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Letter from GW to the makers of Damnatus
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Old 03 Oct 2007, 16:15   #1 (permalink)
Shas'Ui
 
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Default Letter from GW to the makers of Damnatus

i found this letter sent from GW to the makers of Damnatus

(Note to Mods: please lock if this in the wrong place or has been posted before)

Quote:
Dear Huan Vu



I am writing in reply to your recent email to Tom Kirby regarding the Damnatus project. I am aware that even the act of writing this note may perhaps leave me open to misinterpretation on various websites and forums. Nonetheless I do want to say at the outset that you should feel free to make this note publicly available should you so wish – please do use the whole note however, rather than selected excerpts.



It is important to Games Workshop that we have a thriving, creative and active fan community. Many of us here at GW are long term gamers ourselves, and enjoy nothing more than assembling, painting and gaming with our armies at any given opportunity. You will find that many of us have dedicated games rooms at our homes, and over the years have accumulated more ‘hobby stuff’ than our respective families can believe. The fact that our fans are likewise so enthusiastic about our background worlds and hobby is a wonderful thing. In many respects all that Games Workshop does is create, protect and develop the environment in which our hobby can endure and hopefully flourish.



So our policy regarding the embellishment and invention of our IP through the medium of fan art and so on is that such materials are welcome, so long as the stipulated guidelines are followed. There is a lot of this material out there, some good, some awful. So long as our guidelines are followed, we are delighted to see this material proliferate.



‘Why do we even have to have guidelines at all?’ you might ask. The simple answer is that we have to be seen to be protecting our intellectual property. Much as we are all fans at heart, we must recognize that Games Workshop is a business. Bluntly, if Games Workshop goes bust, then there is no Warhammer 40,000 – no more models, codexes, novels, gaming conventions and so on. All gone. The foundation of who we are and what we do every day lies with our intellectual property. At the end of the day we don’t think that many people (if any) would take great joy in moving lumps of plastic and metal around a tabletop for the simple intellectual exercise. Whether playing historical, mythological or fantasy battlegames, the intellectual property (the story, characters, imagery and so on) underlying the game is of paramount importance. Intellectual Property could be argued to be the most important asset a business has – perhaps apart from the staff who work with and for the organization.



This means that we simply must protect our IP. We have no choice. To lose control of Warhammer or Warhammer 40,000 is simply unthinkable. So we must be vigilant, and perhaps sometimes seemingly heartless in our decisions to safeguard the IP for the future success of the business and the hobby. The two are inextricably entwined.



Of course, the law offers all manner of protection, so long as we in turn follow the rules for copyright protection, trademark registration, patent applications and so on. The key here is that we too have to follow the rules. Likewise we cannot prevent everything fan-based, even in the unlikely event that we should want to. Free speech thankfully gives certain rights (which of course vary from territory to territory) for the individual to create such things as documentaries, parodies or satirical works on just about any subject.



Now we come to Damnatus. The great endeavour upon which you have embarked is truly to be admired. We do not doubt the enthusiasm, effort, love and time which have been put into this project. Unfortunately such things are not always enough. Like any negotiation, there is a chance that ultimately it will fail to reach a successful outcome – and such a failure is seldom to be celebrated by either party.



In this instance, as you say in your recent email,



‘Three years ago your company contacted us and after some discussion about the phrasing of the legal disclaimer which is to be put in front of the film, a debate about differences between English and German legal systems began to develop which should span more than two years (due to some failed communication attempts). The consequence is: Games Workshop will not allow us to publish our completed work.’



I think this paragraph says it all. Although I have not been directly involved, I understand that efforts have been made over a three year period by both parties to resolve this issue. Indeed, I have a copy of an email >from our legal department to you on 11th May 2005 which clearly stated that we regretfully could not give the permission you sought, and which very clearly explained why. This in turn shows that the issue itself was identified by both parties as very important a long time ago. I am afraid to say that if, despite this ongoing debate and discussion, you decided in the meantime to press on with your work, convinced perhaps that a successful conclusion could be reached, then your optimism and bravery in the face of huge odds is only to be commended.



The fact is that unless all copyright material in Damnatus which in any way pertains to our proprietary Warhammer 40,000 universe is assigned to Games Workshop, it is impossible for us to countenance the release – for free or otherwise – of this movie project. As explained, we cannot have elements of our intellectual property ‘universe’ owned by a third party – you must appreciate the untenable position that would put us in. Our shareholders would frankly not allow it, and we believe that we would be doing perhaps the greatest disservice to our fans and customers.



Unfortunately, it would seem that German law prevents this assignment of copyright. Thus we are at impasse. Without the assignment, there is simply no way forwards.



I believe that is all Games Workshop has to say on Damnatus. For all the reasons briefly outlined it is difficult to see any other solution to this matter. We admire your endeavour, we truly do, but as the custodians of our IP, our business and the Games Workshop hobby, we simply cannot let Damnatus be published without an appropriate copyright assignment or agreement in place.



I should say that this note is not intended as the first ‘shot’ in a negotiating process – we have been in that place for three years and have made our final decision in the best interests of our fans, the safeguarding of the IP and the future success of our business.



Rest assured, there is no capricious, malevolent or ‘big business’ intent or interest at play here – it is simply that as sometimes happens, despite the best efforts of both parties, an agreement has failed to be reached. This is perhaps to be regretted, nonetheless in the final analysis we simply have no choice but to say ‘no’.



Yours Sincerely







Andy Jones

Head of Group Legal and Licensing

Games Workshop
I have to say Games Workshop have a point and i dont think there is anyway they can release Damnatus

Huan Vu went on to reply with this letter

Quote:
Dear Andy Jones,

thank you very much for your email. It is really nice to hear from you and
we appreciate your efforts to make explanations regarding Games Workshop's
decision.

We respect your endeavours towards protecting your Intellectual Property and
we fully understand the importance therein. But what we still do not
understand are the details in your decision process. It would be great if
you could tell us exactly why this fan film had to be stopped. Please keep
in mind that I am not a lawyer and that I am not very familiar with all the
nuances of the English copyright.

I am asking because from our point of view and in the opinion of those who
are familiar with this legal field, there does not seem to be a real
concrete threat to your IP. There are several points that leave us puzzled
and I hope you can shed some light on them:

* Other companies like Lucasfilm and Paramount Pictures allow fan films, not
few coming from Germany. They do not seem to see a threat to their IP in the
German Urheberrecht.

* German Urheberrecht makes it impossible for us to claim your property. If
we cannot pose a threat, does the English copyright still force you to
protect it from us?

* German Urheberrecht does not allow us to give up our creator's right, but
almost all important rights could be transferred to you (otherwise it would
be impossible for a German producer or director to make a film for e.g. the
BBC or a Hollywood studio). What remains are only some minor rights, for
example the right to forbid any alteration on the movie and the exclusive
right to name us as the film's creators. Do these small possibilities of
control bother that much?

* If yes, why are you concentrating on fan films and do continue to allow
short stories, animations and drawings? You're certainly aware of the fact
that all problems you do have with the German Urheberrecht do apply to all
other forms of artistic creation as well. Furthermore, it does not only
affect Games Workshop's devoted fans but also all German employees and all
German artists involved by remittance work, too. The translator in
Duesseldorf is generating inrevocable copyrights as is the artist working
for LARP-providers like Hammerkunst (-> Destroyer of Praag and Nurgle
Champion costume) or Eysenkleider (-> Steamtank in life-size). I do not know
what is written in the contracts you made with these people, but we really
ask ourselves why it should not be possible to treat us the same way and
give us similar opportunities.

I hope you will get more precise so that we can fully understand how you
came to your final decision. Since your legal team spent quite a bunch of
time and effort in trying to sort out this matter, we will likely have to
acknowledge that we are truly faced with an intractable situation. But for
us and all the enraged fans out there it certainly would make the pain
easier if we could get some more insights and I think this is in your
interest, too.

In addition I think it would be great if you could let us get in contact
with the German expert you consulted. I'm not sure if it would work in our
case (since I do not know the concrete issue), but a friend of mine told me
about the so-called 'fiduciary license agreement' which was invented and
established in the field of software engineering, where programmers faced
similiar problems with unrevocable copyrights of German contributors on
specific algorithms:
http://www.germany.fsfeurope.org/projects/fla/
It seems to be a way to outwit the Urheberrecht and therefor I would like to
hear his thoughts on that matter. Perhaps it could be a way out that has
just not been seen yet?
If you haven't already looked into this, then I would really like to know
his name so that I can talk with him about it.


Thanks again and best regards,
Huân Vu
and the relpy to this was

Quote:
Dear Huan Vu

Thanks for your considered and open response. I am afraid that much as I appreciate your efforts to succeed in your ambitions for Damnatus, we have spent three years trying to resolve the issue, to no avail, and need to draw a line under things. We have taken all the legal advice we are going to take on the matter, and as I said in my last note, the time for negotiation and discussion is past. Sometimes we just have to face up to the fact that we have not found a successful path through a particular issue. Whilst this is not to be praised, it is reality, after much time and effort has been spent.

I reiterate that really, everything we have to say on the matter is in my earlier note, and I am sorry that I simply cannot be any more positive at this juncture.

Best Regards

Andy Jones



Who do you agree with?
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Old 03 Oct 2007, 17:19   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Letter from GW to the makers of Damnatus

Pffft. It seems to me that once again GW is refusing to listen and just quoting lines of policy. In no way did they even show an effort to answer the guy's questions or address his points. As far as I see it, all they're saying is "shut up, we don't want to talk about it", albeit in a more polite way. At times like this I wonder why I even bother dealing with them. :-\
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Old 03 Oct 2007, 18:03   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Letter from GW to the makers of Damnatus

Jones is correct, though. GW can not permit anyone else to own their Intellectual Property, and German law prevents the creators of Damnatus from ceding ownership of the IP the movie represents back to GW. So the creators should just do what they should have done all along: release it through uncontrollable channels as a fan movie (which it is) and don't try to protect or claim the copyright at all. It sucks, but they should have known going into this that they were building their story using someone else's setting, and sometimes that restricts where and how you can release it.
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Old 03 Oct 2007, 19:01   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Letter from GW to the makers of Damnatus

Ignorance does not grant a person or group of people the right to ignore the law. It looks like the creators of Damnatus were overly optimistic and sadly ignorant of the laws that govern them. This is not GW's fault and I can not blame them for deneying another company the right to own their IP. If they own the IP they can market it in any way they wish.
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Old 03 Oct 2007, 19:08   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Letter from GW to the makers of Damnatus

Quote:
Originally Posted by greensmurf
Ignorance does not grant a person or group of people the right to ignore the law. It looks like the creators of Damnatus were overly optimistic and sadly ignorant of the laws that govern them. This is not GW's fault and I can not blame them for deneying another company the right to own their IP. If they own the IP they can market it in any way they wish.
I agree. They should have made sure everything was fine before creating a film, instead they have a possibly successful little fan film on their hands that they can't release; such a waste, really.
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Old 03 Oct 2007, 19:23   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Letter from GW to the makers of Damnatus

Agreed. Don't get me wrong, I think the outcome is shit, I would have loved to have seen this, and do think it should be released.

But, as stated, they spent three years attempting to work it out - hardly something they would do if they were just being "evil big company" and the problem lies within the two legal sets.

It happens. Hell, even the Damnatus people seem to have been happy to cede the IP to GW, and are prevented in doing this by law. They all tried all they could, it just couldn't happen.

Quote:
So the creators should just do what they should have done all along: release it through uncontrollable channels as a fan movie (which it is) and don't try to protect or claim the copyright at all. It sucks, but they should have known going into this that they were building their story using someone else's setting, and sometimes that restricts where and how you can release it.
Exactly, and I agree they should have worked stuff like this out before they started making it.
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Old 03 Oct 2007, 20:55   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Letter from GW to the makers of Damnatus

Guys, I think you may be missing this part, or at least misinterpreting it.

Quote:
* German Urheberrecht makes it impossible for us to claim your property. If
we cannot pose a threat, does the English copyright still force you to
protect it from us?

* German Urheberrecht does not allow us to give up our creator's right, but
almost all important rights could be transferred to you (otherwise it would
be impossible for a German producer or director to make a film for e.g. the
BBC or a Hollywood studio). What remains are only some minor rights, for
example the right to forbid any alteration on the movie and the exclusive
right to name us as the film's creators. Do these small possibilities of
control bother that much?
To me this seems that despite the german laws, the creators of damnatus cannot claim GW's trademarks and such as their own. Looking at this section it seems to me that the only rights that they cannot sign away under this law is their right to forbid alteration of their film and the right to have their name in the credits. And with the appropriate disclaimer (which the damnatus crew were sure to have) there could be no mistaking that they were in no way claiming GW's trademarks as their own.

GW's legal guy failed to answer these and other points. To me that just smacks of the sort of attitude I described earlier.



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Old 03 Oct 2007, 22:44   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Letter from GW to the makers of Damnatus

Well the key right was the "right to alteration" (there was never any dispute about the credits). It is their film, yes. But it is about a setting that belongs to someone else. The right to alteration is not minor. When you talk about having the "rights" to something, that is up near the top.

I have to wonder if GW couldn't buy the film from them, though. If GW can provide enough support to claim partial creation, and can pay the original creators enough to claim them as employees, I wonder if it could get past German law.

The creators did check with GW, though. Up until near the end, both parties seemed to be happy with the idea of a disclaimer. It was only when this issue of transferring the rights came up that they stalled. They should have forseen it, perhaps, but it isn't like they didn't try to plan ahead at all.
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Old 03 Oct 2007, 23:03   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Letter from GW to the makers of Damnatus

It's not that Damnatus itself necessarily poses a direct threat, but the fact that they're letting their grip go a bit on their IP rights, that ccould be exploited by someone else. Kind of a slippery slope kind of thing. Would you really want to risk the future of the whole company just so you could see a fan-made movie that might not even be all that good?
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Old 04 Oct 2007, 06:15   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Letter from GW to the makers of Damnatus

this really does annoy me.... it looked good too.

the creators shouldn't have been so stupid to think that GW would ever let them release it properly, they just like to keep an iron fist on their IP, especially recently. they should have just kept it under the radar like every other type of fan fiction and then just dropped it onto bittorrent....

it also seems to me that GW is being very closed minded and refusing to look at any alternatives.....

i am just waiting for the announcement of an official movie, and the doubling of the cost of all warhammer sets to pay for all the suits of power armour that will have to be made for it... :
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