Can I actually defend GW Legal?!

Posted: July 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

Outrageous title I know, and as I stated in my blog a while ago I’m done with GW following their legal attempt to suppress the book Spot the Space Marine.

So just how do I come to be asking the question above?

I woke up today to a tweet from an American Malifaux fan, stating that he had chosen to cease his work on supporting the soon to be superseded Malifaux 1.5. I found this a bit sad as I’m of the opinion that if enough people can band together on the internet there is no real reason that an old version of a game should ever really die.

On this tweet was a link to his website, and the email chain between himself and Wyrd that had resulted in his decision. I headed over to take a peak.

Immediately I saw things on his site that waved red warning flags to me . Don’t get me wrong, the website looked very professional, maybe too much in truth. The more I looked I realised that all the images were taken from Wyrd’s own website, something that is always fraught with issues.

I then went to the download area, expecting links to all the 1.5 documents on the Wyrd site. Nope, they were links to files hosted on his website, against the Terms of Use on the Wyrd website.

The final thing was the name itself, Malifaux Classic. That’s taking part of a copyrighted game name and adding your own unofficial bit. Another red flag to me, Better to create a generic name for your project and state you support Wyrd’s game Malifaux 1.5.

None of the above struck me as following the guidelines for fan works…

And that was when I realised I was applying Games Workshop guidance to creating fan works to Wyrd! I haven’t search extensively on the Wyrd site but I couldn’t find a similar document to the one I’ve come to know from GW.

The document from GW legal lays out in pretty clear English what they find acceptable if a fan wants be creative in one of their universes. Stick to these guidelines and you can quite happily write fiction, produce images and even create stat’s for your creations.

Anyone can create their own chapter of space marines, write as much background as they like. They can even create their own Chapter Masters, giving them in game stats and abilities. GW won’t bat an eyelid. However if you were to start using images from the GW site to represent your character, or attempt to sell your document, you’re on your way to a pointed email asking you to stop at the very least.

For the last four years Epic-UK have been happily complying with this document. Hosted on their website are 27 army lists ready to use with Games Workshop’s Epic Armageddon game, all with the suitable disclaimers and statements as to their unofficial status. They do include pictures of models, but these are either official GW sculpts, or scratch built proxies were no official model exists.

Epic UK don’t host the rules for Epic Armageddon, they provided links to them on the GW website, again as per the guidelines.

So back to Malifaux.

Having read through the email chain between Wyrd and Malifaux Classic there is one part that does cause me to raise my eyebrow, and that was that Wyrd appear to have an issue with fans creating stat’s for models.

This is how I expected fans would continue to support Malifaux 1.5. They would provide amended stat’s for models, and create 1.5 versions of models that are new in version 2. Reading through the email chain it appears that Wyrd would consider such works as IP infringing. I may have that wrong but it’s certainly how it appears to me.

And at that point I suddenly arrived at the original question, can I defend GW legal for allowing their fans, within documented guidelines, be creative in the GW universe?

Oh my god… I think I can!

Everyone check the sky… it could be falling!

Link to GW’s guidance for Fans, go read it – http://www.games-workshop.com/gws/content/article.jsp?catId=&categoryId=&section=&pIndex=3&aId=3900002&start=4&multiPageMode=true

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Comments
  1. docbungle says:

    Nice article and interesting as I had not heard about this complete cut from v1.5

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