Éditions Sans-Détour has a license problem. They’ve not paid for their rights to the French rights of Call of Cthulhu for months, and the lease has now expired. Heck, when Chaosium first went public with warnings about the situation, Éditions Sans-Détour weren’t even responding to emails about it.
It is necessary for companies to defend their trademarks and intellectual property. Many legal systems require it. From a business point of view, too, small publishers can’t support parasites that merely use the creations of others to sell on derivative or copied works. Chaosium has been looking for a new and official French publisher, and both companies will need every cent that partnership might generate.
But there’s a problem; fans of Call of Cthulhu in France. Many of these tabletop gamers backed a crowdfunding campaign by ESD to produce more French Call of Cthulhu books. Having forfeited the rights to publish anything about Call of Cthulhu ESD would be in breach of the law if it tried to fulfil those pledges.
It’s a horrible situation.
And it looks like Chaosium are working hard on a solution. In a new statement and apparently without much in the way of support from Éditions Sans-Détour, the parent company has issued a limited license extension.
Here’s the text;
Hence, we are taking this unilateral step to at least enable Éditions Sans-Détour to fulfil obligations to their Masks of Nyarlathotep/Day of the Beast Ulule.com backers:
- Chaosium will unilaterally grant a license to Éditions Sans-Détour to fulfill the 2017 Ulule.com crowdfunding campaign. We do that despite our concerns that we will never see a cent of the not insubstantial royalties owed by ESD, by ESD’s repeated acts of bad faith, for their serious breach of contract, and copyright and trademark violations. We do that because we don’t want the fans to get punished for someone else’s deeds.
- This license DOES NOT permit Éditions Sans-Détour to sell Masks of Nyarlathotep/Day of the Beast to game stores, distributors, or online. It ONLY allows ESD to fulfill the Ulule crowdfunding campaign to existing backers and nothing more. Nor does it waive ESD of its obligation to pay Chaosium the royalties owed. Chaosium reserves all rights to seek legal relief against ESD as specified under its (now-lapsed) contract with ESD.
This limited extension feels like not only an incredibly kind move by Chaosium, giving this Christmas gift to worried fans of Call of Cthulhu, and one that’s not entirely risk-free. Chaosium has said they will soon announce a new French partner. Let’s hope this generosity doesn’t rock the boat.