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Re: (TFT) TFT Rights

As I understand it:

1. Steve Jackson released his claim on TFT copyrights in a settlement with
Metagaming in 1981-82. Metagaming owned the rights and Steve has no more
claim over them than you or me.

2. When Metagaming folded, its assets (including the TFT copyrights) would
have been distributed to Howard, it's sole shareholder.

3. So Howard owns the copyrights.

4. A willful infringement of a copyright carries statutory penalties as high
as $100,000 even if the infringer made no money. Steve is unlikely to take
that chance. Plus, he's got GURPS -- why bother?

5. Those copyrights last for 75 years or Steve's life plus 50 years,
depending on how the settlement was structured.

6. A copyright owner is under no duty to "defend" his copyright (that's

So it seems very unlikely to me that SJ (or anyone else) would be much
interested in running the risk.

--Ty Beard, Attorney at Law

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Taylor <MichaelTaylor1@compuserve.com>
To: TFT Entire Mailing List <tft@brainiac.com>
Cc: Eric Kimball <ekimball@earthlink.net>; joaquin lippincott-ames
<joaquinl@ucla.edu>; Robert A. Rodger <robertrodger@earthlink.net>; Scott
<scottcorum@aol.com>; Curtis Shenton <zengobln@ix.netcom.com>; Mike Strauss
Date: Sunday, November 08, 1998 8:05 PM
Subject: (TFT) TFT Rights

Now, please forgive me if this seems a little slimy - I'm not really
'proposing' it so much as 'role-playing' it.

But why hasn't anyone - particularly Steve Jackson - just started
publishing TFT again?

As I understand it, Howard Thompson disappeared from site to avoid paying
his publishing bills. Therefore, if Steve Jackson started publishing TFT
again, in order to defend his copyright, Howard Thompson would have to come
out of hiding - and therefore be subject to lawsuits of his own.

If Howard didn't come out of the woodwork then eventually (I'm not sure how
long it would take) the copyright would be 'unprotected' and I believe it
would considered public domain at that point (any lawyers out there?).

If Howard did come out of the woodwork, he'd have so many legal troubles of
his own that he would probably be unable to sue Steve Jackson. Also even if
he did sue Steve Jackson, he would probably lose, because as I understand
it the courts almost always side with the origional creator - regardless of
the actual contract (I'm thinking of the "Mr. Bill" case where even though
the creator clearly had given up all rights, they were returned to him when
it started making money). Especially in the case of 'ulimatum' contracts
(What I've heard is that the way it went down was that Steve Jackson could
keep either Ogre and Car Wars or TFT and decided to keep Car Wars and Ogre
because 'there are already plenty of fantasy games out there').

Any thoughts?


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