[movie] Buck Rogers legal battle

The totally-official, off-topic, liable-for-purging board.

Moderator: Chimpman

[movie] Buck Rogers legal battle

Postby Big Mac » Tue Mar 15, 2016 1:24 pm

I just got pointed at an article called Buck Rogers and the Copyright Trolls that looks quite interesting. Here is the start of the article:
Boing Boing wrote:Remember the Sherlock Holmes case where the Conan Doyle Estate was shaking everyone down for sub-litigation payoffs and asserting claims over Holmes (despite serious copyright scholars all saying they had no right to do so) until Les Klinger stuck to his guns?

Now it’s happening again, with some minor variations, only this time the weapon of choice is Buck Rogers.

The character of Anthony “Buck" Rogers first appears in Philip Nowlan’s 1928 novel ARMAGEDDON 2419 A.D. (itself a combination of two novellas that appeared in the AMAZING STORIES magazine) and serves as an origin story for the character. Rogers, after a mine cave-in, falls into a state of suspended animation and wakes up in the 25th century amidst a futuristic war.


Do go and read the full article, but the main thrust of the article is that, because Armageddon 2419 AD has dropped out of copyright, that means that the character Buck Rogers himself has dropped out of copyright.

And that is interesting, because Armageddon 2419 AD fell out of copyright way back in 1956 and the Dille Family Trust has still been asserting ownership of the character.

On the other side of this legal battle is a movie script of Armageddon 2419 AD, written by Flint Dille and Ed Neumeier. (The Dille Family Trust is actually representing Flint Dille's grandfather, John F. Dille, who hired Philip Nowlan to turn his existing Armageddon 2419 AD story into a newpaper comic strip.)

Boing Boing think that a legal case will back up the claim that Buck Rogers is already a public domain character.

We have a topic about updating Buck Rogers XXVc, but if the pre-comic stories are unlocked, then it might be more likely that people would go back to the roots of Anthony Rogers and publish an Armageddon 2419 AD roleplaying game.
Last edited by Big Mac on Tue Mar 15, 2016 1:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Newsflash!: The Piazza is moving!
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and The Piazza's Google + community so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum. My moderator voice is green.
User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
 
Posts: 21499
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Location: London UK

Re: [movie] Buck Rogers legal battle

Postby Big Mac » Tue Mar 15, 2016 1:28 pm

I have to say that, I used to watch the Buck Rogers TV show, and I thought it was a bit silly. I mostly watched it for the spaceships. But if Flint Dille's movie script gets made, I'll be very keen to go and see it. :-D
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Newsflash!: The Piazza is moving!
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and The Piazza's Google + community so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum. My moderator voice is green.
User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
 
Posts: 21499
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Location: London UK

Re: [movie] Buck Rogers legal battle

Postby Hugin » Tue Mar 15, 2016 7:03 pm

Big Mac wrote:I have to say that, I used to watch the Buck Rogers TV show, and I thought it was a bit silly. I mostly watched it for the spaceships. But if Flint Dille's movie script gets made, I'll be very keen to go and see it. :-D

Same here. I think it would be an interesting movie, as long as they don't hollywood-stupify it.
User avatar
Hugin
Green Dragon
 
Posts: 3871
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 9:40 pm
Location: Fergus, Ontario

Re: [movie] Buck Rogers legal battle

Postby Big Mac » Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:55 pm

Hugin wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I have to say that, I used to watch the Buck Rogers TV show, and I thought it was a bit silly. I mostly watched it for the spaceships. But if Flint Dille's movie script gets made, I'll be very keen to go and see it. :-D

Same here. I think it would be an interesting movie, as long as they don't hollywood-stupify it.


This is the same Flint Dille who directed the Wildspace video (and the Dragon Strike video).

He also worked on Hero's Quest: Sagard the Barbarian products with Gary Gygax and the Mystara/Spelljammer crossover product. :)
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Newsflash!: The Piazza is moving!
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and The Piazza's Google + community so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum. My moderator voice is green.
User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
 
Posts: 21499
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Location: London UK

Re: [movie] Buck Rogers legal battle

Postby Morfie » Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:21 am

I would only pay to see this movie if it was out of copyright, and Lorraine Williams didn't see a cent of it.
User avatar
Morfie
Metamorph
 
Posts: 561
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:48 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: [movie] Buck Rogers legal battle

Postby BlackBat242 » Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:35 am

Well, I don't know much copyright law - but I don't think it is the FIRST appearance that sets copyright date, but the LAST appearance written by either the original copyright-holder or his legally-assigned copyright successor.

For example, as long as new material was being written by the originator containing the character, copyright on the character was renewed each time something new was published containing that character.
The copyright on the original story may have expired, but the copyright on the character might not have, so while you can legally reprint the original story, you can't write stuff using the character until the copyright on ALL the material using that character which was written by the originator has expired.

It may also be that if his estate has commissioned new works containing the character since his death, those may count for retaining the character rights as well.

As I said - I don't know for sure, but that seems to be what I've seen in the US.
Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.
"I have a catapult. Give me your money or I will hurl a large rock at your head".

"Buffy, Blade... its up to you now." George Takei

The only time a Vampire should sparkle is right before they explode
User avatar
BlackBat242
Dire Haggis
 
Posts: 1492
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2008 7:09 am
Location: by the saline water - formerly in the Grand Valley of the Rivers

Re: [movie] Buck Rogers legal battle

Postby Big Mac » Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:01 pm

Morfie wrote:I would only pay to see this movie if it was out of copyright, and Lorraine Williams didn't see a cent of it.


That is the entire reason behind the legal action.

The trust actually pays Flint Dille, along with other descendents, so it is like he is threatening himself. :-)
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Newsflash!: The Piazza is moving!
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and The Piazza's Google + community so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum. My moderator voice is green.
User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
 
Posts: 21499
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Location: London UK

Re: [movie] Buck Rogers legal battle

Postby dulsi » Mon Mar 28, 2016 6:28 pm

BlackBat242 wrote:Well, I don't know much copyright law - but I don't think it is the FIRST appearance that sets copyright date, but the LAST appearance written by either the original copyright-holder or his legally-assigned copyright successor.

I don't believe that is the case. Copyright applies to a written text. If someone uses those characters in another text that is considered a derived work and violates your copyright. If you are creating new works with that character but the original copyright expires, the character is available. However, you can't reference anything from the later works. For example Wizard of Oz is public domain but some Frank L. Baum books aren't. There are "official" sequels to his books and other published works. Additionally people generally use a four legged lion instead of the anthropomorphic lion that was used in the movie because the copyright holder of the movie could claim copyright violation as a derived work. (Granted I'm not a lawyer so maybe there are more complexities than I know.)
Dennis Payne -- Identical Games
Support Roon's Raccoon Sprintladder on Lego Ideas.
ImageImage
User avatar
dulsi
Storm Giant
 
Posts: 1757
Joined: Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:20 am

Re: [movie] Buck Rogers legal battle

Postby Havard » Mon Mar 28, 2016 7:51 pm

Buck Rogers is a character with a strange history. Perhaps someone can explain this better to me, but to me it seems like there are three different iterations of Buck Rogers:
1) Armageddon 2419 A.D (Anthony Rogers) and its sequel Airlords of Han./ The 1930s comic strip character (Buck Rogers from here on)
2) The 1979-1981s TV Show/TV movie=
3) The Buck Rogers XXVc RPG from TSR. (TSR also released an RPG based on the comic strip setting.)

The first two are clearly pulp like stories about a WWI veteran who falls into suspended animation in a gave and wakes up 500 years later. The 1979-81 TV show has Buck Rogers be an Astronaut who is blasted into space and falls into suspended animation there, waking up in the 25th Century which is heavily inspired by Star Wars where earth is threatened by an evil empire from the planet Draconia. The third iteration had a similar backstory for Buck Rogers as in the 1979-81 TV show, but the 25th Century setting is rewritten by Flint Dille. The setting is now limited to the solar system, races are DNA manipulated humans rather than aliens and the main force of evil is RAM (a Russian-American corporation based on mars).

Personally I think the setting of the TSR RPG is alot more interesting than the previous versions and could work quite well for a modern audience as well. Buck Rogers himself is not all that interesting a character, but he helps keep the audience feel connected to the setting in a way similar to Starlord in Guardians of the Galaxy. I think both Farscape and Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda used a very similar concept too.

One issue about the Buck Rogers legacy is of course that it is connected to the Dille family. I really like what Flint Dille did for the rewriting of the universe for the Buck Rogers XXVc RPG, but this is also the person who ran TSR West, a company responsible for such things as the TSR interractive CDs and the Dragonstrike and Wildspace Videos as well as the failed Gary Gygax Dungeons & Dragons movie script. Most of these things can be considered failures. He was also the man who introduced Gary Gygax to Flint's sister, Lorraine Williams, a woman who some former TSR employees describe as a somewhat unlikable, but efficient CEO, while others describe her in much less flattering ways.

Now if the XXVc setting is used as the basis for a new movie franchise, that might turn out quite good. Granted, Flint Dille only did the preliminary work, while other TSR designers were probably the ones who deserve credit for the good quality of this RPG. On the other hand, I dont really know who to cheer for in this legal battle.

-Havard

Aliases: Håvard Frosta, Havard Blackmoor, Blackmoorian, Dragon Turtle etc
Where to find me on the Web
The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.
User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
 
Posts: 17225
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Location: Norway

Re: [movie] Buck Rogers legal battle

Postby Big Mac » Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:58 pm

Havard wrote:Buck Rogers is a character with a strange history. Perhaps someone can explain this better to me, but to me it seems like there are three different iterations of Buck Rogers:
1) Armageddon 2419 A.D (Anthony Rogers) and its sequel Airlords of Han./ The 1930s comic strip character (Buck Rogers from here on)
2) The 1979-1981s TV Show/TV movie=
3) The Buck Rogers XXVc RPG from TSR. (TSR also released an RPG based on the comic strip setting.)

The first two are clearly pulp like stories about a WWI veteran who falls into suspended animation in a gave and wakes up 500 years later. The 1979-81 TV show has Buck Rogers be an Astronaut who is blasted into space and falls into suspended animation there, waking up in the 25th Century which is heavily inspired by Star Wars where earth is threatened by an evil empire from the planet Draconia. The third iteration had a similar backstory for Buck Rogers as in the 1979-81 TV show, but the 25th Century setting is rewritten by Flint Dille. The setting is now limited to the solar system, races are DNA manipulated humans rather than aliens and the main force of evil is RAM (a Russian-American corporation based on mars).


The first one is the one that has fallen out of copyright. :D

The other two are derivative works that are based on something that has fallen out of copyright. They would have similar copyright status to things like the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys TV show or roleplaying games based on things that are public domain (like Battlefield Press's Sherwood: The Legend of Robin Hood). Both of those things use major characters (Hercules and Robin Hood) that anyone else can use. But they have their own implementation and it is that implementation that is copyrighted. So anyone could use either of those characters, without needing permission, but that wouldn't give them free reign to copy content from either of those works.

Havard wrote:Personally I think the setting of the TSR RPG is alot more interesting than the previous versions and could work quite well for a modern audience as well. Buck Rogers himself is not all that interesting a character, but he helps keep the audience feel connected to the setting in a way similar to Starlord in Guardians of the Galaxy. I think both Farscape and Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda used a very similar concept too.


The TSR RPG is the only version of Buck Rogers, that exists as a RPG, but that was created relatively recently, so is still going to be covered by copyright for a very long time. (And it's not what the legal battle is about.)

Havard wrote:One issue about the Buck Rogers legacy is of course that it is connected to the Dille family. I really like what Flint Dille did for the rewriting of the universe for the Buck Rogers XXVc RPG, but this is also the person who ran TSR West, a company responsible for such things as the TSR interractive CDs and the Dragonstrike and Wildspace Videos as well as the failed Gary Gygax Dungeons & Dragons movie script. Most of these things can be considered failures. He was also the man who introduced Gary Gygax to Flint's sister, Lorraine Williams, a woman who some former TSR employees describe as a somewhat unlikable, but efficient CEO, while others describe her in much less flattering ways.


There is a lot of weird politics in the history of D&D. None of that really connects to this legal battle.

The only way that the Dille family and TSR is connected, is that a member of the family sold a property owned by her family to a company she was in charge of. That's something where some people have suggested that there is a conflict of interest. (On one hand you are supposed to be earning as much money for your family as possible. On the other hand you are supposed to be getting the best deal for the company you are representing as possible.) But, however that went down, and whatever else Lorraine Williams may or may not have been involved in, that has no connection with this legal battle.

I've seen the DragonStrike video and the Wildspace video and I like them both. I don't think they are high art. They do not compare with Lord of the Rings, for example. But they do compare favorably with Flash Gordon movie. I think that they set out to be cheesy-camp, and land in the place they wanted to go. So I think that it's a bit unfair for Flint Dille to get stick over them, especially when the other part of TSR was designing the actual games, and desigers like Bruce Heard were writing the novels and artists like Jennell Jaquays were providing concept art. DragonStike and Wildspace were a combined effort by a fairly large team and they might have been an awesome thing that brought a bunch of kids into the hobby...but the experiment didn't work out, so they pulled it. And Wildspace got pulled before Flint Dille even had the time to get the movie edited together. I'm pretty sure he was following someone else's design briefing. I have to say that, if I could go back in a time machine, and be in charge of TSR, I would have suggested that they rewrite both of those things, but we potentially had the opportunity for Spelljammer to return with Wildspace. So I'm definitely happy that the team of people that were pushing for this gave it their best shot. (And I would happily buy Flint Dille a drink and listen to his stories about Wildspace.)

And if you look at what Flint Dille has done since DragonStrike and Wildspace, he has actually hit the spot he was aiming for with those videos, for several other gaming products (including a Ghostbusters game featuring the movie actors and a Chronicles of Riddic game featuring Vin Disel). So I'm not sure that his record with TSR relates to how good his Armageddon 2419 AD script is, because somebody at TSR has been telling people to make things like the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon and the various (not too liked) movies, for decades. And when Flint Dille has done almost the exact same thing he did for DragonStrike/Wildspace for other projects, it has been very successful.

And the whole thing with the Dille family here, is that the trust that is "looking after the Dille Family" is gunning for Flint Dille over this, instead of working with a relative of the person who's legacy they are supposed to be protecting. I don't think that Lorraine Williams was even mentioned in the story, so I'm not sure who at the trust would have been blocking Flint Dille from trying to bring back Buck Rogers. :?

Havard wrote:Now if the XXVc setting is used as the basis for a new movie franchise, that might turn out quite good. Granted, Flint Dille only did the preliminary work, while other TSR designers were probably the ones who deserve credit for the good quality of this RPG. On the other hand, I dont really know who to cheer for in this legal battle.


The article in my OP makes it clear that the movie is an adaptation on Armageddon 2419 AD (because Armageddon 2419 AD is out of copyright). And given that XXVc is something that the trust recently licenced to TSR, I think that Flint Dille would have known to not touch anything from the RPG with a barge pole (even if he might have personally invented some of the elements of that RPG).

XXVc is really not connected to the legal battle, but I would be interested to know if TSR bought the rights to make Buck Rogers games (and if Wizards of the Coast still own those rights) or if the XXVc was a temporary licence that has reverted back to the Dille Family Trust. Because if the Dille Family Trust have regained ownership of XXVc, then they could potentially stick up all the old RPG products on DriveThru RPG (just like WotC has been sticking up Dragonlance products created by MWP).

And if the Dille Family Trust own XXVc they could theoretically get someone to put out a 5th Edition compatible remake of that RPG.

But, either way, it isn't out of copyright and Flint Dille wouldn't be making anything for it, without an agreement. Ironically, given that he has done pretty well with other things, the Dille Family Trust could probably have earned a bit of cash by hiring him to run a Buck Rogers RPG project. But now there is a legal battle going on, he might end up doing being involved in an Armageddon 2419 AD RPG instead.
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Newsflash!: The Piazza is moving!
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and The Piazza's Google + community so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum. My moderator voice is green.
User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
 
Posts: 21499
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Location: London UK

Re: [movie] Buck Rogers legal battle

Postby Havard » Tue Mar 29, 2016 10:05 pm

Big Mac wrote:
The first one is the one that has fallen out of copyright. :D


Right. Sadly it is not the version of Buck Rogers I find the most interesting, but still I am curious to see how this develops.


The TSR RPG is the only version of Buck Rogers, that exists as a RPG, but that was created relatively recently, so is still going to be covered by copyright for a very long time. (And it's not what the legal battle is about.)


Actually there was a second TSR RPG based on the earlier iteration. Perhaps this is why TSR unexplicity switched to the Buck Roger's Adventure game?

But I bring up the first TSR RPG because the end of this trial could have consequences for that version of Buck Rogers as well, as you point out at the end of your post.



There is a lot of weird politics in the history of D&D. None of that really connects to this legal battle.


From what I understand the Dille Family is one of the parties of the legal battle? I brought it up because I was wondering whom to cheer for.

I've seen the DragonStrike video and the Wildspace video and I like them both. I don't think they are high art. They do not compare with Lord of the Rings, for example. But they do compare favorably with Flash Gordon movie. I think that they set out to be cheesy-camp, and land in the place they wanted to go. So I think that it's a bit unfair for Flint Dille to get stick over them, especially when the other part of TSR was designing the actual games, and desigers like Bruce Heard were writing the novels and artists like Jennell Jaquays were providing concept art. DragonStike and Wildspace were a combined effort by a fairly large team and they might have been an awesome thing that brought a bunch of kids into the hobby...but the experiment didn't work out, so they pulled it. And Wildspace got pulled before Flint Dille even had the time to get the movie edited together. I'm pretty sure he was following someone else's design briefing. I have to say that, if I could go back in a time machine, and be in charge of TSR, I would have suggested that they rewrite both of those things, but we potentially had the opportunity for Spelljammer to return with Wildspace. So I'm definitely happy that the team of people that were pushing for this gave it their best shot.


I know you like those videos. And I will admit that they have their charm, but I will say I think they are pretty awful. I want to clarify two things though. I am talking about the videos, not the games, novels and comics related to them. Those were good solid products. The way I heard it though, TSR West (Flint Dille) typically would only send the designers completed works and they would have to design the games around them being able to give very little input or nothing at all back to TSR West. This was the case with the CDs at least, but it seems reasonable a similar process might have been the case with the videos. Secondly, I am not saying that Dille is a horrible person or that he didnt try his best. What I am saying is that most of the things he was involved with at TSR were pretty poor quality products that probably drained alot of resources from the mother company at a time when TSR was already struggling. We know those aweful CDs inflated the price of the boxed sets they came with, probably contributing to the premature cancellation of the Mystara AD&D line. Now Flint Dille cannot be blamed for all of that. Decisions were probably made higher up. But he was there when it happened.

(And I would happily buy Flint Dille a drink and listen to his stories about Wildspace.)


Buying him a drink would probably be a good idea. He probably has alot of good stories and it sounds like he is a likable guy. He was friends with Gary Gygax and he stayed with TSR after his sister took over. I have never heard anyone say anything bad about him as a human being.


And if you look at what Flint Dille has done since DragonStrike and Wildspace, he has actually hit the spot he was aiming for with those videos, for several other gaming products (including a Ghostbusters game featuring the movie actors and a Chronicles of Riddic game featuring Vin Disel).


I am not familiar with any of those games, but it is good to see that he is getting involved with ore prominent people in Hollywood these days.

So I'm not sure that his record with TSR relates to how good his Armageddon 2419 AD script is, because somebody at TSR has been telling people to make things like the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon and the various (not too liked) movies, for decades. And when Flint Dille has done almost the exact same thing he did for DragonStrike/Wildspace for other projects, it has been very successful.


To be honest I am surprised that Flint Dille is not listed anywhere on the credits for the D&D Cartoon. I know that Gary Gygax befriended Dille when Gary was in Hollywood working on that thing. I actually like the D&D cartoon a whole lot more than I like the Dragonstrike/Wildspace videos. And that was back in the 80s, so you'd imagine they would have gotten a bit farther a decade or so later?

But anyway, I think that TSR's history shows that every time they have tried to get involved with other things than RPGs it has been a disaster for TSR. Gary leaving for Hollywood almost destroyed TSR back in the 1980s and a decade later the same thing happens under Williams. I guess you cannot blame a company for trying to expand, but it is sad when you see all those wasted investments that could have been spent in other ways.

And the whole thing with the Dille family here, is that the trust that is "looking after the Dille Family" is gunning for Flint Dille over this, instead of working with a relative of the person who's legacy they are supposed to be protecting. I don't think that Lorraine Williams was even mentioned in the story, so I'm not sure who at the trust would have been blocking Flint Dille from trying to bring back Buck Rogers. :?


Hmmm...I missed that part. Last time I heard, Lorraine Williams was the heir to the Dille Family Trust.



The article in my OP makes it clear that the movie is an adaptation on Armageddon 2419 AD (because Armageddon 2419 AD is out of copyright). And given that XXVc is something that the trust recently licenced to TSR, I think that Flint Dille would have known to not touch anything from the RPG with a barge pole (even if he might have personally invented some of the elements of that RPG).

XXVc is really not connected to the legal battle, but I would be interested to know if TSR bought the rights to make Buck Rogers games (and if Wizards of the Coast still own those rights) or if the XXVc was a temporary licence that has reverted back to the Dille Family Trust. Because if the Dille Family Trust have regained ownership of XXVc, then they could potentially stick up all the old RPG products on DriveThru RPG (just like WotC has been sticking up Dragonlance products created by MWP).


My thought was that if they lost the battle over the early version of Buck Rogers then they might be forced to use the XXVc Setting instead. Typically how this works though is that TSR (now WotC) owns the RPG material while the lisence owner can block WotC from putting out the RPG, but make nothing else of it. So all of that material is probably in limbo. I dont think I have seen the TSR/SSI Buck Rogers Computer Game return along with the AD&D classic computer games either?

And if the Dille Family Trust own XXVc they could theoretically get someone to put out a 5th Edition compatible remake of that RPG.


To be honest I would much rather see a system used for this setting that did not involve classes and levels. Savage Worlds would be a great engine for it I think. But it would be great seeing a return of this incarnation of that universe. I would love to see movies/TV series based on it as well.


But, either way, it isn't out of copyright and Flint Dille wouldn't be making anything for it, without an agreement. Ironically, given that he has done pretty well with other things, the Dille Family Trust could probably have earned a bit of cash by hiring him to run a Buck Rogers RPG project. But now there is a legal battle going on, he might end up doing being involved in an Armageddon 2419 AD RPG instead.


Lets hope some agreements can be made. All of these legal battles are silly and everyone ends up loosing money. BTW, I dont think Flint was much of an RPG designer himself so if he was involved in something like that I hope he would bring in some actual designers. As I said, I like his conceptual work on XXVc so maybe that is where his strength is?

-Havard

Aliases: Håvard Frosta, Havard Blackmoor, Blackmoorian, Dragon Turtle etc
Where to find me on the Web
The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.
User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
 
Posts: 17225
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Location: Norway

Re: [movie] Buck Rogers legal battle

Postby Big Mac » Wed Mar 30, 2016 8:38 pm

Havard wrote:
Big Mac wrote:The first one is the one that has fallen out of copyright. :D


Right. Sadly it is not the version of Buck Rogers I find the most interesting, but still I am curious to see how this develops.


I'm more interested in this from the legal aspect. The Dille Family Trust are trying to leverage copyright that the movie-script creators say they are not entitled to. This is very important, from a copyright point of view. It's a cultural "land grab".

Havard wrote:
Big Mac wrote:The TSR RPG is the only version of Buck Rogers, that exists as a RPG, but that was created relatively recently, so is still going to be covered by copyright for a very long time. (And it's not what the legal battle is about.)


Actually there was a second TSR RPG based on the earlier iteration. Perhaps this is why TSR unexplicity switched to the Buck Roger's Adventure game?

But I bring up the first TSR RPG because the end of this trial could have consequences for that version of Buck Rogers as well, as you point out at the end of your post.


I didn't realise that TSR had made two Buck Rogers RPGs.

Either way, both of them were made recently, so both of them count as derivative work and have a copyright date for when they were created. You would have to ignore the derivative material from TSR and go back to the original (out of copyright) material for Buck Rogers.

It is possible that somebody could use retro-clone logic to simulate the TSR product, and slap on the Buck Rogers name, because Buck Rogers has public domain material, but it would be risky.

They would almost certainly get a DMCA notice from the Dille Family Trust...even if they were legally right.

Havard wrote:
Big Mac wrote:There is a lot of weird politics in the history of D&D. None of that really connects to this legal battle.


From what I understand the Dille Family is one of the parties of the legal battle? I brought it up because I was wondering whom to cheer for.


It's Dille vs Dille, from what I understand. ;)

I'm with Flint Dille over the Dille Family Trust, as if Flint Dille wins, we get a cool movie. If they win, we get nothing.

Havard wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I've seen the DragonStrike video and the Wildspace video and I like them both. I don't think they are high art. They do not compare with Lord of the Rings, for example. But they do compare favorably with Flash Gordon movie. I think that they set out to be cheesy-camp, and land in the place they wanted to go. So I think that it's a bit unfair for Flint Dille to get stick over them, especially when the other part of TSR was designing the actual games, and desigers like Bruce Heard were writing the novels and artists like Jennell Jaquays were providing concept art. DragonStike and Wildspace were a combined effort by a fairly large team and they might have been an awesome thing that brought a bunch of kids into the hobby...but the experiment didn't work out, so they pulled it. And Wildspace got pulled before Flint Dille even had the time to get the movie edited together. I'm pretty sure he was following someone else's design briefing. I have to say that, if I could go back in a time machine, and be in charge of TSR, I would have suggested that they rewrite both of those things, but we potentially had the opportunity for Spelljammer to return with Wildspace. So I'm definitely happy that the team of people that were pushing for this gave it their best shot.


I know you like those videos. And I will admit that they have their charm, but I will say I think they are pretty awful. I want to clarify two things though. I am talking about the videos, not the games, novels and comics related to them. Those were good solid products. The way I heard it though, TSR West (Flint Dille) typically would only send the designers completed works and they would have to design the games around them being able to give very little input or nothing at all back to TSR West. This was the case with the CDs at least, but it seems reasonable a similar process might have been the case with the videos. Secondly, I am not saying that Dille is a horrible person or that he didnt try his best. What I am saying is that most of the things he was involved with at TSR were pretty poor quality products that probably drained alot of resources from the mother company at a time when TSR was already struggling. We know those aweful CDs inflated the price of the boxed sets they came with, probably contributing to the premature cancellation of the Mystara AD&D line. Now Flint Dille cannot be blamed for all of that. Decisions were probably made higher up. But he was there when it happened.


They are awful. But I'm just saying that they were meant to be awful.

If you are going to talk about CDs in boxed sets pushing up the prices, you might as well talk about stupid things like sets of 12 card rectangles being imposed on TSR designers, or the pointless ring-bound flipbooks in some Dark Sun products. All those things pushed up the cost price of products and almost allowed the printing company to take control of TSR.

But none of that relates to this legal battle, about Buck Rogers. It isn't anything to do with TSR or TSR's Buck Rogers products. :)

Havard wrote:
Big Mac wrote:(And I would happily buy Flint Dille a drink and listen to his stories about Wildspace.)


Buying him a drink would probably be a good idea. He probably has alot of good stories and it sounds like he is a likable guy. He was friends with Gary Gygax and he stayed with TSR after his sister took over. I have never heard anyone say anything bad about him as a human being.


Flint Dille is a pretty cool person to talk to (at least online - I've not met him - not yet). I've obviously spoken to him about Wildspace, but I've also chatted to him about solar panels, of all things.

Havard wrote:
Big Mac wrote:And if you look at what Flint Dille has done since DragonStrike and Wildspace, he has actually hit the spot he was aiming for with those videos, for several other gaming products (including a Ghostbusters game featuring the movie actors and a Chronicles of Riddic game featuring Vin Disel).


I am not familiar with any of those games, but it is good to see that he is getting involved with ore prominent people in Hollywood these days.


I think that one of the problems with TSR, was that they wanted to do certain cool things, and didn't have the cash to blow on making enough failures to randomly generate a big success. So they have shelved a ton of projects that might have been awesome, because they didn't return cash in time. And, as you know, they cancelled a lot of things before they actually sold them.

D&D only really became awesome, because people took risks, experimented and were able to make things that might be bad or good. The fact that everyone has so much investment on every single new product needing to be awesome, is what is stopping us from getting experimental advancement now.

Havard wrote:
Big Mac wrote:So I'm not sure that his record with TSR relates to how good his Armageddon 2419 AD script is, because somebody at TSR has been telling people to make things like the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon and the various (not too liked) movies, for decades. And when Flint Dille has done almost the exact same thing he did for DragonStrike/Wildspace for other projects, it has been very successful.


To be honest I am surprised that Flint Dille is not listed anywhere on the credits for the D&D Cartoon. I know that Gary Gygax befriended Dille when Gary was in Hollywood working on that thing. I actually like the D&D cartoon a whole lot more than I like the Dragonstrike/Wildspace videos. And that was back in the 80s, so you'd imagine they would have gotten a bit farther a decade or so later?

But anyway, I think that TSR's history shows that every time they have tried to get involved with other things than RPGs it has been a disaster for TSR. Gary leaving for Hollywood almost destroyed TSR back in the 1980s and a decade later the same thing happens under Williams. I guess you cannot blame a company for trying to expand, but it is sad when you see all those wasted investments that could have been spent in other ways.


That might be correct, but this is about the Buck Rogers legal battle. It doesn't have any connection with TSR.

Havard wrote:
Big Mac wrote:And the whole thing with the Dille family here, is that the trust that is "looking after the Dille Family" is gunning for Flint Dille over this, instead of working with a relative of the person who's legacy they are supposed to be protecting. I don't think that Lorraine Williams was even mentioned in the story, so I'm not sure who at the trust would have been blocking Flint Dille from trying to bring back Buck Rogers. :?


Hmmm...I missed that part. Last time I heard, Lorraine Williams was the heir to the Dille Family Trust.


If you check out the "Business and Licensing" page on the inthe25thcentuary.com website, you can see that it names both Flint Dille and Lorraine Williams. And yet the trust is apparently trying to stop Flint Dille from making Buck Rogers movies.

And according to this article: Fross Zelnick Dodges Buck Rogers Malpractice Claims, Flint Dille had contacted a law firm to defend the Buck Rogers copyright back in 2009, and there was a court case in 2013 about it where it looks like Louise Geer was the trustee and Flint Dille and his sister Lorraine Dille Williams were the beneficiaries of the trust.

So you would think that, if the trust is protecting Buck Rogers for Flint Dille (as well as for his sister) he would be allowed to make movies for himself. :?

Havard wrote:
Big Mac wrote:The article in my OP makes it clear that the movie is an adaptation on Armageddon 2419 AD (because Armageddon 2419 AD is out of copyright). And given that XXVc is something that the trust recently licenced to TSR, I think that Flint Dille would have known to not touch anything from the RPG with a barge pole (even if he might have personally invented some of the elements of that RPG).

XXVc is really not connected to the legal battle, but I would be interested to know if TSR bought the rights to make Buck Rogers games (and if Wizards of the Coast still own those rights) or if the XXVc was a temporary licence that has reverted back to the Dille Family Trust. Because if the Dille Family Trust have regained ownership of XXVc, then they could potentially stick up all the old RPG products on DriveThru RPG (just like WotC has been sticking up Dragonlance products created by MWP).


My thought was that if they lost the battle over the early version of Buck Rogers then they might be forced to use the XXVc Setting instead. Typically how this works though is that TSR (now WotC) owns the RPG material while the lisence owner can block WotC from putting out the RPG, but make nothing else of it. So all of that material is probably in limbo. I dont think I have seen the TSR/SSI Buck Rogers Computer Game return along with the AD&D classic computer games either?

Big Mac wrote:And if the Dille Family Trust own XXVc they could theoretically get someone to put out a 5th Edition compatible remake of that RPG.


To be honest I would much rather see a system used for this setting that did not involve classes and levels. Savage Worlds would be a great engine for it I think. But it would be great seeing a return of this incarnation of that universe. I would love to see movies/TV series based on it as well.


But nobody is talking about making Buck Rogers RPG products out of the XXVc material. They are talking of making a movie out of the product that is public domain. That is what the court case is about. It's about trying to prevent that movie from happening.

Havard wrote:
Big Mac wrote:But, either way, it isn't out of copyright and Flint Dille wouldn't be making anything for it, without an agreement. Ironically, given that he has done pretty well with other things, the Dille Family Trust could probably have earned a bit of cash by hiring him to run a Buck Rogers RPG project. But now there is a legal battle going on, he might end up doing being involved in an Armageddon 2419 AD RPG instead.


Lets hope some agreements can be made. All of these legal battles are silly and everyone ends up loosing money. BTW, I dont think Flint was much of an RPG designer himself so if he was involved in something like that I hope he would bring in some actual designers. As I said, I like his conceptual work on XXVc so maybe that is where his strength is?


The legal battle is what the entire thrust of the article I linked to was about.

They seem to be suggesting that "copyright trolls" claim to own things that they don't actually own and then threaten to sue anyone who wants to use it and extract a "licence fee" that is small enough (compared to the cost of going to court) that people pay up.

Boing Boing were suggesting that Conan Doyle Estate were "getting away with this" until Les Klinger stood up to them and took the claim of ownership to court (instead of paying).

And if you look at the Armageddon 2419 A.D. article on Wikipedia, it certainly seems that the character and the setting were created by Philip Francis Nowlan. So the character falling into the public domain, should be based on the date that Philip Francis Nowlan died.
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Newsflash!: The Piazza is moving!
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and The Piazza's Google + community so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum. My moderator voice is green.
User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
 
Posts: 21499
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Location: London UK

Re: [movie] Buck Rogers legal battle

Postby ripvanwormer » Wed Mar 30, 2016 10:08 pm

Big Mac wrote:And if you look at the Armageddon 2419 A.D. article on Wikipedia, it certainly seems that the character and the setting were created by Philip Francis Nowlan. So the character falling into the public domain, should be based on the date that Philip Francis Nowlan died.


This would be true except U.S. copyright law is different for works published or registered prior to 1978. For those works, copyright is 95 years after the date of publication (rather than after the author's death) with the provision that it had to be renewed in the 28th year following publication (source).

Armageddon 2419 A.D. was published in 1928, so it had to be renewed by the author or owner in 1956 or it would pass into public domain. Because it was never renewed (according to the Boing Boing article), it's actually been in public domain in the U.S. since 1956 (other countries may have different laws, however).
ripvanwormer
Black Dragon
 
Posts: 2996
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:14 pm

Re: [movie] Buck Rogers legal battle

Postby Big Mac » Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:08 am

ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:And if you look at the Armageddon 2419 A.D. article on Wikipedia, it certainly seems that the character and the setting were created by Philip Francis Nowlan. So the character falling into the public domain, should be based on the date that Philip Francis Nowlan died.


This would be true except U.S. copyright law is different for works published or registered prior to 1978. For those works, copyright is 95 years after the date of publication (rather than after the author's death) with the provision that it had to be renewed in the 28th year following publication (source).


Thanks for the clarification.

I liked the law beter back then. I would like to see copyright renewal come back, with the renewal period being 20 years, that could be renewed up to three times (80 years). It would drop the abandoned products into the public domain a lot faster, while allowing creative people to boost their income from their work to last their lifetime.

ripvanwormer wrote:Armageddon 2419 A.D. was published in 1928, so it had to be renewed by the author or owner in 1956 or it would pass into public domain. Because it was never renewed (according to the Boing Boing article), it's actually been in public domain in the U.S. since 1956 (other countries may have different laws, however).


Thanks.

Yes, this is where Boing Boing is saying that corporations are demanding money (with threats of court action) for things they do not own.

I know that some corporations have been lobbying for changes in the law, in various countries, to drop public domain works back into copyright status.

The changes in copyright are more of a landgrab by corporations, who use laws designed to protect the income of creative individuals, while simutaniously demanding that their creative people wave away their rights to royalties. It's just wrong that corporations are making millions out of certain IPs, while some of the people who invented those epic IPs are being shut out.

There has to be some point in time, when Buck Rogers is old enough that everyone can create royalty free derivative works.

If you look at the websites that claim to licence Buck Rogers (the claim that Boing Boing says is an illegal one) they mention the Dille Family Trust, and don't even give Philip Francis Nowlan a namecheck. And he invented the character and then rebooted his own character for the newspapers. His name should be on everything...even if he and his family are not entitled to get paid any more. Every Buck Rogers fan should know his name. The Dille Family Trust should have used some of the cash from the Buck Rogers income to put up a Philip Francis Nowlan statue somewhere.
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Newsflash!: The Piazza is moving!
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and The Piazza's Google + community so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum. My moderator voice is green.
User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
 
Posts: 21499
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Location: London UK

Re: [movie] Buck Rogers legal battle

Postby Angel Tarragon » Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:36 am

It would be amazing to see what could be done with the property if the rights got squared away.
Social Media Links

Malathéa
DevinatArt / Facebook / Google / The Piazza / Twitter / YouTube
User avatar
Angel Tarragon
Dawn Dragon
 
Posts: 8196
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:39 am
Location: Malathéa

Re: [movie] Buck Rogers legal battle

Postby Havard » Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:17 pm

This saga continues: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-es ... al-1033309

An excerpt:
The judge notes that the Dilles held registrations on "Buck Rogers" in the 1980s and had licensed those rights for games, comics and books.

Then again, leading to the second big trademark question, it's possible that the Dilles may have abandoned those rights. Many of the licensing agreements were terminated. In the late 1990s, there was an agreement with Walt Disney Pictures for a new Buck Rogers film or TV show, but nothing was made. The Dilles point to the way it continued to license "Buck Rogers" for vintage merchandising and role-playing game.


-Havard

Aliases: Håvard Frosta, Havard Blackmoor, Blackmoorian, Dragon Turtle etc
Where to find me on the Web
The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.
User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
 
Posts: 17225
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Location: Norway


Return to The Tabard Inn

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests