Feeds

German law smites Warhammer fan flick

Damnatus damned to eternal darkness

Security for virtualized datacentres

German copyright law appears to have done for "one of the most ambitious fan films ever made" - a 110 minute spin-off of Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 game, lovingly crafted by German fans and enticingly entitled Damnatus.

According to the BBC, the epic cost more than €10k, took months to film, features 11 principal actors, a whole rack of extras plus "sophisticated post-production special effects".

All well and good, but the flick's producer/director Huan Vu said his team had "now given up trying to get the film in front of an audience" because "despite lengthy negotiations with Games Workshop, the company has refused to give permission for the film to be shown".

The whole sorry affair hinges on German copyright law, which "confers rights on the creators of works that cannot be given away", according to Games Workshop's legal and licensing big cheese Andy Jones. This means "the creators of Damnatus cannot assign their rights to Games Workshop even if they wanted to".

Furthermore, if Games Workshop greenlights the film's release without this "assignment", it would be "giving up the title to the Warhammer 40,000 intellectual property".

Jones issued a written explanation of the ban on Damnatus, which included the clarification: "To lose control of Warhammer or Warhammer 40,000 is simply unthinkable. So we must be vigilant, and perhaps sometimes seemingly heartless in our decisions to safeguard the IP for the future success of the business and the hobby."

Jones added Games Workshop's "admiration" for the project, and stressed the company was not acting "malevolently". He said: "This is perhaps to be regretted, nonetheless in the final analysis we simply have no choice but to say 'no'."

Mr Vu admitted the Damnatus team was "shocked" at the ban, but still thought an "amicable solution" could be reached when it heard of the blow. He said: "I imagined that in the end I would be forced to sign some more or less 'fair' contract in which I'd have to give them all rights bar the unalienable ones, but to get this film out I'd underwritten everything."

He lamented to the Beeb: "It's really horrible for an artist not being able to show off their own work."

Quite how the matter might pan out if it ever came to court is unclear. Dr Guido Westkamp, a lecturer on intellectual property law at the University of London, called the Damnatus versus Games Workshop scrap "unprecedented" and told the BBC that "copyright cases were always tricky to resolve". He offered: "It's very much a question of looking in total at the work in question and then perhaps to look at the technical features in that work."

He added: "It's not come before German courts before at all. But, it's one that really affects new technology."

The Damnatus team, meanwhile, has "also explored releasing the film in a different format or changing it to see if this would escape the copyright problems".

Vu concluded, however: "We do not really want to get away from the 40k universe - the film is meant as a dedication to it after all." ®

Bootnote

For those of you not au fait with Warhammer 40,000, Games Workshop describes it thus:

In the nightmare future of the 41st millennium, Mankind teeters upon the brink of extinction. The galaxy-spanning Imperium of Man is beset on all sides by ravening aliens, and threatened from within by malevolent creatures and heretic rebels. Only the strength of the Immortal Emperor of Terra stands between Humanity and its annihilation.

Crikey. Warhammer 40,000 is, of course, played with figurines, although we cannot confirm reports that the Immortal Emperor of Terra's hordes contain miniature German copyright lawyers.

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.