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!

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According to Variety, the Gygax estate partnered with De Santo to oversee the catalogue of published and unpublished works.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

drklassen

Explorer
If I make a chair, it exists. One chair. That I, and only I, can possess and control. If I make a song, I can distribute a billion copies of it. Why should I have perpetual right over what someone can do with the copy they bought? Copyright is an OK thing, so long as it is limited. Seven years is good. If you want to keep earning, make new stuff. Just as I'd have to make more chairs.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
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.
Seven years is far too short for most IP. Had the rule been 7 years, the Hobbit would have been in the public domain before Tolkien would have been able to finish and publish Lord of the Rings. Life of author + some modest amount should be fine. The current state of affairs is ridiculous, but 7 years would also be ridiculous.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Seven years is far too short for most IP. Had the rule been 7 years, the Hobbit would have been in the public domain before Tolkien would have been able to finish and publish Lord of the Rings. Life of author + some modest amount should be fine. The current state of affairs is ridiculous, but 7 years would also be ridiculous.
Indeed. You can’t even make a film trilogy in that time.
 

drklassen

Explorer
Lifetime is ridiculous. The generation that helped shape the creation should be able to take ownership of it while it is still relevant to that society.

Yes, The Hobbit would have been public domain. So...? How would that at all have affected the publication of LotR?

All it means is that JRRT wouldn't have exclusive distribution rights to The Hobbit. Smaller publishers could have picked it up and it could have reached more readers faster. Or someone else could have decided to write a prequel or sequel to it. Just like all those stories of Hercules we have—dozens of people picking up the stories, expanding, continuing the creation, etc. Disney has built an empire out of the public domain. Why shouldn't we be able to do the same with our legends?!?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
If I make a chair, it exists. One chair. That I, and only I, can possess and control. If I make a song, I can distribute a billion copies of it. Why should I have perpetual right over what someone can do with the copy they bought? Copyright is an OK thing, so long as it is limited. Seven years is good. If you want to keep earning, make new stuff. Just as I'd have to make more chairs.
What if your chair was so great people wanted to look at it? So they pay you to see it. After 7 years, do you have to give up your masterpiece chair?

What if your masterpiece novel takes more than 7 years to write?

What if it takes you 35 years before your genius is recognised and somebody finally pays you for it?

Why does a chair have more value to you than a novel?

Why can I leave my chair to my children but not my novel?

Why do you value an artist’s hard work less than that of a carpenter?
 

drklassen

Explorer
Your still carrying the analogy of physical things too far. Novels and songs aren't "things"; you can't own them. You can only have copyright over them—the right to be the exclusive distributor of them. Why should you be able to keep selling the same song over and over but I can't do that with my chair? Why do you value a carpenter's hard work less than that of an artist?
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
Lifetime is ridiculous. The generation that helped shape the creation should be able to take ownership of it while it is still relevant to that society.

Yes, The Hobbit would have been public domain. So...? How would that at all have affected the publication of LotR?

All it means is that JRRT wouldn't have exclusive distribution rights to The Hobbit. Smaller publishers could have picked it up and it could have reached more readers faster. Or someone else could have decided to write a prequel or sequel to it. Just like all those stories of Hercules we have—dozens of people picking up the stories, expanding, continuing the creation, etc. Disney has built an empire out of the public domain. Why shouldn't we be able to do the same with our legends?!?
Note that those legends (Hercules, Grimm’s fairy tales) were centuries old before Disney made a fortune on them. Any original authors were long dead and could no longer try to make a living from their intellectual creations-their characters, their worlds-when Disney and countless others were exploiting them.
 
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billd91

Hobbit on Quest
Your still carrying the analogy of physical things too far. Novels and songs aren't "things"; you can't own them. You can only have copyright over them—the right to be the exclusive distributor of them. Why should you be able to keep selling the same song over and over but I can't do that with my chair? Why do you value a carpenter's hard work less than that of an artist?
You’re on to something, but you’re zigging when you should be zagging. It’s true that IP isn’t like a physical object - that’s exactly why it needs a different sort of protection. The reason that the length of protection is longer than a laughable 7 years is because IP may be the labor of many years. Chairs, generally, are not.
 

Farenn

Villager
Sorry to say but I have absolutely 0% sympathy for her. If she really cared about honoring Gary's legacy and wishes she would never have pulled the Lejendary Adventures license from Troll Lord Games. The people at Troll Lord were his friends and they did right by his game. She seems all about money in my opinion and seems a little unhinged. There was also no reason why she should have sued Luke and Ernie over Gygax Magazine. It was a great old school magazine that was not hurting Gail in any way. But she had it shut down. I can't blame Luke and Ernie for not wanting to help her with the lawsuit. Maybe she will get desperate for help in the end and compromise with Luke and Ernie over their father's work. That way his products can see the light of day again.
 
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R_Chance

Explorer
You’re on to something, but you’re zigging when you should be zagging. It’s true that IP isn’t like a physical object - that’s exactly why it needs a different sort of protection. The reason that the length of protection is longer than a laughable 7 years is because IP may be the labor of many years. Chairs, generally, are not.
Agreed. Chairs and novels will be judged in the market and bought or not. But their are differences besides the material / immaterial nature of the "product". Chairs can be popped out pretty quickly. Songs and novels not so much. They take quite a bit of time to "produce" and may take even longer to sell. So, to make a living off your effort you need to support yourself for quite a while on the current product until your next "product" comes down the pike. I have this weird idea that if I like a novel, song, etc. I want the author / artist to be able to produce more. Not run off to become a carpenter so he can eat.

I find it fairly irritating that people think they should have near instant (a few years is pretty much that in a field that could require years of effort to produce one product) access to the ideas of others, and be able to exploit them, because they are alive when it was produced. Part of some social group that magically contributes to the concept. Everything we do, think, and produce is based on the past and produced in the present, whether it a chair or a novel. Does that mean we all own everything together in some socialist world order? No thank you. You can debate the duration of IP rights and protections (and I think lifetime plus a set number of years is reasonable), but it's ludicrous to make these assumptions of group ownership based on your existing.

*sigh*. I better stop now. Obviously, this annoys me... quite a bit.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Your still carrying the analogy of physical things too far. Novels and songs aren't "things"; you can't own them. You can only have copyright over them—the right to be the exclusive distributor of them. Why should you be able to keep selling the same song over and over but I can't do that with my chair? Why do you value a carpenter's hard work less than that of an artist?
I don’t. A value them the same. Which is why I can leave both to my wife.

Whether they’re a thing you can touch isn’t really relevant to me. They’re both things I made and which took hard work. Fortunately, society agrees that I can leave both to my wife should something happen to me.
 
This poor woman sounds paranoid, delusional... the fact that her own children have estranged from her says a lot. And Weis, very well regarded in the industry? Business is business, which is why Im happy for the brand to belong to a company like Wizards.

Hope we now get our long awaited D&D cartoon and movie.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
This poor woman sounds paranoid, delusional... the fact that her own children have estranged from her says a lot.
They’re not her children. I don’t know them (I know some folks here do; I’ve met Gail and Gary a few times, but not Luke or Ernie) and I’m sure plenty of people here could elaborate, but I suspect therein lies the problem.
 
They’re not her children. I don’t know them (I know some folks here do; I’ve met Gail and Gary a few times, but not Luke or Ernie) and I’m sure plenty of people here could elaborate, but I suspect therein lies the problem.
Thanks for correcting MOrrus, I have never met Gail, but her social media post is heavily structured with paranoia; "a trip wire" that speaks for itself.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Lifetime is ridiculous. The generation that helped shape the creation should be able to take ownership of it while it is still relevant to that society.
If we are gong to say you don't "own" IP you create, you only own the rights to distribute it, the same goes for everyone else.

The generation cannot take ownership, because they can't own it either!

The creator does not *owe* the generation their work, any more than a creator owes everyone a chair. You are not *entitled* to get what they created with their minds.

Oh, and if you make a chair, and you sell the chair, the person has the right to use the chair - they can sit in it. They *cannot* take the design of your chair and reproduce it at will.


Yes, The Hobbit would have been public domain. So...? How would that at all have affected the publication of LotR?
For example, by having someone else write later books using the same characters and setting before Tolkien could, leading to confusion among the reading public. Someone else working on an IP can color public perception of the property. If they were bad, they'd not have looked at Tolkien's work ("That world sucks! Why would I read it?") - this would have deprived Tolkien of the income, and also deprived the genre of his overall impact.
 

Eltab

Adventurer
Larry Niven (sci-fi author) accidentally demonstrated why IP protections (such as copyright and patent) are necessary:

He opened his 'Known Space' universe to guest authors, expecting to get short stories from other sci-fi authors.
Almost immediately, an individual who was known for being a porn author wrote one of his standard porn stories with some Known Space window-dressing. He released it without letting Niven know what was happening.
The sci-fi authors hadn't yet had time to think up a good Known Space story, write it, and submit it.

When shown the story, Niven sent a cease-and-desist order to the author.
Niven had to shut down the whole project, because this one guy had 'poisoned the well'.
 

Shasarak

Visitor
Larry Niven (sci-fi author) accidentally demonstrated why IP protections (such as copyright and patent) are necessary:

He opened his 'Known Space' universe to guest authors, expecting to get short stories from other sci-fi authors.
Almost immediately, an individual who was known for being a porn author wrote one of his standard porn stories with some Known Space window-dressing. He released it without letting Niven know what was happening.
The sci-fi authors hadn't yet had time to think up a good Known Space story, write it, and submit it.

When shown the story, Niven sent a cease-and-desist order to the author.
Niven had to shut down the whole project, because this one guy had 'poisoned the well'.
I dont get it. Larry wanted people to write in his "universe" and then got upset when people wrote in his "universe"?

o_O
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
I dont get it. Larry wanted people to write in his "universe" and then got upset when people wrote in his "universe"?

o_O
What’s not to get? He was expecting for something other than porn. I’m sure he was hoping for an exchange of creative ideas, maybe a vibrant community of writers in a shared world. And humanity disappointed him right out of the gate. I’d have shut it down too.
 

Sadras

Adventurer
Seven years is far too short for most IP. Had the rule been 7 years, the Hobbit would have been in the public domain before Tolkien would have been able to finish and publish Lord of the Rings. Life of author + some modest amount should be fine. The current state of affairs is ridiculous, but 7 years would also be ridiculous.
Indeed. You can’t even make a film trilogy in that time.
A trilogy is nothing compared to the writing of the Winds of Winter.
If that 7 year rule had been in effect, a fan-made copy would have hit the shelves by 12 July 2018.
#Truestory.
 

Shasarak

Visitor
What’s not to get? He was expecting for something other than porn. I’m sure he was hoping for an exchange of creative ideas, maybe a vibrant community of writers in a shared world. And humanity disappointed him right out of the gate. I’d have shut it down too.
I see that he is an 80 year old American so that probably explains it.
 

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