Sunday, February 10, 2013

SUE SUE SUE! More thoughts on GW and MCA

So as I read up more information on this legal thing with GW vs. M.C.A. Hogarth the more thoughts about it comes to mind about how it's important to sometimes take a little stance.  As always, when I make my videos, it's to entertain while still get the information out so sure, it may be over the top, but the message really isn't.  What am I talking about? Read on.

Years ago around 2003-ish, when wargaming was still way in back of my mind, I was really into aquariums as a hobby. It was something my girlfriend back then and I used to do together.  From planted aquariums to reef tanks.  Our place was filled with them.

We also shared this hobby with a close friend and business partner of mine.  We were pretty heavy into the community of people who shared in this hobby of ours.  We even had our own community website for it so people had a place to go and hang out, share tips and techniques, show off our tanks, learn from tutorials on how to start your own tanks and how to maintain them and how to make planted aquariums into a gorgeous art piece.

Is this starting to sound familiar? Bare with me here now.

So as any hobby related venture, there are companies that sell warez to support you in your hobby.  You have the great companies who cared about their customers and who were there to help them anyway they can, not just with selling their products but with the hobby as well.  Of course, you had the bad companies that are in it to make a quick buck.  Then you have the shady companies that really irks the crap out of you with what they do and say or behave.

Now the case here isn't the case as it is with GW vs. MSC Hogarth.  To put it plainly, this company started to sue their customers because they posted bad reviews about their service and spread the news around. More on this story can be found here if you are interested.

Basically, as the complaints became frequent and support and banners to the defense fund against this lawsuit were being posted, so were the people being named in it.  So this company owner kept adding people that looked worth while that were supporting the fight against him to the lawsuit.

At the end, those that were named settled.  They couldn't fight the battle because they didn't have the money to do it.  A lady had to hand over her domain for her business, a couple of sites were settled to run an advertising banner for this company on their website and the original named defendant had to pay over $4000 in restitution and there were more. I don't even remember what my friend had to settle to as he was also named in the lawsuit because he set up a website to help raise money for the defense.

This whole fiasco showed anyone that you can't just say what you want on the internet even if it's as harmless as a review of an opinion of a service for a company otherwise you just might find yourself being sued.

As I've said, this is a different lawsuit that attacks freedom of speech on the internet.  This is a little different abet is still something that can have ramifications to us as hobbyist and gamers AND in a way, attacks what we can or can't say on the internet.

As Tony (thepaintingclinic) commented on my video:
"I think you should clarify that GW is not "suing" the author. They are making a trademark claim, not demanding restitution."

That is true but what is also true is that MCA has to still defend against it for her book and to do that, it requires money.

Let's also look at this comment made by avatus775544:
"Thing is the law is the law and perhaps she should have seen this coming, and named stuff differently. Also remember GW may not even want to do this, at the end of the day it's the shareholders who have the power."

Perhaps but why should she? Nothing in her book refers to space marines as 40k space marines.  Sure, it's in her title but unless GW releases Spots Butthugger in #$%cast, there is no real connection OR can one be confused that she's talking about THEIR space marine.

A legal blog site called Scrivener's Error posted about this and explained that GW doesn't really have a case but why they are doing it.  Check it out here.

So in GW's defense, they needed to do this even if they didn't have any grounds on this.  So to us it looks like bullying tactics by GW.  Some of you may agree, some of you may not and some of you probably don't care.  However, as someone mentioned, don't blame GW, blame the laws and I agree with that.  The law is a living breathing thing and it is written as it goes.  It's no wonder none of us can really keep up.

Here's GW's official response to this on their facebook page and quoted here just in case they take it down (lots of negative comments so they are known to do that):

"Games Workshop owns and protects many valuable trademarks in a number of territories and classes across the world. For example, 'Warhammer' and 'Space Marine' are registered trademarks in a number of classes and territories. In some other territories and classes they are unregistered trademarks protected by commercial use. Whenever we are informed of, or otherwise discover, a commercially available product whose title is or uses a Games Workshop trademark without our consent, we have no choice but to take reasonable action.  We would be failing in our duty to our shareholders if we did not protect our property.

To be clear, Games Workshop has never claimed to own words or phrases such as 'warhammer' or  'space marine' as regards their general use in everyday life, for example within a body of prose. By illustration, although Games Workshop clearly owns many registered trademarks for the Warhammer brand, we do not claim to own the word 'warhammer' in common use as a hand weapon.

Trademarks as opposed to use of a word in prose or everyday language are two very different things. Games Workshop is always vigilant in protecting the former, but never makes any claim to owning the latter."

So yes, it makes very good sense.  Is it right? I still don't think so but it's how it works so maybe GW is OK to do this.

But then again, look at it.  There are probably better targets than MCA that GW could have a better case against.  So why MCA?

In my humble opinion, she's an easy target.  It doesn't matter if you think her book lacks imagination as one of my commenters so "eloquently" put it (you gotta love how smooth some of those in our community are) but what matters is that a small independent writer is getting the blunt of all this.  This could have been you or it could have been me.

When Mario (VoicesofMars) texted me and asked if we can take a stance on this, I said no because we don't want to take those kind of stances.  The WGC isn't just about me anymore but about the people are are part of the team that run their own channels, either produced under the WGC or as an invested partner.

We all in the WGC strive to make videos to entertain, to teach and to share with our audience.  The friends of the WGC that we support do the same.  We work with each other and are there for each other, we put in the hard work to spread the joy in this hobby of ours.  You either love to watch us or hate to watch us and that's all fine.  What concerns me is that any of us can be targeted with something like this and if that happens, who will come to our aid?

I'm not trying to start a movement here and I'm not even saying boycott GW either.  But I can at least spread the word about this and hope that those that agrees or disagrees with how GW is handling this can have a say about it. Right or wrong.

I can't speak for the whole of the WGC.  I'm just a guy who makes videos for our hobby, who likes to write and share and teach about things that goes on with wargaming but if it's anything, I want to applaud MCA for sticking up for her work as a writer and artist and let you know so you can decide if you wish to do the same.

People always jump to a conclusion on the internet, especially people in our community but you can't blame us.  We're passionate about our hobby.  We've also been, to use the term loosely, "screwed" by GW depending on how you look at it. So yes, we will jump against GW when the chance is given or jump in for GW.

As far as I know, MCA doesn't wargame so why would I even say anything or support MCA? Maybe it's the experience I had in another hobby that influenced me.  Maybe because it deals with a company I used to be passionate about and how they are handling this.  Maybe it's because she's a writer and I fancy myself a fellow peer.  Or maybe because sometimes, when you see something you don't agree with, you have to take a stance and speak up. Right or wrong.

Let me leave you with something by Martin Niemöller:

"First they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me."

Check out MCA website if you're interested for more information as she's keeping updates on her blog. She also mentions about how you can send GW a letter if you wish to tell them (politely) about how you don't like what they are doing.

Goodnight fellow wargamers and hobbyist and a goodnight filled with lots of love.



  1. It worth noting that the chief individual shareholder of Games Workshop is the CEO and chairman of the company, Tom Kirby. So, to say that they have to protect the interests of the shareholders is saying no more than that Tom Kirby has to protect the interests of Tom Kirby.

    Also, GW have a whole bunch of trademarks which they can reasonably use to deal with actual copycats, e,g, Warhammer, Warhammer 40K, etc. If they want to protect the 'Space Marine' trademark, then they have to actively protect it, it's true. But not protecting that trademark doesn't endanger their other trademarks. If they gave up 'Space Marine' to the intellectual commons (where it belongs, IMO) rather than claim it as their own intellectual property, this does nothing to their other, justifiably-held IP. Trademark may be a 'rabid dog' law, but it isn't a 'winner take all' law.

    Not to mention that GW have never held a trademark on 'Space Marine' for fiction in the US, making the whole action dubious from the beginning.

  2. In the "Oh! The irony" category:

    1. Haha thanks Zobmie. I actually got a hold of a White Dwarf Issue #5 tonight to look through for this.