LOTR-Themed Skyrim Mod Project Ends With Warner Bros Cease & Desist Order

The Middle Earth Roleplaying Project is a rather glorious Skyrim mod, designed meticulously to recreate Tolkien's world.

Alas, the project -- which began as an Oblivion mod, and has been in progress for years -- may never be finished. The team behind the project has apparently received a Cease & Desist letter from Warner Brothers, and as a result has had to stop work on the mod. As one modder explained on Bethesda's forums, "Changing all copyrighted content is not an option for us, once all the names and such are different it wouldn't feel like LotR anymore."

Meanwhile, for lovely images of what might-have-been, the project site is still live.

MERP Received a C&D Letter [Bethesda Forums]


    That absolutely sucks.

    Well, on the bright side, at least I was too lazy to continue working on models for it.

    A question for the more legally minded, if they are not charging people for the mod (which i'm pretty sure is illegal) then can this cease and desist actually be enforced? What about all the people that cosplay or do lotr roleplaying? Is it actually legal for warner to stop them making the mod?

      Yeah, that's what I thought as well, CyberXenomorph. What's a Skyrim mod hurting them, huh? I mean, if they actually allowed a good game to be made on LOTR for once, we wouldn't have to be building this sorta stuff *rollseyes*

      Infringing on intellectual property does not necessarily need to have an immediate monetary gain.
      Registered intellectual property gives you the rite to decide what is done with it and how it is used.

      I made this hat, its a beautiful hat, it scores me women... no, you may not wear it because it is my hat.

        Your metaphor is a little biased.

        They don't want to wear the hat. They 're just making a vest that's uses the same design; but doesn't score them women. It just looks nice and they like wearing it.

      I can only imagine because it would indirectly benefite Bethesda as opposed to the actual copyright holders. A copy of the original game must still be purchased before you can play this mod, after all.

      All in all very disappoiting, the copyright barons strike again and all that.

      But at least no one is getting sued, for now.

    Why are Warner Brothers even issuing this..? Did not even know they owned the rights o.o

      Yup - they own LotR Online.

      But I'd be interested to see if they own rights to all games produced in the LotR universe or if they have a limited license. If it's limited in any way then the C & D could simply be a scare tactic.

        New line Cinema and peter jackson have movie rights, ea games, and a few other have have game rights, the only wrights Warner Brothers have is "war in the north" so scare tatic

    Warner brothers and the author's own the copyright so they can stop anyone from reusing any part of film/book (I think they own rights for the book....maybe not).

    They won't stop cosplayers because its free promotion (and also a waste of time/money for them). They could be thinking of lauching a whole new wrath of LOTR/hobbit games so any mods would be a danger to them.

    Looks like one for Ken of Popehat to comment on... he's not a fan of bullying C&D letters.

    Wow. These days, you can't even open the door to the Warner Brothers office without being buried by avalanche of cocks.

    seriously though, why doesn't Warner Brothers HIRE THE MODDER, give him a skeleton crew and QA testers, license the fricken SKYRIM engine, AND MAKE THE BLOODY GAME THEMSELVES.

    Surely there'd be money in this?! You weeping buttholes.

    This only gives me the idea that someone is developing a LOTR game like Skyrim.

    wow, thats a "call of duty" move right there.

    this is completely stupid.. It's not like warner bro's was in the middle of making an official skyrim mod themselves.. I also find kind of funny when large companies are concerned with home made projects being better then their multimillion dollar failwhail games. Employ these people and sell it as your own or back the eff away and leave em to it warner bro's :/

    If they were actually taking models, textures or other things from the mmo and not developing it themselves I can see the problem they have with it. But if they're using all their own assets and not looking to compete at all, there shouldn't be any harm in letting them have their mod.

    Fair use does not apply here?

    i think it its high time modders pushed back against all these C&D orders and just continue making their mods, after all they are not charging people to by their mods because that would indeed be copyright infringement and as it currently is its just fair use.

    Not only that but when these letters appear its normally because a studio is working on something of the same calibur, but as usual, the mod version was always way better than the shit the studio would pump out case in point Halo Wars on the 360

    Id have told WB to get fucked and kept going and eventually throw it up on the torrent sites for distribution.

    stick it to the man.......man

    Yeah sticking it to the man sounds great, unless you are the one that gets the letter from the high priced lawyers. It's easy to laugh off this sort of thing if you are some anonymous internet random that has no relation to the project, but when when all your personal details are known (via hosting, domain ownership, etc.), it's a very scary prospect that you really have no alternative but to concede to. Whilst fighting it might be technically possible from a legal standpoint, companies like this can simply crush you financially, so there's never any real choice in the matter.

    * Disclaimer - I have no relation to the MERP project, but I have been involved in other similar mod projects based on 3rd party IP. A C&D is always on the cards in these sorts of mods, and many's the time I have wondered when the dreaded letter will turn up in my inbox.

    I hate to spout the old 'Hollywood is full of money grabbing dicks' rhetoric, but it seems appropriate. I can appreciate them getting mad if the mod creators were selling the mod, but it's free. If anything, its solidifying your IP in the minds of the public, for free.

    the sad thing is that i would be less likely to buy a real LOTR game just because them going this has changed my opinion of them, big mistake Warner Bros.

    Warner Brothers, hire this guy, licence Bethesda's engine, make a butt load of money.

    There is some law that allows artistic expression and this allows people to actually sell items that look exactly like the movie products. http://cdn.geekpr0n.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Nazgul-Armor-3-images.jpeg

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