- where we learn to be a better painter!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Faeit 212 aftershock: How to protect yourself from the GW Legal Department

Bad Boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do 
when GW comes for you?

When I wrote about Natfka's popular Faeit 212 blog had been taken down by our beloved Games Workshop Legal Department yesterday morning, I did not really anticipate the big response that our little blog entry would receive. 

In the last 24 hours, about 10000 people saw our Facebook page entry, about 8000 read the corresponding posts and many of you took part in the active discussion that followed. I would like to thank each and every one of you for sharing the posts, getting your friends involved and contributing to the discussion via comments, messages and forum discussion. 

Clearly, there is a lot of interest in the subject.

The decision by Games Workshop to phase out all of their Specialist Games from their product range got almost lost in the excitement. 
So many clever decisions by GW, where do we start....

So, what now? Are YOU safe from the GW Inquisition?

We heard Gary (Natfka) talk about trying to get Faeit 212 back online and - if that fails - starting a new blog. We at will support him in any way possible to get back on his feet and I know many of you will to.

What do you mean you didn't expect us?
We are the GW Inquisition!
Ruthless efficiency, yada yada yada!
But the question remains: What is legal, what is illegal? When will the Games Workshop hammer smother you and your FB posts, blog, forum, commission service, workshops...?

There is a lot of confusion and since very complicated international laws are involved, the amount of half-informed half-truths we found in the last 24 hours was skyrocketing. 

What can we write about, what can't we write about? What are the legal implications? To which degree is Games Workshop allowed to interfere with or hobby or to threaten us legally? 

Games Workshop & us

First of all, I need to define some of the terms that we use here on this blog. 

Our company name is "学・Manabu". The character and the word 'manabu' mean: Learning. Its my homage to my two years in Japan, which truly changed my life. Consider and as 'brands' of this company, if you like.
Season 1 - Target Identfied
Scheduled for June 2013
Basically we are just three doods that have committed our working life to advance and grow the miniature painting & gaming hobby. And all profits go back to the community and to charity. We just want to have fun and lead a fun life doing something we believe in.

For our instructional DVD-Sets we decided to not use Games Workshop products for fear of them shutting us down. We simply cannot afford to have a 50000€ investment killed by some legal department running amok. That's why we design, sculpt and cast all the miniatures in our product ourselves. Our casts are much better anyways. Maybe we should call them 'Finer Cast'. =]

Games Days, Event Reports & Constant Fear

Of course, we don't 'only' want to make the best painting instruction DVD sets in the world, but we want to attend international painting events, report from them, post pictures of competition entries and in general communicate the 'joy of painting' (OMG, Bob, don't sue us from heaven!) to a broad public. There will be workshops, additional products and all kinds of stuff that we just think are hoopy and cool! 

I got one of them shiny things!
This year I am going for #2!
May I then write about it, if I succeeded?
Are we allowed to do that? Can I attend a Games Day and actually post pictures? Will Games Workshop shut down or web site? Will they have us withdraw our DVD sets if we showed Ben Komet's Slayer Sword winning entries on the DVD? Can we even show a step-by-step painting or conversion tutorial on any Games Workshop related miniature anywhere - without having to fear legal consequences? Can we hold a workshop with a Games Workshop miniature without fearing Elysian Storm Troopers smashing through the windows to arrest us?

The short answer is: We don't know. 

I do have experience with Interlectual Property Laws from my previous corporate life, but I am not a lawyer. I think GW oversteps their legal boundaries with what they allow us to do and not to do, but I cannot proof it. So what is there to do?

Legal Advice for all - for free

Even before Faeit 212's takedown we had already set up legal council with a specialized IP lawyer. We will ask a lot of questions - many of them Games Workshop related - to find out what's what.
Big Bam-Badaboom for free
Use at your own peril.
And in the next month or two, we will share our findings with all of you who are interested. On this blog. Time between updates will be large (as good things take their precious time), but if you are a blogger, forum owner or user, a commission painter, a workshop holder or in any other way don't just sit in a dark cave with your GW miniature without showing it to your girlfriend... You might want to subscribe to the blog or at least follow us on facebook - we will announce the articles there. 

Of course, we still are no lawyers! So take everything we write on the subject with a grain of salt. 

All we want to provide you with is a solid starting ground if you are interested in the subject matter. 

Maybe someone from GW Legal will even collaborate with us. (Hahaha, I am delusional again, where's me pills, where's me phone, where me keys...?)

We want to make the community GW Inquisition proof. 

And Games Workshop Legal doods - no need to thank us - we do this for free, because we LOVE the community. Look the words 'love' and 'community' up in Wikipedia, if you are confused.

Currently we are busy finalizing our Season 1 DVD set - which we hope to ship out in June (looking good right now, Murphy!). But you can expect the first installment of our 'Inquisition proof' articles as early as next week. 

I would like to ask you to continue supporting us by 

SHARING & ENJOYING our posts :) 

Please leave a comment below, as reading them has the tendency to make us happy :D


  1. Very nice article as always mate.. and very nice what your are doing on behalf of the community. It would be interesting to see how far they decide to toss the ban-hammer, and were it actually sticks. In the meantime, let's do what a community does best and keep together propping each other up as we go along! Happy painting indeed!

  2. have you spoken to someone like the guys from Popehat about pro-bono advice? they may someone who is in the UK who might be able to give advise?

    1. Hey Stubby,

      thanks, I will check them out... Popehat - good name! :D

  3. Thanks for leading the charge to find the truth for us all. Hopefully GW will be bought/sold soon and we can all go back to enjoying the hobby and ignoring the politics :) I still think it's a temporary bit of insanity as they try to bump their shares short term to line up buyers. I hope anyway.

  4. Reactions like this
    make me fear that even if this is the worst step in marketing history, it will work out for GW.

    I always liked GW and i have one other idea. TAU content (as every other) was leaked BUT got overall positive feedback. High Elves did not. Maybe GW wants to avoid "criticism" on some of their Products?

    That would be like "we do not let journalists see a movie before it´s actual release, so that negative critics can´t tend people to not watch the movie" ?!?

    So strange.

    1. Thanks for sharing, did not know that Brueckenkopf will no longer post leaks.

  5. Seems like things are getting way out of hand, dont get what GW are trying to accomplish really :/
    From what I understand theyre not increasing in sales so I dont see why cutting the specialist games would accomplish.

    Though as a sidenote I must also object to your comment "showing it to your girlfriend". Dont just assume all hobbyists are guys. Uncool :p

    1. =] I was refering to my imaginery girlfriend :D
      Actually I met two young ladies today who were discussing airbrushing techniques to weather their tanks, so I feel like I have orthopedic inlays in my shoes: I stand corrected. :D

  6. Very well done piece.

    When we were setting up LXG, Alan, B(&, and I all sat down and discussed the hand grenade that is showing GW models. Since a lot of our blog will be about other companies and other products, we didn't want GW to have the "easy out" to silence our voice by claiming IP infringement. It's odd and strange to me that technically showing ANY support for the company can land you in hot water with them, but to protect ourselves, our product, and our readers we finally decided that showing of *any* GW copyrighted material would not be allowed. Even if we have an article praising how good a new sculpt/product is, the fact that we have that image in there means later if we say or do something to draw their ire (which happens) they could use the images in the "Pro-GW" article to try to shut us down. I'd love to showcase my Black Templars and keep people interested in and talking about 40k... but literally Games Workshop doesn't want us to. So I'll show off my Dark Age and Warzone:Resurrection and Dropzone and Spinespur models instead.

  7. There is a lot of wiggle room for fair use in regards to copyright, particularly as a news provider, or a reviewer... It does vary from country to country however.

    Commission painters on the other hand are probably far more at the whims of GWS, as you would be if you used their products to create painting tutorials you sold...
    Since they provide similar guides (in different forms) you are more likely to be seen as competition and therefore persecuted, before even looking at the legal right and wrong of the whole situation.
    GWS has proven being non for profit or helping a charity is no defence against their legal department.

    Where most companies would be jumping up and down to get this kind of coverage, GWS repeatedly shoots themselves in the foot with their PR, legal and marketing policies, while doing their best to chase away anyone ever to have shown support...

    The way they run the communication side of the business pretty much goes against everything that is recommended in this modern day of enlightenment, but as is often the case they seem to be happy to keep digging themselves deeper than admit whoever is in charge of these policies is utterly out of touch and in need of replacing.

    I would go so far as to say that the "This is how we have always done it" methodology is very strong within GWS, which is recognised in the business world as a very very dangerous mentality.

    Oh well, at least you guys are a part of the larger miniature hobby community meaning if/when GWS fails you'll be less effected. A smart move at this stage.


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