Fan filmmaking and copyright in a global world: Warhammer 40,000 fan films and the case of "Damnatus"
The last decade has witnessed a proliferation, both online and off-line, of films produced by amateurs inspired by mainstream films, TV shows, and novels. As with much other fan production, fan films exist in, at best, a legally gray area since they are produced by amateurs, rather than by the media companies that own the copyrights to the films and novels that provide both their inspiration and settings. I examine the phenomenon of fan filmmaking, focusing on films produced by fans of the Warhammer 40,000 (W40K) tabletop battle game. In particular, I examine the case of Damnatus: The Enemy Within (Damnatus: Feind Im Innern, 2005), a German-made fan film set in the W40K universe, which was banned from release by the game's rights holder, the UK company Games Workshop, in 2007. Damnatus offers an interesting case study in both the ongoing struggle between rights holders and textual poachers and the tensions that can exist between different legal understandings of copyright in an increasingly globalized world.
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