40K Dreadnaught - no longer available on Thingiverse due to DMCA

Not wanting a legal battle, Thingiverse is complying to the takedown requests. All the models featured in my article last week are now unavailable on Thingiverse.

5th December DMCA Served (roughly)

After my article on the 3rd of December, I was rereading it as I like to live past glories.

I clicked on one of the models to check a fact and lo and behold – the model was no longer available and a DMCA takedown notice like this one was present:

DMCA text on Thingiverse after Games Workshop served a DMCA notice

(Thank god I put the Lawyer Up note on the original article)

Info on the DMCA here.

No Reply from Games Workshop (until 22/12/11)

I emailed Games workshop on the 11th of December for their side of the story, but as of today, the 16th of December I have received no reply.

In the email I asked for a copy of the notice and what points of the DMCA Act, Thingiverse has allegedly breached.


Games workshop replied today (22nd Dec) with the following:

Hi Andy

Thank you for your email.  Unfortunately, I am unable to respond to your request for information. If you require advice or information in respect of copyright law, I would suggest you contact an independent legal advisor.


Catherine ….. <name removed by 3dfuture for privacy>


Games Workshop Group plc


The Users of Thingiverse Retaliated

A few hours after the takedown notice was put on the site, other users had uploaded the models to a file download site with the catch phrase “Here you go guys”.

Thingiverse was on to this however and they removed the link very very quickly. The files are probably there on the file download site if you know the link.


The original model is on Google Sketchup – no DMCA to Google (yet)

The funniest/saddest thing about this whole incident is the motive behind Games Workshop.

Obviously they have a right to protect their IP, however, if they were serious about it surely their lawyers would have done even cursory research, like, I dunno – reading the description of the Dreadnaught post where the uploader clearly states:

This is a Warhammer 40k Dreadnought.
It was downloaded from the google sketchup gallery and heavy modified to get it printable.

Here is a screen shot for eternity.

So the model used was here: 40k Dreadnaught on Sketchup – and as of publication of this article the model is still available for any one to download.

Surely there are many more people viewing the model via Sketchup, than folks in the niche 3D Printing industry viewing a model on Thingiverse?


Incompetent or not Enough Resources?

So this leads me to think, either:

  1. Whomever searches the Net and finds these models ready for preparation of a DMCA notice is either incompent and can’t follow and obvious link, or
  2. Does not have enough resources.

In either case my question is “Why hasn’t Google been served with a DMCA take notice for the Sketch Up model?”


I will leave this as a question for my dear readers to ponder.


Postscript 3DYeti (creater of the two tanks but not the Dreadnaught) replies

After seeing my article 3DYeti replied:

I was notified by Thingiverse that the DMCA takedown had happened. It was automatic after GW made the claim. The models are mine. I created them from scratch. I believe the issue was with the distribution of the files that carry the likeness of their IP. They are obligated to protect their IP, but no money was trading hands. This was “fan-art”. There was no confusion as to what it was. It was labeled as unlicensed, and unofficial. I uploaded it under a non-commercial license.

Things will change once this becomes more common. There are a few Star Wars models on thingiverse as well as items from other IP. The world is changing, and the law will have to move with it. It will be interseting to see which way it swings.

I do not have the means to fight the DMCA. I do not believe I did anything wrong, legal or otherwise.

It may have been that the likeness, in conjunction with using their actual names, caused GW to send the DMCA. I thought as long as I labeled it as unofficial/unlicensed, it wouldn’t matter. I was not looking to sell knockoffs. This was just a project I shared. I’m 100% positive if I had the resources and time I could overturn the DMCA. I read GW’s legal page and found nothing that points to any legal error on my part. As far as I know, what I did was not illegal. GW is just using their weight to keep their IP in check.

A turning point will come, but right now it is a legal grey area.






By On 16 December, 2011 · 12 Comments · In Legal, Thingiverse

12 Responses to Games Workshop submits DMCA takedown notices to Thingiverse

  1. Joe Larson says:

    You raise some excellent questions about how the thingiverse model but not the sketchup has been served, but I think this serves to illustrate the nature of 3D printing. With Sketchup you can make a noncompeting rendering. In fact with the Sketchup model any rendering could be seen as free advertising. But with 3D printing you can make a competing product. It’s like the argument against piracy except in this case they actually have a point. Why pay them money for their minis if you can just print one up?

    • Andy says:

      A good point Joe.

      It is easy to transfer a Sketch Up model to a STL file ready for printing. In fact there is a Sketchup plugin that does just this. (first result in google: http://www.cerebralmeltdown.com/cncstuff/stl/index.htm)

      So this means that any Sketchup model can be viewed as an STL file and thus printed. This means (to me) that a SketchUp model can be shown to be exactly the same as a model shown on Thingiverse, providing you have the right plugin installed.

      I know we are splitting hairs here, but I think that the same sorts of logic should be applied on why Game Workshop hasn’t gone after Google, but has gone after THingiverse.

      If I was a cynical man I would think that the difference in size of the companies (an their legal budget) would be a deciding factor.

      As 3DYeti said above (and I agree) the whole situation is a legal grey area.

      I’m waiting for someone with the budget to take the DMCA on and see what actually is the law.

  2. […] third physible uploaded to The Pirate Bay, is the plans for a tabletop replica for a Warhammer 40k dreadnought that got taken down in December with a DMCA request. With the tools of patents, copyrights and […]

  3. david says:

    hey, so how much did it cost to produce the Dreadnaught? the cost of the plastic that those maker bots use, for a one off it looks cost effective, i just forget how much that plastic costs, assumption being one has access to a hackerspace with a maker bot or similar.

    • Andy says:

      Hi David, I don’t have the model so I’m not sure of the volume, but 100m of PLA 3mm diam plastic is $30 US

      This equates to 30c a meter. A meter is about 3 feet in imperial units.

      A model of around that size might be a few meters of plastic so you would be looking at no more than about $5.

  4. […] seems that Games Workshop, retail store that sells board games, warhammer etc. have sent a DMCA takedown notice to Thingiverse. Thingiverse have supplied its users with a printable 3D-model of a Warhammer figure. The model is […]

  5. Pickman says:

    So, they could make money by selling models to print and instead they’re stopping people’s right to exercise their creativity (with the possibility to create customized models)?
    Imagine a world where cars would’ve been banned because they were harming train companies’ niche. That’s exactly the same thing. Of course GW has the right to make money, but maybe it could start to offer a line of highly customizable and high quality lowcost miniatures allowing people to print them in their homes. At the moment GW has no similar service in effect so it shouldn’t harm possible competitors this way (otherwise it can start a cause with all others wargames companies because their fans don’t buy GW products).
    The idea behind GW legal actions is that work should be paid. But that’s not true. Quality work should be paid. Quality is the confrontation between cost and desirable qualities (beauty, unique miniatures etc.).
    If GW can’t meet similar quality requests it should better change dramatically its methods in order to survive.

  6. […] but there are many many legal issues to be aware of. Such as companies that are happy to produce DMCA takedown notices for Fanart. var AdBrite_Title_Color = '0000FF'; var AdBrite_Text_Color = '000000'; var […]

  7. John Freitas says:

    Where are people getting these models printed? I am an engineer and have had models printed from most methods available over the last 10 years. I dont know of any place that could print a dreadnought sized model even close to the cost of a GW model.
    The cheaper services use what I would call a useless ‘plastic’ that is hard to work with let alone glue. For the model to look decent you need to use a high resolution machine for SLA, FDM and they are not cheap to have models made on.
    The model in the picture looks awful the build layers are very pronounced which means it wasnt grown on a high res machine.

    • Andy says:

      Hi John. There services to print this models are things like Shapeways.com – but I agree with you in that it owuld cost more to print than to buy the model. This is assuming these printing companies would even print the model for you.

      Folks printing the models on their RepRap printers would not produce as good a result as the GW models.

      For the folks who are printing these models, I’m assuming the lack of details and the ability to see the print layers doesnt matter to them.

      The res of a RepRap is typically 0.3mm per layer. On any printed item the layers are readily viewable.

  8. […] an unwilling combatant in the next digital war: the fight over copying physical objects.’ The creator objected that the takedown of the files was unjustified, observing: ‘The models are mine. I created them […]

  9. […] an unwilling combatant in the next digital war: the fight over copying physical objects.’ The creator objected that the takedown of the files was unjustified, observing: ‘The models are mine. I created them […]

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