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WB stop Skyrim MERP Mod


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Doubt it will have much of an affect on LOTRO since it will most likely be tied up the courts for years to come since who ever wins with face appeal after appeal.

Theoretically, if WB behaves too arrogantly, licensing violations like this can cause a immediate sales ban.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello everyone, I'm a team member of MERP. So a MERP fan posted a link to this thread and I see some of the discussion going on ... I would like to clear up a few things:

They might have the rights for games based on LOTR - books and movies, but MERP isn't set during the War of the Ring.

IF any was to send a cease and desist letter, it would be Middle-Earth Enterprises.

Reading the article further, it seems that the developers of the MERP mod doesn't understand what time most of MERP is set during.

Did they not realise that WB would come a-calling if they included storylines from the books?

We were always aware that WB (or EA in the past) could have come after us. However, with huge LOTR-themed mods released in recent years like Third Age Total War and The Lady Days, and considering the fact that MERP has been in the works since Morrowind, we felt fairly safe that WB wasn't interested in sending us any C&Ds ... well, we were quite wrong on that.

Unfortunately, it is quite rare for any modding project to get permission to make a mod based off any copyright work (some gaming companies, like Valve, are very understanding however and are happy to see Half-Life mods and the like being made). Most modders just have to hope their mod won't receive a C&D (and very few actual projects get C&Ds as it is, but I think its becoming a bit more common now) since it doesn't seem to me that most companies are interested in negotiating.

We are fighting back, we do have an attorney now (a member of a group called the Organization for Transformative Works) who is fighting for our work to be consider "transformative." However, since the C&D, I've been quite surprised. Since then, we have been in talks with Warner Brothers (I, however, would rather not disclosing anything though).

I thought you could make what you like about something, providing it's not for profit?

That is not how it works, no. Its a common myth that we keep hearing. If we have an attorney with copyright experience that is taking this situation seriously ... I'm gonna trust his word.

Why dont they just change the setting to the 2nd age of Middle Earth or even the 4th age as WB have the licence to The Hobbit and LOTR games but not to all of Middle Earth history.

Well, I was the Overseer of quest writing and was the one to really suggest the "Timeline" system (which would have events occuring all around the player as he travels about Middle Earth, many of which Tolkien devised). The War of the Ring period works PERFECT for a Skyrim mod because of how detailed Tolkien is about this period: it can be covered in two in-game years and there is always something happening! Trust me, we've looked into others before, and they simply don't lend themselves nearly as well to a single-player RPG in my opinion (especially the 1st and 2nd ages where it usually decades of time between actual events). Also I don't think our team is as interested in the other periods, and it would require us to restart a ton of work (most of it in fact I imagine ... except for maybe the 4th age, but even much of the 4th age is covered in the LOTR Appendices).

If I were them, I'd just make it with all different names to characters and places and then 'accidentally' leak a file that would make the names LotR again...

If I were them I'd move the project to some Eastern European server and pay some local kid $50 to write a 5 page "fuck you with a 10-foot cactus" letter to WB (in beautiful cursive calligraphy).

Considering that we are in talks with WB, and that our fanbase can be quite noisy ... the news would leak and spread I assure you, and I don't think WB would be too happy. We don't want to be pirates: we want to resolve things peacefully. If MERP doesn't work out ... well, you'll see.

This community of Middle-earth players isn't easily daunted. If necessary, the effort will simply go underground. WB won't be able to stop it.

We aren't going underground, period. We know better then to play with fire. If they really wanted to bring us to a courtroom, those members in the U.S. won't be able to hide. And as I said earlier, we want to keep things civil and peaceful, and we have had contact with WB (again, I do not want to release details).

Something just occurred to me, since WB dont own the IP surely they cant dictate who uses it. Would it not be upto Middle Earth Enterprises to decide and if so then WB are acting illegally.

They can dictate Middle Earth media related to games set in LOTR or The Hobbit. Being a game mod, we fall under game media. By the way, Middle Earth Enterprises sent a C&D to a Morrowind Middle Earth mod long ago (MERP was born some time later I believe).

Exactly this. Sod the quests, just release the map (the creatures would be good but they could do that as a seperate mod). Surely WB don't own the rights to depictions of the geography of Middle-earth? And if they do, they can't own the geography for Middle-earth for all time periods... so set MERP 1 year before the Hobbit.

We are trying to keep in good standing with them: any form of release I doubt will make them happy. In order for any form of negotiations to go well with them, we will abide by the C&D.

This might give a twist to the events: Tolkien Estate Sues Warner Bros.

What caught my eye is: But Warners and the other defendants have "with increasing boldness, engaged in a continuing and escalating pattern of usurping rights to which they are not entitled," the estate argues. For example, their rights include only "tangible" merchandise, not downloadable video games available only on mobile devices or tablets or Facebook.

Just to let you all know, we are aware of this case. However, keep in mind that this case could take a long time to resolve. The C&D WB sent us is still valid.

If I were among the leaders of this MERP project, I'd firstly take the timeline back to original MERP, which is Third Age 1640(circa), secondly, I'd write to Middle-Earth Enterprises, saying that WB has abused the terms of their license agreements, with their threats, which can't be legal. I'm pretty sure it's not upto WB to send cease and desist letters, since they don't own the actual rights. They are the current license-holders. Emphasis on current.

It would've been different if Middle-Earth Enterprises had sent the Cease and Desist letters.

Even so, since it's not for profit(supposedly), I find it unlikely that they would've sent letters out.

What about that film, Born of Hope?

Middle-Earth Enterprises never stopped that from being made.

As I've said: WB does hold power with this C&D. And as I also said before: Middle Earth Enterprises has sent out a C&D or two in the past as well. Going to a big company and pointing fingers at another really won't be helping us.

Also, please visit our ModDb page and post any thoughts or concerns you might have.

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