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5/24/2007
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Lucasfilm To Launch Star Wars Mashup Tools

Fans will be able to mix their own video source material with over 250 scenes and sounds from the six Star Wars films.

To mark the 30th anniversary of the Star Wars saga, Lucasfilm on Friday plans to unveil a new version of its StarWars.com Web site that will enable fans to make their own Star Wars mashup movies.

The redesigned site will include a variety of Web 2.0 features, including an online media remix platform from video editing startup Eyespot. Using Eyespot's tools, Star Wars fans will be able to mix their own video source material with over 250 scenes and sounds from the six Star Wars films.

Lucasfilm's decision to encourage the non-commercial use of its copyrighted content comes at a time when the media industry as a whole is showing a more flexible attitude toward intellectual property (even if a recent bill, proposed by the Department of Justice, to create the new crime of attempted copyright infringement reflects an opposing inclination).

British music label EMI, for example, decided earlier this year to abandon digital copy protection altogether, an impulse that earlier led to startups like Amie Street, a pioneering seller of unprotected digital music.

The Advanced Access Content System Licensing Administrator, now infamous across the Web for its effort to censor an encryption key that unlocked HD-DVD and Blu-ray discs, has been working with the film industry to offer managed copying of said discs. And musical artists such as Peter Gabriel and Nine Inch Nails, to name a few, have posted audio tracks for fans to remix.

That's not to say that copyright holders are rolling over. Rather, they're coming to terms with media on the Internet.

"When it comes to intellectual property at Lucasfilm, we want to do everything possible to enable fans to be involved in Star Wars in ways that are creative, and fun, and inspire them," said John Singh, spokesperson for Lucasfilm. "But we also want to make sure that when somebody crosses the line into trying to profit from Star Wars, or the creations of George Lucas, that we vigilantly enforce that."

The Wall Street Journal suggested that impulse prompted some people to refer to Star Wars creator George Lucas as "Lucas the Litigator," but that's a characterization Singh and others at Lucasfilm reject.

Singh argues that Lucasfilm has a long history of supporting the Star Wars community. "This is a great illustration of the way Lucasfilm has always approached Star Wars and our fans," he said. "If you look at the 1970s, with Super 8 movies, we used to put out reels of Star Wars for home use. You could do with them what you wanted to do with themThis is a high-tech way to do exactly that."

As part of the launch, StarWars.com also will offer a collection of Star Wars documentary shorts and the best user-generated Star Wars videos, including the "Chad Vader" series and fives years worth of Star Wars Fan Movie Festival shorts, co-presented by AtomFilms.com.

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