First the legal crackdown on fan-made iPhone apps
, and now this: German-based webcomic Shakes and Fidget
, a longtime sight in our Sunday Morning Funnies column
, has apparently been smacked with a cease-and-desist
by Blizzard. Our German isn't that great (and we've reached out to the comic's creators for further comment), but a translation of this forum page
tells us that Activision-Blizzard's legal department suggested to them that there was enough similarity between the official game and the unofficial comic to cause a problem, and while they believe that they're covered under parody laws
, they decided to take the "offending" comics offline anyway, and are apparently currently working on editing them so that they can be put back up without any issues.
Obviously, since the comics are offline, we have no idea what material Blizzard objected to -- you could argue that depictions of certain gear created by Blizzard artists in the game or specific names are under trademark and thus could be protected under copyright law. But even then, Shakes and Fidget is one of many, many fan-made webcomics
to obviously depict World of Warcraft
and Blizzard-designed items specific to the game, and we haven't yet heard of any other webcomics that have been approached in this way.
Still, as they might say in Germany, wir riechen eine ratte
. Without knowing the exact nature of the comics that Blizzard had an issue with, this seems like a complete overreach on their part, especially considering that it's some of their biggest fans who are making these comics, and that many artists have portrayed many videogames in webcomics without anyone confusing the issue of whether they were official or not. We'll keep an eye out for more information (and we've also contacted Blizzard for comment) -- if you know of any other webcomics or fan artists who've been approached by Blizzard in this way, definitely let us know
Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Comics, Fan art