Games Workshop's IP Policy
This document sets out our policy towards unauthorized and unlicensed use of our copyright imagery and trade marks by fans of our games as part of their hobby, rather than commercial gain. It is addressed primarily to those who want to exchange news, information, 'house' rules, and so on via the Internet in general and the World Wide Web in particular. These basic principles apply equally well to other hobby activities, for example, fanzine publications. As you can imagine, we receive countless requests on a daily basis from hobbyists from all corners of the globe who are asking to use our intellectual property in weird and wonderful ways.
We love the imaginative ideas that hobbyists have for our intellectual property. Unfortunately, we get so many requests that we find it difficult to reply to everyone. Accordingly, we have produced a definitive FAQ that states what you can and cannot do in relation to our intellectual property.
It is important that you realise that:
- Games Workshop reserves the right to change this policy without notice.
- The contents of this policy are in no way meant or intended to be a license of any nature.
- That most uses of our intellectual property without a license are likely to be an infringement; however, Games Workshop is unlikely to object to any infringement if it adheres to this policy.
Please also note that we reserve the right at any time and without notice to insist that you cease or alter your use of our IP - we reserve this right so we can comply with any licenses that we have with third parties. We want to strongly emphasize this point and would ask you to keep this in mind at all times when using our IP. We would not want anyone to feel ambushed if we asked them to, for example, remove the short story that they had been working on for twelve months from publication on the Internet.
So What is this IP Stuff then?
IP stands for "intellectual property." It's intellectual (as opposed to tangible/physical) because it deals with concepts and creations of the mind that you can't actually touch. It's property, because it can be bought and sold, transferred from one person to another - just like any other property. For example, if I sculpt a model, I can sell the physical object (the miniature itself) to one person AND still retain the right to reproduce it (the copyright).
For the purposes of this document, we're concerned with two main areas of intellectual property - copyright (the right to copy a work) and trade marks - the names, badges, logos, or signs used to distinguish one company's products from another's.
The Legal Bit (or 'Why do we need an IP policy at all?')
The reason we need a policy for IP is actually fairly straightforward. The laws that govern intellectual property are such that we have to make a visible effort to actively police and protect our rights or risk losing them, and if we lose control of our IP rights then we lose the ability to create the cool, high-quality hobby wargames that we are famous for.
The unauthorized use of someone else's intellectual property (whether it be by an individual or a company) is both dishonest and against the law. It is, quite simply, theft.
Hard work, well in excess of 20 years worth, and huge amounts of money have gone into developing our imagery, refining our games, building and promoting the hobby throughout the world, and producing the best toy soldiers that we possibly can. We are proud of our creations and understandably protective of our rights and we are no more prepared to let others profit unfairly from the results of our efforts than you would be to let someone help themselves to the contents of your home. This is why we have always sought and will continue to seek to prevent any unauthorized use of our IP, if necessary by legal action, if it does not comply with the IP policy set out here.
The vast majority of people who work for Games Workshop are hobbyists. Like all GW hobbyists the world over, we love to talk about our hobby... endlessly (just speak to anyone who lives with a Games Workshop employee!). So we understand other hobbyists' similar desires. Indeed, it's true to say that talking about games you've played, what armies you collect, how you beat the hell out of your buddy's really cheesy Chaos army, etc., is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the hobby. Not only that, but, let's be honest, the higher profile the hobby gets the better it is for all of us.
So how does the IP Policy fit into all this?
One of the aims of this policy document is to give you a set of guidelines on what you can and cannot do with Games Workshop's trade marks and copyright. Stick with them, and everything should be fine - you get to do what you want, and we get to keep our intellectual property.
Very Important Bit:
However, even if you follow all the guidelines, we can't promise not to object to some or all of your web site, fanzine, MUD, live roleplay establishment, or whatever. We always reserve the right to take action, without notice, if we feel it's necessary to do so. In legal terms, this document is not a waiver of our rights, nor a licence of them.
It would be helpful if you could check this policy document every so often (perhaps once a month or so) to see if there have been any changes to it. Circumstances and laws do change over time, and we need to adapt our policy accordingly. As with everything else on this document, if you're unsure about any changes, then let us know.
2. The Policy
Click here to see what you can do in relation to Games Workshop's IP
What you CAN do
Click here to see what you cannot do in relation to Games Workshop's IP
What you CANNOT do
Click here to see specific examples
3. The Lord of the Rings
Please note that we have taken licenses to make hobby wargames from third parties (being New Line Cinema and Tolkien enterprises). The IP contained in those properties is either not ours or not directly under our control. Accordingly, we are not able to allow anyone to use that IP in any way - it simply is not within our power. We suggest that you contact the IP owners directly if you wish to use their intellectual property.
4. Counterfeiting/Peer-to-Peer File Sharing
We are encountering people who counterfeit our miniatures and products more and more frequently. Counterfeiting is a crime in most countries worldwide. In addition to the other penalties, you can go to prison for counterfeiting. The same is true of peer-to-peer file sharing - if you have not paid for the material and you download it using peer-to-peer software, you are engaging in illegal activity. The same is true even if you already own a copy of the relevant Codex or Army Book.
BE AWARE that we will happily spend money bringing counterfeiters and other infringers to justice, regardless of the cost. Such activities kill the hobby for everyone.
By way of background to this position, Games Workshop is the world's largest wargames and miniatures manufacturer. This has not come about overnight but rather as a result of over 20 years of hard work and the investment of considerable amounts of money into designing the best, most evocative, and detailed games and miniatures that we possibly can.
In a free market, anyone willing to invest the necessary time and effort is entitled to the same opportunities we had when we started out. We welcome such fair 'competition' - in fact, we don't even think of it as competition because it all helps to build the hobby.
However, sadly, there are an unscrupulous few who try to take a shortcut to success by copying the design of our games and models and trading on the goodwill we've built up over the years - these people are counterfeiters.
We therefore want to make it clear that Games Workshop will not tolerate counterfeiting of its products nor any other unauthorized use of its trade marks, trade dress, copyright material, or other intellectual property and always seeks the maximum civil and criminal penalties that the law allows.
What to do if you are the victim of counterfeiters
Sadly, the people that suffer most from counterfeiters are you guys - after all who wants to pay for a badly-cast fake?
What we suggest is that if you encounter a counterfeiter, get as much information as you can before you contact us: where you saw them, who was selling them, where they are being made, etc. If you can, buy a representative sample and GET A RECEIPT. If the products are indeed counterfeit, we will reimburse you for any postage costs and will try to replace any counterfeit with the genuine article (please be aware that this may not always be possible). E-mail or write to us with any information at:
Games Workshop Limited,
Tel: 0115 916 8000
Fax: 0115 916 8008
We've currently got licences in place with a number of companies who are producing a range of stuff including games from our back catalogue and computer games based in the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 worlds.
Licences are not only a way for us to keep games 'alive' that we no longer have the resources to support but also allow us to develop and explore our gaming universes in a way that we can't always do in a tabletop game. For instance, in a computer game you might get to hear your Orks' war cry as they charge headlong into combat. Licences are also, of course, great fun because we get to see cool takes on our favourite GW stuff.
If you've got a strong vision of something you want to produce, using our imagery, and have a sound plan to make it a reality, then the people to talk to are our licensing department. You can reach them at the address below:
If we think that your submission may be suited to Games Workshop's licensing strategy we will contact you to let you know what the next step will be. If you do not hear back from us, then, unfortunately, we do not currently have any opportunities for your submission at this point.
6. How to Contact Us
If you have any questions about anything in this policy document, information about a possible infringement, or you have any other legal issues, then please contact us at the below address.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the below email address receiving span emails, we would strongly encourage you to prefix the subject matter of any email with the words: "Legal Query:". If you do not so prefix your email, we cannot guarantee that it will be received, indeed, it may well be mistaken for spam and treated as such. We do not accept legal service by email.
Intellectual Property Department,
Games Workshop Limited,
Tel: 0115 916 8000
Fax: 0115 916 8008