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jpf1982
15-10-2008, 17:00
Is it legal to copy and make available publicly and for free rules for Games Workshop games that are no longer available in print or sold by Games Workshop.

Specifically; I have collected the rules for Warhammer Siege and I have also collected the rules for all Dogs of War including Malakai Makaisson's Goblin-Hewer, and all Ogre Kingdoms models available for hire.

I ask this because most of these rules were once available on GW's websites; but as GW is switching all their websites to the new one these documents are disappearing. In a glorious hobby style effort I have them collected together into .pdf files; but before making them available for public download I wanted to make sure that GW isn't going to come slap me in the face with a lawyer.

Thanks!!!!!

Sergeant Uriel Ventris
15-10-2008, 17:17
Good question. I will post so that I can also hear the answer. I have no legal background, so to say "I think this..." is pretty darn useless.

McMullet
15-10-2008, 17:24
Technically they're still GW IP, and I imagine the copyright agreement when you downloaded them didn't say anything about "Free to distribute..."

It would definitely be illegal to make them available, though whether GW would care enough to sue I don't know.

Grandmaster Abael
15-10-2008, 17:36
Well, guess that they will try to intimidate you with a lawsuit. After all this copy would be a competition to their newer armybooks. Not to mention a possible leading case for future IP-violations. GW is quite hard when it comes down to their IP.

jpf1982
15-10-2008, 17:55
This is why I asked. I know they are a ruthless evil corporation; but these rules were things that they once made available and said "free to copy for games use". I am well aware this does not say "free to distribute", but thought I would ask because I'm sure that I'm not the only person who wants/wanted the rules that can no longer be found. If anybody is a lawyer a little help would be appreciated. :)

ankara halla
15-10-2008, 18:13
Unless you have permission by GW (preferrably written) to distribute copies of them for free in ways you see fit, well... GW propably would have a legal right to prevent you from doing such a thing and given their history, they very well might.

Then again, laws and agreements and copyright issues and such only tend to apply if they are enforcable. This depends on the laws that you exist under. UK law is different to US law and anything that GW (or anybody or -company) might try to enforce as a legal measure is only enforcable if the law permits it. In your case, based on your location, it would be Illinois state law and US federal law where the answers lie. I'm no expert in either, but I would hazard a guess that while it wouldn't be a big deal either way (meaning that if they even notice you, they'd only be able to send you a cease and desist order which you'd have to resist before they'd have any bigger guns to use against you), GW would have grounds to shut you down.

Of course, in doing so GW would be taking a dumb in where they eat, but it is their legal right to do so and in fact they have done exactly so, for quite a number of times, in the past.

It is their right and we have a legal obligation to honour it.

orks2134
15-10-2008, 18:19
The simple answer is NO.

ankara halla
15-10-2008, 18:34
The simple answer is NO.

Thanks to centuries of lawyers running things, no legal answer is simple.

orks2134
15-10-2008, 18:41
Thanks to centuries of lawyers running things, no legal answer is simple.

Well, really though, American law is pretty savage when it comes to copyright issues. So this one is simple! Post GW's content on a website, and they will ask one to remove it, because it is unauthorized use of their content. Simple!

jpf1982
15-10-2008, 18:44
I have discovered GW's legal policies. They actually have a specific policy that states as followw:

-Individuals do not have the right to make any direct copies and/or scans of Games Workshop publications, images, or other materials. This includes any Out-of Production materals, web site materials, and White Dwarf Articles.

Since this is the statement I have to assume anything of theres that has the specific statement at the bottom that says something like "It is okay to reproduce this material for personal use." is cool; but clearly I am not allowed to distribute any rules I have collected. Sorry... Also apologies for answering my own questions, but thought this knowledge may be useful to other people on the forum.

ankara halla
15-10-2008, 18:53
Again, the thing is though, that one shouldn't blindly belive whatever a company or a person or an institution or whatever puts in writing to be of any legal merit.

A policy GW wrote is just that, a policy. They may call it legal policy, but that doesn't make it the law.

However, it is more than likely, that the Illinois and/or US federal law (I guess federal law would override state law in any case, but that's just that, a guess from someone not familiar with the US legal system) would give legal weight to GW's policy in this case.

By rule of thumb, if you don't own explicit permission to do so (either given to you personally or by an universal agreement or such), you can't copy stuff you didn't create yourself for the purpose of distibuting it. Even for free.

Griefbringer
15-10-2008, 19:20
Specifically, the company/person/institution cannot get better legal rights than granted by law by placing legal policies on their products/website. However, they can willingly give up part of their rights if they want (though few companies will).

For example, if your local copyright legislation allows for making a few copies for personal usage, then no amount of legal policies that GW publishes can take that right away from you.

Companies will sometimes come up with all sorts of wild claims of Imaginary Property that they put on their legal disclaimers. These might not be legally enforceable, but they might be handy for scaring people who do not know the actual legislation.

Another issue are specific, written contracts between willing parties - there a one party can willingly give up various rights. For example, a playtester signing a non-disclosure contract and getting a playtest copy could be seriously limited in the things he could do with the copy.

As for the original question, it was more or less answered: in any country that is a member of the Bern convention on copyrights, the copyright owner holds the sole right for publishing a work. That a work is no longer in production, or that it has been previously available freely from the copyright owner, does not remove the right.

Apocalypse
15-10-2008, 19:45
Haha, no it is illegal... if you look at the IP policy GW put up, you can't do ANYTHING... I encourage you to take a look... You can't name your pets, get tatoos, make conversions take pictures... basically anything that we do here on these boards and in our homes in against GW's IP policy.. again PLEASE take a look, so I am no tthe only one feeling betrayed...

ankara halla
15-10-2008, 19:58
Haha, no it is illegal... if you look at the IP policy GW put up, you can't do ANYTHING... I encourage you to take a look... You can't name your pets, get tatoos, make conversions take pictures... basically anything that we do here on these boards and in our homes in against GW's IP policy.. again PLEASE take a look, so I am no tthe only one feeling betrayed...

As has allready been said a number of times in this thread, that is just GW's policy, it's not the law, and there are quite a number of things there that could be challenged in a court if push came to shove.

However, copying and distriputing stuff you didn't create isn't one of those.

Griefbringer
15-10-2008, 20:19
that is just GW's policy, it's not the law, and there are quite a number of things there that could be challenged in a court if push came to shove.


However, putting outrageous claims to your legal disclaimer is by no means illegal, it just means that you cannot enforce them in a court of law.

You can still have your lawyers sending cease-and-desist letters, making calls, contacting your IP providers, threatening to sue you and various other forms of bullying, and a lot of people (especially those less knowledgeable about the real legislation) will rather cave in to your claims than risk a lawsuit, even if you could not back up your claims in front of a court (at least without resorting to the "Chewbacka and Wookies" argument).

BTW: would somebody really want to name their pets after a character or unit type in a GW publication?

zedeyejoe
15-10-2008, 20:21
Is it legal to copy and make available publicly and for free rules for Games Workshop games that are no longer available in print or sold by Games Workshop.

No, because you dont have the copyright.

Doing it for free makes no difference. The fact that they are no longer interested makes no difference either.

The correct thing to do is to contact the owner of copyright (GW) and ask if they will give permission. But to save yourself the effort I can tell you that they will say no.

For more info in copyright, search the internet (as indeed I have done).

PS that was just the start. Since I am currently in dispute with GW over their use of my copyright, I had to go and find a team of specialist IP lawyers, who are certainly not cheap.

orks2134
15-10-2008, 20:39
PS that was just the start. Since I am currently in dispute with GW over their use of my copyright, I had to go and find a team of specialist IP lawyers, who are certainly not cheap.

Really? What did they steal from you?

Grandmaster Abael
15-10-2008, 20:44
I just want bring an interesting sidenote: In Germany we dont have a copyright. The property of an intellectual work remains at its inventor. And that only, if its registered. You can only aquire a usageright from its creator.

@Zedeyejoe: Go for it. Its incredible, how GW deals with other peoples creations.

Griefbringer
15-10-2008, 20:44
For more info in copyright, search the internet (as indeed I have done).


One possible place to start from is the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) website:

http://www.wipo.int/portal/index.html.en

This is the organisation taking care of international treaties regarding legislation on copyright, trademark, patents and industrial design. Some good material, though not necessarily easy reading.

For trademarks and patents, there is likely to be a national registry keeping track of those: these can contain useful information on topic.

And the good old way of actually picking a book of law and reading carefully through your national copyright act is always a good option to get the details correctly, rather than listening to hearsay or simplified versions. Just make sure to check that you have an up-to-date version, since this things tend to get minor changes to them every now and then. More enlightened countries are likely to have up-to-date legislation online, check the website for your national congress/parliament/ministry of justice.



PS that was just the start. Since I am currently in dispute with GW over their use of my copyright, I had to go and find a team of specialist IP lawyers, who are certainly not cheap.

Is it about the usage of VVV transfers in pictures in Warhammer Historical publications?

ankara halla
15-10-2008, 20:50
However, putting outrageous claims to your legal disclaimer is by no means illegal, it just means that you cannot enforce them in a court of law.

Oh, most certainly it isn't illegal, even though me, personally, would like to see people able to prosecute, or at least bitch slap a bit, induviduals/corporations/institutions/etc... that try to pass out their drivel as legally authoritative to the unwary public.

As a rule, I don't think we should have laws that protect people from themselfs, even when they are being willfully stupid (like forcing people who skydive to wear helmets [at least here]... what, you gonna protect that helmet with your body so it doesn't break when you hit solid concrete 300 km/h, cause that helmet sure ain't gonna return the favour...), but even then there's a limit, I belive, in how much could be expected from the regular Bob sixpack, and being intimately familiar with laws and legistlation to the point of being able to distinguish BS from a corporations IP policy can't be expected. Thus, it would stand to reason that it shouldn't be OK for induviduals/corporations/institutions/etc... to get away with it.

You know, it just doesn't make sense ;)

zedeyejoe
15-10-2008, 22:31
Really? What did they steal from you?

They used my transfers (Veni Vidi Vici) in some of their publications. It literally is taking years to resolve.


Oh, most certainly it isn't illegal, even though me, personally, would like to see people able to prosecute, or at least bitch slap a bit, induviduals/corporations/institutions/etc... that try to pass out their drivel as legally authoritative to the unwary public.

Yes you would expect people who work in a legal department to know what they are talking about. However I can say from direct personal experience that some of the statements GW legal make are untrue.

Example, they claimed that GW was a trademark. When at the time the statement was made , they had only applied for the trademark. The sole user of the GW as a trademark at that time was a firm called Glaxo Wellcome (I chatted with their legal dept who are on the ball), And of course trademarks only apply in certain usages and formats. So take what is said with a pinch of salt

Sorry to drone on about technical stuff.

blongbling
16-10-2008, 08:07
i would suggest i, if that si what you wish to do, that you seek legal advice. On here you will get half mutterings and people telling you to do it to fight the power

Griefbringer
16-10-2008, 08:15
I just want bring an interesting sidenote: In Germany we dont have a copyright.


I must admit that my German is quite limited, as is my knowledge on the particulars of German legislation. However, Germany is a member state of the Berne convention, and the German term Urheberechtsgesetzes seems to be commonly translated as referring to copyright legislation. Besides, the English translation on the WIPO website looks (content-wise) pretty much like a copyright to me:

http://www.wipo.int/clea/en/details.jsp?id=976


Oh, most certainly it isn't illegal, even though me, personally, would like to see people able to prosecute, or at least bitch slap a bit, induviduals/corporations/institutions/etc... that try to pass out their drivel as legally authoritative to the unwary public.


Next you would be asking politicians to take responsibility for their promises...



Yes you would expect people who work in a legal department to know what they are talking about. However I can say from direct personal experience that some of the statements GW legal make are untrue.

However, there is a little benefit for a legal department to only stick to the letter of law - it is in their benefits to claim everything possible, enforceable or not. Then there is also the need of the legal department to justify their existence to the company management.

BTW: Why would a Wookiee - an eight foot tall Wookiee - want to live on Endor with a bunch of two foot tall Ewoks?

Grandmaster Abael
16-10-2008, 15:55
I must admit that my German is quite limited, as is my knowledge on the particulars of German legislation. However, Germany is a member state of the Berne convention, and the German term Urheberechtsgesetzes seems to be commonly translated as referring to copyright legislation. Besides, the English translation on the WIPO website looks (content-wise) pretty much like a copyright to me:

Well, maybe i formulated it wrong. I meant that you wont loose your rights at your creation.

For example:

I write a book in Germany and registered it. Now a german publisher wants to print my book. So he buys the right of use from me and sells my book. But all rights at the book still remain at me. So i can in theory sell the right of use to another company a few years later. Or i could write a sequel and sell it to another company. Of course the accord between me and the publisher can include clauses that prohibits other uses by me. But that isnt part of public german criminal law.

Now i go to Great Britain and write another book. A british publisher now buys the copyright. All rights belong to the publisher now and i have no rights anymore at this book. If they want, they can hire another writer, who creates a sequel and there is nothing i can do to stop them.

Ok, this is quite simplified, but i think you can see the difference here.

The_Patriot
16-10-2008, 16:06
Is it legal to copy and make available publicly and for free rules for Games Workshop games that are no longer available in print or sold by Games Workshop.

Specifically; I have collected the rules for Warhammer Siege and I have also collected the rules for all Dogs of War including Malakai Makaisson's Goblin-Hewer, and all Ogre Kingdoms models available for hire.

I ask this because most of these rules were once available on GW's websites; but as GW is switching all their websites to the new one these documents are disappearing. In a glorious hobby style effort I have them collected together into .pdf files; but before making them available for public download I wanted to make sure that GW isn't going to come slap me in the face with a lawyer.

Thanks!!!!!

Under US copyright law no you cannot make the copies available for download. The copyright holder, GW, has the sole discretion on what to do with their publications and they still hold the copyrights to the books in question.

However, there is the Fair Use doctrine. Under the Fair Use doctrine a person can use portions of the work for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. My advice would be to talk to a copyright lawyer and get their opinion.

One further caveat is that a game system cannot be copyrighted under US law. Game systems must be patented under US Patent law. Unless GW has the game system patented under UK or US patent law they cannot prohibit you from using their game system to make your own game. Again, I would advise you to talk to a patent lawyer and get their expert opinion.

marv335
16-10-2008, 16:12
If you're in the UK you should look at this.

http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/copyright_myths

Griefbringer
16-10-2008, 16:47
Well, maybe i formulated it wrong. I meant that you wont loose your rights at your creation.

I write a book in Germany and registered it. Now a german publisher wants to print my book. So he buys the right of use from me and sells my book. But all rights at the book still remain at me. So i can in theory sell the right of use to another company a few years later. Or i could write a sequel and sell it to another company. Of course the accord between me and the publisher can include clauses that prohibits other uses by me. But that isnt part of public german criminal law.

Now i go to Great Britain and write another book. A british publisher now buys the copyright. All rights belong to the publisher now and i have no rights anymore at this book. If they want, they can hire another writer, who creates a sequel and there is nothing i can do to stop them.


I presume that what you are referring to is the transferability of the copyright: that it cannot be transferred from the original creator(s) to another party, except through inheritance. However, the copyright still exists.

What this lack of transferability means that companies or other organisations would have difficulty in acquiring ownership of copyrights, since they could not obtain them contractually. However, through Berne convention Germany would still recognise company owned copyrights in other member countries.

How are the copyrights of translations handled?



One further caveat is that a game system cannot be copyrighted under US law. Game systems must be patented under US Patent law. Unless GW has the game system patented under UK or US patent law they cannot prohibit you from using their game system to make your own game.

While US patent system would allow for patenting of game mechanisms, such is not possible under European Patent Convention, of which UK is a contracting party since 1977:

http://www.epo.org/patents/Grant-procedure/About-patents.html

Thus GW cannot hold any patents over game mechanisms in UK.

However, some of the slottabases might be registered as industrial design or such.

warflag
17-10-2008, 13:11
Well, maybe i formulated it wrong. I meant that you wont loose your rights at your creation.

For example:

I write a book in Germany and registered it. Now a german publisher wants to print my book. So he buys the right of use from me and sells my book. But all rights at the book still remain at me. So i can in theory sell the right of use to another company a few years later. Or i could write a sequel and sell it to another company. Of course the accord between me and the publisher can include clauses that prohibits other uses by me. But that isnt part of public german criminal law.

Now i go to Great Britain and write another book. A british publisher now buys the copyright. All rights belong to the publisher now and i have no rights anymore at this book. If they want, they can hire another writer, who creates a sequel and there is nothing i can do to stop them.

Ok, this is quite simplified, but i think you can see the difference here.

Yes dude, too simple.

Terminologically: Correct. The copyright is in its concept a term that states the economical applicabillity of the IP. The "Urheberrecht" is allready differently translated. It refers to the author, or better, the creator. It is commonly translated as copyight, but that does not actually hit the point.

Technically: Only half correct. You cannot transfer an "Urheberrecht", other than by inheritage. But you can however, transfer the rights to reproduction or any other thinkable usage of the "work". That includes a sole right to distribution. This means: If you have written a book and have transferred the right to distribute the book to a certain publisher completely, then you are no longer permitted to distrubute this book by another publisher. This is freedom of contract. And that would include the usage of the figures mentioned in the work, if that is contracted. (Which it would be, when the publisher made their homeworks)

The only differing effect in Germany is, that whatever intellectual work is done, it can never be created by a company, only by a person. The economical utillisation would nevertheless be subject to the contracts made.

Additionally, in the US there is such thing as an interventional right to the creator, such as is the idea of the "Urheberrecht".

Bottom line:
There are technical differences, the effect is barely measurable.


P.s.: A small example for the interested. A company here in Germany (creator in person unknown) created a certain chip that accellerated a production process for chip production. They did not have the infrastructure to distribute the very promising product. They then transferred the distribution right to another, bigger company. Legally badly informed ( and to a degree pretty damn retarded ) they did not check the conract offered by the distributor. Once signed they found out it was no longer permitted to choose another distributor. Which was no good, as the distributor decided there was to little demand for the chip, and instead sold their own creation, cheaper, worse quality, no competition ;)

th7dude
17-10-2008, 14:29
Is it legal to copy and make available publicly and for free rules for Games Workshop games that are no longer available in print or sold by Games Workshop.

Specifically; I have collected the rules for Warhammer Siege and I have also collected the rules for all Dogs of War including Malakai Makaisson's Goblin-Hewer, and all Ogre Kingdoms models available for hire.

I ask this because most of these rules were once available on GW's websites; but as GW is switching all their websites to the new one these documents are disappearing. In a glorious hobby style effort I have them collected together into .pdf files; but before making them available for public download I wanted to make sure that GW isn't going to come slap me in the face with a lawyer.

Thanks!!!!!


As a book publisher myself I deal with similar problems all the time. Quite simply, no, you are not allowed to sell or distribute Games Workshops materials without their permission. If the company goes bust and nobody buys up their assets then you would be fine. Also, in the UK for example the copyright would expire 70 years AFTER the authors death.

Basically don't do it unless GW lets you. The majority of copyright lawsuits are settled out of court and i doubt you want to worry about that.

Griefbringer
17-10-2008, 18:26
The only differing effect in Germany is, that whatever intellectual work is done, it can never be created by a company, only by a person.

AFAIK in the legislations I am aware of, copyright can only be created by a real person, not by other legal entity such as a company. So for the company to be able to get the copyrights created by the employees during the working hours, there needs to be a clause about that in the work contract.


If the company goes bust and nobody buys up their assets then you would be fine.

Even if the company dissolves, the copyright is unlikely to disappear in the ether. Remember, there are always shareholders (and possibly debtors) to claim the company property.

Pleasurepain
19-10-2008, 22:50
Why are you asking a bunch of internet wargamer geeks if it's okay?

Ask the copyright holder!

zedeyejoe
20-10-2008, 13:52
So for the company to be able to get the copyrights created by the employees during the working hours, there needs to be a clause about that in the work contract.

Very sensible. As is including a use of internet policy. No use complaining that employees are surfing hobby sites at work if you have not forbidden it in the first place.