The following is a Facebook screed that my dear friend and literary hero, Jim Ward wrote on today’s date. I am republishing it here so that I don’t have to search through Facebook to find it later. Jim wrote hundreds of games and books that I’ve played or read over the years, and he’s a good man to boot. Also, I played craps with him for like 10 hours one night in the basement of the Doe Run Inn in Brandenburg, Kentucky. It concerns the Cease and Desist that TSR, Inc received from Chaosium regarding the Deities and Demigods books. Sometimes it comes up as “infringement,” a nice way of saying plagiarizing – and it’s not legit. I’ll let the man tell it in his own words.
Deities & Demigods
(Original by Jim Ward, as published to his personal Facebook Account. Presented as he wrote it excepting the addition of subtitles by me. )
I’m going to print this out once a year for the rest of my years. I absolutely hate it when ignorant people say TSR/me acted in copyright infringement for the Melnibonean and Lovecraft sections of the book.
Permission to use work
When I was given the assignment for that book I listed the various pantheons that I wanted to use. Gary noted that maybe the Lovecraft and Elric sections might be a problem. He gave me the Arkham House and Michael Morcock addresses and I immediately wrote them explaining what I was doing and asking for their permission to include their material. Wonder of wonders I got two letters back giving me permission to use their work. I foolishly gave those two letters to the lawyers at TSR. They might still be in some lost file at Wizards. I would kill for them now.
Anyway we printed up the book and it sold great. We then got a cease and desist letter from Chaosium. I don’t blame them a bit, however they didn’t know about the two letters. TSR would have won a court case hands down. However, the company wasn’t rich at that point and Brian Blume didn’t want to go to California, get a California lawyer, and spend time and money winning the case.
I went nuts because I had done way more than I was supposed to in clearing the way for those two licenses used in the book I wrote. I even offered to write two more pantheons free of charge, but the Blumes didn’t want to bother. I fumed for years.
Modern people talking bull
Now, when people talk on line about TSR in copyright violation it presses my maximum angry button. Maybe some of my facebook friends can pass along this word as time goes on so that my blood pressure levels can stay in the normal range.
Now this might seem like a rant and it is. However, when people say TSR was in infringement they are calling me a plagiarizer. I consider myself a very honorable man. I would never, ever steal material that was not my own. I will not put up with that moniker. Thanks for listening.