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Thursday, 8 November 2007

"If I had a (war)hammer ..."

The BBC brings news of a copyright row which, it says, may result in one of the most ambitious fan films ever made never being shown before an audience. The film, Damnatus, was made by German fans of the Warhammer 40,000 game. The 110 minute production, which apparently took four years in the planning stage, was directed and produced by Huan Vu.

Warhammer 40,000 - a science fiction wargame - is owned by Games Workshop, which has refused to give permission for the film to be shown. The company blames German copyright law which, it says, vests inalienable rights in the film's German creators which can't be assigned to Games Workshop even if the authors are willing to vest their rights in that company. But (the report startlingly declares), by sanctioning the release of the film without this assignment, Games Workshop would essentially be giving up the title to the Warhammer 40,000 intellectual property.

The news item quotes the IPKat's friend Guido Westkamp, a lecturer in intellectual property law at Queen Mary Intellectual Property Research Institute, as saying that copyright cases were always tricky to resolve.

The IPKat agrees with Guido that this is the case, but hopes the parties can try a little harder. After all, even without assignments of rights, business in Germany manages to run remarkably smoothly because sensible contract terms can protect the interests of creators and commercialisers alike. Merpel adds, I couldn't care less about the film - I just don't copyright to have to take the blame!

Read The Register thread on this issue here

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