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Things are looking better, I think.
The petition is now passed 27,000 signers. And hopefully the Tolkien Estate's lawsuit is going well. Though it is a shame it's come to this. To think that if this C&D business had never happened, there'd be four more months of development done by now.
If you're reading this, Angry Joe. Merp could really use your help to spread awareness of the situation.
Warner Brothers does not have a legal right to do this; they're being sued by the Tolkien Estate for going beyond the bounds of their license agreement. They're trying to take what was at first a limited rights license and to turn it into an unlimited rights license. In other words, Warner Brothers wants to flat out own the Lord of the Rings IP. Non-tangible digital media is beyond their jurisdiction. This would include Merp.
The fact that they'd send a Cease and Desist to a non-profit fan mod is disgusting and made even more so when it's been revealed that their legal rights for doing so are in question.
-July 11th, 2013
Hello, everyone. I, like my verbal comrade-in-arms Recoveryanonymous, am a huge fan and supporter of MERP.
Angry Joe, I have seen several of your videos and I find that I agree with many of the things you say. Unlike some internet reviewers, you give good reviews to good games and rail against crud that companies make to rob us gamers of our money rather than just ranting online to get attention.
Now there is a group that needs your help: MERP.
As you have heard, MERP was victimized by the brutal policies of Warner Brothers under the flimsy premise of MERP being a threat to their profits. This is anything but true. MERP was merely a Skyrim mod with a small fan base before all of this C&D business. Some of us fans, myself included, are fans of Peter Jackson's LOTR and Hobbit movies. I've gone to see the Hobbit twice already. We have never wished any ill will towards WB or their enterprises.
But now, we're all shocked by their actions. WB betrayed many of their fans by sending MERP that C&D. Their greed is made evident by the record of their lawyers' negotiations with the MERP team. Click the link below to see.
The record indicates that MERP was willing to severely limit the Middle-Earth experience in their mod to avoid treading on WB's toes, but WB didn't care. They wanted MERP gone, and they wanted it to die quietly.
But MERP didn't die. It still lives. And that is all because of the 27,000 signers of the petition to save the mod. The MERP fan base has rallied to save the mod by making noise everywhere we can. My comrade Recoveryanonymous is a prime example of these efforts.
It's actually ironic that WB's intent to destroy MERP has significantly increased its fan base.
WB's actions became even more appalling in late November of last year when we learned that the Tolkien estate was suing WB for producing "non-tangible" merchandise. According to the Estate, WB never had these rights. As MERP is a non-tangible product, that means WB sent a C&D that they never were legally able to send. They are currently locked a legal battle with the Estate, and Christopher Tolkien is uncompromising when it comes to defending his father's legacy.
This is a shocking example of WB's greed. They betrayed some of their most loyal fans with their recent actions.
Angry Joe, we at MERP desperately ask for your help. You are a strong voice with many gamers. If you were to unleash some anger against WB, it would go a very long way to helping the dreams of many Tolkien fans come true.
As I said, I believe you are a great and honest person. Like Faramir of Gondor, please show your quality and help MERP in its time of need.
I'll see about doing that.
But for now, Breaking news.
Zaentz the license holder for the Lord of the Rings has begun a counter suit against the Tolkien Estate.
They're claiming "...that a 1996 agreement specifically allows online video games — but also that the fame and goodwill generated for Tolkien’s work is “largely the result of the dedicated efforts of Zaentz and its licensees (including Warner Bros.) over the past four decades.”
In other words: Not only are we in the right, but you should be grateful that we made Tolkien’s works so popular in the first place."
(from the article).
I really do resent their claims of making Tolkien's works popular in the first place. All Zaentz did for the previous three decades was make those Rankin/Bass films. Technically Warner Brothers didn't publish the Rings movie trilogy, New Line Cinema did. Even by the time the trilogy came out, Lord of the Rings had existed for almost fifty years, being the second most read book of the 20th century behind the Bible.
But like a trapped rat, they're biting back now.
My money is on the Tolkien Estate. When ever these juggernauts butt heads with one another, the Tolkien Estate comes out on top.
-July 11th, 2013
It seems the great battle for the possession of Middle Earth is about to begin with the fate of Merp now thrown into the fray. To the victor goes the spoils, as they say.
With this lawuit with the Tolkien Estate and now the counter suit from Zaentz, I can't help but be reminded of the Ringbearer's story. Failure is always a moment away, but is always avoided even if only just so. I only hope this situation will parallel Frodo's story and not Turambar's.
-July 11th, 2013
Let's root for the Tolkien Estate in court, then. If they win, WB won't be able to do anything and Merp can continue.
P.S. over 28,000 signers on the petition as of right now.
-July 11th, 2013
Woot! I'm one of them too! I hope Merp can continue. I'm having a hard time understanding how someone can do a cover of a song, a fan art of someone's cartoon / movie, but someone can't make a fan 'mod' from a book.
MERP if successful may damage future revenue for those who own the intellectual property. Even if MERP is going to be free - it will have a market value and thus its seen as competition or a threat.
Fan art/movie is normally for personal use or not long enough (in a movies case) to be seen as a commercial threat. Star Trek porn (for example) targets a whole other market so there are no worries about threatening the financial potential of the IP (plus its Trek porn).
MERPs potential is in a whole other stratosphere. It has commercial and public interest, value and worth. The IP owners should actually invest in it to avoid bad publicity.
The problem with that argument is that when first presented with the cease and desist, the Merp team offered to do a private release for just the developers of the mod only. That would've eliminated any effect on the market. Did WB care? Nope.
Realistically Merp's final release won't be for a while. They'll do big releases for each major region at a time like Rohan with a bunch of quests, then Eriador or whatever they decide on after Rohan. But the final release, when Merp is all said and done won't be for a few years at least. Not that I have a problem with that. I've been waiting for a studio release like Merp for years. I hope the team takes their time with it and crafts it accordingly.
The effect Merp will have on the market wouldn't be felt until much later than that, I think. Console users wouldn't be effected by it, so scratch off that market. PC users would be effected, but only the portion that uses mods, so cut that market by at least a half if not more. Really I don't think WB had a particularly strong argument for how Merp would cannibalize the market and from the lawsuits going on right now, it seems they didn't have a particularly strong legal reason either.
I do think Merp's potential is great like you said, however. Word of mouth over the Lord of the Rings RPG could spread like wildfire Maybe even enough so to convince a studio with a budget to actually develop one that isn't a cash grab, some day.
Oh come on. This is Warner Brothers; who says they're smart?
-July 11th, 2013