HomeAll postsSpace Marine art: Has Games Workshop breached copyright legislation?

Space Marine art: Has Games Workshop breached copyright legislation?

Space Marine art: Has Games Workshop breached copyright legislation?

Space Marines in science fiction and art have been around for decades longer than Games Workshop.  It also looks as though Games Workshop based its Warhammer 40K space marines artwork on the cover art for Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, a science fiction novel featuring – you guessed it – space marines, written in 1959, 16 years before Games Workshop was founded.  This artwork was dated 1987 while Games Workshop’s artwork for Warhammer 40K is dated 2012.

Turangaleela commented in response to this article on the Guardian:

…and for a company seemingly so keen on trademark infringement they don’t seem too worried themselves about … er….emulating … other peoples’ ideas or work… https://fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/480167_10151470058444066_1891564589_n.jpg

When I was at art school I was told that the 30% rule applied: no artwork should exceed 30% of content or reference of anyone else’s art; to exceed 30% opens the second artist up to allegations of copyright infringement.  It appears that Games Workshop has not only acquired the idea of Space Marines from a rich history of science fiction literature but they may also be well in excess in of 30% of the content of the original artwork on the left.

The artwork above on the left is one of the current covers for Starship Troopers, still on sale on Amazon.

Starship Troopers

But Games Workshop won’t allow an independent author to call a character a space marine.

Space Marine Art circa 1936

FakeTSR unearthed Space Marine art dated 1936 with the words ‘The Space Marines and the Slavers by Bob Olsen’ on the cover of Amazing Stories, December 1936.  Thanks Pauline Grice for bringing this to my attention.

Amazing Stories Space Marines

[Previously posted in the original Spots article]

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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