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M.C.A. Hogarth e-book blocked, reinstated by Amazon after Games Workshop trademark claim

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Spots the Space MarineM.C.A. Hogarth is a furry artist and writer whose works have appeared in several publications. A guest of honor at Midwest FurFest 2003 and 2009, her short story In the Line of Duty was the winner of the 2003 Ursa Major Award for Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction. Recently, Hogarth's e-novel Spots the Space Marine was the target of a claim of trademark violation by Games Workshop, developer and publisher of tabletop wargames Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000, and The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game.

It was on December 13 that Hogarth received an e-mail from online retailer Amazon.com, informing her that they had stopped selling Spots the Space Marine. The explanation given centred around the use of the phrase "space marine". Although an archetype of science fiction dating back to 1932, Games Workshop holds trademarks on the phrase in the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe.

Hogarth elaborated on her blog, explaining that Games Workshop's "space marine" trademark in the US and UK only covers games and miniatures. Its European trademark, however, includes "Class 16", covering

Paper, cardboard and goods made from these materials, not included in other classes; printed matter; bookbinding material; photographs; stationery; adhesives for stationery or household purposes; artists’ materials; paint brushes; typewriters and office requisites (except furniture); instructional and teaching material (except apparatus); plastic materials for packaging (not included in other classes); playing cards; printers’ type; printing blocks

Games Workshop used the scope of their European trademark to raise a complaint with Amazon Kindle Publishing UK, which caused Amazon Kindle Publishing (US) to block sales of the e-book in every country it was being offered. This was despite the facts that Games Workshop's European trademark cannot be enforced in the United States, and the European trademark's Class 16 does not cover e-books.

Hogarth blogged about the situation, and the story gained publicity through newspapers and social networking websites, including Twitter. Games Workshop was labelled a "trademark bully" and harshly criticized by many people, including science-fiction authors Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi. Amazon was also critised for choosing to block the e-book.

On February 8, Hogarth announced that Amazon had decided to reinstate Spots the Space Marine. She expressed her gratitude to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who had provided support in the fight to get her e-book unblocked.

Comments

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Looks like the Tau (a diverse body of individuals) had beaten the Space Marines (individuals who use their beliefs on law to fervently push their agenda to suppress other space faring races) that day.

For the greater good!

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Speaking of Scalzi (who helped get the word out), he's been president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America; his blog has a high readership and he really gave this issue a good dose of exposure. MCA Hogarth is a type of person in furry fandom I like to see - someone whose talents allow her to be a moderately successful creator who can work both within furry fandom and outside of it. (Ursula Vernon is another such person.) And there have been a couple of interesting discussions in SF fandom recently that are very-very-tangentially related to furry fandom.

For example, when Scalzi found his name being repeatedly invoked by a particularly nasty troll, he started a Counteract a Bigot fundraising drive for charity. In a short period of time it's done extremely well! And he devised an icon for it, the Gamma Bunny. (Latest update is here.)

A second stir-up in SF fandom... One of the things I enjoyed at What The Fur a few years ago was a talk with a fellow named Rene, who had a collection of old children's books from Europe with anthropomorphic artwork. Neat stuff. He's more involved in SF than in Furry, and for years has been a high-end staff member of Canadian SF cons in Quebec, also helping out in other parts of the country, Canadian Worldcons, etc. Sadly, at an event called Readercon, he sexually harassed someone, and this caused a major drama storm about harassment, creeping, women in SF, constaff policies, personal responsibilities and social self-awareness. Scalzi's initial comments are here, along with a link to a chronology - and finally, an essay about creeping.

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Says MCAH (who has forgotten her login): I don't think I'm all that well known to furries, though?

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Aw, well if you're not, you should be; you're one of the better and more prolific writers. :-)

Your rating: None Average: 2.7 (3 votes)

Sometimes laws are retarded.

Well, I'll be...

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

Hmmm... 2 stars... so, trademark laws AREN'T retarded then?

Well, I'll be...

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Wired.com has reported on the affair. http://www.wired.com/underwire/2013/02/space-marine-copyright/?utm_source=feedbu...

Fred Patten

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I have a question here for anyone who is a Kindle owner. If I buy a Kindle edition of an e-book, and Amazon subsequently pulls that e-book from distribution, is my copy of the e-book going to be deleted?

This harkens back to an incident a while back where Amazon had to pull some unauthorized editions of Kindle e-books from release, and everyone who had bought any of those editions discovered that they had vanished from their Kindles. Because of that incident, I decided that one of the prerequisites for me buying a Kindle is that once I've purchased and loaded an e-book, the only one who can delete it is me. It might be acceptable if in order to achieve this I have to jailbreak the Kindle, keep backups of my e-books on my computer and/or convert them to other formats.

In other words, if I were to buy the e-book edition of Spots the Space Marine, and Games Workshop were to to further pursue the matter resulting in another takedown, I would want to be absolutely, positively 100% certain that the copy I paid for is safe.

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As far as I know this isn't a given -- Amazon would have to explicitly pull it off devices. I don't know how often this actually happens, but I suspect if it happened with other ebooks on a regular basis we'd have probably heard about it.

Having said that, it's certainly possible to use a plugin with Calibre to strip DRM from ebooks and copy them to your computer from the Kindle. And, I'm not sure whether Amazon can delete books that don't have DRM in the first place; not all Kindle books do. (I don't know whether Spots does, but AFAIK, I don't have it enabled on Why Coyotes Howl.)

- Chipotle

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