Games Workshop Vs Cults 3D – The 3D printing War heats up

Last Updated on August 11, 2022 by FauxHammer

For many who are new to 3D printing, Cults 3D has swiftly become the go-to resource for numerous Warhammer-compatible parts. Forget Thingiverse, I think that those of us in the know can agree Thingiverse died a long time ago. But Games Workshop – via their lawyers – has formally requested the removal of over 200 specific models from the Cults 3D platform. And Cults all but said “no”.

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Games Workshop Vs Cults 3D – What happened?

Reported first on Spikey Bitz, the following images have made their rounds on various social media channels. Over the past few days, Spikey Bitz contacted Cults 3D to confirm that these screenshots are a legitimate statement from Pierre at Cults3D

You can read this statement in its entirety both above and below. We’ve copied it below in text form, but are unable to confirm which discord channel this is from specifically.

Hello @everyone, this is Pierre, co-founder of Cults. I’m posting here to inform you that Games Workshop has just contacted us through their lawyers to ask us to remove more than 200 creations that infringe according to them – on their copyright. In this list, there are 65 paying models that we have rejected. The users who are part of this list and who have at least one creation rejected from the site will be informed by email. They will be able to edit their model to remove the copyrighted terms. If the editing is sufficient, the creation will be accepted again Of you need to modify an URL just contact us on hello( Concerning the free models, we have decided not 0 &tete them because of the notion of fan art and we’ll keep fighting on this point.

From now on, we have a (rather long) list of terms that will trigger moderation when your paid creations are uploaded. So try to avoid as much as possible these terms when uploading (I attach the document). If there is a problem, you will receive a message informing you that your model violates the rule and you can edit it without worrying until it is good.

We prefer to be perfectly transparent with you about Games Workshop’s request because we are convinced that it is by working together (creators, platforms and brands) that we will make cool things happens.

If you have questions or remarks, please just let me know, I’ll do my best to reply!

Pierre Cults3D

I’ll get onto this “list” in a moment, but this explains a couple of steps that GW have taken in regard to protecting their IP. Essentially – via their lawyers – GW has advised Cults 3D of over 200 models which they claim infringe GW’s copyright trademarks. And, as a result of this, Cults have, for lack of a better term, disabled visibility and access for just 65 of them. Specifically, just the ones where creators are charging people to download them.

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Games Workshop Vs Cults 3D – Cults 3D’s Position

In this battle of David and Goliath (or Goliath and a slightly smaller Goliath, who knows what Cult’s financial war chest looks like?), despite the slightly passive-aggressive tone I’m inferring from this, it’s easy to side with Pierre and co. Purely on behalf of how open they are being with us and what they are doing to protect their community of creators.

They have claimed to be actively fighting GW on the non-profit models on the grounds that they are fan art. Now, I’ve no idea of the legalities here, but I don’t believe there is any legal precedent set on the creation of 3D models, so if this does reach a courtroom, we could actually (finally) see some rules put in place. (Yay! to having a bloody clue what the rules are)

Cults have also stated that they have informed the creators of these 65 models what specific “terms” (again I’ll get onto the “list” in a mo) have been laid out and advised them on what to change in order to re-upload the models to get them back on the platform. I’m inferring by the comment here that it’s only specific names used which have been challenged. And nothing has yet been specifically challenged purely on the style of the model itself…

Whilst they will not openly publish the full list (heaven knows why), they have shared it in this discord (which we can’t access) and advised that any files uploaded containing these terms will be flagged for moderation and the creator will be informed that the terms used are in violation, but, it appears, not which term is in violation specifically.

The creator can re-upload as many times as they like whilst changing the terms (guessing the names) and once the violating terms are removed, the chargeable model will be allowed online.

I think this is signed off perfectly where Cults have said that they want to be open because “only by working together can we make cool things happen”.

Update: We reached out to Cults 3D and they have advised that this was originally shared in a private Discord Channel for 3D modellers. The list provided (below) is a truncated list they put together to help inform creators, the full list is far larger and would be too complicated to moderate (I still kinda want to see it)

The designers who have had their models removed will not be publically shared. so if you know a designer and model affected by this, please let me know as I;d love to feature them as a case study on this situation to help figure it out.

Additionally, Cults advised that they have limited what they will openly discuss on this topic to the statement above or future similar advisements. I infer that due to the nature of legal proceedings that this is necessary because sites like ours can misinterpret comments which are then spun in court. Which is why I’d like to state right now that all of this is based on my uneducated opinion of the situation.

Games Workshop Vs Cults 3D – The list of Infringing Terms

Again thanks to Spikey Bitz (and now from Cults themselves) we have a truncated list of terms which have been floating around online, we have reached out to Cults 3D for the full list.

  • Games Workshop
  • Warhammer
  • Sigmar
  • 40k
  • Adeptus
  • Drukhari
  • Necrons
  • T’au
  • Ynnari
  • Idoneth
  • Khaine
  • Kharadron
  • Lumineth
  • Seraphon
  • Sylvaneth
  • Khorne
  • Tzeentch
  • Slaanesh
  • Maggotkin
  • Skaven
  • Nighthaunt
  • Ossiarch
  • Mawtribes
  • Gloomspite
  • Behemat
  • Necromunda
  • Imperialis
  • Ultramarines
  • XV107

As Rob noted in his article, these are the De-Tolkienised terms used, where terms like orks are now Orruks in GW speak, and Eldar are Aeldari to help protect the IP.

GW obviously own much more than the list here, and as is indicated in the article, the full list contains many more terms than what is shared above.

In the UK at least you can see what trademarked terms a company owns by looking at the relevant page on the GOV.UK website, though this doesn’t seem to cover many of the terms used here. Does anyone know where we can find a comprehensive list of GW Copyrighted terms If so, let us know in the comments below?

Games Workshop Vs Cults 3D – GW’s Position

Who knows?

I mean, we can safely assume that Games Workshop doesn’t like the idea of 3D printed models. They have built a global brand around producing miniatures and models that currently earn them millions each year. They have a huge company now with thousands of staff members across the globe. I live in Nottingham, and you can hardly drive down 3 streets without finding at least one GW employee. All of these people need to get paid. So any threat to their main product line will be taken very seriously and rightly protected for the sake of their whole business.

Before we talk about 3D printing miniatures specifically, just consider that any company making miniatures is a potential threat to GW. But I think the reason that this is such a big deal, is because GW has made its name by providing us with the most-detailed miniatures going for a good few decades.

But now 3D printing has come along and you can print models with more detail than what GW currently provide. They are cheaper to purchase, considering that you buy a file once (unless it’s free) and can print a model, or models, for literal pence, as many times as you want. And again, with more detail than what you can get from GW or Forgeworld.

But GW is more than just models. They have huge and rich lore behind the product offering with a whole hobby arsenal, an easy-to-follow painting system, along with a huge media-spanning product range and services.

GW will and should rightly protect their IP,

But what they have done here (so far) is ask for all models that contain specific terms to be removed. But I’ve just checked a few creators who charge for models and there’s still things like a (almost 1:1) recreation of the Horus Heresy Kratos tank on Cults.

In fact, Just searching Cults 3D for “Warhammer” shows me what is clearly a Predator on page 1 of the search results. And it’s a file you need to pay for.

Is this because Cults have not done what they said, or have GW simply not provided that model in their list of infringing models, and Cults have only removed those specifically identified by GW?

Is “terminology” all GW can strike for? Models which use specific terms in the names? Because that will soon be worked around when people rename direct copies of “Space Wolves” to Sci-Fi War Dogs” or “40k” to “40 Thousand” or some such.

I expect that GW does not want us to know the specifics, because when the lines are black and white rather than grey, it potentially opens up the floodgates for designers to creep our of the woodwork of uncertainty and fear, by just directly working around these rules.

This is not the first move GW has made against 3D printing, again from Spikey Bitz. they informed of a takedown request from GW on MyMinifactory asking them to remove Duncan Shadow’s Elf Titan.

Whilst some changes have been made here, the lamen can clearly spot the direct similarities between these models. Duncan is an incredibly skilled sculptor and his newer creations, which bare no GW product similarities at all, are mind blowingly awesome – to me at least, this above model screams blatant rip-off. And Duncan’s creation, which I feel is more aesthetically pleasing, is a potential loss for GW of £254 revenue for every customer who intended to get the Aeldari Titan but instead got Duncan’s version.

Whether you love or hate GW, ask yourself honestly. is this practice even morally ok?

(the result of the situation above is that Duncan released his model for free and whilst no longer available free or otherwise via MyMiniFactory – some minor google-fu will find it in no time)

Nevertheless, Its Game’s Workshop’s actions (or lack thereof) in this area of the hobby which makes me wonder, “WHAT ARE THEY DOING?”

Sure they’ve requested takedowns of a few specific creator models on other platforms previously. And here they appear to have just asked Cults 3D to remove models which use specific Warhammer (probably trademarked) terms… I wonder, is what they are doing enough? It does not appear to me that they have done it anywhere near as much as they could. Were it my job to look into this I could comfortably find thousands of models online with likenesses to GW products. So “can” GW claim copyright infringement on the basis of a model’s style alone? They did with Duncan Louca above on MMF. But was the takedown simply due to MMF’s lack of appetite to challenge the house of Warhammer?

Unfortunately though, because 3D printing exists, fans will create copies and if they are not publically available on places like Cults or similar, They’d just move to another platform and wold keep doing so. Just look at the shutdown of Piratebay which lead to the immediate (same day) creation of various proxy copies of that same platform…

This whole approach is so typically corporate, if it were GW of old, they’d have been clever enough to have started by just having a meeting with Pierre and co. and just saying: “Look, we don’t want to go down the legal road but you guys are sharing a ton of stuff which is damaging to us. What can we do together to get these things off your platform without getting the lawyers involved? Here’s a sample list of stuff we think is infringing and here are the models they infringe against, see what we mean? Let’s go for a beer and hash this out.” Perhaps that’s just more of an Australian approach.

GW, This is a difficult time for you in that 3D printing is a new big change you need to navigate. But PR-wise, now is not the time to act like a bully. Maybe there’s some legal reason you needed to take the approach in the way you did, but please at least be open with the community you’ve created and make an address directly in response to 3D printing and Warhammer.

Try to get people on your side a bit more than you are. Leaving us in the dark in regard to your intentions is not conducive to building or maintaining our loyalty.

Just be more open with us, please.

Games Workshop Vs Cults 3D – My Thoughts

I love creating things. I love the style of GW’s products along with their games and hobby tools. I also love 3D printing. My personal favourite part of blending the two hobbies is printing parts which I can use on my Games Workshop models. I did this for almost all of my Horus Heresy Legions.

But after I went on a 3D printing spree of parts, GW (via Forgeworld) start releasing their own legion-specific heads and shoulder pads. Some of which are very similar to 3D printed parts I downloaded weeks before these parts were even revealed.

So now I kinda feel bad. On one hand, I have some cool and unique parts which have come off my Phrozen Mini 8K in higher quality (sharper detail) than the retail GW counterparts, but have I now participated in copyright infringement, which genuinely I never wanted to do?!

My personal take on this is that anyone creating like-for-like, or even distinctly similar, models to GW sculpts is being really naughty. This is blatant IP theft in my book.

Whilst I appreciate Cults 3D’s take on this is to protect the creator, whether a model is chargeable or not, a rip-off of a design is a rip-off of a design. If GW make a model and an independent 3D modeller creates something clearly intended to be the same model, whether people can pay for that model or get it for free shouldn’t matter. It is potentially damaging to Games Workshop as a business and it should not be allowed from a legal standpoint. Cults should take it down.

Remember in school where you’d copy your mate’s homework and change it around a bit? yeah, not ok. plagiarism is something we learn about as children. It shouldn’t be ok in digital 3d model form either without the original creators’ express consent.

Sorry, it’s gonna be an unpopular opinion with one side of this audience no matter which way I go, and well, these are my thoughts on it.

But, 3D printing does exist and it has the potential to enhance our hobby with cool and unique models & components. And components are where I feel GW is sorely lacking in the quality of options, with their sub-par Primaris upgrade sprues and even the recent Heresy components. GW can and have done better. See the Black templars upgrade sprue as a perfect example.

But then imagine if one person creates some shoulder pads, another a head, another a chest and someone else some legs. Before long you have all the parts to create a full Space Marine for free. So I get why GW are fighting 3D prints, and I’m genuinely surprised that they have done so little.

It makes me wonder, is this it? or is this just a first-wave.

Games Workshop Vs Cults 3D – The Future

There’s no putting the genie back in the bottle: 3D printing exists now. It already gives us higher detail on models than GW does. It’s still getting better, and is easy to get started with. But I don’t want GW to suffer at all, I want to see them continue to grow and give us more great stuff! So this whole situation is genuinely upsetting to see.

Digitisation is the future – whether we like it or not. It happened to the music industry most famously and it resulted in music companies having no choice but to embrace the change. The business model completely changed but creators still create music for us to consume. First with companies like Apple and iTunes, but now any music track is available on-demand via Spotify.

Next came movies and TV, and whilst anyone who is semi-tech savvy can easily still torrent or stream a movie, you still have Netflix who has grown to a company rivalling the behemoth that is Disney!

3D models are now coming into the digitised era. Games Workshop clearly has clearly being doing some amount of work so far in the removal of models which could deter their customers from buying direct or via an FLGS.

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But I pray they have a larger team planning on how to incorporate the digital era into their business model in the coming years because the change is happening. And as more people come to realise what is available to them in the 3D printing realm, they are likely to be soon distracted from what GW provide in terms of model quality.

Whilst 3D printing will be far from Kill GW, I truly believe that unless they take control and ownership of 3D printing rather than fight against it. It could kill their lead as the premier model creator in our hobbysphere.

Here’s an Idea GW: be smart, make your own 3D printing platform, set some design rules then allow independent modellers to submit their creations to it. You moderate the content and take your cut.

Whenever does happen I just hope it leads us to get even more from GW and allows us to create awesome-looking cool miniatures to use in their games. A true waterfall approach to product releases.

As Bob Dylan famously said, the times they are a-chanin’.

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  • FauxHammer

    Self-appointed Editor in chief of - But I need to thank the team for existing and therefore enabling me to give myself role - without them, I'm just a nerd with a computer and a plastic addiction. Graham Ross


Self-appointed Editor in chief of - But I need to thank the team for existing and therefore enabling me to give myself role - without them, I'm just a nerd with a computer and a plastic addiction.

4 thoughts on “Games Workshop Vs Cults 3D – The 3D printing War heats up

  • August 11, 2022 at 6:47 pm

    There is some designs out there that are obvious copies of gw stuff and buying and/or using them I do see as ip theft but items that gw don’t provide I see as enhancing the hobby.

    For example if I ever do get a 3d printer (and the free time to use it) I would end up printing some shoulder pads for a chapter that gw doesn’t already provide for. I would like my space wolves to be from the sons of morkai company. Also maybe print a few chest designs other than the standard aquila.

    Also part of trademark law a company has to be seen as being proactive in its defense. Which sadly means the smaller people get flattened by bigger companies that can afford the legal fights.

    Not defending gw as there are better ways this can be dealt with before going straight to the heavy dakka.

    Also Netflix aren’t even close to challenging Disney. Even before they bought fox, star wars and marvel, Disney were massive. Just Google the amount of publishers, studios and developers they own. How they aren’t classed as a monopoly is beyond me.

  • August 11, 2022 at 11:14 pm

    “Is this because Cults have not done what they said, or have GW simply not provided that model in their list of infringing models, and Cults have only removed those specifically identified by GW?”
    I think it’s because Games Workshop looked only at the filename (and Predator I don’t think that’s something they can register) but they can still use the tags, which doesn’t show up in the filename.
    If that Predator doesn’t have any of the “words that must not be named” in its file name, it would be “legal”.

  • August 12, 2022 at 1:39 am

    The law in the USA states it has to be 20% different than the original to NOT infringe on a copyright. A 20% change is not much.

  • June 30, 2023 at 12:32 pm

    IP infringement is what it is, an infringement of property and should not be undertaken. What is (I think, see Chapterhouse) legal, is the production of ‘counts as’, which an IP owner has never made and items which the company no longer makes. If that is within your personal moral compass is something only individuals can decide. But it is why GW started the ‘no model, no rule’ rule.


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