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Games Workshop Forbids Warhammer Fan Films 251

EikeHein writes "Made by dozens of fans over a period of several years and featuring impressive special effects, the feature-length Warhammer 40.000 epic DAMNATUS ranks among the most elaborate fan productions ever made — and yet may never see the light of day. Despite initially giving a go-ahead to the project, UK-based Warhammer franchise owner Games Workshop has come around to forbid distribution of the film just as it was being readied for release. What's more, they've amended their IP Policy to forbid any such projects in the future. At the heart of the matter appears to be Continental European copyright law, which grants the German film makers certain irrevocable rights to their creation which they cannot sign away. Given that the owners of the other two SF mega-franchises, Star Trek and Star Wars, have been able to come to terms with such issues and arguably benefit greatly from the media attention paid to popular fan productions, it would seem that Games Workshop still has to learn a thing or two about how to capture fan enthusiasm for their benefit."
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Games Workshop Forbids Warhammer Fan Films

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  • Jolly Roger (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @02:20PM (#19828195)
    I suppose they could sue Games Workshop, but that would drag on for a rather long period of time. By the end of the lawsuit, the movie will be irrelevant regardless of the outcome. And after 4 years of film development, that's a really cruddy result. Especially since it sounds like the only problem is that Games Workshop wants 100% control and they can't have it. Well duh, it's not your film. It's a fan creation that you *should* be finding a set of guidelines under which it can be distributed.

    Desperate times call for desperate measures. I hear that there are alternative (?) distribution methods out there. Something about "hoisting the flag" and all that?

    *ahem* *ahem* *ahem*

  • by HexRei ( 515117 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @02:30PM (#19828339)
    That is really too bad. GW has made some great games over the years, I really enjoyed Warhammer and Space Hulk as a kid. Now, I HATE Games Workshop and hope their offices get infested with lice and skunks.
  • by SolusSD ( 680489 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @02:33PM (#19828375) Homepage
    its all in the subject line
  • IP Laws (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GWLlosa ( 800011 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @02:34PM (#19828385)
    Apparently, they were completely willing to sanction the movie under the terms of a deal that they and the movie producers had agreed to regarding the ownership of the intellectual property (i.e., Games Workshop's entire universe). Then it turned out that according to German copyright law, the producers are prevented from signing away some of their own rights, which derailed the deal. What I'm curious about is what rights are you prevented from signing away? Does this mean that German developers can't assign copyright to 3rd parties (FSF?)? Does it only apply to movies? Why would it be a problem to willfully and knowingly explicitely sign away your rights to something as nonfundamental as a movie?
  • by athloi ( 1075845 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @02:34PM (#19828393) Homepage Journal
    Then it's legal.

    This doesn't get around a truth of a world in which ideas generate money in a hostile environment where those without money suffer badly. If you create something, and own it, and want to keep profiting off of it, the tendency is to reserve as many rights as possible. And until you get the fifty million bucks that puts you and your family out of society's reach, that's what you're gonna do.

    Wonder how long that ill-designed paradigm will last.
  • by iAlta ( 1098077 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @02:40PM (#19828441)
    Probably won't work, since ... it's not.
  • I'm a diehard GW fan (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @03:02PM (#19828707)
    But I haven't bought one of their miniatures or miniature games in years. I buy a lot of the Black Library books, and do enjoy looking through the rulebooks (more for the stories than the rules). I've bought nearly every computer game with a Games Workshop license. This move disheartens me on some level. I like seeing more fiction set in the Warhammer universe, and hate to think it's some fancy lawyering that's preventing something potentially good from getting out.
  • Re:Preposterous (Score:2, Interesting)

    by russian_casey ( 954084 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @03:20PM (#19828919)
    This isn't surprising at all...I've been playing 40K since 1994 and have watched GW threaten all sorts of "intellectual property" suits, all the while driving prices through the roof and driving quality through the bedrock. Yes, the models look good today, but they don't have the same sort of character as the old stuff did (Rogue Trader-era was the Golden Age of Citadel for a good reason).

    I've said it before and I'll say it again - Games Workshop is the Microsoft of miniatures gaming. Fuck you, Games Workshop.

    Anyone interested in a huge 40K Ork army, cheap?
  • Obnoxious.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by UncleTogie ( 1004853 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @04:02PM (#19829425) Homepage Journal

    ...and after finding the link to their number, 1-800-394-4263, at their Contact Page [], I called to get their take on this. I asked why they'd choose to alienate their fan base like this, and was told "to protect our IP". I asked just what the rationale was for this decision, and the response once again was "to protect our IP." I asked who made the decision, and the CS rep wouldn't say, just restating that it was their IP. "I know," I told them, "but using Star Trek as an example, Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning [] was lovingly made by fans of ST and Bab5 as a nice spoof. They weren't sued; they were encouraged." The rep once again quietly parroted "but it's OUR IP...", and I gave up.

    I'm not selling any of their material to make my money back, either. At this point, my choice is simply to burn it/melt it all down before someone else gets the infamous "FanBoi Bitchslap"....
  • Re:Preposterous (Score:5, Interesting)

    by garyok ( 218493 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @04:24PM (#19829743)

    Well, congrats to GW for taking my general disinterest for their products and elevating it to actual dislike of their organization.

    Way ahead of you, big man. I used to be a real hardcore fan of GW and, back in the day, I was a subscriber to White Dwarf for a long time but around #110ish things started going badly, badly wrong at the ranch. That's about when they switched their focus from RPGs to the miniatures business. They stopped doing articles on other companies' games and started bigging up Warhammer, Blood Bowl, and WH40K. They even seemed to lose interest in their own roleplaying games. Before that it was a hell of a magazine - fiction, articles, art, and quality all the way. After that it became a big ad you paid for. I had no interest whatsoever in their dinky little toys and I was on a one-way ticket to Alienation City. It was a real shame because a lot of real talent used to contribute.

    They seem to be doing well enough out of it but, if such a thing is possible, they sold their soul back at the end of the 80s for their money. Plus the staff in the stores I've visited since are total dicks.

  • Re:Preposterous (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @04:44PM (#19830087)
    I want to share a GW story that involved a gaming store I used to frequent:

    A few years ago GW set mandatory sell targets for their merchandise. If you weren't pushing their games and selling x amount of figures every week, they would drop you as a supplier. So a lot of gaming stores sucked it up and really pushed GW hard, resulting in an expected increasee in GW sales. GW then analyzed the sales demographics and totally fucked these top selling stores by cutting off their stock and opening Games Workshops stores right in the middle of their territories. My favorite gaming store went under a year later. I will never forgive GW for this. They are a loathsome company who screwed over the very people who made them successful in the first place - fuck you GW, you worthless pricks!
  • Re:Preposterous (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mal3 ( 59208 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @04:56PM (#19830297)
    That's not the half of it. From the GW website:

    This also means that we cannot allow tattoos as an acceptable use of our IP as a third party necessarily has to perform the "service."

    So if i get a Tattoo of one of their trademarks, exactly what do they plan to do about it?

  • by alexgieg ( 948359 ) <> on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:03PM (#19830443) Homepage

    ...and then you woke up.
    Lol! :D

    But the point is that geography matters. They do something nasty to some guys on Germany, and all of a sudden not only a obscure groups of German fans is pissed, but people all over the world start complaining. If that doesn't cause at least a "What the Hell!?" reaction in them, I think nothing (short of actual bankruptcy) ever will.

    In any case, Brazil is in fact one of the main worldwide consumers of RPG-related goods. We have widely deployed pen-and-paper monthly magazines on the subject that are running uninterrupted for over a decade, the most important titles are translated and available for sale in the big book shops, and all the time there are RPG events happening in lots of cities. It's not a small market by any means, even though tabletop miniatures themselves are, as far as I know, just a small subset of it.
  • Re: Preposterous (Score:2, Interesting)

    by NeilTheStupidHead ( 963719 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:41PM (#19830989) Journal
    $100? Surely you jest, unless you're referring to the purchase of used models via a service like eBay (which does have some fantastic deals). A box of basic troops (W40k) or a core unit (WFB) is about $45 CDN and about $35 US. You need far more than two or three of these plus more to make even a basic army. The Batallion boxes are $90 US and $135 (or so) CDN; these are a good start, but still not enough to have more than a very simplistic army. $200 is certainly a good number for a reasonable start. At current market prices, my investment is well over $2000 for three armies.

    While I agree with you that the pewter minis are higher quality (given the relative age of the sculpt i.e. Dark Eldar) overall, the plastics are far more enjoyable to work with from a customization angle. A limited edition pewter piece looks amazing as a centre piece to an army or a squad, but 15 of them don't stand out, they just blend in, especially when you consider that pewter models have very limited posability. And if you haven't seen some of the newest plastic moulds, you might be in for a suprise, the quality is leaps and bounds over those 1st generation plastic Space Marines or Gobbos (which haven't been retired quite yet)
  • Re:Preposterous (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yogi ( 3827 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @05:48PM (#19831085) Homepage
    And you are not the only one who came to that conclusion. I've got a big stack of White Dwarf back episodes from my subscription, and the first editions of WH40K and WHRPG, but lost interest when the rules started changing so you would need to buy more ( relatively expensive ) vehicle miniatures.

    Of course, before WD become a large, paid for, GW advert, they used to publish adventures and source material for all sorts of games in the magazine. I can look in the corner of the room now, and see Traveller, AD&D and other game system adventures published in White Dwarf. If that's not making money from derivative works of other peoples IP, I don't know what is. And what's more, they did this quite unashamedly for 10 years, before GW had enough games to fill the pages with adverts for their own games. Talk about hypocrisy.
  • Re:Preposterous (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WhatHappenedToTanith ( 1126905 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @06:42PM (#19831791) Homepage
    One of the things that really makes me slap my forehead and say 'doh' regarding the quake mod is the large number of GW players who got into the miniatures from the computer games - especially Dawn of War. People are normally going to buy a branded, similar game if there is a decent fan-created game out there which spreads interest around, and at the end of the day GW need interest to help sell their miniatures. They could even license and improve good fan games in a similar fashion to what happened with Counterstrike. GW made a killing from the interest gained from Lord of the Rings so why not do it in reverse and encourage the spread of their IP with fan created content... oh yes you already said it... they are retarded.
  • Re:Preposterous (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rgaginol ( 950787 ) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @08:59PM (#19833061)
    Yeah dude, I couldn't agree more... GW used to be good, *sigh*. I'm not sure when it turned sour, but something definitely went odd in the GW mix about a decade ago.

    At the moment, I'm about to get back into the swing of things after a decade long hiatus from miniatures with other pursuits (I just can't seem to get rid of that hankering of painting nicely done miniatures). Yet... after checking out the local GW store and noticing that:
    - Most of the cool miniatures now suck or have been replaced with 'yet-another-iteration-of-the-army'... this is like the 3rd iteration of Tyranids...
    - Most of the nice boutique games like Necromunda are old history.. or at least can only be ordered through the US/UK stores (the good games which meant you only had to collect a few miniatures)
    - Most of the good metal miniatures going plastic... seriously, plastic Terminators??? Those are meant to be ball breaking mega troops... yet how can they stoke the imagination when they sound like lego?
    - A terrible experience with the staff at the GW store... I've never had a sales assistant literally hump my leg before then

    So, since then I've re-evaluated my options:
    - I spent a bit more then I'd like (via E-Bay) getting an out of production functional Space Hulk set together with proper metal Terminators. That game was awesome fun... lots of thinking and the guessing, gods that was good.
    - I also went a bit crazy with some Warmachine stuff (the e-bay seller 'discount_games' in the USA was half the price of any stores in Australia). Me and a buddy figure Warmachine should take a hell of a lot less miniatures for a fun game, and the focus with them is as much on collecting and painting as the actual playing.

    So off I go... See ya later GW. This latest fiasco won't mean much to me, but I'm sure that there are plenty of current fans who will see this as a reason to start re-evaluating their own choice to buy into the GW universe or others.
  • Re:Preposterous (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @03:12AM (#19835229)
    From what I read about the history of GW they started with making rulebooks for reenacting historical battles with toy soldiers.

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker