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Sadly WB does own the licences for all LOTR and The Hobbit merchandise, concept, art, games and advertisement. I.e Everything to do with Tolkein pretty much. Whilst I understand that they have poured billions into the LOTR franchise, the only real reason that they will not allow MERP and consecutive modding and public creators, is that The Hobbit is currently all aorund the world, but most importantly, MERP, like many other mods and public made games, look better than what they could do. The only way MERP can go ahead is to change the names of all of its characters, change the name MERP but still hold true to their outset. This is the only way as WB will never back down and no matter how many petitions you get they will not budge. So just change the names and you've got your own fantasy universe which is basically Tolkein's but under a different name: nothing WB can do about it.
That is just so typical of a primarily profiteering company who are bent on exploiting people, crushing their innocent aspirations and imprinting itself everywhere out of a paranoia driven by greed and a lust for dominance. Doesn't then seem much hope for MERP unfortunately if this is what WB did for an already open pub. Also I didn't think that their licences covered pre-ownership of sales and copyright. The Copyright was enacted by the previous owners and so they had no jurisdiction?
Doesn't WB own the rights and privileges to LOTR and The Hobbit Franchise in film, tv, gaming etc but Tolkien Estates own the rights to the actual products; words, names, places, concepts etc?
Just had a revelation! WB owns all things to do with the Lord of the Rings. They own the names, locations, concepts and designs. So merely change the name of them mod and they can't do anything! But we will know the truth whilst slashing down orcs!
Also what have Bethesda have had to say? Get their support and BAM! They yet hold sway over many peoples' minds. Unfortunately The Saul Zaentz Company/Middle-earth Enterprises have had shares bought by WB. So again money is still the influence. That being said they may yet support the mod if shown what it is capable of.
Just say to Warner Bros. that all credit goes to them for this amazing conversion mod. We will all know the truth but they will get credit. I don't know but frankly WB just want to exert their authority over an enterprise that they just bought and want complete control over. Of course it doesn't help that The Hobbit is currently all around the world being promoted everywhere. Lets just think though; a non-profit modding team using LOTR as a basis has been done so many times in games. I can think of at least 5 games that have a LOTR conversion without any hassle. One of the most noted being the Thir Age Total War for Medieval II. No one complained then and the mod is still growing strong amonst TW fans. So unfortunately WB is just another profiteering company. Perhaps we could raise money to have them a sponsor for the mod? Brand their logo on every mammoth or rather oliphaunt?