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Friday, July 24, 2015

Jeff Dee Retains / Regains the Legal Right to Publish Villains & Vigilantes

Looks like +Jeff Dee has the rights to publish Villains &Vigilantes and Scott Bizar does not.

Here's the posting from Jeff's V&V Facebook page:
Update on the Legal Battle 
We stated in a previous post that we expected it to take at least 3 months for the courts to issue a ruling on the appeals surrounding our victory in the lawsuit over the publication rights to V&V. 
Well, it didn't take 3 months. We have the court's ruling in hand. The appeals court is sending the case back down to Arizona to re-visit several issues. But on one particular issue - the one that's most central to our case - the judges were absolutely clear. Quoting from their ruling: 
"Reviewing de novo, Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1131 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc), we hold that summary judgment in favor of Dee and Herman was proper on the copyright claims. The 1979 contract granted to FGU, Inc., publication rights to the 1979 Villains and Vigilantes Rulebook. The parties’ course of conduct extended the contract to apply to the 1982 Rulebook, as well. But the contract expressly provided that the agreement would terminate by operation of law if FGU, Inc., ceased to do business for any reason. The agreement also prohibited the assignment of any rights under the contract without the written consent of the other parties. By the terms of the agreement, when FGU, Inc., was dissolved in 1991, all rights to the 1979 and 1982 Rulebooks reverted to Dee and Herman. Accordingly, all sales after the 1991 dissolution of FGU, Inc., of the 1979 or 1982 Rulebooks were infringing acts." 
In plain English: we have the legal right to publish our superhero role-playing game, and Scott Bizar does not. 
As we said, the judges sent several other issues - most notably, the question of the trademark - back down to the Arizona courts. We remain confident that all of our rights will ultimately be upheld. 
Thanks for your continued support! 
-Jeff Dee & Jack Herman


  1. Cool. Too bad FGU's product is so much better than the MHG stuff.

  2. if I read this correctly, though, it means that not only do Dee&Herman own the rights to the 1979 and 1982 versions, FGU-or-whatever owes them back payments because the sales of those books after 1991 were infringing acts. There could be room for additional suit or compensation.

  3. Interesting that a court finally stated that FGU Inc.'s dissolution in 1991 is a legally binding thing. That actually puts a nail in the coffin of a LOT of their contracts that Scott is trying to hang on to by claiming that he never ceased to do business...

  4. Fascinating, and good news for many.

  5. They still have some issues to resolve, like the question of the actual Trademark, before they can put out anything with the name, as I understand it from asking Jeff on Facebook. But, yeah, it's amazing how long the legal system can take to resolve something like this. Glad it's starting to go the way it so obviously should have.

  6. Jeff Dee and Bill Willingham were my favorite artists back in the early/mid-ish '80s, and Dee's art in no small part played a role in V&V being my favorite RPG. Didn't like DC back then, and Marvel Super Heroes just seemed like playing out a comic book, rather than creating our own world. Glad to see Jeff can continue his work!