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Villians & Vigilantes Creators Win Lawsuit, Rights To Game

timothy posted about a year ago | from the remember-my-brother-playing-this dept.

Role Playing (Games) 30

rcade writes "Jeff Dee and Jack Herman, the creators of the old-school super-hero roleplaying game Villains & Vigilantes, have won a copyright and trademark lawsuit over the game's publisher Scott Bizar of Fantasy Games Unlimited. Magistrate Judge Mark E. Aspey of the U.S. District Court of Arizona ruled that Jeff Dee and Jack Herman own the rights to the game based on the 1979 contract they reached with Bizar. The court also found that Bizar never had the right to sell derivative products or ebook PDF editions, which are a big deal to tabletop publishers these days. Too bad this judge didn't hear Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's case."

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Villians? (0)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about a year ago | (#43208107)

Doesn't your browser come with spellcheck?

Re:Villians? (5, Funny)

sunwukong (412560) | about a year ago | (#43208181)

Obviously the error was the work of that nefarious criminal, Transpose Dr, and his evil minion, The DistractoPedant!

Re:Villians? (0)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#43208357)

Doesn't your browser come with spellcheck?

Timothy is overpaid for a very crappy job he does.

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3558441&cid=43207991 [slashdot.org]

2 submission in a row with error checks the editor (Timothy) doesn't even try to correct.

fishy reporting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43208151)

Since when magistrate judges can rule like that? For those from outside of USA: They are something like "junior" judges assisting main judge is day to day handling of technical matters of the case. Disposition on merits are resehttp://games.slashdot.org/story/13/03/18/2112219/villians-vigilantes-creators-win-lawsuit-rights-to-gamerved to district court judges.

Re:fishy reporting (3, Informative)

rcade (4482) | about a year ago | (#43208457)

The first line of the ruling: "All of the parties have acquiesced to the exercise of magistrate judge jurisdiction, including the entry of final
judgment."

Mixed Feelings (4, Interesting)

poena.dare (306891) | about a year ago | (#43208287)

If it wasn't for FGU I wouldn't have bought V&V. On the other hand, the FGU http://www.fantasygamesunlimited.net/ [fantasygam...imited.net] webmaster should be shot.

Re:Mixed Feelings (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43208733)

When I first saw the ad for the V&V expansion "Final Fight with the Furies" I was fairly certain it said "Anal Fight with the Furries." I fully expect this to be downvoted to oblivion but go to the website and check it out for yourself before you judge. It's the second item down in the purple box.

Re:Mixed Feelings (1)

plover (150551) | about a year and a half ago | (#43209313)

When I first saw the ad for the V&V expansion "Final Fight with the Furies" I was fairly certain it said "Anal Fight with the Furries." I fully expect this to be downvoted to oblivion but go to the website and check it out for yourself before you judge. It's the second item down in the purple box.

I think that was just screen burn-in from your porn collection.

Re:Mixed Feelings (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43210139)

I don't think we can shoot the FGU Webmaster... clearly he died in 1998 and no one has updated the website since then.

Re:Mixed Feelings (2)

webmistressrachel (903577) | about a year and a half ago | (#43210347)

I had to look after I saw this comment... AND NOW MY EYES ARE BLEEDING! Do not, under any circumstances, visit that site. Or if you must, use Links or Lynx. Don't say you weren't warned...

Re:Mixed Feelings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43212059)

I clicked the link, expecting that the corporate filter would block out the site, as it does with all "games" related sites...

DAMN YOU CORPORATE FILTER FOR NOT WORKING!

Incidentally: Captcha was "terrors". No shit.

Re:Mixed Feelings (1)

webmistressrachel (903577) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219849)

I can't believe I got modded "Insightful" for this. Informative? Interesting? Underrated maybe? But not Insightful!

ps no Karma Bonus used, so no Overrated, please, it's a relevant observation...

Siegel & Schuster weren't the only ones (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43208409)

How about Jack Kirby, Roy Thomas, Barry Smith, and many, many more? I'd like to see an accounting of what would happen if all comic creators were abruptly awarded part ownership of what they created. I'll bet a year's salary that Marvel & DC could never survive the cash outflow.

Re:Siegel & Schuster weren't the only ones (2)

AaronLS (1804210) | about a year ago | (#43208521)

If the article summary is accurate, the ruling was based on the judge's interpretation of the contract between the creators and publishers. So whether or not this is applicable in other scenarios, probably hinges on the text of the contracts in each scenario. Kind of like a question I see often about if a programmer writes some code for someone, who owns the product, and who owns the code? Each depends on the terms of the work agreement in that particular case.

Re:Siegel & Schuster weren't the only ones (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year and a half ago | (#43209483)

The inventor or innovator of a new product is usually not the big winner when his/her baby hits it big. Every now and then, an entrepreneur doesn't sell out to the "big" offer that comes along with initial success... but that's not the way it usually works. As for Siegel and Shuster, they have renegotiated the $130 sale of their Superman idea several times in the years since, and sued for rights of copy several times as well.

Re:Siegel & Schuster weren't the only ones (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year and a half ago | (#43210909)

The inventor or innovator of a new product is usually not the big winner when his/her baby hits it big. Every now and then, an entrepreneur doesn't sell out to the "big" offer that comes along with initial success... but that's not the way it usually works

Usually, said new product needs to be brought out to the market, which is quite a bit different from inventing. Productization and manufacturing are very specific skills that few inventors actually have and can't really fake. You can try, but you'll find you won't make a lot of money - going from the lab to production is not trivial nor a matter of scaling things up. In addition, new inventions aren't necessarily public-ready - inventing the technology was the easy part, the hard part is all the productization and refinement that can turn it into something commercially viable.

Unfortunately, this step is also the most expensive. So the traditional route has been to seek an investor who will front the money to do the dull boring and expensive parts (including tooling for manufacturing - an up front cost that can vary from thousands to millions). Of course, the investor is risking basically all their money, so they demand equally big returns.

However, we do have the advantage of things like kickstarter, which is an easy source for this money with very little demanded on returns. But it also means that the inventor has to do a bit of the boring stuff so they can market and show their invention to the world and make it relevant to kickstarter browsers.

Re:Siegel & Schuster weren't the only ones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43208599)

I'd take that bet. Disney can afford just about anything. Mickey mouse now owns spiderman.

Re:Siegel & Schuster weren't the only ones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43209165)

And Jar Jar Binks!

No, this is a bad thing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43208603)

Allowing the existence of different copyrights for trivially different modes of storing the same information will just mean a clusterfuck of conflicting rightsholders all preventing us from getting anything at all!

Re:No, this is a bad thing! (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#43208713)

Allowing the existence of different copyrights for trivially different modes of storing the same information will just mean a clusterfuck of conflicting rightsholders all preventing us from getting anything at all!

So... business as usual, then.

Not a big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43209059)

hoytduff@gmail.com
hoytduff@gmail.com
hoytduff@gmail.com
 
Captcha: copied

On T.V. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43209119)

Is this the same Jeff Dee that appears on the Atheist Experience from time to time?

Re:On T.V. (1)

rcade (4482) | about a year and a half ago | (#43210103)

Same guy.

Long strange road . . . (4, Interesting)

StefanJ (88986) | about a year and a half ago | (#43209275)

I wrote several of the old V&V adventures. I have many fond memories of dropping by FGUs offices and seeing guys like Jeff Dee & Bill Willingham toiling in the art hole . . . sometimes working on art for my RPG adventures!

For several years dealing with FGU was a good enough gig, but the publisher just sort of disappeared after the late 90s.

I had given up hearing from him ever again when Jeff pointed out that the company was still in business, sort of, and selling my stuff.

I eventually got back royalties, and even had a trunk manuscript (for another game system) published, but it is an uncomfortable situation. V&V aside, what other rights are up in the air?

I hope the appeal gets processed quickly so Monkey House can start work on V&V e3 and I can work on new editions of my old stuff for them!

Re:Long strange road . . . (1)

Creepy (93888) | about a year and a half ago | (#43211015)

I've known people that worked for FGU, both with good success and bad - good luck to you

Re:Long strange road . . . (2)

IronChef (164482) | about a year and a half ago | (#43214341)

The good ole pen & paper business!

I used to work for a three-letter RPG publisher that went belly-up. As a line editor I developed books with an army of freelancers. These poor people were unpaid for their last months of efforts (as was I) and I have their manuscripts to this day... cool RPG books from ancient history that no one will ever see. It's too bad.

I tried to get the authors to let me release the books for free, just so fans of the line could have them, but most people were understandably not feeling generous after getting stiffed by the company.

Siegel and Schuster's Case? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43210129)

Too bad? So the descendents of a pair of guys who created a character over 80 years ago are entitled to residuals on a character that has little to do with the modern character? I know this is Slashdot and the little guy is always right here, but the Siegel and Schuster claims are almost as bad as Disney's constant copyright extensions.

Villains and Vigilantes on the other hand sounds like it was work that they developed on their own, sent to a publisher, and then the publisher got carried away with what they thought they could do.

Re:Siegel and Schuster's Case? (1)

JDAustin (468180) | about a year and a half ago | (#43210825)

Correction...

Siegel and Schuster were paid of handsomely 3 times over the past 80 years. The first time when they were paid $50,000 after WW2 for all rights to Superman. S&S (and their descendents) just kept on going back and wanting more money.

Memories (1)

Tom (822) | about a year and a half ago | (#43211757)

One of those games that I loved and then it was unavailable. I had a copy of the rulebook borrowed from someone who still had one. The game was so-so, but it had a couple really cool ideas and concepts, starting, of course, with character creation.

I hope there'll be a new edition out now. Please?

Re:Memories (1)

jzoetewey (200538) | about a year and a half ago | (#43230835)

If you go to Monkey House Games' website (owned by V&V's creators), you'll find that the 3rd edition is in the works.

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