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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Comments on “The Dark Side Wins: Lucasfilm Shuts Down Star Wars Fan Movie Marathon”

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PaulT (profile) says:

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.

Eugene (profile) says:

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.

Darth Copyrightus says:

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.

HothMonster says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Nicedoggy says:

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.

Enigmatic (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

That Anonymous Coward says:

“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?

rooben (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Re: 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.


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.

That Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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!

PolyPusher (profile) says:

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.

Eugene (profile) says:

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.

DannyB (profile) says:


> 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

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

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.

known coward says:

Maybe you ought to re-examine your premise,

But the Initial poster?s 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 it?s 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.

BigDaddyM says:

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)…

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Mike Bower says:

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

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