free booze? I highly doubt it. That means the bar was profiting from showing the movies, Lucas Films was well within their rights to do this.

     

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  54.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 6:17am

    Re:

    > if there's one thing I learned from Star Wars fans,
    > it's that they'll continue to swallow whatever
    > Lucas shoves in their face


    It would be equally true if you
    * replace "Star Wars fans" with "Apple fans"
    * replace "Lucas" with "Jobs"

    if there's one thing I learned from Apple fans,
    it's that they'll continue to swallow whatever
    Jobs shoves in their face

     

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  55.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 7:11am

    You cannot give a public performance of a film, even for free, unless you pay the license fee or rental fee for a public performance. That's how it's always worked, folks. Otherwise a bar could show a free movie every week and make money selling booze. If movie theatres could show movies for free and just make money on concessions, they probably would. A private performance is another matter.

    This doesn't apply if the movie is Sita Sings the Blues.

     

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  56.  
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    cjstg (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:31am

    Re:

    it is a right, not a requirement.

     

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  57.  
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    known coward, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 12:34pm

    Re: Re: Maybe you ought to re-examine your premise,

    But the Initial posterís basic point is correct. While one would think that any industry that sells to consumers would not go out of its way to piss its customers off, the entertainment industry certainly seems to re double itís efforts to bite the hand that feeds it.

    The Brooklyn bar thing is a perfect example. They were going to show all the movies in one sitting and not charge for the movies. Lucas gets nothing so he attempts to can it. Now 200 or so Brooklynites do not get to sit around talking about Star wars and whether jar jar blinks is a better character than wookie or not.

    Now the article in the paper I read (NY POST) stated the C&D letter stated that the bar was charging admission and that was why they did not give permission. The C&D was received 2 days before the show date so the bar cancelled it. I wonder if they sent an email back saying since they were not charging they were going to show it, and make sure it arrived a day or two after the showing what the result would have been.

     

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  58.  
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    Enigmatic, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 2:44pm

    Re: Re: If we let the flood gates open...

    Mmmm... I meant "not have it open to the public".

    And where did government come into this? We are talking about a company that OWNS this enforcing their rights to hold onto that ownership.... I don't see how you even brought government into the equation.

     

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  59.  
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    BigDaddyM, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 3:06pm

    Re: A perfect example...

    I agree. If the event was big enough because LucasFilm can't sponsor every fanboy event...

    They definitely handled this wrong. They should have just offered them some sort of discounted fee so they could protect their copyright and still let it happen. It is events like this that keep the franchise going (and all kinds of scifi and comic conventions)...
    M

     

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  60.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 3:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: If we let the flood gates open...

    Your Quote...

    "Good on them for protecting their god given rights! Its a shame for those wanting to see it, but you should be blaming those who would take advantage of other peoples work, not those trying to protect it."

    Copyright is a government granted right NOT a god given right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    txpatriot, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 3:51pm

    Re:

    Plus "free advertising" has never been a valid defense against claims of infringement.

    Once again, it is the copyright holder who decides how his or her work will be distributed, and how it will be advertised. No one else has that right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    icon
    doughless (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 9:24pm

    Re: Re: Where is the Death Star when you need it

    Episode 3 had mass slaughter of children; how could that movie have been any better, apart from actually showing their cauterized limbs and heads rolling around on the floor?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    identicon
    Mike Bower, Sep 11th, 2011 @ 9:38am

    How to Piss of Star Wars Fans

    I agree Being heavy handed and ban public Free Non Profit making event of Star Wars Films to FANS while Legally correct Does piss me off too. I am a fan. What really pisses me off is the Crap StarWars Webisite it has limited access I cannot Access Hyperspace info There is no way to feedback There so much more they could with this Website. They So Much Money they are not spending very much on their Websit GREED Rules over provding Great info to real Fans George Lucas Make my Day Spend money to total upgrade your website as at present IT is a REAL PILE OF POO

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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