Thursday, 18 April 2013

Then they came for the lizards with guns...

Check out this post at Faeit 212 for a look behind a curtain of fear. This time it's Blight Wheel Miniatures daring, it seems, to be inspired by what may be the same old ideas.

Have a read of this bold claim: "There are an infinite number of ways in which an armed mutant komodo dragon could have been depicted". There's one for the metaphysicists...

And get a load of the demands. The question may be: what doesn't GW potentially own?

If this is the best they can do, how will they cope when major opportunities come along?

Update: If that's not enough big boy bodyslamming for one day, there's this thing now too. Following up the thinking at Aldeboran yesterday, resistance ain't futile - it's fertile.

Update: And if this decision and this one reflect a wider trend, the tide may be turning.


CounterFett said...

I don't know how to feel about this one. The letter itself is pretty absurd, but when you look a the photo and then the model, I can kind of see what they're getting at. It's pretty blatant.

On the other hand, like you say, there are plenty of MAJOR copyright infringements in the world, and a model that GW was never going to make seems like a pretty minor place to get prickly.

SandWyrm said...

Hard to sympathize with BlightWheel when their online store is full of what look like modified re-castings of GW Imperial Guard bits.

Porky said...

@ CounterFett - I won't claim to know how this would play out if it came to fuller proceedings, but the course the Chapterhouse case has been taking (coverage here) suggests GW may not have quite the legs to stand on that it expects it has. The specific demands made in the letter make me think of the phrase 'judge, jury and executioner'.

There seems to be a certain amount of inconsistency in the position too, given the similarities many see in certain of GW's products to the work of other creators.

I'd say the argument is much more complex than it might seem too, and more complex than the commentary on these subjects generally recognises. It goes deep ethically and covers subjects like human expression and survival, including our survival as a species of course, as well as the nature of human perception and imagination, including the limits.

Do we have a right to life? To a means of making a living? What limits might there be to creative activity in doing so? What constitutes reasonable cause and effect in any given work? How able are we to create, and to judge a creation objectively? How are imbalances in natural capability and accrued resources to be reconciled with all of this?

It seems to me we're nowhere near even ideal answers to these, or rather that we're not even considering them fully and generally these days. Many of the reactions to a situation like this seem to me to be almost stock and reflexive.

Law doesn't always keep up with changing moral understandings, or even express the intended understandings, and neither necessarily reflects a considered ethical argument.

@ SandWyrm - Any actual recastings they may have made would be hard to defend, but the emphasis here has to be on "what look like" and "modified". I can see why GW might ask for clarification in that case. As far as we know, they haven't, which suggests it may not be as open-and-shut as it seems.

James S said...

This is pure intuitive speculation, but I feel as though in another few decades the whole idea of copyright and intellectual property will have taken such a beating as to be almost empty. I think this will be due to the instantaneous and viral nature of the spread of information.

The situation we currently have seems to be a series of laws that are designed to prevent some entity from making and selling something that some other entity is already selling. This seems to me to be a problem only in a world where news travels slowly. In such a world, an entity could quickly reproduce someone else's idea and sell it to people who haven't seen it yet before the original creator gets to them.

First of all, as you intimated above, perhaps this is not even bad. In many other respects capitalism operates according to a survival of the fittest model - why shouldn't people have the right to do whatever they like and let the chips fall where they may? Surely we all have a right to try and eke out a living however we can, and shouldn't quality (as measure by market share?) be the final arbiter?

Secondly, and perhaps more mundanely, in today's world it can generally be assumed that if someone is interested in a product they will discover it fairly quickly. So by the time a copycat can produce and distribute a copycat product, the initial product probably already has a certain amount of traction in the market. Is this not enough of a competitive advantage? Add to this the cache that "original" and "authentic" products have with consumers and any copycat is going to have an uphill battle, unless they drastically undercut prices. Which is a perfectly fine competitive tactic under normal circumstances.

If the original product doesn't have any traction or appeal, then why would someone copy it in the first place?

Thirdly, what's "original" anyway? And why is authenticity percieved as being so valuable? I think you and I have discussed that many many times, so probably no need to revisit our views on that again :) Although I will say that the current outdated copyright laws don't even value authenticity for its own sake - they are merely a cold weapon for protecting market share.

Porky said...

We agree on a lot of this. I wouldn't like to see too much of a free-for-all, but I do agree there are alternative approaches that seem to get more benefits with less drawbacks than we do at the moment.

I think durations could come right down, especially in just such an age of such rapid information exchange and potential for intense creativity. I'm assuming shorter durations wouldn't mean too great a loss of space for reflection or discourage more useful workarounds. The argument here is that existing expressions, especially the better known or more important ones, need to be available for the wider dialogue earlier, and for commercial use too - when work is taking up more hours of the day again for many people, those people may only be able to engage if they can receive an income for the time displaced.

I also feel a distinction could be made between large firms and small in that the larger can afford to invest in lawyers and risk management systems, and need to for the presumably larger number of stakeholders. Smaller firms should be encouraged to dive right in and crank up the ferment, only being given incrementally more restrictions and administrative responsibilities as they grow. That ferment has to be good for us. It's a cornerstone of civilisations.

Also, I wonder about crossings between media. If the lizard in this case was first a 2D drawing, is anyone making a 3D interpretation actually infringing? There's the argument the crossing adds value, which might never have happened otherwise. There's also the more immediately practical argument some make, that at least the tabletop market now has an option. That's good for the many in the short-term and maybe the long, good more than just for the initiator. Again size is an issue - that initiator has the strength in depth to rework and remarket if necessary, to make the thing better as a result of any challenge.