Is it legal to make a film with lightsabers in it in a different universe than Star Wars? Is it legal to make a sci-fi films where there are no Jedi, but people wield lightsabers that are very similar to the ones in Star Wars? Assume for the sake of the question that every character in the film is blue-skinned and they wield orange-colored lightsabers and it's set in a sci-fi universe completely different from that of Star Wars. Is this considered a derivative work and thus infringes copyright, or can it be considered to be an original just because the setting is different?

  • 1
    There are lots of answers here explaining that copyright issues are decided on a factual, case by case way. There is no law or ruling saying "light sabers are (not) ok of it is in a different galaxy". If you get sued, the judge or hurry will look at your work, hear accusation and defense arguments, and decide if your work is so close to Star Wars that it violates its copyright. Search for copyright questions for a better explanation.
    – SJuan76
    Aug 4 '21 at 23:08

"Lightsaber" is a trademarked term, so it's gotta be called something else. The idea behind a lightsaber is older than Star Wars, anyhow idea are not protected by copyright. The actual design of such a weapon would be protected, but it would be a matter for the jury to decide if the supposedly-infringing design was a copy of a Lucasfilms-protected object, or that of the cover of Analog, Jan. 1969. The "setting" of the movie is completely irrelevant, all that counts is whether the object "copies" the plaintiff's design. In light of the earlier Wolfling design, it's not a foregone conclusion that all lightsaber-resembling objects are infringing. Available evidence indicates that you will be sued if you do it, so consult a really good IP attorney.

  • Lightsabers weren't invented by George Lucas?
    – Sayaman
    Aug 5 '21 at 0:17
  • 1
    @Sayaman, in non-Star Wars fiction, they're commonly called "energy blades" or "laser swords".
    – Mark
    Aug 5 '21 at 3:29

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