Games Workshop is facing backlash after making changes to its IP Guidelines to clamp down on fan-made animations.
For the most part, changes to Games Workshop's IP Guidelines make a lot of sense. It makes sense for the miniatures company to enforce a zero tolerance policy towards people 3D printing its designs, for example. But things take a turn for the concerning when it comes to a note on fan-made animations, which reads:
"Individuals must not create fan films or animations based on our settings and characters. These are only to be created under licence from Games Workshop."
It's worth noting that while a similar clause applies to fan-made games, fan art, fiction and websites are permitted so long as they're not-for-profit and make it clear they're not official works.
GW is changing their IP protection policies and going hard after fan made animation. Sure, they have every right to do as they please with their IP, but having a healthy and creative community has great value too.#Warmongers #warhammer40k pic.twitter.com/Yg4qGHlyqVJuly 21, 2021
These changes coincide with the recent launch of the Warhammer+ subscription service, which launches with two animated series. Games Workshop has also been pushing hard on official Warhammer animations, many of which were sourced from existing fan projects—even outright hiring the creator of those stunning Astartes shorts.
For fans, it reads as somewhat hypocritical for Games Workshop to shoot down fan animations at the same time it's benefitting from their work, as is the distinction between which kinds of fan works are allowed. We've reached out to Games Workshop for comment.
While the decision to completely lock out fan works may be seen as an understandable (if unfortunate) move, other companies have proved you can have a far more positive relationship with fan creators. I recently spoke to Apex Legends developers and fan artists on how that game is putting its story in the hands of the community.