Games Workshop Likes A Guy's Warhammer Fanfilms So Much It Hires Him To Do An Official One

from the fans-of-fans dept

Being fully immersed in an era of copyright protectionism, it seems that we’ve become numb to the effects of it in many ways. One of those effects is how fans who create content around their favorite franchises are treated. The basic policy of the entertainment industry towards fan-films and similar creations appears to be that they can either bully those projects out of existence, sue them out of existence, or do one or the other even after confusingly giving tacit approval for such projects. Those are the options in full, as far as most entertainment companies are concerned, while the public looks at those actions and shrugs their collective shoulders. You’ll even occasionally hear noises such as, “Well, what did these fans expect?” All this, keep in mind, for the crime of trying to express fandom, and free advertising for the franchise they love.

Well, if you’re Games Workshop, the company behind the Warhammer 40k franchise, you react to a dedicated fan who has created great fan-films by hiring him to do his thing professionally.

Richard Boylan wowed us with both Helsreach and Guardsman, short, gripping takes on different pockets of the Warhammer 40,000 universe in both animation and live-action. And it turns out he wowed Games Workshop itself, too, because he’s now helping the company make an official Warhammer animated series.

GW has now unveiled Angels of Death, a new animated series set to release from Boylan and his team in 2019.

It’s frankly sad how few media companies take this route, which sure appears to be the optimal one. This is all essentially a combination of encouraging fans to produce otherwise free promotional material for the Warhammer franchise, showing that those efforts might actually be rewarded with paid work if they’re good enough, and garnering the kind of positive PR messaging that can only be cultivated organically. Meanwhile, Games Workshop isn’t harmed in any way, and in fact continues to benefit. And it gets a great marketing campaign for the film, given that it’s produced by a fan, for fans.

It’s cool to see Games Workshop branching out the Warhammer brand like this again—it has tried animated movies in the past, but they’ve been a bit lowkey. Hopefully, by reaching out to Boylan, who’s already proved that he can do great things with animation on a fan’s budget of…well, personal passion, something really cool can come out of Angels of Deathgetting the proper GW seal of approval.

What needs to happen is for this kind of response to become SOP, rather than some weird outlier. If more entertainment companies embraced their biggest fans, rather than trying to bully and sue them, the world would be a more entertaining place.

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Companies: games workshop

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Comments on “Games Workshop Likes A Guy's Warhammer Fanfilms So Much It Hires Him To Do An Official One”

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Rocky says:

Re: Re:

Actually, you are wrong – as usual.

If GW wanted they could have taken Richard Boylan to task for using WH imagery and likeness in his animated shorts, instead they co-opted him.

That’s not enforcing their copyright, it’s disregarding it so they then can increase the market value of their IP with the added bonus of getting new content and happy customers. That’s what “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” was all about originally.

Simian Arklam says:

Re: Re: Re:

You’re absolutely right on that one. While I don’t like W40k universe (more of a D&D guy), I like that choice they made. They could quite easily (and legally) pull off a CBS and kill it like CBS did with that Star Trek fan film *you know which one I’m talknig about) und destroy the creator, yet they didn’t and instead hired him. This is downright admirable on GW part.

Anonmylous says:

Don't hold your breath...

I am not holding my breath for this to be good. Games Workshop is worse than George Lucas when it comes to their IP. Sure, they didn’t issue this guy a takedown (yet) but lets not forget this is the same company that tried to claim a trademark on the term “Space Marine” and bully a ton of authors to force them to use another term and turn over their profits. This is not the first time they’ve popped up on this site for being jerks either.

Trademark bully (Tim, you even wrote this one T_T)

Sues Fansite

Fan-made takedowns

All 3 of the examples from the first paragraph… from the same company, and covered by Techdirt. Don’t laud these people, or hold them up as an example. Its nice to see them doing something right for a change, but its a drop in an ocean and should be at best held up as a cautious story that maybe the “old guard” are starting to see how fans can be beneficial to the brand and not merely consumers.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Don't hold your breath...

It’s right to be cynical, but at the same time you can’t reject them for changing their approach, if that’s what’s been done. Laud them for the change, attack them if they go back on what they promised. Posting links to articles about what they did nearly 10 years ago doesn’t help anyone, if the story is about what the current company is doing right now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Don't hold your breath...

I say it’s perfectly fine to be cynical here. 10 years ago GW would have sued the ever loving crap out of everyone including their dogs.

But GW isn’t run by idiots and have changed a lot due to market pressures. Not because it’s the right thing to do morally, but because it’s the right thing to do financially they have drastically changed how they handle their IP.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Congrats on not shooting yourself in the foot AGAIN.

I’d take a middle ground, congratulating them on getting it right this time, but withholding positive judgement until it happens again(or a few times, just to be safe) to see if this is a sign of a shift in how they deal with matters like this, or a temporary moment of sanity before they go back to the thuggery.

They’ve more than earned a negative reputation for legal thuggery on matters like this, if they want to change that around such that it’s not reasonable to immediately think that this is a temporary blip of sanity before it’s back to the threats it’s going to take some real work on their part.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Congrats on not shooting yourself in the foot AGAIN.

It also requires support on behalf of their audience. If they face the same kind of criticism and lack of support for doing the right thing as they do the wrong thing, why make the extra effort to do the right thing?

Health scepticism is good. “F GW because of what they did 10 years ago” is not.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

What timeline are we in?
GW is insane in the realms of IP & crush first ask questions later is SOP. Perhaps they figured out they need to embrace fans, but I am sure it will be short lived.

Something something GW once claimed ownership of photos taken of their product, by a brick & mortar retailer, to announce they had arrived. Someone might have said loud enough for the rep, making threats on the phone to hear, they don’t own the photos and they can kiss my entire fucking ass. Much back peddling followed after rep talked to the lawyer & lame excuses given that they were policing online sales (there was no shopping cart) with slashed prices (products were sold at MSRP like the contract says they have to). Rep might have heard that same voice, before the call ended, loudly saying ‘What the fsck is wrong with these people? They can’t even bother to make up decent lies when they screw up?’… so I hear…

Anonymous Coward says:

Der Feind Im Innern

This sure is a surprising turn of events given that this is Games Workshop we’re talking about. It certainly is a step up from their handling of Damnatus, the German Warhammer 40k fan film that was initially given the OK by Games Workshop, only to be shut down as soon as it was complete. At least it mysteriously showed up on torrent trackers half a year later.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Der Feind Im Innern

With Damnatus the German law left GW with only bad choices:
* Cede particular rights as derivative works can claim copyright(s) under German law
* Keep copyrights and block the movie
While the authors/directors/actors were prepared to cede their copyright on the derivative work the German law did not allow a valid legal document.

Agammamon says:

Let’s keep in mind that this is a new stance for GW. This is a company that, in the past, sued someone for using the term ‘Space Marine’ – because they claimed to hold copyright on a term that predates the existence of their company, let alone the 40k game (where the term is used).

They’re making good strides to undo the damage they’ve done to their reputation under the previous couple of CEO’s though.

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