Strange Legal Question
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Post Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 2:00 pm 
 

I don't suppose there are many differences between UK and US law in the genral way things are dealt with. So I'll ask for all input...

If a company owns the rights to something it published, buth copyrigh and IP rights, and the copany goes into liquidation, presumably the copyright and IP rights pass to the companies creditors at that time.

Where do they go from there? If there are no records etc. who can claim copyright over a liguidated companies IP and copyrights?


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Post Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 3:35 pm 
 

Here are a couple of Wikipedia articles that might shed some light on the subject:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orphaned_works
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abandonware

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Post Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 4:08 pm 
 

In which case, if the company in question no longer exists, and it's IP and copyright assets remain unclaimed by the companies creditors (who are probably unaware of, or don't care about, them anyway), a publisher would be free to republish those works in whatever form they saw fit.


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Post Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 5:34 pm 
 

Unless the authors (assuming published materials here) have some claim to the IP.  i.e., TSR folds, but individual artists and module authors retain their rights.

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Post Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 6:02 pm 
 

In 1990, or so, a wargames store in Glasgow hired some architecture students to draw battle maps for them. They also got jobs in the store, and one of them did illustrations for some other wargames rules they put out.

In 1990 one of the owners of the Glasgow store left and set up Glaymore Games in Edinburgh, and he payed the same students to do FRP map packs which were published by Claymore Games Ltd.

In 1992 the shop changed hands. Although they continued to publish, the new owner only paid for the works in progress to be completed, and he only printed a single print run of the latter works. The company was in difficulty and in '94 the store went into receivership.

I bought a stack of stuff from their liquidation stock. Mostly wargames stuff. A little Planescape which was quite fashionable at the time, some Battletech and other assorted bits. I got some of the old Claymore Games stuff, and I now wonder who owns copyright.

I haven't been able to track down Robert Hamilton or Craig Mills, the students. They don't seem to be registered architects in the UK. I met the old games store owner at Claymore (It's also the name of a games convention held at Edinburgh Uni' each year) the year before last, and he said that his company had owned copyright. He said that he's published 7 or 8 products in that line. I said I'd like to get them reprinted (they're really quite good), but he didn't have any copies. Anyway, he said hi couldn't care less if I reprinted them. But I don't know what the legal situation is.

I'm also trying to track down the owners of Beast Entertainments Ltd.(Tortured Souls). They appear to have retained copyright inhouse, and seem to have been bought out by a games supplier called T.M. Games Ltd. in 1986/7. That's as far as that lead goes. T.M Games Ltd. and Beast Enterprises Ltd. have no surviving records at Companies House.


I would imagine that it is legal for me to publish orphan material provided I desist and withdraw if a copyright owner surfaces.


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Post Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 7:36 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:I would imagine that it is legal for me to publish orphan material provided I desist and withdraw if a copyright owner surfaces.

No. In general, not legal whether or not you're making money out of the republished item.

In the case above, you appear to have the OK from the copyright owner and do not require agreement from the architecture students since their input is stated to have been on a work for hire basis. Best to ensure you have clearance to republish in written/signed form, however.
Good luck with this, if you go ahead. :)

  

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Post Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 7:46 pm 
 

With regard to Beast Enterprises Ltd.'s products, I understand Beast owned copyright to all the material they published in TS.

Later, Integrated Games published four boxed sets which some people have attributed to Beast Entz, however these products were a collaborative effort between the owners of 3 companies who came together and formed Integrated Games as a separate entity, so Beast Enterprises only owned the rights to Tortured Souls. Their staff worked on the Complete Dungeon Master Series of boxed sets thast were owned and published by Integrated Games.

The material ownership of Beast Enterprises seems to have passed to TM Games in 1987, and then died with that company when it disolved in '88/9.


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Post Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 10:18 pm 
 

I agree with faro.  In general I do not think it is legal to republish old works that may seemingly be abandoned.  BTW the Integrated Games stuff is not abandoned and the author would probably be a bit upset if you started reprinting and selling them.   I had a nice chat with him not so long ago.  Some of the boxed sets have some fairly major revisions (more than one printing).  And the 5th set adventure Deep Water - Shallow Graves was written but didn't get published.  I do have an extra signed copy of the manuscript if anyone wants to trade.

If they are abandoned then there probably isn't a problem - who is going to come after you if no one knows they own the copyright.  But I think if you did republish something and then the owner did decide he didn't like it and sued you, you could end up in some hot water - especially if you have no written authority.  I think you need to find whoever does have the publishing rights and get their written permission to publish first.  I don't think anything is technically abandoned but you would probably have to follow the chain to see who would have the rights.  If it goes to the authors and they die, then it gets passed on to the authors heirs, etc.

One question that I do have is that is it just a minor offence or is it possibly a criminal offence to something like this?  Consider if you were doing this to make money.  Isn't that now theft?  You are essentially creating forgeries right.  As much as I would like to see some of this stuff reprinted I think there can be some serious consequences if you don't go through the proper channels.

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Post Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:13 pm 
 

Ian, one of hte guys over on K&K is a UK lawyer; you might ask the Q over there for some UK-based legal thoughts.


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 5:21 am 
 

grodog wrote:Ian, one of hte guys over on K&K is a UK lawyer; you might ask the Q over there for some UK-based legal thoughts.


Thanks, Allan. I'll do that.

As regards Claymore Games products, I have received tacit approval from the previous company owner, and I'm sure I can get that in writing. He's into wargames re-enactment now and he plays wargames still. I'm sure I can agree terms for publishing with him. The problem we have is finding copies of the products to print from. I got the idea that the fantasy maps were just a minor attempt to ride the Judges Guild bandwagon.

In the UK, it was Judges Guild that really demonstrated that you didn't just have to buy from TSR. Looking back, we were really quite cut off from RPG development in the US. Hense the success of Games Workshop's own range of products.

I have no interest in seeing Integrated Games products come to print again. They have owners as you say, and I'm sure if they see an opening they'll print. The d20 license is quite crippling though.

Beast Enterprises Ltd. is a different matter. I'm interested to find out where copyright lies now for what they published.


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Post Posted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 9:55 pm 
 

In the US, at least, copyright law stipulates that the copyright holders must make every effort to defend their copyrights.  If they don't, their claim on said copyrights is made weaker.

As for "is it legal", the answer is technically "no".  In your case, there are copyright holders still living (we assume); you just can't find them.  But you not being able to find them doesn't mean they have any less of a copyright stake.

Should you reproduce copyrighted products without the owner's permission, you could be sued (and a lawsuit does not need to be predicated by a cease-and-desist order; that's just a convenient way of resolving things outside the courtroom).  A lawsuit could probably successfully recover any profits you made from the sale of said items, plus some.  If it takes ten years for a lawsuit to appear, the chances of it succeeding are somewhat less -- again, the copyright holder needs to defend the copyright.

I'm not a lawyer, but that's how I understand it.  In general, you're best bet is to leave copyrighted material alone, unless you have written permission.  Anything else is simply not worth the trouble.

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Post Posted: Sun Apr 02, 2006 5:25 am 
 

Thanks, Scott.

I've been discussing things with Gary (the previous owner of Claymore Games) and I've been working on the reprinting of Armaron. I don't have the original map masters which were drawn on drafting film, but I have paper copies. I'm sure he'll be playing at Claymore (Convention) this year and I'll type something innocuous up and make my pitch then.

As regards Beast Entz, one of the creditors, Parchment (Oxford) Limited (their printers), said they never managed to recover the costs of printing the last issue, and destroyed stock (that'll account for the rarity).

Technically I would imagine they and the bank probobly own shares in the copyrighted material rights between them, but I very much doubt either of them knows or cares.

I suspect some of the early material published in Tortured Souls 1-5 was actually written on the side by TSR's Imagine staff, moonlighting.

If you're still in touch with anyone ar Integrated Games, Mark, PM me. They may know about waht went on in those days.


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Post Posted: Sun Oct 01, 2006 6:27 pm 
 

Anymore progress on any of this stuff, Ian?  Claymore, Tortured Souls, The Beholder, etc.?


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Post Posted: Tue Oct 03, 2006 1:23 pm 
 

grodog wrote:Anymore progress on any of this stuff, Ian?  Claymore, Tortured Souls, The Beholder, etc.?


Claymore - I have some of the original product, but none of the items I have are complete and I can't find any more among the sources I have (the Glasgow and Edinburgh gaming communities). I do have written permission to publish, although I have no complete product to attempt to market.

Tortured Souls! - I have the entire publication in ESD, but I have not been able to track down the original copyright holder. In fact, I cannot find any reference to an owner by name of Beast Enterprises Ltd. and Parchment Press do not retain records from the 80's. I am considering republishing in the UK to see if I can flush out the original owners. From my discussion with Parchment (the printer) I believe the copyright owner is actually a series of debtors who are unaware that they own copyright in anything.

Beholder - I would really like to see this republished. I have neither the product nor any contact info for the guy who visited here saying he was the original publisher. (Alan Killjoy - do you have an e-mail address for the Beholder guy?)

So, maybe if I get the nerve I might publish TS and see if I can get one of the original owners of Beast Entz to contact me.


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Post Posted: Tue Oct 03, 2006 1:56 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:
Claymore - I have some of the original product, but none of the items I have are complete and I can't find any more among the sources I have (the Glasgow and Edinburgh gaming communities). I do have written permission to publish, although I have no complete product to attempt to market.

Tortured Souls! - I have the entire publication in ESD, but I have not been able to track down the original copyright holder. In fact, I cannot find any reference to an owner by name of Beast Enterprises Ltd. and Parchment Press do not retain records from the 80's. I am considering republishing in the UK to see if I can flush out the original owners. From my discussion with Parchment (the printer) I believe the copyright owner is actually a series of debtors who are unaware that they own copyright in anything.

Beholder - I would really like to see this republished. I have neither the product nor any contact info for the guy who visited here saying he was the original publisher. (Alan Killjoy - do you have an e-mail address for the Beholder guy?)

So, maybe if I get the nerve I might publish TS and see if I can get one of the original owners of Beast Entz to contact me.


ian

i dont have the e-mail addy sorry mate

he was on here not so long back though. there was a thread relating directly to it that he was talking about days gone by etc.

i seriously doubt he/they would have any problem at all with publishing it anew.

if you want to do it, i can let you utilise what issues i do have.

*punts brette*

:D

Al

ps. i like the idea of the TS thing though too



  

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Post Posted: Tue Oct 03, 2006 5:11 pm 
 

:roll:

Well I've pulled out the boxes, Just have to fine them now;)

Brette:)

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Post Posted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 8:19 pm 
 

We were hoping to see a Beholder Archive published through Different Worlds. It would give it more legitimacy and no doubt better artwork/packaging/presentation than a small press product. I have offered to undertake the work if the mecessary product and permissions could be secured. But the product wil probably only ever see the light of day if someone with a complete collection decided to digitise them.


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Post Posted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 6:14 am 
 

I belive that between Killjoy and myself we have a complete set of The Beholder (after his nice pick up of 27-29)..

Andreas Saeker responsible for StormLord has given his permission to resease his stuff...

http://groups.google.com.au/group/uk.games.roleplay/browse_thread/thread/83f9c987843406f3/2757d72ead47e32d?lnk=st&q=&rnum=76#2757d72ead47e32d

Brette:)

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Post Posted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 7:26 am 
 

yes i have quite a few beholders, but am missing the lower numbers

*nudges brette*

but yes, i got a great deal on 27-29 which still makes me smile. not that they were cheap mind, but getting all 3 together was a mighty swoop imo.

no probs with giving info from what i have though thats for sure. would be real nice to see a proper publication of them all combined.

Al



  


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Post Posted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 1:40 pm 
 

I have Beholders 1 - 28 (didn't know there was a 29!).  Let me know if I can help.

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