The area of fan art based on existing commercial IP has always been a grey one, with Lucasarts being quite open to the fact that people are going to produce work inspired by their franchises. What happens when that fan art is used by the originators of the IP?
Now don’t get me wrong, Lucasarts are one of the good guys, they know that keeping the fans sweet is what brings in the cash. Star Wars Battlefront was rumoured to have been inspired by a Battlefield 1942 mod where all the models were created from scratch by fans. In cases like this Lucasarts tends not to give in to the tempatations of the dark side and keeps its lawyers on a leash, unlike others who keep their IP locked away and stamp on fan productions mercilessly (I’m looking at you Games Workshop).
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In an interesting development regarding the E3 trailer for Lucasarts’ latest Star Wars video game, The Force Unleashed (see above), it seems that the Imperial Star Destroyer seen in the opening sequence was modelled by a fan. >This thread on the scifi-meshes-com forums has the lowdown and makes a convincing case for the fact that the model used in the trailer was in fact created by a modeller called fractalsponge.
In my opinion the guy should get a hat tip in the credits at least, and if the artist at Lucasarts has passed the model off as his own work then they should lose their job. Of course Fractalsponge has no legal recourse as the model is based on Lucasarts’ IP and was released for free on the internet, but ethically if the model can be proved to be his he should be credited at the very least (and looking at the quality of the work, if I were Lucasarts I’d give him a job.) (Via Digg.)

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