Thursday, September 6, 2012

Update... 9-6-12

Ok, so as I said yesterday I've been given more infringement notice from Games Workshop. The good news is that Shapeways was able to alter my shop title without trouble. I won't have to delete the shop and reupload everything. I will still be removing the female marine parts tomorrow night. I don't think they infringe GW's property rights but have no resources to fight a legal battle here.

What will this mean? Well my shop's url is identical since it was just "" anyway. I think the search function might hiccup a bit but mostly it will work the same. The shop name is not an issue as long as I don't have to delete everything. Removing the female marines is mostly a non-issue as well. While it will mean my melee weapons and a couple of vehicles are all that will be in my gallery i'll be able to recover.
Games Workshop's issue is the use of design elements that corispond to the 40k armor mark details which I can't deny. While I thought believe the design details were covered under patent law which would make their use public domain I don't have the money for a lawyer to back me up on that. At the same time, I built one set of female marines. I can build another. And this time I'll do it better. Don't get me wrong. I love the designs I made but I wasn't satisfied. And this gives me encouragement to try again and make something more unique.

Warhammer 40k has a certain aesthetic and I think I captured that quite well with my female designs. However, was it really a good design? I’d argue no. the 40k design heavily adopts the art style of early 80s rock culture and though it has been polished and revised repeatedly it is still the rough equivalent of an early 80s iron man armor. Though superficial detail has been added to their designs in order to give sculpted joints the appearance of some flexibility the reality is that the armor is as impractical in appearance as it is dated in design. The 90s update to space marines did a lot to standardize the details but it didn’t really change anything on a fundamental level. They are still clunky and backwards designs that are laughable to imagine on the battle field.

I like the 40k armor designs but I must say it doesn’t look good on girls. The legs and arms are generic enough to be fine but the torsos are potatoes and impossible to really feminize without major aesthetic issues. You either end up with bullet trap cleavage or the appearance of an asexual life form. There is a fine line you can dance like I did but I don’t believe it’s worth it now. At least not in this medium.
All those who sculpt miniatures in green stuff with the skill to make a mold in your basement I envy you. Because Games Workshop can’t come into your home and stop you and it’s easy enough to share with your friends without having the motives in your heart questioned. For me, without green stuff or molding skills, Shapeways was a god send. But now I understand something about the creative process that I didn’t before.

You see I have the right and the ability to be creative. I can make something, poor my heart and soul into an art or craft and produce something fabulous. As a painter I can paint a canvas and no one will accuse me of violating IP (for the most part). I can hang it and sell it at auction without an issue and for the most part so long as I don’t claim it’s a Van Gogh no one will sue me. In drawing, in painting, in sculpture, in all art the act of loving something so much that you dedicate your life to creating something is invaluable and I thought protected. However intellectual property law isn’t about protecting that. IP law is about protecting the profits of someone else’s creation. No corporation creates anything. Not Games Workshop, not Microsoft, not Lockheed Martin, none of them. The don’t create they make. The people that work for them create. There ideas are then “protected” by IP laws and the company MAKES and SELLS them. I won’t say I created shoulder pads. But I did put enough love and care into shoulder pads to build something of value. Something more than just a thing that was made to be sold.

Every commission I receive asks me how much and I tell them the same thing, nothing. I build what you wanted because I love the hobby and I love designing something someone will use. So I add a dollar or two onto the cost of printing something to cover the actual money I spend testing products. I don’t even break even really, but I don’t care because I want to create something for others. I never felt I could sell the things I was making for a profit. I always thought micro transactions, selling thousands of shoulder pads and breaking even, was enough. And for me it is. For the corporation that is Games Workshop? I’ve railed before about their pricing scheme. I’ve told friends how horrible I feel their business practices are. I even said I hate their legal team threatening people. And with all that, is it enough? Is the money you make only to spend on protecting the money you make enough? I know a lot of people who would say no. However I’d venture none of the people who say that have the type of money Games Workshop’s CEO does, or the money Games Workshop’s investors do.

Games Workshop isn’t human. It’s not a person. It’s made up of people. It’s a transformers gestalt, made of mashing a thousand noddinghamtrons into a single savage beast. Moral arguments, social and ethical examinations don’t work on it. Like a hand gun shooting Devastator it has no effect. My artistic endeavors are like ants to Games Workshop. The security program that operates its minimal point defense system notice me but that’s all. And part of me is fine with that. I’d rather not have to join with a bunch of people to become Superion in order to keep making models.

The point is I don’t have any traction in this fight. I can argue till I’m blue in the face that I actually made something unique and different but no one will hear me. Instead I’ll get stepped on and that’s not right. But it’s how it is. IP laws are out of control and don’t do what they are meant to do. Tomorrow if I uploaded a totally unique model of a space warrior in mechanical armor and Games Workshop saw it and said I like that do a model like that. The truth is since Games Workshop can actually afford a bunch of lawyers and an epic design team they would win. Even if they produced a blog that explicitly stated they designed their products off mine they would still win in court. Entirely because I can’t afford to go to court and am generally honest enough to admit my faults.

So what does this mean? Well unlike Games Workshop I am not a corporation. I can’t fulfill myself with money. So I instead have to fulfill myself with those things I can. And for me that is my art, my 3d design amongst that. If I make a female marine model that doesn’t look like Games Workshop’s models it won’t sell terribly well. But I won’t be making it for that. I’ll be doing it in the hopes that someone will find it and like it and that will be enough. I hope…

Anyway if you have a request please email me and I'll try to respond. I ask you to be cautious about suggesting Intellectual Property of others. But i'm still willing to listen to your ideas. I'll probably be updating more than usual to day so bare with me. I have some blog posts i'd written that I want to actually put out there.

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