Industry Hijinks

Trademark Enforcement Run Amok: Games Workshop, you're on my list

Submitted by C B Wright on

UPDATE: Based on what I have to assume is the blistering outrage from the masses, including some people of considerable importance in the speculative fiction arena, Spots the Space Marine is once again available for Kindle on

Original article follows:

Games Workshop has published some really neat games.

They are most famous for their Warhammer 40K miniature-based wargame, but the game I love the most was their Warhammer fantasy role-playing game. When they first published it the rulebook came in an absolutely gorgeous hardback, filled with color pictures of the world it took place in (an alternate-history earth filled with chaos and magic and elves and Other Nasty Things), pictures of the gods in their various pantheons, and some great material that really gave you a feel for their world. Imagine Lovecraft in a fantasy world, but where the general population is mostly aware of the threat of the Elder Gods and has said "no, we won't just stand by and be food." Terrible, epic, nearly futile, magnificent struggle against dark forces that corrupt from without and within. Great stuff.

Screw those guys. I don't know what happened to that company, but they don't exist any more. The guys who exist now are accusing a friend and colleague of violating a trademark, and they are preventing one of her books from being sold as a result. The author is M.C.A. Hogarth, who I have reviewed on this site before. Her book is called "Spots the Space Marine," which was a successful web serial before it was published.

What is the trademark Games Workshop is accusing her of violating? "Space Marine."

Inkoutbreak's Hidden Revenue Stream

Submitted by C B Wright on

I don't really get involved in the day to day world of webcomics any more, and I'm not the go-to guy for information on How Web Commerce Is Supposed To Work. But this goes beyond a simple disagreement in how to run a business: as far as I can tell, is secretly embedding ads in the websites that use its service. I present my observations below.

Update 26 Jan 2013, 8:58 PM EST: Brian King of InkOUTBREAK responds in comments.

Terms of Service; Didn't Read Needs Your Help

Submitted by C B Wright on

Two months ago I wrote an article about a great web service called Terms of Service; Didn't Read. I just found out they're nearing the end of a fundraising drive at Indiegogo.

As of today they are six days away from the end of the drive and still need to raise 1500 Euros to meet their goal.

Now I don't make a habit of asking you guys to give me money, but I would like to ask you to consider giving them a donation and helping them meet their goal.

ToS:DR is a service that I believe the we really, really need. Companies bank on us not reading the Terms of Service in order to get away with doing pretty much anything we want, and it's a pretty smart strategy: even if we were to read everything, the way those things are written makes it pretty hard to untangle the specific claims and privileges they are claiming and that you are agreeing to.

You can contribute via PayPal, American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover, and it will help fund something that will benefit everyone who has ever had to click "I agree" before getting to the next page.


Submitted by C B Wright on

I've always wanted there to be a service like this. I just didn't know I wanted it.

I've spent many, many, many years lampooning the computer industry's tendency to use the Terms of Service (or, for software, the End User License Agreement) as an excuse to justify doing anything they wanted, to anyone they want to do it to. And from time to time we'd see a news article or a post about specific terms in a ToS that seemed... well... beyond the pale. But we've never had the opportunity to actually compare various Terms of Service with each other.

Until now. Terms of Service; Didn't Read has changed all that. Now we can see exactly how ridiculous these terms are--as well as reward companies who have adopted terms that actually approach sanity.

What Oracle Wants You To Believe

Submitted by C B Wright on

Let’s start with a basic component of any language:


You’re looking at the fundamental building blocks of a written language—a series of symbols intended to represent discrete components used to communicate ideas. We can add extra symbols into the mix, which can be used to separate and organize these components:

!, ;:’”?

Now we have the ability to construct sentences. With sentences it should be possible to effectively communicate ideas. Let’s try:

tfrgk id. Uppxq; tmno “ffwnk”

… well. Something is still missing. The problem is that randomly putting these things together means nothing, because we don’t have a point of reference that makes any sense.