Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Games Workshop storm

I've been pointing out for months how ornery Games Workshop has been in their quest to zealously protect their Intellectual Property -- to the point where they prohibit eBay sellers from using images of Games Workshop products they are selling.

But they did themselves one better this week by sending a cease and desist letter to BoardgameGeek that has prompted BGG to remove vast swaths of user-generated fan content from BGG sites related to Games Workshop games and BGG plans to block any future file submissions for those games.

This has provoked an uproar rarely seen on BGG. Here's just one forum on the topic. Hey, everybody understands the need to protect IP, but there are smart ways and dumb ways to do it, and GW seems to be going on the dumb side. Most fan content helps build interest and enthusiasm for something and most game companies have seen the wisdom of encouraging it, stepping in only when someone really gets out of hand.

In this case the GW demand and BGG's response to it seem to have been more like a bomb than surgery, to the point where material that couldn't be considered to be infringement and material that GW doesn't even own the rights for have been trashed.

Now, I've never been a big fan of Games Workshop. Few of their themes grabbed me and I soon heard enough about their business practices to know that I didn't want to be associated with them. While I do primarily select my business on practical considerations such as cost. convenience and the like, there's usually enough choice available that I don't have to spend money with businesses whose practices I despise.

And when it comes to games, there's far more good stuff available than I'll ever have time or money for, so there's no reason to send any of it to ornery folks like Games Workshop.

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