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The Middle-Earth Roleplaying Project resists cease and desist letter

Following a cease and desist letter from Warner Brothers, the makers of the Middle-Earth Roleplaying project, a Skyrim mod, have begun a petition to have the decision revoked, allowing the developers to continue work on the Tolkein-inspired project.

MERP's an ambitious mod, aiming to recreate the entire storyline of Frodo's walk to Mordor in the Skyrim engine. That includes all the locations, characters, and quest lines necessary to faithfully capture the plot of the books. Development was still in early stages, with the Middle-Earth height map in place but not a great deal more, though that height map was nine times the size of the vanilla Skyrim install. Though the team planned on working till they'd created something with "a quality greater than that in vanilla Skyrim."

It may sound like a project destined for the "Too big to complete bucket" but it's been in development since 2008. The recent work has been porting it to Skyrim. Not building it from scratch.

All was going well until the team received a cease and desist letter from Warner Brothers, who currently own the rights for Lord of the Rings games. All work on the mod halted, but only long enough for them to contact a lawyer and start a petition. According to their Moddb page, currently they "have a lawyer from the Organisation for Transformative Works (OTW) on our side, currently aiding us in our appeal for being a transformative piece."

A transformative piece is when "the artist creates something exemplary differential from the original piece so much so that it can be called his own," or so says Illinois' Business Law Journal.

Whilst their lawyer is hard at work lawyering fans of the project aren't left entirely helpless, they can sign up to the "Save MERP from corporate greed!" petition, which currently has over 3,000 signatures.

Cheers, PC Gamer.

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