3D printing– the ability to actually create three-dimensional models of things using a printer that lays down one layer of material at a time– is about to hit our hobby big. Digital printers are finally coming into the realm of reality for consumers, price-wise, and will probably be relatively common within a decade. They’re already available online, and people share their own designs on other sites as well. You’d think that would be a boon for gamers, especially those of us who are into minis.
Well, Games Workshop sees not an opportunity for the hobby, but a threat to their bottom line.
According to this article at Wired, GW sent over a C&D letter to a website that hosts 3D printing files. Not because someone had copied one or two of their figures. Because someone had created entirely new figures “in the style of the game” (in this case, Warhammer).
Now, I certainly would understand and support any company that was trying to protect their intellectual property. But neither copyright nor patent law protects style when it comes to objects. Not even trade dress, but just something that is evocative of something else. Tanks and two-legged mechs are out of bounds? Someone tell Battletech…