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Villains & Vigilantes Creators Win Rights to Game

After a 20-month legal battle, the creators of the super-hero roleplaying game Villians & Vigilantes have prevailed in their court fight with the game's longtime publisher. Magistrate Judge Mark E. Aspey of the U.S. District Court for Arizona ruled on January 15 that Jeff Dee and Jack Herman own the rights to the game based on the 1979 contract they reached with publisher Scott Bizar of Fantasy Games Unlimited. The court also found that Bizar never had the right to sell derivative products or ebook PDF editions of the game, two things he has been actively doing in recent years.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

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Well, good for them! I loved FGU's products but Bizar was such a dick as things went on.

Wonder if that means he'll have to let go of Space Opera, too?

Prepare for the return of Foxbat!


Actually, Foxbat was Champions, I think...

OK, then who was the token hero created for V&V? I don't remember. It's been 25+ years since I played it last.

Didn't have one really. A lot of their friends' characters popped up as placeholders...

Not only that, but Foxbat has a wiki page. Somebody thought this guy was notable!

I really hope that the creators of the other games FGU has been sitting on these many years follow this lead.

Me, too. My impression of Bizar and many other publishers is that they will hold on to the rights (legally or not) until asked to relinquish them. (Some only take a gentle reminder, some require the force of an appeals court.)

But my impression might be biased because I was reading blogs by both Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Rausch yesterday.

Apparently the court found that Bizar has been selling ebook and derivative work stuff around the V&V IP "for years" without the right to do so. Presumably that could result in punitive damages being levied against Bizar?

Edited at 2013-03-19 07:22 pm (UTC)

Assuming he loses the appeal.

I presume (not knowing) that there was a contract covering each adventure module in its original form. There the situation might be different: I doubt that he has the rights to sell the ebook versions, but he might have rights to sell the originals. (Though without the V&V trademark, that will be difficult, unless Messrs. Dee and Herman want to license it to him.)

IANAL: that said, as I read the article, Bizar has the rights to (re-)print and sell the editions of the game he contracted to; as for all the derivative works, presumably he has the right to (re-)print and sell the ones he original contracted to, but also any other derivative works he wants based on those original editions of the games. Plus, he can't stop Dee & Herman from using the name 'Villains & Vigilanties' in order to market and sell their new game.

In actual fact, likely the whole thing is a mess, and really all the decision does is let Dee & Herman do what they like with the name and IP and prevents Bizar from actively getting in their way. He could probably still -passively- get in their way by continuing to sell what he has the right to sell.

From what I can read, that does -not- include e-rights. He can specifically only sell the printed versions of those original two editions. So he's gonna have to stick money into printing if he wants to sell the game, but presumably, he can just set up a lulu or something for just-in-time printing of sold products: just no PDFs or other e-book formats.

Edited at 2013-03-19 09:07 pm (UTC)

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