Posted by Jesse Willis
An intellectual property company has been harassing fans that were making audio versions of public domain Robert E. Howard CONAN stories.
They’d keep going, but the new fucked-up New Zealand copyright law will shut down their whole operation if the company complains.
Broken Sea Audio Productions, headquartered in New Zealand, has shut down all their Robert E. Howard projects after receiving another threatening letter from the lawyers for Conan Properties International LLC (aka Paradox Entertainment).
CPI is the limited liability company that claims all licensing powers over works by Robert E. Howard worldwide.
The whole situation is absolutely rotten. CPI is muscling a non-profit audio drama fan group that makes audio dramas and audiobooks, for fun, out of public domain stories, all so it can defend its trademark on “CONAN: The Barbarian” (the stories for which are in the PUBLIC DOMAIN).
Things might look different were it not for the horrendous new legislation set to be implemented on
February 28th, 2009 March 27th, 2009 in New Zealand. The new NZ law makes websites that are accused of infringement subject to arbitrary-ISP pulldowns.
Here is the most recent letter from CPI/Paradox Entertainment |PDF| in its entirety.
What make this all the worse is that its an echo of a fight BSAP, in NZ, had thought it had already won. See, back in August 2008 BSAP received a similar cease and desist letter from the same firm. In that letter CPI threatened a lawsuit over the use of “CONAN” (for which they claim a trademark)…
In response to it BSAP removed their unique, but still offending, “CONAN” logo and the CPI lawyers sent a follow-up letter. Saying…
After that, with the Conan audiobooks and audio dramas no longer displaying any “CONAN” label, all seemed well for the non-profit audio drama group. Paul Mannering, and staff, continued to cast Conan fans as voice actors and work on the script for a new audio dramatization based on another Robert E. Howard public domain work, Hour Of The Dragon.
Later, in November 2008, something rather cool happened. Paul Mannering got an email from the CPI/Paradox’s branding department offering BSAP a free “CONAN” license. It was to be a “royalty free” license too, that would forever keep a threat of lawsuit from CPI/Paradox at bay and allow BSAP to brand its Conan audio as “CONAN” audio.
But then, just yesterday, an unexpected email from the CPI lawyers arrived…
…dashing the possibility of a license AND renewing the threat of a lawsuit…
It seems to me that given that the Robert E. Howard stories are PUBLIC DOMAIN, that Howard is 73 years dead, had no spouse, nor children, that Broken Sea is giving away their productions to Robert E. Howard’s Conan fans – only one judgment is reasonable:
CPI LLC/Paradox Entertainment is being an asshole.
And that’s the situation as it now stands. All future BSAP audiobooks and audio dramatizations based on the PUBLIC DOMAIN writings of Robert E. Howard are canceled – or at least it’s all put on hold until someone can offer some legal advice to Paul Mannering and the Broken Sea creative team.
Posted by Jesse Willis