Gail Gygax Sued By Movie Producer

In June it transpired that Gail Gygax, the widow of D&D co-creator Gary Gygax was being sued. This isn't the first time she has been embroiled in legal disputes, there having been major family disputes between her and Gygax's children over recent years, but this is the first time with a Hollywood movie producer!

295233_10151109907297425_1033548626_n.jpg


According to Variety, the Gygax estate partnered with De Santo to oversee the catalogue of published and unpublished works. In June of this year, according to the Courthouse News Service, "Tom DeSanto — producer of “Xmen” and “Transformers” — sued Gail Gygax — the widow of Gary Gygax, creator of “Dungeons & Dragons,” claiming they formed a partnership to exploit the brand, but she tried to negotiate a video game deal without him, in L.A. Superior Court."

That this is ongoing has been confirmed yesterday by a public Facebook post from Gail Gygax, which reiterates that she is being sued in California by Tom DeSanto (X-Men, Transformers) and New Myth Entertainment for $30M over plans to publish Gary's original dungeon. The post is below, verbatim, although it has been edited a few times, as can be seen in the post's edit history, and it's a little incoherent.

"What is on my mind?@

The 30 million lawsuit Tom DeSanto filed against me in CA, the prestigious producer, lol,DELAYS MY HOPE TO PUBLISH Gary's original dungeon. An historical work.
I guess i will be losing our home and Garys dungeon.

I am 62 years old. Can any one say Elder Abuse? Hunter. The thought of losing our home in the next two weeks has me devastated.

No one, except my agent has stepped up to defend me. She was fired from APA. TOM deSanto said to me an agent from APA was up on child molestation and basically said they were a third rate agency. Also that he knows the owner. Wow. Then my fantastic agent gets fired from the agency he, Tom, said was third rate.

My agent is fantastic and I can only say after many years in LA, she is the best.

I almost died in 2014 when Luke and Ernie sued me, and Margaret Weis. Shocking Margaret as Gary was so kind to you.

Weis as a board member. Not sure why She was so negative against me other than to gain financial control over the Gygax trademark..

I believe Tom DeSanto, accordinding to his email wants to strip me of our home and all properties Gary and i were working. On.

I refuse to attend GarybCon as Luke Gygax is so very negative to me. I love our much beloved Gen Con, however due to what i believe are Luke Gygaxes rants with his friends against me i am afraid to attend Gen Con. I would not to put Peter in a bad position. .Peter and Gen Con has only been respectful and loving to me and Alexander.

My home has been invaded, there was a trip wire by my back step to kill me and I know what is missing from our home.

My stepchildren places a headstone without a body. It reads. E Gary Gygax. Beloved Father and Grandfather. So my step childrens hatred of me is front and center. I was his beloved wife. No respect from them. I was shocked and dismayed when Harold Jog son informed me of this act at Gen Con. I was indeed devastated and bed ridden for two months.

With NO CONCERN FROM MY STEP CHILDREN.

I was Told by Chris Hoffner if i didnt licence GaryCon to him they would run over me.

Nice. I created GaryCon in my husbands memory. Guess my stepchildren cant share with me and Alex.

i can only believe TOM DESANTO AND NEW MYTH entertainment with David Ranes has victomized me. Not sure calling the FBI TOMORROW

Tom is suing me for $30mil. I asked my stepchildren to help me. Only to get the answer from Luke if i didnt make him branding manager there would be no agreement with his sibblings. What doess that even mean?. He wants control over my 30+ year company.

So i start a new jouney to make sure my husbands works are brought forward. I am disappointed Hasbro WOTC will not return my emails.

I WANT garys original dungeon i. With HIS original rules. Dungeons and Dragons.

I hope i have support for this historical moment.

Mrs. E. Gary Gygax
I will love him until the day i die. He was a truly special man. I was so honored to be married to him."
 
Russ Morrissey

Comments

Zardnaar

Legend
If the various Gygax's could have figured out how to work together, I a sure they could have released some great material to honor Gary's legacy. Too bad this is such a mess.
Stepmom from hell issues. She is not the mother to Gary's kids and he cheated on their mother with her so they never liked her.

Gail I think was a secretary or something at TSR IIRC. Bad blood there going back years. Gary left his estte to her and not Luke and his brother so yeah.
 

Steel_Wind

Adventurer
Generally speaking, when someone is involved in a lawsuit, in my professional experience, you can't infer much, generally, about the event. Such things can happen for good reasons and bad reasons; from causes of bad luck, pure happenstance and, sometimes, because of a temporary lapse in judgment. The reasons for it can be as varied as people and circumstances permit. But one-offs are one-offs. They are isolated incidents that lead to no conclusion which meaningfully reflects upon a person's character.


HOWEVER...

I do have a few clients who are engaged, repeatedly, in litigation. I'm not talking about one lawsuit; nor even two. I'm talking about three or more. Sometimes, several more than that.


And that's wholly different. When that much litigation swirls around someone? That's not accidental; that's a systemic consequence of deliberately poor choices.


Don't get me wrong - these are great clients to have when you are a litigator. But we don't kid ourselves in the office as to why the same couple of clients keep getting involved in these things. We bloody well know why. And it's not for flattering reasons.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

GreyLord

Adventurer
So i start a new jouney to make sure my husbands works are brought forward. I am disappointed Hasbro WOTC will not return my emails.

I WANT garys original dungeon i. With HIS original rules. Dungeons and Dragons.

I hope i have support for this historical moment.
This is interesting. In fact, this may actually be the entire crutch of the entire thing.

She wants Gary's Dungeon published...

and here's the BIG caveat...

With his original rules.

Think about that. Which ones is she discussing...OD&D, AD&D, something in between, or Gygax's plans for AD&D 2e (his, not what was), OR is it one of the later systems Gary designed in relation to AD&D (my guess, OD&D or AD&D 1e)?

Take any of them...and today's current RPG audience. How well do you think that would actually sell?

Gygax's sons are not foolish, they probably can see it as financial suicide...as would most others, including Hasbro/WotC.

No one probably wants to publish that, but they MIGHT if they could update it to one of the modern systems (for example, if by WotC, under the 5e ruleset).

If neither side is moving...I can see that ONE POINT as being a MAJOR cause of contention, struggle, and severe disagreement.

Of course, I would love to see it published as Gygax originally wanted it WITH his original rules (meaning either OD&D or AD&D [1e] and no other system, though I could live with it under C&C...but with Gail trying to publish Gygax's dungeon under HIS rules...that will never happen), but that would be what I would want to see personally. If that was actually done, though I would buy it and a few dozen others...it probably would lose GADS of money.

I could also see her sticking by this as a resolve being so excessively frustrating to others in the family that other rifts and disagreements and other things have come to the fore as they try to force the issue upon one another...they just wouldn't be able to see eye to eye.

If this is the issue, something to think about. Though I think Gygax wouldn't have minded C&C publishing it, I think he had a pretty strong (though he never really let it out much, more reserved about it) dislike for some of the modern systems of RPGs put out (such as 3.X) and would have put in a rather strong opinion that if it ever saw the light of day it would need to be with something HE approved of (meaning his own system designs would be fine). He would know that his sons are pretty easy going and likeable, but also pretty well able to meld into the modern RPG audience with design and tastes, so if he left it to them...they would do exactly what he didn't want done with it. Hence why, maybe, he left it with Gail.

If so though, it may be a heavier burden than what he would have expected.

Lawsuits seem to happen between family members in similar situations all the time, and it's NEVER pretty and NEVER nice.

On the videogame/business/movie deals and lawsuits, that sounds more to me like ignorance on her part of what the deals she actually signed pertained and contained rather than willful misconduct, but that's just my perception.
 
Back in the 80s, I remember when a local mom & pop VHS rental place called The Video Shack had to change their name because RadioShack went after them.

I think it depends - RadioShack got snippy about the term anything on the web with the term <something>Shack for a while, even when it was pretty clear they weren't related.
 
Someone savvy enough could probably do something like the various OSR games did with the OGL. But you’d still have to strip all the D&D/Greyhawk branding out, short of some sort of agreement with Wizards. And after all that is done, are you really getting the original dungeon?

Gary’s system of choice in later years was either Lejendary Adventurers or OD&D. A lot of the stuff published for other systems was converted from those by someone else.

As far as how well it would sell, I dunno. The rights to all of Gygax’s IP were pulled, what ten years ago? A lot has happened in that time. Maybe if they had spent these last ten years building their own brand up, with products still being published and played, instead of this nothingness…

This is interesting. In fact, this may actually be the entire crutch of the entire thing.

She wants Gary's Dungeon published...

and here's the BIG caveat...

With his original rules.

Think about that. Which ones is she discussing...OD&D, AD&D, something in between, or Gygax's plans for AD&D 2e (his, not what was), OR is it one of the later systems Gary designed in relation to AD&D (my guess, OD&D or AD&D 1e)?

Take any of them...and today's current RPG audience. How well do you think that would actually sell?
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
... Maybe if they had spent these last ten years building their own brand up, with products still being published and played, instead of this nothingness…
I've never heard a statement or thought that Gail Gygax has ever looked forward. She has always looked back. This is just more instance of her trying to live in the past.
 

am181d

Visitor
Of course, I would love to see it published as Gygax originally wanted it WITH his original rules (meaning either OD&D or AD&D [1e] and no other system, though I could live with it under C&C...but with Gail trying to publish Gygax's dungeon under HIS rules...that will never happen), but that would be what I would want to see personally. If that was actually done, though I would buy it and a few dozen others...it probably would lose GADS of money.
Gary's "original" dungeon and "original" rules predate OD&D. I believe the argument she's making is that she still owns the formative material that predates the published OD&D.
 

timbannock

Explorer
Gary's "original" dungeon and "original" rules predate OD&D. I believe the argument she's making is that she still owns the formative material that predates the published OD&D.
I have no evidence to support this other than Gary's writings with Jeff Talanian for Castles & Crusades -- basically, Jeff was converting AD&D-era rules to C&C, and that's clear in the writing in parts where they directly state things like "if you want to use a % system for thief skills..." -- but I strongly think that AD&D was where Gary settled on rules stuff, and therefore Gail would be looking there for the rules stuff. Whatever proto rules Gary might have had are almost certainly tied so closely to Chainmail and then OD&D that I couldn't imagine for a second that there's enough gaming material in there to create Castle Greyhawk. Given that the castle's dungeons were mutating through the early 80s to become their most "recognizable" (from convention and home game play) form, that makes me doubly suspect AD&D was likely the foundation for it.

As to Gail trying to get the Greyhawk IP:

Ultimately, Gail had her chance when she first got a hold on some old school folks for Gygax Games to publish a version of the castle/dungeons using OSRIC, Swords & Wizardry, or any number of other systems. Pay a licensing fee to Hasbro for whatever Greyhawk IP they need, and boom, they're done. Even if the licensing fee was high, the fact was that at the time immediately following Gygax's death and Gygax Games pulling the CZ license from Troll Lord, there was still good will and WOTC clearly extended a hand by selling the AD&D reprints with a percentage going to the Memorial Fund. But Gail didn't capitalize on that moment, and has since squandered any good will, as far as I can tell. The AD&D reprints still mention the Memorial Fund, but WOTC remains pretty silent about it, and the work Erik Tenkar has done in uncovering info on it suggests it's effectively a dead project. I doubt WOTC feels good about handing money over to a charity that is neither open nor honest about where the funds are going...so of course they won't return her calls.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I would think if you opened something that did not look like a McDonald's in any way beyond the name that you'd be in the clear. I haven't even thought about it for decades though so the laws may have changed.
Never mind just "McDonald's" - here in Canada they've gone after "Mc<anything>" in the past. A chain of coffee stores called McBeans* spent ages defending themselves against this 15-20 years or so back; I believe they won in the end but I'm not sure the company survived for long afterwards.

* - I can't remember now whether the founder/owner's name was McBean or not.

Lanefan
 

drklassen

Explorer
Thus we see the massive negative effects of perpetual ownership of copyright. Gary died. His work is done and over and belongs in the public domain. If his wife or kids want to make money, they can do so on their own work and efforts.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
Never mind just "McDonald's" - here in Canada they've gone after "Mc<anything>" in the past. A chain of coffee stores called McBeans* spent ages defending themselves against this 15-20 years or so back; I believe they won in the end but I'm not sure the company survived for long afterwards.

* - I can't remember now whether the founder/owner's name was McBean or not.

Lanefan
https://ca.vlex.com/vid/mcdonald-s-corp-v-681652761

The opposition to McBeans failed in the end, although McBeans as a trademark was refused for selling drinkable coffee. It was allowed for selling coffee "stuff" like beans and makers. There were further appeals and cross-appeals, but I can't be bothered to look. Google is unaware of McBeans or Coffee Hut Stores so the company is probably dead.
 

Doc_Klueless

Doors and Corners
Thus we see the massive negative effects of perpetual ownership of copyright. Gary died. His work is done and over and belongs in the public domain. If his wife or kids want to make money, they can do so on their own work and efforts.
When you die, be sure that you leave all your belongings and investments to the public and don't give any of it to your family... Afterall, you're not using it anymore.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Thus we see the massive negative effects of perpetual ownership of copyright. Gary died. His work is done and over and belongs in the public domain. If his wife or kids want to make money, they can do so on their own work and efforts.
I don't see any problem with copyright benefits passing to one's successors provided the IP remains in use and in more or less active development by said successors and-or under their guidance. In this instance EGG's sons seemed to be trying to do this - all is good. Another fine example is the continued development of JRR Tolkein's IP by his successors.

Where it becomes problematic is when an inherited IP is left to founder - or worse, is intentionally suppressed or buried - by the successors; or when there are no clear successors and-or no will or guidance as to who should gain control of an IP whose copyright holder has died. The IP has to then sit stagnant for (is it 75 years in the US?) until the copyright falls off and anyone can use it; this happened with HP Lovecraft's works relatively recently.

Lanefan
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Thus we see the massive negative effects of perpetual ownership of copyright. Gary died. His work is done and over and belongs in the public domain. If his wife or kids want to make money, they can do so on their own work and efforts.
People make things in their lives. Sometimes it’s an object; sometimes it’s an intellectual object; sometimes it’s something even more abstract, like a bank balance. All are equally the result of hard work and can be left to others when you pass.

(All said in a theoretical context as a reply to the general concept of IP ownership; I’ve no insight into the Gygax situation).
 
Last edited by a moderator:

drklassen

Explorer
Where it becomes problematic is when it lasts longer than 7 years. Period. The Constitution provides exclusive rights to works of art and creativity for a "limited time". Since nobody creates in a vacuum, society is a co-creator so the generation that inspired the creation should also have access to it. Longer than 7 years means they don't.
 

drklassen

Explorer
If you make a chair, you sell it. Done. If you write a song, why should you be able to be the exclusive seller of it for all eternity?

Bank balances are not "things made" so that's a false equivalence fallacy.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Where it becomes problematic is when it lasts longer than 7 years. Period. The Constitution provides exclusive rights to works of art and creativity for a "limited time". Since nobody creates in a vacuum, society is a co-creator so the generation that inspired the creation should also have access to it. Longer than 7 years means they don't.
Your house wasn’t built in a vacuum. Society was a co-creator. The generation which inspired it should have access to it.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
If you make a chair, you sell it. Done. If you write a song, why should you be able to be the exclusive seller of it for all eternity?

Bank balances are not "things made" so that's a false equivalence fallacy.
If you make a chair, you can leave it to your children. If you make a song, you can also leave that to your children.
 

In Our Store!

Advertisement

Latest threads

Advertisement

Top