Brassed off with FRED (again)
I came across this post on BGG last week,https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/13 ... ickstarter
Apparently Eagle Gryphon are planning to launch a deluxe edition of Brass on Kickstarter in July. There is one tiny issue with regards to this new version of the game, which is that Eagle Gryphon no longer have the rights to Brass.
To fully understand this issue it is necessary to take a little trip down Memory Lane.
Some of you will be aware that there is no love lost between myself and Rick Soued, the owner of Eagle Gryphon, FRED and Funagain. Rick was responsible for the theft of Age of Steam in 2009. This game was reprinted by FRED despite the fact that I had informed him that John Bohrer, who he signed the contract with, had no rights over the game. Bizarrely FRED then sued me over a contract I had agreed with Eagle (the old Eagle, before it went bankrupt) which they thought gave them the rights to Age of Steam. A close reading of the contract made it explicit that the rights to the original Age of Steam remained with myself and Warfrog. After my lawyer pointed this out to them they dropped the case. I still had to pay my lawyer for what in effect was a nuisance claim. At that point in time I did not have the money or energy to follow up the case. I decided that the best response was to get on with life and put the matter behind me. I think the point needs to be made that I receive no royalties for Age of Steam or any of the expansion maps and I have no contract with John Bohrer.
Prior to all of this unpleasantness I had signed a contract with FRED allowing them to reprint Brass. Sales of such games as Brass are not great, once you have met the initial demand there is usually very few on-going sales. I figured that FRED had sold all of the Brass they were ever likely to and left it at that. Last December I decided to go back and check whether FRED (or Eagle Gryphon, its all the same to me), had reprinted the game. As it turned out they had done so in 2013. They had not informed me of this, nor had they sent me royalty statements or royalties owed. I contacted FRED via there website, not knowing the best person to contact. Ralph Anderson got back to me and arranged for a statement and royalties to be paid. At the same time that I made this inquiry I also informed them that I wished to terminate the contract. The contract is very clear on this, after 2013 either party can give six months notice of termination as long as sales are below a certain amount, which was the case here.
Thus, I was a little surprised to see that FRED are intending to release a deluxe version of the game on Kickstarter. Even if I had not terminated the contract they are still bound to consult me about artwork, which they have not done. The major issue for me is that another company wishes to acquire the rights to the game. For Treefrog this is quite important, as we have a lot of games in production and not a lot of money in the bank. However, with FRED still claiming ownership of the game this other party is reluctant to get involved. So, I’m being done both ways, losing money from not being able to sell the rights to the game and having FRED continue to make money off of me without my consent.
I have emailed Ralph Anderson a number of times to try to clear this matter up without my going public. I have had no response, hence the present post. If Eagle Gryphon do go ahead with the Kickstarter I urge you not to subscribe. To do so would be giving money to a company which has repeatedly acted in an illegal manner. I will be contacting Kickstarter to inform them about this situation, with the aim of having the game removed from their site. I would also ask people to think twice before you give FRED, Eagle Gryphon or Funagain your money. In my opinion Rick Soued lacks a moral compass. It baffles me how somebody can act in this manner and not be aware that they are stealing somebody else’s work. The only conclusion I can draw is that in some way he does not see the world the way that normal people do, which makes reasoning with him impossible.
As a postscript to this it is Rick Soued’s fault that Stronghold had to cancel Age of Reason. I sold the rights to Struggle of Empires to the old Eagle games. Despite the fact that Age of Reason has a different set of rules he is convinced the contract also includes any game ‘like’ Struggle of Empires. The fact that there is no legal way in which to define ownership of a loose set of rules and concepts does not matter to him. Stronghold cancelled the game because of the threat of legal action, even though Rick would lose. That’s the way he operates, by bullying people with empty legal threats.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post.