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Games Workshop Forbids Warhammer Fan Films

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the wont-last-after-WAR-is-released dept.

Media 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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Preposterous (5, Insightful)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828193)

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

Ignoring my personal purchasing decisions, though, this is still stupid. I mean, it's not like Games Workshop actually sells games. They sell miniatures. They encourage purchase of the miniatures with something like a game structure (so it's a little more advanced than playing with toy soldiers...but not much more advanced than the games I invented for my various little figures when I was 10. Except for Blood Bowl, of course. That game is two shots of high-proof awesome.) that requires you to buy more miniatures if you want to play by the rules and an (admittedly) pretty compelling universe to set your encounters in.

I would, in fact, make the case that the universe is more important to their income than the "games" are. I know plenty of people who play Warhammer with pretty major departures from the rules, but I don't know anyone who plays Warhammer without Orcs.

So when presented with an opportunity to, at no cost, generate fan excitement and greater exposure, you'd think the smart thing to do would be to run with it as far as possible. Squelching it - moreover, squelching it in a way that makes you look like a bully, an ingrate, and general underdog-trampler - would seem to be the worst thing you could do.

I mean, aside from kicking puppies and smogging out rainbows.

(As an aside: the bright spot in all this is, should some miracle of rationality prevail, and GW manage to figure out that blocking this is a bad move, it should generate plenty of publicity for the project)

Re:Preposterous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19828209)

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

Re:Preposterous (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19828259)

Heh..

I just got done downloading all of Dawn of War (with WInter assualt and dark whatevers) for a lan party.

My 8 friends now have their own copy, thanks to me :)

Re:Preposterous (5, Funny)

andrewd18 (989408) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828305)

I don't know anyone who plays Warhammer without Orcs.
Waaagh!! We be Orks wid uh k, you insensitive 'umie!

Re:Preposterous (4, Insightful)

Phanatic1a (413374) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828539)


I would, in fact, make the case that the universe is more important to their income than the "games" are. I know plenty of people who play Warhammer with pretty major departures from the rules, but I don't know anyone who plays Warhammer without Orcs.


And the ironic part is that the Orcs are what aren't necessary to play the game. They make (relatively) inexpensive rulebooks and horrifically expensive miniatures. It would be entirely possible to play the game by buying the inexpensive rulebooks and using a bunch of scraps of paper with "Orc" written on them in crayon in lieu of the expensive orc miniatures. But as you said, nobody does that.

They're an an enviable position of having valuable IP that's *hard to reproduce*. But they still end up being dicks over it.

Re:Preposterous (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829187)

Ok..I've been trying to figure out what Warhammer was...I'm guessing it is an old D & D type game?

Re:Preposterous (2, Informative)

lakeland (218447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829381)

No, nothing like D&D. It is battle reenactment except it also has fantasy sets (hence orcs) and futuristic sets (robots). There isn't any role-playing or characters - the players are sorta army generals trying to coordinate their armies.

Re:Preposterous (5, Informative)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829401)

Warhammer is a tabletop - ie, using miniatures - tactical war game with role-playing elements. Rather than using a hex map or other grid, all line-of-sight and range measurements are actually taken relative to the actual analog position and facing of the miniatures. The business proposition from Games Workshop is that they sell you the rulebooks for the game. The rules include provisions requiring you to purchase Games Workshop miniatures (eg, if the miniature on the table doesn't have a boltgun in its hand, the character it represents also doesn't have a boltgun in its hand); GW is, first and foremost, a seller of miniatures. Warhammer as a universe encompasses several different game systems and miniature series: Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000, Battlefleet: Gothic, and Necromunda all spring to mind, though I believe there are others.

In my opinion, the game aspect of it is particularly shallow in comparison to most other similar games (tabletop tactical), with odd and limiting provisions such as only being allowed to fire at the nearest enemy.

One way to look at it is that Games Workshop is the grown up (that is, expensive) version of playing with toy soldiers: you collect your toy soldiers, then get to use them in a game structure.

(Note: I completely understand the attraction of buying and painting miniatures, building up huge collections of them, and getting enjoyment out of deploying them in a structured game format; I don't mean to disparage it as a hobby. I, personally, prefer the game to be more involving than the game pieces, but I'm not much of a collector.)

Re:Preposterous (2, Insightful)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829891)

I tried this once with MTG. A bunch of my friends used to play, so one day we sat down at the table and everybody got out their carefully crafted decks and I brought out a large deck of cards.

"What is that?"

"My deck, it is a black green deck, mostly rares, should work well together."

"What?"

You see I had scanned in the cards from one of the "recognition manuals" printed them on a color printer and taped them to regular playing cards. The whole room about blew a gasket. One guy, who owned the big 7 (or whatever they were called moxes, lotus, etc) about had a heart attack. This was a guy that for a few of his rares would take a land and write the name of the rare on it in marker and use it in play - that was OK, because he 'owned' the real card. We argued for quite a while about it all. I finally gave up, I gave up MTG a few months later realizing what a money sucking hole in the ground it was, and is to this day.

Side note, before I gave it up I tried to talk them into what was essential sealed deck games long before they became the norm for tournaments, not a one would do it. It was so out of their mindset they literally couldn't comprehend it.

Re:Preposterous (1)

Col. Blackwolf (778676) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828609)

Preposterous? More like retarded, unfortunately. I'm an avid GW gamer, primarily due to the setting (WH:Fantasy is pretty bland, but 40K has a really deep story. And the gothic setting with tanks just looks cool), and am not ashamed to admit that I have spent many a paycheck on their products. But I will not defend them when they do something stupid like this.

You are right on the money about them stomping something that will generate interest and excitement for free. Sadly, this is not the first time that GW has taken such a stance over their IP. Way back in the distant 90's a group of modders set out to create a 40K QuakeII mod. Unfortunately, once well into the process, they were told in no uncertain terms that they would need to pay a licensing fee for the 40K setting and properties. And since the Quake EUL states that no id product can be sold without paying licensing for the engine, the group abandoned the project as too costly to produce a free mod for a game they loved.

This time it appears that GW's problem stems from being unable to secure the rights to the movie itself, which would allow them control over distribution. As in the past, this inability to maintain absolute control over every aspect of their IP has led them to quash something that would otherwise prove a boon to the company's flagship product.

Sad, really. I know they're in the business of making money, but this could really have been turned to their advantage. Hell, they could have even offered to bundle it with future products as a purchase incentive or to sell it on DVD in their stores (at production cost, unless they decided to pay the makers of the film). But alas, I doubt this will ever occur.

Re:Preposterous (2, Interesting)

russian_casey (954084) | more than 7 years ago | (#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?

Re:Preposterous (2, Informative)

BadMrMojo (767184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829183)

I mean, it's not like Games Workshop actually sells games. They sell miniatures. ...
Except for Blood Bowl, of course. That game is two shots of high-proof awesome.

Important note: Blood Bowl - along with Necromunda, Mordheim and some of the other Specialist Games which essentially got axed - did not require a huge investment in miniatures. One team per person is enough to play. A full collection (one of absolutely every possible legal team configuration) would probably be less than 200 miniatures (although I can't be arsed to figure it out exactly at the moment).

Re:Preposterous (4, Interesting)

garyok (218493) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Jolly Roger (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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*

"Arrrrghhhh"

Re:Jolly Roger (3, Insightful)

sorak (246725) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829485)

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.

The real tragedy is that after four years of working on a project, just to have the company that originally gave you permission say "throw it away. We changed our minds and would like for you to undo all of your work". After that, how hard will they try to get it distributed? Someone may put it out there just for spite, but I doubt it will ever be the labor of love that it once was.

Re:Jolly Roger (1)

thegnu (557446) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829607)

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

If they're allowed to show it to their parents and friends, it should be no problem getting it on Bittorrent and eDonkey (hint:use emule or amule, double hint:they're free) untraceably. I'm sure if you accidentally dropped the DVD at a few LAN parties, you'd be well on your way to hassle-free distribution.

AND, they could put a donations button on their site. Fucking genius.
-Nathan

Ahem. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19828211)

Nerds.

Re:Ahem. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19829517)

And just think, YOU posted here. That makes you a wannabe nerd who's not cool enough to even hang out with nerds. So, what now? :P

(think I'll post this anon... the modders are more likely to mark it flamebait than my intended funny. ;-) -- but just in case, a pre-emptive *shakes fist* if it gets modded up. hehe)

Not too surprising (1)

MuscaDomestica (764805) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828223)

Wow from what I heard of how they run their game stores this doesn't surprise me, they still are not as bad as Palladium which tried to get reviews taken down on websites because they were concerned about their ip.

For those who don't know... (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829429)

Wizards of the Coast got their start by putting out a multi-system compatible game called, "The Primal Order" in 1990. Part of the system included rules for converting characters to and from its system and the system used in games by Palladium Books. Palladium Books went nuts and sued WotC over violation of their intellectual property.

After 3 years, WotC ended up settling with PB for an undisclosed sum and an agreement not to mention their games again. (This is ironic considering that most of PB's claims were rejected by the judge in the case [maranci.net] .) You can read a summary of the events here. [rpg.net]

In retrospect, it's not surprising that WotC came up with the Open Gaming License.

Personally, the whole thing left such a bad taste in many gamers' mouths, that we chose never to do business with Palladium again in spite of WotC asking people not to boycott them (apparently something PB had demanded as part of the settlement). Like most people, I didn't really even care about WotC at the time, I was just angry at PB.

On a side note, I happened to see the publishers of Manhunter (the only game to actually license conversion rules from PB) at a con one year, and I asked, "Well, how'd you manage that?" only to get chewed out by Kevin Siembieda's wife who was staffing the PB booth next door. Being a teenager and not informed at all about IP law, I was kind of flabbergasted and didn't know what to say.

Heh. If only I could go back in time...

Re:For those who don't know... (2, Funny)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829903)

Heh. If only I could go back in time... ...you would tell WotC to not completely ruin their hojillion-dollar game by flooding the market with expansions every couple months, steadily increasing the power/cost ratio of all their cards, regularly invalidating old (valuable!) cards, and engaging in general asshattery? Or that there's no legitimate place in tabletop RPG for version "3.5" of anything?

'Cos that would be pretty nice of you.

A "fuck you" from GW... (5, Funny)

imbaczek (690596) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828245)

...to which fans will reply with a generous "fuck you too."

More news at 11.

Simple Solution (3, Funny)

rhartness (993048) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828249)

"Dammit! 'Somebody' has leaked the film..."

Re:Simple Solution (4, Funny)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829169)

Probably a rogue trader.

Torrent? (1)

Is0m0rph (819726) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828251)

Torrent link anyone? Seems like that's where it will be headed.

Games Workshop has a lot to learn about fandom (4, Insightful)

ArchAngelQ (35053) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828317)

They've done a lot to undermine their fans for years. That they are now buggering this up surprises me not at all.

They have many creative individuals working for them that I respect, but as a company, they have basically sucked to be a fan of for YEARS.

And really, their background material is largely 'borrowed' from other fantasy and sci-fi sources anyway, so that they should be so very protective, when the movie will just bring them more exposure and act as a huge advert for them, seems utterly ridiculous.

Re:Games Workshop has a lot to learn about fandom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19829845)

True dat. I recall reading that Blizzard were huge fans and wanted to make their games in the GW universe, but were refused a license.

So what we got was basically:

Diablo ~= Heroquest
Warcraft ~= Warhammer
Starcraft ~= Warhammer 40K

GW really knows how to reach fans! (4, Interesting)

HexRei (515117) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:GW really knows how to reach fans! (2, Insightful)

3chuck3 (512455) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828705)

And Tryranids and Necrons...

Re:GW really knows how to reach fans! (1)

RedHat Rocky (94208) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828915)

Agreed, and I speak as a recently-stopped Warhammer 40k player.

GW has gone significantly south in the last few years, along with its magazine/catalog White Dwarf.

From Peter Haines whining about "the internet", Jervis Johson pontificating about "Just Play for Fun" without allowing reader feedback (Hey Jervis, why tournaments then?).

This is just one more spike in the pudding.

Re:GW really knows how to reach fans! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19829557)

Got any links on what Haines and Johson have to say?

Your comments have me mildly curious how they stack up to the grand implosion of FASA or the disintegration of TSR.

Re:GW really knows how to reach fans! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19829675)

I remember hearing a Games Workshop rep criticizing WotC for selling a game that didn't have all of the parts needed to play. I guess he never bought a Space Hulk expansion set that was missing the auto cannon.

Alien(s) (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828347)

Then they'll modify the content like we saw in the Alien movies, and W 40.000 will seem like a cheap knockoff again.

sell it to games workshop! (2, Interesting)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828375)

its all in the subject line

IP Laws (4, Interesting)

GWLlosa (800011) | more than 7 years ago | (#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?

Re:IP Laws (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828457)

My understanding (limited as it is) is that you cannot sign away "moral rights" in Germany. This has many implications legally. It applies to everything that is copyright-able, such as books, movies, help files for software products, manual, artwork, etc.

There's MUCH more to this story. (5, Informative)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828473)

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.

There, you have it. There's a lot more to this story that's not even mentioned in the summary - it's just another /. IP is EVIL story. Just the summary on Wikipedia is kind of confusing. And to honest, I don't blame GW for putting the brakes on the movie. Wikipedia summary of German copyright law. [wikipedia.org] I'm trying to find more English versions, but even then, I'm not a lawyer, let alone a German lawyer.

There's more to it than GW maliciously hurting fans.

There's MUCH more "/." to this story. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19828699)

"There's more to it than GW maliciously hurting fans."

Well there's the page hits and the warm feeling of being manipulated for them.

Re:IP Laws (3, Informative)

EikeHein (686534) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828505)

Indeed, this has implications for European open source developers as well. The FSF Europe's mechanic for dealing with this problem is called the "Fiduciary License Agreement" (FLA) which works by giving $central_body a license that allows it to e.g. relicense code contributions made by the copyright owner. Press coverage on the FLA: http://www.linux.com/articles/60129 [linux.com]

Re:IP Laws (5, Informative)

Zatic (790028) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828515)

You can't sign away Urheberrecht, which simply states that you are the original creator of a piece of art. Kinda makes sense to me.

They could sign over the copy/distribution/whatsorever rights with no problem. But still GW can't say that they created this movie. Which they haven't. That's all there is to it.

Re:IP Laws (2)

mocm (141920) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828587)

I don't know if this is the relevant part of German copyright law,but it states that in case the work is resold, the original author can get a percentage of the price. This right cannot be signed away. But is limited by a 12500 Euro cap.

Re:IP Laws (2, Informative)

Gorath99 (746654) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828621)

IANAL, but this may be about the moral rights [wikipedia.org] of the authors, which includes things like the right of attribution. In some countries/jurisdictions these rights can go quite far and cannot be transfered or waived. For instance, in The Netherlands, artists can object to defilement of their work. This can have nasty implications, for instance, when you want to alter a building you own in a way that the architect or interior designer objects to. My alma mater [www.uu.nl] cannot alter the interior design of one of its libraries for this reason.

Re:IP Laws (1)

lastninja (237588) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828843)

Are they allowed to tear it down completely?

Re:IP Laws (1)

Gorath99 (746654) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829037)

Yes, that they are, fortunately. The Dutch supreme courts have ruled in 2004 that demolishing a building does not violate the moral rights of the architect. (The LJN number of that case is AN7830, for those who are interested.)

Re:IP Laws (2, Informative)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828991)

What you cannot sign away is the fact that you are the creator (Urheber). If you are an employee, it is a different story.

You can however sign away commercial rights (usage, protection).

This is what the German Wikipedia says (and what I recalled).

CC.

Well, duh (5, Funny)

slapout (93640) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828387)

1. Leak film on bittorrent.
2. ?
3. Profit!

Why doesn't GW just build a public website (4, Insightful)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828391)

....for fans to submit work? Videos/art/themes/scripts/mods/etc.

GW gets the credit and any revenue generated; fans get to be creative.

If I was their CEO, that's the way I'd do it.

Re:Why doesn't GW just build a public website (1)

SterlingSylver (1122973) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829209)

So GW creates a website where fans upload to their creations, giving up their rights in exchange for the opportunity to be creative? Great idea! Except that German copyright law forbids fan-creators doing this. I guess GW could block german fans?

I'm not a GW defender here, but this seems to be a case of copyright law not giving enough flexibility to allow for fans to create works based on the copyrights of others.

Re:Why doesn't GW just build a public website (0, Troll)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829269)

So GW creates a website where fans upload to their creations, giving up their rights in exchange for the opportunity to be creative? Great idea!
Ever heard of youtube.com? It'd work like that.





slashdot = eager to assume

Call it a parody instead (4, Interesting)

athloi (1075845) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828393)

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.

Re:Call it a parody instead (2, Interesting)

iAlta (1098077) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828441)

Probably won't work, since ... it's not.

Re:Call it a parody instead (4, Funny)

bigdavex (155746) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828625)

Call it a parody instead. Then it's legal.

Hmmm. What if we call it a banana?

Unsurprising. (2)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828415)

Games Workshop has a history of not only keeping a stranglehold on their IP, but also doing their damnedest to control resellers as well. If there were a way to make miniatures self-destruct on contact with non-GW paint or scratch-built gribblies, you can bet that they'd implement it without blinking, and declare that all of the old miniatures are tournament-illegal. The idea that they might have to trust another outfit, even one so tiny as a bunch of hard-core fans, is utterly anathema to them.

Re:Unsurprising. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828833)

If there were a way to make miniatures self-destruct on contact with non-GW paint or scratch-built gribblies, you can bet that they'd implement it without blinking
Haven't touched their stuff since I grew up (I mean, became a boring old fart), but does their paint still suck like it used to?

Re:Unsurprising. (1)

BlueCodeWarrior (638065) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829091)

Warning: I've only been a hobbyist for about two years. Their individual paints are fine. They've released a new line called "Foundation Paints"....aka paints that actually cover in one coat. However, they've totally screwed up their primers. They've stopped making the good stuff and just started selling Krylon, basically....it's horrible.

Unsurprising Indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19829167)

As the company has grown, there has been a change in the impression they want to give.

In the 80s it was basically just a weirdo factory where plenty of pot was smoked during any creative work. At least that's how it looked like. In the 90s they got a lot of market share simply by keeping their product line consistent while other manufacturers did some horrible mistakes. GW introduced the regiment box, a (relatively) cheap way to build larger units for fantasy wargaming. Other companies sold random RPG models and small warbands. GW sold a product which usually led into armies of hundreds of models. Guess who won.

Back then the general attitude was "let's play some games with toy soldiers and enjoy the goofiness". However, when the company became more and more investor-friendly, the fun had to go. Now they're trying to look extremely professional. No jokes. No silly cartoons. No crazy sales. The model production has become more professional, the rules haven't. Mediocre games + arrogant attitude + the whole focus on recruiting young kids to the hobby = lots of pissed off veteran gamers.

Anyway, the point is that their current style is "We are teh bestest. You buy our products and STFU." They have cut off practically every single feedback channel. They do not take fan-made material into their publications. They refuse to admit that anyone else can do anything worth mentioning. After you realise this, it's not surprising at all that they ban fan films too. It doesn't fit into their "professional" image but violates their "valuable IP" (read: every single fantasy/scifi cliche ripped off and trademarked with slightly different names).

Unfortunately there are very few serious competitors. That's why fantasy wargaming is still controlled by the EE and they can get away with stuff like this. Quite sad, really, but that's how it goes. GW won the toy soldier wars and now it reaps the profits. For every veteran who quits there are five newbies who go "ooh, elves!" without knowing the filthy details. I can't see major changes coming to the situation anytime soon. So shut up and buy, just like before.

Here's what I don't understand (1)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828491)

Ground isn't being broken here. Plenty of fan flicks have been created and distributed for everybody to see and the net benefit is more interest in the product...

The fucktards are short sighted idiots who will undoubtly realize their stupidity when their fan/customer base up and leaves...

You're only as good as your last [insert thing of interest].

wow.. Evil Empire of the tabletop world, evil? (1)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828567)

.. imagine that.. .. among most of the tabletop/(non PC) gamers, GW is well known as 'the Evil Empire' of the tabletop world.. this is just another shiny example.. big deal..

I'll admit I bought a few of thier things.. promptly modified them to be more realistic (why do evil robots need axes on the end of thier particle cannons? oh wait.. they dont.. THEY ARE EVIL ROBOTS!!!).. and used them for non-GW uses... hurray hurray!

Here's what *I* don't understand (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829561)

Why would they need any kind of "permission" from Games Workshop to begin with? Games Workshop sells miniatures, i.e., objects. Saying that the people buying the miniatures aren't allowed to make a movie with them is as absurd as IKEA saying I can't make a movie featuring my coffee table!

Fascinating IP Policy (1)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828507)

As far as I can tell, everything that's not allowed by fair use (in the U.S.) is forbidden. If memory serves, the U.K. has no 'fair use' provisions in its IP law, so it may technically be more permissive than the default U.K. policy. Either way, it does seem like it hurts the fans without helping Games Workshop make any money.

Relic just made a game for this last year. (1)

Safiire Arrowny (596720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828517)

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.
Ok, but they just signed Relic enough rights to make a game about Warhammer so what the hell?

Games Workshop gives fans the shaft yet again... (1)

spocksbrain (1097145) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828521)

This coming from the company that does the equivalent of LEGO selling unpainted/uncut plastic minifigs for 15 bucks a pop.

Re:Games Workshop gives fans the shaft yet again.. (1)

Craig Maloney (1104) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829443)

$15? Try $20-30 for anything remotely interesting.

They definitely are about gouging the fans. I have a can of $10 acrylic primer to prove it. :) (That's white acrylic spray paint for the rest of you folks).

If anyone wants to know... (3, Informative)

jdb2 (800046) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828535)

... "damnatus" means condemned. (perfect passive participle of "damno"/"damnare" -- "to condemn") YIAALG Yes I Am A Latin Geek jdb2

Re:If anyone wants to know... (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828769)

Yeps, and (for completeness sake) der Feind im Innern ought to mean "the enemy within", but then again I'm not too good at German :)

Re:If anyone wants to know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19828813)

Frankly, I don't give a condemn.

Desperately clinging for relevence (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828565)

This sounds alot like what has happened in the past with Paladium and WoC. Though im sure I will piss off some diehard ccg players and d&d geeks, face it their business if not dying is surely shrinking. Rather than embrace the technologies that are making them irrelevent they have chosen to mostly ignore them and instead bolster attempts to "protect" what they have to the point of turning away their audience.

If it was my film i'd swap some of the characters around..throw in a semi rediculous sub plot and call it satire.

Re:Desperately clinging for relevence (1)

Gorkamecha (948294) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828819)

So you're suggesting they call it Starcraft [starcraft2.com] the movie? ;D

Re:Desperately clinging for relevence (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828881)

As much as I agree, Wizards has been doing a lot better than TSR ever did, given its massive diversification-- and that Open Gaming License thing was at least some sort of polite-ish gesture to fans, compared to the TSR lawyers who would come down on fansites that dared to breathe the term 'armor class'.

Generally though, yeah. Aside from the occasional official site, few gaming outfits have done anything to embrace a changing marketplace. Sure a few have sold PDF downloads of their source material, but by and large those tend to be copy-protected and sold at nearly the cost of retail hardcovers.

Hey (1, Insightful)

Ren.Tamek (898017) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828675)

Hey! These guys are masters of business here, they've been in charge of the miniatures market in the west for 25 years, they know what's best for their business, even if it seems like it might not be in the fans best interest. I heard they once pumped thousands in development costs some some crappy RTS, and then had the forethought to ditch the company before the whole money sucking company before it they released it and it went under. Good thing they jumped off that sinking ship, lemme tell you...

I'm a diehard GW fan (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Look at the bright side... (1)

Spudtrooper (1073512) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828725)

The world has just been spared another game-based film holocaust. Now if we can just somehow shut down Uwe Boll...

Warhammer.... (-1, Troll)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828757)

... is lame.

That is all.

Games Workshop - Emipire to the End. (1)

deweycheetham (1124655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828809)

Games Workshop always was the biggest control freaks out there. These Brits could have ruled the Gaming World, but decided to keep changing the Rulz. How Un-British!!!

GW doesn't care about fans. (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 7 years ago | (#19828899)

They're just in it for the money.

Warhammer's title has a typo. As it's a reminder of the minimal buy-in price for a decent, tournament-official army.

Warhammer $40,000

Don't get me wrong, GW's minis are the shit. But between their money-grubbing and the paint-scheme nazi fans...

FUCK...THAT...NOISE.

Don't even get me started on WHOL.

E-mail to Games Workshop (4, Insightful)

alexgieg (948359) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829025)

An e-mail I just sent to Games Workshop Customer Service [mailto] :

Dear Sir,

Over the last months, since I discovered about the Warhammer 40,000 franchise, I had read many positive reviews on what seems to be a really nice fictional universe with some pretty good games based on it.

However, after reading today's Slashdot article (link below) on how Games Workshop is bullying the producers of a German fan movie based on the Warhammer 40,000 universe, I must confess your misguided approach to the situation caused my interest to drop into nothingness.

Link to the Slashdot article:
http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/07/11/ 1536240 [slashdot.org]
(I advise you to read both the article and the community comments below it.)

Thus, I'm sad to inform you that, effective today, I'm not only utterly uninterested on your games, but actively boycotting each, every and all products based on each, every and all pieces of Games Workshop intellectual property. I'm also advising all my contacts (those who play games and video-games, and those who read fantasy and sci-fi to do the same.

The moment you drop your bullying tactics towards fans is the moment I'll think about becoming one. Before that, sorry, but it's too risky.

In the meantime, I hope you take the backlash on your decision wisely, for your PR and legal departments certainly don't seem to understand how the fan/producers relationship is developed and maintained in the new world of 21st century Internet. The geometric progression you'll experience on this matter in the following days will surely be instructive, provided your management shows some willingness to learn from it.

Farewell, and good luck.

Sincerely,

Alexander Gieg
Sao Paulo, Brazil

Re:E-mail to Games Workshop (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829673)

Nice email. I'd love to know if you get a response from them.

Re:E-mail to Games Workshop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19829757)

"Hey John, Some guy from Brazil just complained about the damnatus thing and told us he'd never buy any of our products."
"WHAT?!?!? OMG, GET THE CEO ON THE PHONE!!! Mr. CEO? We have a problem. Some guy in Brazil is pissed about the whole Damnatus thing and said that he wouldn't ever buy one of our products! I know, it's horrible sir. Well, sir, I think company-wide suicide may be the only option! Really sir? That's great sir! I'll get right on it! You call the press conference!"
"What did the CEO say?"
"Well, after he stopped crying, he said he was going to call a press conference where he will scourge himself and then dive into a big vat of vinegar. Meanwhile, I have to track this guy down, and offer him my kidney and inform him of our commitment to never ev-" ...and then you woke up.

crush elvish imperialism! (1)

shar303 (944843) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829055)

i used to feel slightly guilty for the lead figures (fully painted) that i pinched from their little shop in Hammersmith; now i shall dust the nicer ones off and enjoy them without the tinge.

thanks Games Workshop!

A Lesson Learned (2, Insightful)

tentac1e (62936) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829115)

The links don't provide any details on what "go ahead" means, and there was no link to this copyright law they are talking about, so maybe I'm wrong. But it looks like these people spent years on a project without getting any clearance in writing. It sucks you had an unwritten agreement, but this will teach you to do your research.

A few months ago, I was in a short that went through the process of clearing the rights to a song by The White Stripes. The director contacted their management, who took a look at the film and a few weeks later sent a contract (signed by Jack White) licensing the song. They didn't charge us a cent, but stipulations include not distributing the film commercially. Was it annoying jumping through legal hoops for one song? Yes, but that's how copyright law works, and that's how real filmmakers make films.

You can either get written clearance before starting the project, accept that your film can be yanked at any time, or take the road of greatest artistic integrity and create original source material.

Re:A Lesson Learned (1)

EikeHein (686534) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829259)

> The links don't provide any details on what "go ahead" means, and there was no link to this copyright law they are talking about, so maybe I'm wrong. But it looks like these people spent years on a project without getting any clearance in writing. It sucks you had an unwritten agreement, but this will teach you to do your research. One thing they (Games Workship) did do, however, was promote the movie project in their own official magazine publication, the "White Dwarf". While not being a written permission, it does serve to illustrate how hypocritical GW's turn-around is on this one.

Re:A Lesson Learned (2, Informative)

EikeHein (686534) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829291)

One thing they (Games Workship) did do, however, was promote the movie project in their own official magazine publication, the "White Dwarf". While not being a written permission, it does serve to illustrate how hypocritical GW's turn-around is on this one.

Must've grad'd from the RIAA PR school... (1)

The_REAL_DZA (731082) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829163)

...they're not using all the same tactics (yet) but they have the school spirit about right.

Letter to GW (1)

techsoldaten (309296) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829265)

Dear Legal Department -

I am writing to express my severe dissatisfaction with regard to the decision made by Games Workshop as to the organization's IP policy related to video productions. More specifically, I am concerned to hear about the process that was used to determine the company's stance with regard to the fan-produced movie Damnatus and how several years of labor from hobbists / enthusiasts was wasted producing something while internal deliberations took place.

With all due respect for the valuable intellectual property of Games Workshop, the core audience you market your products to are hobbists who engage in similar types of creative activities and who would be rightfully outraged to think that an arbitrary legal process can wipe out several years of creative endeavor. It is simply wrong to let people invest years of their time and energy in an effort your company is fully aware of while clarifying legal issues on your end no matter how onerous the international process may be. At the very least, Games Workshop should consider selling the producers a license (non-transferable, at a severely discounted rate, and with provisions limiting the group's ability to make money off the materials) to enable them to publish the film as recompense for your legal department's incompetence in clarifying the issue.

Please regard this as more than a statement of disagreement. I can envision numerous scenarios under the terms of your IP policy which could be used as a form of protest here in the US and will be happy to organize such events and promote them should the creators of this film not be offered some means of sharing their work. Visiting emergency rooms en masse in your t-shirts chanting 'BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD'; public prayers at funerals to the Lord of Decay for disease and pestilence (with proper attribution offered at the top of our lungs); handing out graphic background text solicitations for Slanesshi Pleasure Parlors at junior high schools that fully credit Games Workshop; many things come to mind.

I stopped playing with your minatures in my teens and have better things to do than protest your decision. I hope you will find a better way to treat the people who enable your company to operate and find someone more responsive to handle inquiries into the use of Games Workshop material.

Regards,
A Really Paranoid IP Freak

Re:Letter to GW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19829309)

With all due respect for the valuable intellectual property of Games Workshop, the core audience you market your products to are hobbists who engage in similar types of creative activities and who would be rightfully outraged to think that an arbitrary legal process can wipe out several years of creative endeavor.
It's spelled "hobbits."

Just change a few names around... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19829319)

...and base it on Warcraft. Afterall, they're pretty much the same thing.

Re:Just change a few names around... (1)

penp (1072374) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829577)

Warcraft is a knockoff of Warhammer to begin with. However, the film in question would actually be based on Warhammer 40,000, which bares a closer resemblance to Blizzard's Starcraft universe. I wonder how that happened?

Re:Just change a few names around... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19829843)

You DO realize that Warhammer 40k predates Starcraft right?

Re:Just change a few names around... (1)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829887)

40k came before Starcraft. Having said this, most of 40k is taken from Dune, Star Wars, and Starship Troopers (the novel, not the awful movie)

GW's business plan (1)

Talgrath (1061686) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829333)

1. Absolutely crush any fan-based creativity so only you can create new material for the game without being sued. 2. ? 3. Profit? Seriously, Games Workshop seems to be run by complete idiots now, take a hint from the video games that so many of your potential fans now go to, people like to create fan movies and content; it helps your image and ultimately helps you sell stuff, embrace it! It's odd, a few years ago Games Workshop seemed to be on the road to a big return to doing extremely well again, but now I'm thinking they may start bleeding money again.

seems like bad publicity (2, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829417)

On one hand, I know the law-weasels need to defend the IP to prevent someone else from coming along later and saying they have a right to it since nobody else was speaking up for it. It is an unpleasant but necessary bit of stewardship. On the other hand, ham-fisted and draconian enforcement will cause more harm than good. Why not have the fan filmmakers sign an official licensing agreement and just set the cost as something nominal like $1? GW can then show that the IP was defended, the movie was legally produced and distributed, and thus IP is defended and the realm is secure?

Obnoxious.... (3, Interesting)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829425)

...and after finding the link to their number, 1-800-394-4263, at their Contact Page [games-workshop.com] , 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 [starwreck.com] 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"....

Petition (1)

the Grimnok (1126759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829575)

I havent read it here, so this is a link to one petition against GWs behaviour and just the first step! Its more to collect a number of fans and supporters and get people informed then to change GWs mind, but it might work

and here... (1)

Mr.TomatoMan (1126695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829665)

And here comes the link ;) [url]http://www.petitiononline.com/damnatus/petiti on.html[/url]

For what it's worth (not much): (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829783)

(sent to custserv@games-workshop.com):

Dear Sir or Ma'am,

I am writing in regards to your decision to withdraw permission for the release of the fan-created film Damnatus, based on your Warhammer 40,000 universe. While I understand the economic necessity of protecting your intellectual property, I also have a difficult time believing there is no acceptable license under which it is possible for a group of such obviously dedicated fans to release a work that has been four years in the making - moreover, four years during which the makers had your approval.

I will admit, though I have fond memories of playing Necromunda and Blood Bowl, and while I dabbled briefly in Battlefleet: Gothic, I have not involved myself to any degree in Warhammer 40,000. However, even as a largely non-fan, the Damnatus project (which I only learned of recently) had piqued my interest enough to begin dusting off my Battlefleet: Gothic miniatures. This move on your part, however, has sapped my enthusiasm.

Prior to this, I was at worst a disinterested party, respectful of the pastime you sell. Given this behavior, however, I have switched from disinterested to evangelically negative. While I will not claim to speak for dozens of people, I can assure you that my gaming group will not be purchasing any of your materials. In addition, I have already secured permission from one of my local gaming stores to post a flyer describing the situation.

From my point of view, what could have been a positive publicity event for you - even if a relatively minor one - has been transformed into an episode which will generate nothing but distrust, resentment, and disappointment among the very people you depend on most: the dedicated fans of your games, your miniatures, and your universe.

Sincerely,
Matt R. Cherwin

sick of GW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19829815)

I don't know anything about this story in particular, but I'm sick of GW in general. I used to play some of their games. Among the top peeves I've heard about them:

* games are expensive, and they raise prices too often

* a few years back they decided they could make more money by forbidding retailers from selling their products online; I think the rationale is: if the only online store is the official GW store, they'll make more money on the sales.

* crack down excessively on any use of their IP. No putting up one of their pictures on your fan website. None of that.

* horrible rules maintenance. They'll put out a new book and sometimes the FAQs and errata will practically beat the book out the door (and you're left wondering why you bought a rulebook with so many errors in it.) Other times (like the main rulebook to 4th edition 40k) a books is out for years with clearly ambiguous rules and they won't say anything. And also, need I point out, you have to collect a dozen rule books and subscribe to their magazine to be sure you have all of the rules to a game...

* they put out perhaps the worst piece of software I've ever paid money for in the form of army generators for 40k.

* making armies obsolete in new editions of the rules.

* they market to kids. Fair enough. They don't have to treat everyone like children on their online forums (although there was a lot of immaturity there.) Problem solved though: they closed their forums awhile ago.

* they have some strict rules on minimums that stores can order. The game is a niche anyway. Forcing the little stores to buy more of their expensive merchandise than they think they can sell ends up with some stores stopping to stock their stuff altogether.

* declining standards; their magazine used to feature some of the most detailed painting around. Lately, they claim they want to show people "realistic" standards. (Probably, they don't want to pay talented people to spend all that time on it.) Why would I pay money to see pictures of average-looking stuff? Also, they used to talk about "WYSIWYG" -- What You See Is What You Get. Meaning, you have to model everything on your army men that they're supposed to have. Lately, I've heard talk of "counts as" -- meaning you can go ahead and use the wrong figures. So much for "modeling" -- just use whatever you want, I guess?

Yep, I'm sick of GW alright. I won't even bring up any perceived problems with how their games play. The company sucks.

GW Attitude (1)

draevil (598113) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829865)

Unfortunately Games Workshop has had a generally retrograde attitude to copyright/IP for a long time. They take all the fun out of the game/environment due to their obsession with protecting their "IP".

This spreads and if you check out the interviews with Warhammer Online peeps, they consistently talk about a feature "coming from the IP" when I think the correct term they were reaching for would be "it comes from the backstory" or the warhammer world. This transformation of all ideas, plot lines, concepts into mere chattels is a sloppy way of thinking of the world and ultimately chokes all creativity beneath a web of artificial scarcity wherein nothing new is born and all that remains is to be jealously guarded and traded under fiendishly odious terms.

I recall going to the GW web site years ago and downloading a pdf of rules for a particular, I think Tyrannid, unit. I was astonished to have to agree to a license just to download the pdf and that the license effectively prohibited me from even giving the file or the physical copy to another person. This would make gaming with the information quite difficult I suppose. I would have to shield their eyes from the offending document until I had either established whether they had the appropriate license for the photons to reach their retinas or direct them to download their own entirely identical stream of bits.

And so the world turns I suppose...

I'd consider threatening legal action. (3, Insightful)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829869)

If GW gave them the okay and they can prove this, and the people making the film invested time and resources into the project in the belief that they were allowed to, only to have the plug yanked, then that puts them in a position to sue for their time and money.

It seems ridiculous to even suggest that one should fight with the very group that inspired them, though. The whole world-wide hoopola over intellectual property we're investing so much time and anxiety into these days is totally nuts. --I've talked to teachers who tell their kids not to copy pictures out of books because it's copyright infringement. How crazy is that?

Of course, I also find it interesting to note that War Hammer is all about hyper-competitiveness, focusing every last atom of one's soul upon the annihilation of your opponents. With that kind of crazy-selfish thinking, is it any wonder GW is acting this way? "I AM THE KING OF THE HILL. MINE! ALL MINE! NOW, DIE!!!"

You don't see the Harry Potter franchise trying to stomp out fan fics. Or who knows? Maybe you do. The world is crazy enough.


-FL

waiver? (1)

WingedEarth (958581) | more than 7 years ago | (#19829873)

Isn't Games Workshop estopped from changing their minds now after the producers spent their time and resources making the film, based on their detrimental reliance on the initial go-ahead? Doesn't laches apply here?
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