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Lucasfilm orders links to new 'Star Wars' images removed

(CNN) -- Striking back in an effort to stop copyright infringement, Lucasfilm Ltd. has ordered at least two fan sites to stop linking to fiercely guarded storyboard images from the upcoming film "Star Wars: Episode II."

The storyboards, which are a series of sketches for outlining a film's action, contain actual production concepts for the highly anticipated movie slated to be released in the summer of 2002.

Lucasfilm's Jeanne Cole said the company was first alerted to the posting on two fan sites called and NaboOnline last week. A cease and desist letter citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was subsequently sent out and the links were later removed.

Cole said most fans have been understanding of Lucasfilm's decision since the storyboards are clearly trademarked secrets and would spoil the movie.

Some fans seemed to agree.

"I like speculating on 'Episode II' and what will be in it, but I don't really want to actually know before I see the movie," wrote one person on a Web site bulletin board.

Cole reiterated that the relationship between fan sites and Lucasfilm remains on a workable level and this incident would not harm that in any way.

"We've always been supportive of the fan sites," Cole said. "Our policy is, as long as it isn't stolen property and someone isn't profiting from it then it's okay."

Few films in history have spawned such a dedicated following. There are countless Web sites in homage to the Star Wars films, many of which are updated on a daily basis with detailed information. Recently a member of the fan site posted a homemade fake preview trailer for "Episode II," which Lucasfilm has allowed to stay.

But in this case, Cole said Lucasfilm had to "send out the message" that posting the storyboards was copyright infringement.

The first sighting of the material on the Internet was a comprehensive description of the storyboard found Tuesday, Cole said. The next day Lucasfilm representatives came across an actual storyboard posted online and proceeded to distribute the letters.

Charles Taylor, Webmaster at, said he discovered that someone had posted the images on his message board Wednesday morning. Taylor decided to provide a spoiler warning for visitors, but he said the images were never placed directly on his site since he only pulled them off another server and linked to them.

When he received the cease and desist letter from Lucasfilm, Taylor said he immediately deleted all references to the images and posted a copy of the letter. He added that the storyboard images contain only an extremely small percentage of the film.

Taylor said he is now disappointed because some fans are accusing him of staging a publicity hoax in association with NaboOnline.

"The storyboards were very real and it's unfortunate that the security on the set of Episode II was so poor that people could get away with stealing information like this," Taylor wrote in an e-mail interview.

Lucasfilm's Cole would not reveal how the images were smuggled out of the set.

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Lucasfilm Ltd.

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