ESD loses Call of Cthulhu license

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The Butcher

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Éditions Sans Detour is the French publisher who puts out the beautiful, amazing French translation of CoC.

In March 2017 they crowdfunded a French translation of Masks of Nyarlathotep, to the tune of nearly 2000 backers.

The project is late, as crowdfunded projects are wont to be.

Now Chaosium claims ESD’s license expired in October 2018 due to unpaid royalties and “other problems” and they are forbidden from publishing the material they crowdfunded.

Even if Chaosium is right (and TBH ESD’s communique admits that they owe them royalties) this sounds like a remarkably shitty way of handling the fracas. Fans who had been going apeshit at ESD for the delay are now going apeshit over Chaosium’s “tough luck” statement.

Which is particularly rich considering Chaosium’s own history of (1) welching on royalties (just ask Michael Moorcock) and (2) bungling crowdfunding efforts (CoC7, anyone?).
 
Gotta admit that a year and a half for the rewrite of two scenarii is a bit much no?
 
Their letter certainly appears to try and manage the perception that Chaosium is taking away the product from the backers. I have no way to verify anything they are saying, so I assume they are having problems reaching ESD. However, this public thing does have political consequences.

Chaosium likes their royalties, man.. gotta have them royalties.
 
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As opposed to letting people use your IP free?
What should Chaosium do?

Sans further info I’m assuming they’re acting as any proper business should. It’s not mates in a basement here.

The people to be pissed at are the company that failed to deliver not the business that is also getting the shaft.
 
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Are Editions Sans Detour the same guys the Confrontation fans are screaming about for a botched Kickstarter?

Lemme check...

EDIT: Yes, they seem to be tied up in that mess as well... and appear to be using the Chaosium matter as part of the excuse for its delay.
 
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Are Editions Sans Detour the same guys the Confrontation fans are screaming about for a botched Kickstarter?

Lemme check...
Be interesting to know if it’s a pattern of behaviour.
 
Seems unfortunate. In hindsight they should have paid for a license to produce a book instead of a yearly license if such a thing was possible. They screwed themselves by not budgeting for the annual licensing fee for the multi year delay.

It doesn't seem to help Chaosium to be a jerk about it though unless they have a more reliable producer for the product they want to give a license to.
 
From that Chaosium release:

We noted in our earlier announcement that we do not want ESD's failure to perform its contractual duties to result in Ulule backers not getting the product they have already paid for. We stated we are willing to work with ESD to enable it to fulfil its crowdfunding obligations. We are attempting to negotiate with ESD to reach an agreement that would allow them a temporary license to publish this new material, but these efforts have not been successful. ESD have simply not responded to any of our requests to discuss the matter with them.

Let's not act like Chaosium is the sole bad guy here. If ESD refuses to talk with Chaosium at all, then their response is perfectly valid. It very much sounds like Chaosium wants to work with them so as not to screw over the backers, but it takes two to tango.
 
Éditions Sans Detour is the French publisher who puts out the beautiful, amazing French translation of CoC.

In March 2017 they crowdfunded a French translation of Masks of Nyarlathotep, to the tune of nearly 2000 backers.

The project is late, as crowdfunded projects are wont to be.

Now Chaosium claims ESD’s license expired in October 2018 due to unpaid royalties and “other problems” and they are forbidden from publishing the material they crowdfunded.

Even if Chaosium is right (and TBH ESD’s communique admits that they owe them royalties) this sounds like a remarkably shitty way of handling the fracas. Fans who had been going apeshit at ESD for the delay are now going apeshit over Chaosium’s “tough luck” statement.

Which is particularly rich considering Chaosium’s own history of (1) welching on royalties (just ask Michael Moorcock) and (2) bungling crowdfunding efforts (CoC7, anyone?).
I remember when Mike was finally able to get Chaosium to stop using his IP without paying royalties. He fought that legal battle for years.
 
Sometimes it is good business not because it screws someone for more money but because it motivates the licencee to communicate and take action.

Backers of Kickstarters have limited leverage. Licensors have considerably more leverage.

I hope that is the reason why Chaosium is doing what it is.
 
Seems unfortunate. In hindsight they should have paid for a license to produce a book instead of a yearly license if such a thing was possible. They screwed themselves by not budgeting for the annual licensing fee for the multi year delay.
The wording in the Chaosium statement is this:

Michael O'Brien said:
Please be advised that Éditions Sans-Détour does not have a current license to publish or sell their translation of Chaosium’s copyrighted Masks of Nyarlathotep and Day of the Beast material. The earlier license that would have permitted them to do this expired in September of 2018 due to non-payment of royalties and other contract violations. This includes failure to pay Chaosium the royalties owed for the Masks of Nyarlathotep/Day of the Beast crowdfunding campaign on Ulule.com.

It's not clear to me that is a yearly license based on that wording. It may be that they simply didn't have to pay upfront, and the time to pay has come and gone.

Chaosium also says that ESD hasn't responded to their attempt to discuss the matter, so it doesn't even sound like ESD has been asking for an extension. If ESD has gone to ground, I don't know what else Chaosium can do other than end the license and look for other avenues for French publication.

If ESD has gone silent, it raises the question of whether this is genuinely a failed kickstarter. Maybe it isn't so much Chaosium blocking release as there isn't going to be a release anyway.
 
Let's not act like Chaosium is the sole bad guy here. If ESD refuses to talk with Chaosium at all, then their response is perfectly valid. It very much sounds like Chaosium wants to work with them so as not to screw over the backers, but it takes two to tango.
That's been my impression, as well, from what I've read. Chaosium have acted like asses in other situations, but in this case they seem justified, and are taking a professional approach. It's unfortunate that Kickstarter backers are suffering because of this, but it's on Sans-Detour to straighten that out and refund backers if they are blocked from releasing material.
 
Nothing like nerd rage over companies engaging in normal business practices.

If some shoe factory made a deal with Nike to produce a special shoe by October 2018 and then failed to do so, I doubt anyone would be worked up over how awful Nike is for expecting the shoe factory to hold up its end of the deal.

Unless you have more information, this is a big burrito de nada. Based on the posts here, we don't even know what the "other contract violations" might be, or even if ESD actually produced anything or just took the money and ran.
 
Fans who had been going apeshit at ESD for the delay are now going apeshit over Chaosium’s “tough luck” statement.

Which is a weird reaction, given that both of Chaosium's statements have explicitly stated that they want to find a way to work with ESD to fulfill their crowdfunding promises.
 
It's probably best to stay out of legal wrangling, but if I'm honest, I like the idea that Chaosium is being robust about protecting their IP. The more assertive they are over things like this - painful as they may be, and I do have sympathy for Kickstarter backers being screwed around - the stronger the company will be in the long term and the better their product will be.

There has been mention of Chaosium reaching out to Michael Moorcock for another edition of Stormbringer, for example. Negotiations for things like this can't happen without Chaosium being strong. Moon Design, which was the company that came in to take over Chaosium at Greg Stafford's request, previously took to court the HeroQuest boardgame during a Kickstarter and blocked them from using the name they had a copyright/trademark on. From this, the company went on to making Guide to Glorantha and so on.

I don't agree with every utterance that comes out of the new Chaosium management, but one has to respect that they have turned around a practically bankrupt company into a strongly performing business in the RPG hobby in a matter of years. This dispute is merely a signifier of their acumen.
 
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The problem with the old Chaosium was they didn’t run it tight enough as a business and now we’re supposed to be mad they are running it as a business?

Four months late paying royalties and not responding is not a good sign, they’d be fools to do nothing.

And not knowing what the other ‘contract violations’ may be and they could be significant, it is impossible to judge. Not that I’m into digging into the business wranglings of modern game companies that much. Just seems like more internet drama to me.
 
The current Chaosium is run by Moon Design, or really you could say it *is* Moon Design, and they saved the CoC 7th kickstarter rather than causing it, my guess is taking over the company and making good on the debts cost them a fair bit which is possibly one of the reasons for the hard-nosed and public actions the Chaosimoon seem to take. It's a shame SD seem to be having difficulties as they were producing superb editions of CoC at a time when the Chaosium versions (pre-Moon Design) looked awful. I have L' Appel de Cthulhu 30ème anniversaire and it's probably the best produced RPG book I've got. Losing the licence will probably put SD out of business. With the current Masques production the PDF has already been finished and released, with the print copies waiting to be shipped.
 
There has been mention of Chaosium reaching out to Michael Moorcock for another edition of Stormbringer, for example. Negotiations for things like this can't happen without Chaosium being strong.

I haven't seen Mike mention it at all. I'd be willing to bet he has zero interest. Yes maybe they changed management, but that doesn't change the fact that Chaosium blatantly ripped him off for decades.
 
Rick Meints mentioned it. I doubt that Mike, as Call of Cthulhu developer, has any input on the matter at all.
Umm . . . Michael Moorcock. The creator of: Elric, Corum, Dorian Hawkmoon, and Jerry Cornelius, et al. Who has never had anything to do with developing Call of Cthulhu AFAIK.
 
I haven't seen Mike mention it at all. I'd be willing to bet he has zero interest. Yes maybe they changed management, but that doesn't change the fact that Chaosium blatantly ripped him off for decades.
Are you refering to Mike as in Michael Moorcock?

Well, I guess that is the negotiating point for Chaosium to work with.
 
Umm . . . Michael Moorcock. The creator of: Elric, Corum, Dorian Hawkmoon, and Jerry Cornelius, et al. Who has never had anything to do with developing Call of Cthulhu AFAIK.
Yep, misread it, and changed comment now.
 
Are you refering to Mike as in Michael Moorcock?

Well, I guess that is the negotiating point for Chaosium to work with.
Yes. He doesn't mind being called Mike. I've known him for nearly 20 years and remember the YEARS he spent fighting to get Chaosium to stop using his IP. Companies that operate honestly don't get issued Cease and Desist letters.
 
Yes. He doesn't mind being called Mike. I've known him for nearly 20 years and remember the YEARS he spent fighting to get Chaosium to stop using his IP. Companies that operate honestly don't get issued Cease and Desist letters.

It is certainly odd that Chaosium did that and a shame as I wouldn't doubt it has turned Moorcock off ever licensing it again. Although money has a way of changing people's minds...
 
It is certainly odd that Chaosium did that and a shame as I wouldn't doubt it has turned Moorcock off ever licensing it again. Although money has a way of changing people's minds...
Yes, but you actually have to be able to see the money, or better yet, have a check in your hand. When Mongoose licensed Elric and Hawkmoon, Mike actually got checks.
 
Yes. He doesn't mind being called Mike. I've known him for nearly 20 years and remember the YEARS he spent fighting to get Chaosium to stop using his IP. Companies that operate honestly don't get issued Cease and Desist letters.
To repeat: The management at that iteration of Chaosium, the ones who ripped off Moorcock, are no longer there. For that matter, the management that mishandled the various Kickstarters is gone too -- that, in fact, is the very reason they're gone. The new management has done nothing whatever to offend Moorcock. You're trying to spread tar with an old brush.
 
To repeat: The management at that iteration of Chaosium, the ones who ripped off Moorcock, are no longer there. For that matter, the management that mishandled the various Kickstarters is gone too -- that, in fact, is the very reason they're gone. The new management has done nothing whatever to offend Moorcock. You're trying to spread tar with an old brush.
Feel free to try and convince him otherwise. I usually just talk to him about cats and stuff.
 
To repeat: The management at that iteration of Chaosium, the ones who ripped off Moorcock, are no longer there. For that matter, the management that mishandled the various Kickstarters is gone too -- that, in fact, is the very reason they're gone. The new management has done nothing whatever to offend Moorcock. You're trying to spread tar with an old brush.

I don't think Krimson Krimson intends to smear the current management, it is just the association that Moorcock is likely to bring to the table. I desperately hope they are interested in reviving Stormbringer! It is a lovely game.
 
I don't think Krimson Krimson intends to smear the current management, it is just the association that Moorcock is likely to bring to the table. I desperately hope they are interested in reviving Stormbringer! It is a lovely game.
It doesn't matter to me how they run their business. Certainly I was not impressed seeing one of my favorite people having to deal with the stress of it at a time when he was having health issues and financial difficulties that were not his fault. I won't repeat any of the things he has said about Chaosium. If you ask him yourself, I'm sure he'll have some interesting words about it. Right now his focus is his health, and beyond that, making appearances and getting together with friends. I'm sure he still writes and there is at least one Jerry Cornelius novel I haven't read yet. Honestly, I think he is better off sticking to writing. Mind you it also wouldn't surprise me if he made a deal with another RPG company. He certainly has lamented not letting D&D have the rights because of the aforementioned decades of IP theft. So whatever management that currently exists needs to realize that they have to try building trust on something that they took advantage of for a long, long, time.
 
Moorcock’s IP isn’t that valuable now and days. I don’t think it would make sense for Chaosium, or anybody, really to pay for its use. But I’m sure somebody will license it, kickstart it, raise a lot of money, and then we will never see another product out of it.

It’s easier to bungle crowd funded products when it is your own property being bungled. When a company doesn’t pay royalties and breach contracts it is a much bigger issue. I hope both companies can work it out for the backers benefit. Unfortunately, the French Cthulhu fans just want the translated books. It sucks that the company with the rights is apparently going silent on Chaosium.

As a fan of Chaosium I hope they don’t go after the Moorcock IP and use that money to reinvest into CoC and RuneQuest. The hobby for games not named D&D isn’t very big and I want them to focus on their core properties and not get spread too thin with too many products.
 
To repeat: The management at that iteration of Chaosium, the ones who ripped off Moorcock, are no longer there. For that matter, the management that mishandled the various Kickstarters is gone too -- that, in fact, is the very reason they're gone. The new management has done nothing whatever to offend Moorcock. You're trying to spread tar with an old brush.
When you buy or take over the company you take over all of it good and bad. When WotC took over TSR it appeared to me they went out of their way to make Gygax and Arneson feel "whole".
Elric/Stormbringer is right below Runequest and CoC for top Chaosium properties historically. Right or wrong the current management needs to rebuild the relationship with Moorcock for the corporation Chaosium if they don't want to hear about it each time it comes up. They aquired that responsibility when they took control.
 
Chaosium / Moon Design were in touch with Moorcock in 2016 and attempting to negotiate a settlement, perhaps that didn't go anywhere. Funnily enough Loz of TDM and Mythras has had more to do with Stormbringer, Moorcock and the Young Kingdoms than anyone currently at Chaosium.
 
That reminds me of an old Chaosium legal hassle...

There once was an illegal translation of Call of Cthulhu in Germany.

CoC was published by Laurin, a company that went through hard times and was bought by ... another publisher who continued to publish the other rpg that Laurin did, MERP, but sold the CoC license to a startup - a thing they weren't allowed to do.
That startup went through the whole process of translation, printing and distribution, and Chaosium was very surprised to see a new German edition (when - I believe - they were already in talks with a larger publisher about the license, Welt der Spiele).

The whole stock had to be recalled and destroyed. Chaosium was very sorry for the startup as they found they had been acting in good faith, as they thought they had acquired a proper license.

The end of the story: Welt der Spiele sat 5 years on the license, doing nothing with it, and when the rights reverted to Chaosium they went right to another publisher who finally brought Cthulhu back to Germany, Pegasus.
 
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