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FlameGuard

Lord of the rings.....

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Hi everyone, This is a question i have had in my head for some time now. Is there such a way to make a game based upon a story like lord of the rings and make it freeware??

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Original post by FlameGuard
Is there such a way to make a game based upon a story like lord of the rings and make it freeware??

Yes. You can contact the I.P. holders in question (in the case of Lord of the Rings, I believe it is the Tolkien estate) and get their permission for your freeware game. The likelihood of them accepting depends heavily on the people in question, of course.

If instead you mean you want to base your game on a story similar but different to Lord of the Rings, by all means write your own fantasy story full of elves and goblins. Just be sure to avoid infringing on any of Tolkien's I.P. and you'll be fine.

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I have previously checked the "Tolkien Enterprise" website, It states "Three Years Industry Experience" or such, To get the rights. I take it this is for a commercial product though, While i am thinking of Freeware. They dont accept any emails applications either. It seems they do make it hard to get hold of them.

There are "companys" and such who own the rights to Lord of the rings. Such as Games workshop, New-Line , Etc. Is it possible to contact one of these companys and gain the lisence/rights via-them to create a game based upon there vision?

Such as Games-Workshop.co.uk, Wich is a "Hobbyist" table-top game.

Another question is, Would it be possible to base a story upon past-history events? Like Greece, Rome , etc? I take it these are all "public" rights?

Thanks.

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Original post by FlameGuard
I have previously checked the "Tolkien Enterprise" website, It states "Three Years Industry Experience" or such, To get the rights. I take it this is for a commercial product though, While i am thinking of Freeware. They dont accept any emails applications either. It seems they do make it hard to get hold of them.
Makes no difference if it is commercial or free - you need to get the IP (Intellectual Property) owners permission.

Quote:
There are "companys" and such who own the rights to Lord of the rings. Such as Games workshop, New-Line , Etc. Is it possible to contact one of these companys and gain the lisence/rights via-them to create a game based upon there vision?
It is very unlikely. Those companies got permission from the Tolkien Estate to create a specific type of product and they paid a lot of money for the rights. Why would they then allow you to make a game for free when they had to pay?

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Another question is, Would it be possible to base a story upon past-history events? Like Greece, Rome , etc? I take it these are all "public" rights?
You are correct. You can use ancient events, settings, people (real or mythical).

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Right, Few more questions :) .....

How can a team get together to create a Total Conversion Modification for a game like Oblivion and turn it in to "Middle Earth/Lord of the rings" world/story/characters etc, Without getting hold of the rights?

They use the entire story, Landscapes etc, Yet... They dont need to get permission? Freeware ofcourse, But no permission needed?

I dont see how its possible for a Freeware project to even get hold of the rights and such to create a free game based upon the Lord of the rings world/story if the company who has this power doesnt even respond to emails?

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Original post by FlameGuard
Right, Few more questions :) .....

... Which happen to all be answered in Tom's FAQ.

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How can a team get together to create a Total Conversion Modification for a game like Oblivion and turn it in to "Middle Earth/Lord of the rings" world/story/characters etc, Without getting hold of the rights?

If they want to make the game, then that is just fine and dandy. Make the game for yourselves.

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They use the entire story, Landscapes etc, Yet... They dont need to get permission?

No problem.

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Freeware ofcourse, But no permission needed?

STOP! DOOM LIES DOWN THIS ROAD!

Making a game which you will use privately and never distribute is just fine. Making it available publicly without permission, even for free, puts you in clear violation of the law.

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I dont see how its possible for a Freeware project to even get hold of the rights and such to create a free game based upon the Lord of the rings world/story if the company who has this power doesnt even respond to emails?


Stop and think for a few moments.


Pretend that you are no longer a programmer. Pretend that you are an incredibly rich person who owns the very profitable LOTR brand.


{Begin special effects of rippling display, and your face overlaid of the rich property owner}

How much money can you, as the brand owner, get with the video game rights? Observe that "The Hobbit" now has two titles (1982 and 2003), with each one netting quite a bit of money in license fees. Imagine how much revenue flows into the IP owner's bank account every month with license fees from "Lord of the Rings Online" MMORPG? Imagine the one-off titles like "Battle for Middle Earth", and each of the three Jackson movie titles getting their own video game on PS2, XBox, and GameCube.

Think hard, and explain why the brand owner should allow a small-time programmer -- somebody with no established name -- access to extremely valuable, globally recognized IP, with IP rights that bring them a small fortune in license fees every year? Why risk damaging the name with no financial return? Why risk diluting very profitable contracts for nothing in return?

Still envisioning yourself as the owner of the LOTR brand, ask yourself if you are willing to lose control of the brand? As the brand owner, you know that you can potentially lose your rights if you don't sue everybody who makes even the tiniest infringement. Knowing this, how will you respond when a small unfunded individual blatantly violates your rights and threatens your piggy bank? Would you not take at least the minimum steps required by law to enforce your rights, suing this little bug who dares steal your father's IP?

{Now stop this exercise, special effects fading out. But please keep using your brain. }



Now that you have thought about it from their point of view, do you still think it is a good idea?

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I think you may have mis-read some of the stuff i posted or i didnt explain it good enough.

A modification, can be created for a game "Example" Oblivion. They change the entire game in to the Lord of the rings world, They use characters, Locations, etc. The whole lot, They develope it as freeware, They release it to the public for free download.

Now then, If this can be done (Note: Wich has been done and is being done for a number of games, Without them being sued).....

It would be very close to go with a Custom Game engine or even a pre-made game engine and develope a freeware project that is released to the public.

See?

Free Modification = Un-Lisenced
Free Custom-Engine-Game = Un-Lisenced

One using a "Pre-Made" engine by a company wich then modders create a freeware project for.

One using a "Custom Engine" by a Indie Team wich they develope a freeware project on.

It seems to me, Why can modifications be developed on but a game can-not? They are both Freeware and use the same main concept.

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Flameguard, your reasoning is very far off base. Re-read the posts above and do read Sloper's FAQ. The advice they provide is very reasonable.

I've had intimate experience with with Tolkien-licensed franchises. You don't have a right to create a product based around the LOTR universe and distribute it freely. Such distribution can weaken the value of the LOTR property, and the owners of that property have a right and a legal responsibility to defend its value. That means they have a right to sue and prevent your use of the LOTR property.

Furthermore in my experience, the owner of the LOTR property as well as some current licensees often have very high standards for how the property is used. They will not entertain proposals from those with little or no experience.

Just because someone else is getting away with it at the moment doesn't mean you can too.

Do heed the advice given above.

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We fully understand what you are saying... your just not understanding our replies.

1. You need permission from the Tolkien Estate/foundation
2. The other people you talk anout who are doing LotR games also need permission
3. Some of them may actually HAVE permission as they may have contacted the IP owner (but I think this is very unlikely because of the business reasons which Frob explained earlier).
4. Those people making LotR games without permission of the Tolkien Estate are infringing on their copyright. The IP owner has the right to take action against them including taking them to court.
5. The Tolkien Estate isn't the Eye of Mordor - they can't see what everyone in the whole world is doing so they may not know about these teams. If these games get made and become successful then the Tolkien Estate will most likely find out (or possibly one of the game companies who paid millions of $ for the rights will find out and tell the Tolkien Estate) and at this point they may decide to take legal action.
6. Just because those people haven't been caught yet doesn't mean that what they are doing is right or that it is allowed.

Conclusion
LotR belongs to someone. You need their permission to make a game using the IP - It makes no difference at all if this is freeware, commercial, opensource or raspberry sauce. You need to get their permission. Some people in the world don't care about rights of other people. They think that because they like something they can do whatever they want with it and ignore the rights of the people who own it.

Are you one of those people? If you are they go ahead and do what you want (and don't waste our time trying to find some reason why it is OK - there isn't one).


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Quote:
Original post by Muzo72
the owners of that property have a right and a legal responsibility to defend its value.


You're confusing trademarks and copyrights. Trademarks do indeed need to be defended. Copyright, which covers things like the text of LOTR and any derivative works, is yours until it expires, period. Copyright owners do often look the other way; there's a rather high-profile community of Harry Potter fanfiction authors, for example.

The trouble with gambling on this assumption that someone won't sue is that you're already breaking the law. You're not entitled to any warnings, especially not when you're deliberately creating a derivative work of someone else's copyrighted material. See here for further explanation.

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