Wednesday, June 6, 2012

More on 3D Printing, the Law and GW




Wired Magazine has a good article updating the legal case of Games Workshop vs. Thomas Valenty.  Of course, the big bad company vs. the little guy is a scenario we have seen before with GW jealousy protecting its IP.  And GW ha every right to.  The question is when does Games Workshop step over the line and try and assert rights it doesn't have.

I have done a previous article on 3D printing and the law (and you can see all the articles I wrote on 3D printing here).

The relevant part is that Michael Weinberg, a senior staff attorney with Public Knowledge, a group that advocates for consumers’ digital rights, isn’t even sure Valenty infringed on Warhammer’s copyrighted designs, because Games Workshop is accusing him of creating miniatures in the style of the game, and you can’t copyright style.

The questions involved in Games Workshops case against Chapterhouse Studios also show GW potentially over-reaching in its interpretation of the law.  And while Chapterhouse certainly were sloppy and careless in their use of GW trademarks/copyrights, and may suffer because of it, GW also seems to like to assert more rights than are apparent in the law.  But then again, that is a legal tactic, always ask for the moon and let the judge/jury cut you back.

The 3D litigation is potentially a losing issue for GW because once 3D printers are ubiquitous and everyone is making their own models, GW will have to adjust its business model.  They may even decide to sell their kits' 3D files so you actually print out your models if you have a 3D printer.  As it is, players are getting tired of the ridiculous price increases and are looking for alternatives.  The hobby has to get cheaper, because the economy just doesn't justify GW's price increases and players are all getting tired and looking for alternatives.

So a lot of issues at play here.  

Loken.

13 comments:

BlackSwords said...

I'm all for alternative models etc and have bought from plenty of 3rd company producers, but when they start making things that are carbon copies of gw stuff (like chapterhouses landraider conversion kit)you can't blame GW for unleashing the legal department.

Loken said...

Actually, unless you sell those items it is 100% legal. You simply can't make them for "commercial purposes".

Loken

Kalani Hausman said...

The attack targeted items made in the "style" of GW's models, not actual direct copies. GW is attempting to extend design copyright to include all derivitives that follow the same style.

Tom B. said...

One day I'd like to see something like the book "The Diamond Age" I'll buy a license to print my own figures instead of having to ship stuff around the world and print them myself. Need more? buy a new license.

Loken said...

Exactly Tom! How cool will that be? Then GW could stop being a manufacturer and just license IP.

Loken

stompa said...

I've been an ardent supporter of GW for literally decades, but enough already...They will literally price increase themselves out of existence someday, then where will the issue of IP be? If they win against small "mom&pop" operations, what's to stop them from going after those creative gamers who do more for the hobby through their abilities at conversions? I know a few individuals who converted and scratch built models "representing" a major character or monster, etc...Maybe I'm a bit ignorant, but essentially, what's the difference if I make a model with off the shelf 3-D technology, or if I hobble together a model representing Ghazghkull simply because I refuse to pay $50 USD for a single model? If you follow GW logic, they're both infringing on GW copywrite and IP. Again: GW, it's BS. You need to pull your head out and embrass the tech that's rapidly becoming available to the "common man" before the common man turns his back to you.

Greg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Great Escape said...

It would be good for GW to look forward to such changes, but I'm not sure they will.

What bothers me most about GW's economic situation is that they price their stock prohibitively--so that it is difficult for anyone to even buy into the company so they can have even a minor say (or a look at) the financial planning and strategies of the company.

I take it as a sign that GW is driven by partial interests--rather than strictly economic ones. So seeing erratic behavior in terms of pricing, lawsuits, etc. might be more understandable.

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Page 4 of Games Workshop Legal, What you can do, what you can't do.
http://www.games-workshop.com/gws/content/article.jsp?community=&catId=&categoryId=&pIndex=3&aId=3900002&start=4

Casting

Do not cast any materials that are based upon Games Workshop material. Games Workshop has to maintain a strict policy on this to fight counterfeiters. We would also remind you that reproduction for personal use is NOT an automatic exclusion in respect of copyright protection in many territories worldwide.


Again for the last and important part of that section.

We would also remind you that reproduction for personal use is NOT an automatic exclusion in respect of copyright protection in many territories worldwide.

Key Words... Reproduction for Personal use (ie 3d Printing, casting, paper crafting, ect...)
NOT an automatic exclusion.

Loken said...

And so you believe whatever you read? Seriously?

Doesn't matter what GW says. What matters is what the LAW says and GW is wrong. You can cast ANYTHING you want for private use. Sorry GW, WRONG. Anonymous poster, WRONG.

Loken out.

Anonymous said...

That's about as right as walking into a movie theater with a camera and recording a movie for "Private Use" because i'd be okay with lesser quality over a higher price.

Anonymous said...

Well... These guys say it legal, and they are on the internet. Must be true.

http://www.alumilite.com/

Person said...

I think it's fine to print certain parts of the models, such as legs and torso's that are limited in each kit, that way you could use those parts mixed with the real parts and it would be no different than using Green stuff with spare parts, or other non-GW plastic bits. For example, the necron Immortal/Deathmark kit could potentially form 15 models with the addition of printed legs and other parts. (Immortal Telsa, Gauss, and Deathmarks) Legality issue has been solved as your are still using GW parts along with "extra" parts.

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