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Intellectual property guidelines updated


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#1
Plaguecaster

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So in a rather stupid and hurtful move to the community GW have updated their intellectual property guidelines on their website. Some of it is understandable no illegal downloads of their product or 3d printing however something that is rather disturbing is their policy in regards to Fan made content. Mainly animations deeming any not licensed by them is not allowed at all, so any talented animator that has made any warhammer animations who are not licensed by GW will potentially be punished and get C&D. No surprise something like this has happened so close to their new streaming services which is coming

Something also interesting to note is no imitation models now does this mean all the 3rd party "not space marine" models and bits as if it does will GW be going after them next

Edited by Plaguecaster, 21 July 2021 - 11:52 AM.

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#2
Arkaniss

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No fan animations at all seems harsh but I suppose they don't want any competition now they have their own menagerie of official animations coming.


Edited by Arkaniss, 21 July 2021 - 12:00 PM.

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#3
Joe

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It is worth noting they've told several animators (such as AbsolutelyNothing) that they can keep their animations up so long as they aren't monetised - although, that does speak more to an inconsistent approach to handling the various animators. It is a bit harsh, however they are still quite new to the theatre and I suspect they are operating along the lines of "if we don't act, we lose it" from a legal-ese stand-point. 

 

It'd be nice to see them take Xbox's approach and create an all-encompassing license that's good for them and the community. Perhaps this is something we could actually rally the community around for a change, rather than moaning incessantly and... not actually providing an alternative solution?

 

Something also interesting to note is no imitation models now does this mean all the 3rd party "not space marine" models and bits as if it does will GW be going after them next

 

I suspect this is the blatant rip-offs, which have become unnervingly prevalent over the years - given that quite a few of GWs designs are actually protected under law (such as Space Marine pauldrons - yes, I'm not joking, that one is courtesy of the Chapter House suit), they are very much in the "act or lose it" territory on that one.


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#4
AenarIT

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Good luck with enforcing even half of those guidelines. 
 


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#5
Squike

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https://www.games-wo...questid=1622330

 

link for any interested

 

for the imitation models section, that suggests anything that looks remotely like current models or is inspired by them without being a direct copy comes under fire also.


Edited by Squike, 21 July 2021 - 12:12 PM.


#6
bluntpencil

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There's a number of things there that are utterly unenforceable.

 

For one, it's accepted that rules for games cannot be copyrighted.

 

Also, not causing damage to the reputation of Games Workshop effectively means that they don't want negative reviews of products. That's ridiculous and will never happen.

 

No fan-films? Does that include parody? Parody is protected. Is Sly Marbo a parody of Rambo? It doesn't look like parody to me - should Sylvester Stallone charge GW with copyright infringement as they would do?

 

Edit:

 

I'm tempted to email their 'infringements' email address with complaints about all the things they've stolen from other places. :D


Edited by bluntpencil, 21 July 2021 - 12:35 PM.

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#7
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Well this can only end poorly.


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#8
Domhnall

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Good luck with enforcing even half of those guidelines. 
 

 

TLDR: Trying to look at this from a neutral standpoint, I'm hoping the guidelines are more to cover themselves for possible future legal action if required, as probably recommended by their legal department.

 

Expanded answer:

I'm hoping (first step on the road etc etc) that by updating and publishing the guidelines, it's more a case of them covering themselves in the event of having to shut someone down in the future for taking the michael, rather than the first volley of a scorched earth take down. 

You can create your own fiction, art etc (otherwise homebrew chapters would cease to exist), just don't make money from them blah blah blah.

 

I'm not a Lawyer, so anything I say is purely speculation:

As for the animations, you'll probably find that they are considered 'film' or 'media' rather than art from a legal standpoint, and are covered by a different set of rules and laws, hence the stricter wording. It would make sense when comparing to other IP's such as the obvious Disney. You'll see artwork and stories galore made by one and all which goes unchecked (Ice cream vans!), but I'm sure if anybody tried to publish a film or animation, Disney would be right on them. 

 

Funnily enough, recent got a post on Instagram from a small webcomic on there saying that he's happy for fan made pictures etc, and he loves them, but to please not make money from anything of his.

It's not just the big boys and girls that need to go down this way, it affects anybody who has any kind of IP.


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#9
AenarIT

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There's a number of things there that are utterly unenforceable.

 

For one, it's accepted that rules for games cannot be copyrighted.

 

Also, not causing damage to the reputation of Games Workshop effectively means that they don't want negative reviews of products. That's ridiculous and will never happen.

 

No fan-films? Does that include parody? Parody is protected. Is Sly Marbo a parody of Rambo? It doesn't look like parody to me - should Sylvester Stallone charge GW with copyright infringement as they would do?

Also "imitation models": for example, good luck trying to argue that an ork with a rifle or a cleaver is covered by their IP. Or a mecha robot with a big gun.

I mean, they tried to argue that roman numerals and human skulls were their property... :D They can argue what they want but winning a court case is a different thing.


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#10
Captain Coolpants

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Does that mean stupid stuff like 'if the emperor had a text to speech device' is now dead? Unless they don't monetise their youtube vids? What happened to fair use?

Im going to miss this too. Always cracked me up

https://youtube.com/...w64KsydPsy3SyMR

Edited by Captain Coolpants, 21 July 2021 - 12:39 PM.

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#11
Redcomet

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Good luck with enforcing even half of those guidelines.


And they most likely won’t be. But the legal foundation is now there, should some one start making big bucks off their Ip.
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#12
chapter master 454

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I mean...one side I get it but on the other the internet became big from people making things about things they love and being able to from there get some form of living off it. Not sure how it will shake out, hopefully this isn't GW going back down the dark path again after only not so long ago finding the light once more and this is just a legal piece that there is an underlying gentlemen's agreement not to overstep boundaries or hammers come down.

 

I know, in this day and age gentlemen agreements are old hat and will never hold up but they are what things like creative commons tries to protect by making it written. Basic decency.


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#13
Joe

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Does that mean stupid stuff like 'if the emperor had a text to speech device' is now dead? Unless they don't monetise their youtube vids? What happened to fair use?

Im going to miss this too. Always cracked me up

https://youtube.com/...w64KsydPsy3SyMR

 

Non-profit parody is protected under fair use - when it's monetised, it's no longer considered parody and isn't protected afaik. Text-to-Speech should be fine.

In a similar vein, Turns Signals on a Land Raider was fragged out of existence way back in the ether because whilst it was parody to the consumer it wasn't parody to the law due to the website advertisements.


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#14
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Honestly, as long as people don't earn money from it, even just to come out even, GW can't really forbid them to create warhammer animations etc. Those should strictly fall under the "fair use" law (especially the parody part). The question is whether people want to fight with GW over it even if they're technically on the safe side.


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#15
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I'd like to see the typical GW shills defending this move. Honestly, they are so short-sighted. By making this hobby "exclusive", can't they see by this action they are signing their own death warrant in terms of product longevity?
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#16
Joe

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For reference, this was the Game Content Usage agreement that Microsoft created for their Xbox Game Studios. In many regards, it's this level of clarification / support that the community would benefit from - particularly as it's already apparent there's been inconsistent enforcement in the animation department (i.e. some people being told it's fine to keep their stuff up so long as it isn't monetised).

 


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#17
AenarIT

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Good luck with enforcing even half of those guidelines.


And they most likely won’t be. But the legal foundation is now there, should some one start making big bucks off their Ip.

IP laws aren't up to GW, they can state they own whatever they want in their guidelines but then it's up to a judge to rule on alleged violations. And again, good luck with that. 
1:1 copies, scans, use of official logos, ... are all easily enforced. But derivative work, like "imitation models", is a different beast altogether.



#18
Lord Raven 19

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As GW is a UK company, UK law applies I think. That would allow for fair use in line with the current law, which is detailed here: https://www.gov.uk/g...ns-to-copyright . I would agree with the guess that this is a setup for major infringement court cases, rather than every fan site and youtube channel, as much of that appears to fall under this law.


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#19
bluntpencil

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Does that mean stupid stuff like 'if the emperor had a text to speech device' is now dead? Unless they don't monetise their youtube vids? What happened to fair use?

Im going to miss this too. Always cracked me up

https://youtube.com/...w64KsydPsy3SyMR

 

Non-profit parody is protected under fair use - when it's monetised, it's no longer considered parody and isn't protected afaik. Text-to-Speech should be fine.

In a similar vein, Turns Signals on a Land Raider was fragged out of existence way back in the ether because whilst it was parody to the consumer it wasn't parody to the law due to the website advertisements.

 

Parody can indeed be monetised, otherwise you wouldn't have the entire spoof genre of film. You wouldn't have Scary Movie and similar, for example.


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#20
Domhnall

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I'd like to see the typical GW shills defending this move. Honestly, they are so short-sighted. By making this hobby "exclusive", can't they see by this action they are signing their own death warrant in terms of product longevity?

 

I can understand it from a legal point of view, a company protecting what is theirs...

 

However, considering that there must be at least one person at HQ who has been on and read the forums/youtube/the community recently and with what has been going on, that surely somebody somewhere would have seen just how poorly this would be received by the just about everybody. Even Tzeentch himself thought this was going a bit far!

 

Legal speak never comes across as friendly. They should have made a video or something just to explain in normal words what this means exactly. 


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#21
Firedrake Cordova

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Also "imitation models": for example, good luck trying to argue that an ork with a rifle or a cleaver is covered by their IP. Or a mecha robot with a big gun.

Unfortunately, intellectual property rights vary by jurisdiction, which is unhelpful. However, in the UK, it's held that recreating a photograph by staging it and taking it yourself is a breach of the original photographer's copyright (Temple Island Collections Ltd v New English Teas Ltd & another [2012] EWPCC 1). TL;DR it probably depends on close is looks



#22
Joe

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Parody can indeed be monetised, otherwise you wouldn't have the entire spoof genre of film. You wouldn't have Scary Movie and similar, for example.

 

I was under the impression that the spoof genre got away with it by being just about non-descript enough and / or actually licensing the work they were parodying. It's cropped up a few times with some of the comedy parodies in the UK.

 

Interesting note; Youtube does provide guidelines on content that can be monetised and what constitutes Fair Use; worth noting that in the UK, "uses for purposes such as criticism, review, quotation, parody, caricature and pastiche might be considered fair dealing, but it can depend on the situation".

So it's UK fair use law in relation to parody that we need to be looking at.


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#23
AenarIT

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The Chapterhouse case was resolved in a US court, not a UK one. I wouldn't be so sure that UK courts would be the ones responsible in future cases. 
What if the copyright infringer is a Russian or Chinese "manufacturer"? 


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#24
Bryan Blaire

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None of this seems out of line with what most companies do with their IP.  It really amounts to “Don’t copy or make money off that which we’ve produced.”  That’s not that strange.  Even fan-made stuff on places like YouTube can get monetized if you reach X views over Y time and the like.  If you make money off producing things via Patreon that infringe their work, such as digital copies of models (that were made digitally prior to being produced physically), then it isn’t that strange.  This is GW telling everyone what they will begin pursuing legally.

 

If I lift code or utilize a proprietary lab procedure that I’ve gotten somewhere for my work, then I will likely get in legal trouble for it when someone finds out.  Doesn’t matter that this is models, etc.

 

This really doesn’t seem that extreme.

 

In situations like this, if you are producing something for public consumption, consult an actual attorney in your jurisdiction to see how this change in policy affects you - chances are that it doesn’t change much, because a company can’t change the law - whatever was written before this applies just as much as it does now, you may just now be aware that what you are doing has legal implications/could constitute infringement.  IP laws almost certainly have to be resolved in the jurisdiction that the infringement is alleged to have occurred in (since that’s where you can actually define the legal infringement that occurred).  UK IP law doesn’t apply in Japan, etc., but if the country is a WTO member and TRIPS signatory, then they are required to have laws “enforcing” certain IP standards.

 

For me privately - what’s GW going to do, come bust down my door to see if my materials are physically sculpted vs. molded copies vs. digitally copied vs. digitally sculpted?  As long as I’m not passing things around, sharing files of copies, etc., then they have no legal right to invade my private space - I would have cause to go after them instead.  Personal use means personal though.


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#25
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Some of it is understandable no illegal downloads of their product or 3d printing...

Something also interesting to note is no imitation models now does this mean all the 3rd party "not space marine" models and bits as if it does will GW be going after them next

3d printing doesn't use scanning of GW models (scanners aren't high enough resolution as a rule) but creating new ones using CAD and/or digital sculpting tools - the same ones that have been in widespread use for many years for creating 3d artwork and CAD models, the same tools that GW themselves use for their own models now.

 

3d printing does not equal copyright infringement anymore than making a master mould and doing resin casting does. It *can* be used to create near-clones of GW models of course, it can also be used to make truly unique designs that are nothing like GW, and anything in between.

 

Their 'imitation models' rule is a massive overreach, both for 3d printing and more traditional resin casting. GW does not own the exclusive concept of 'US vietnam-era soldiers IN SPAACE, or WW1 french soldiers IN SPAACE, or Tolkein-esque orcs, dwarfs and elves, to name just a few of the many existing concepts GW have used to come up with their designs.

 

The more unique stuff in AoS is harder to imitate (and there aren't many who try) or even complete Primaris models with all the details, but drawing from the same sources of inspiration that GW did does not make something copyright infringement. Simple generic designs such as 'angel wings' or 'liquid drops'  are near impossible to argue for copyright too. GW tried to claim complete ownership of the space marine shoulder pad shape in the chapterhouse suit; they lost, which is why there's a thriving market for 3rd party 'compatible' parts that GW don't make. There's a long history of manufacturers trying to block compatible parts (from printers to car parts) and generally lose, because there's a big difference in copyright (or design patents) between something identical to your design and something that is somewhat similar but has distinct differences, especially when the commonalities actual come from a different origin entirely (e.g. real-world militaries) or functional requirements.


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