Competing D&D Documentaries: Continuing Coverage

*As noted in my previous blog post I am not a lawyer and none of this is to be considered legal advice in any form.*

Short post today but hopefully informative.  Looks like things are heating up in the Lawsuit between the two competing, or non-competing if you feel there’s plenty of room for two, Dungeons and Dragons Documentaries.

First, here’s a boiled down refresher of the situation if you missed my last post on this:

  • In late summer/early fall 2012 a Kickstarter for a Documentary regarding the history of D&D ran, the film is titled “Dungeons and Dragons: A Documentary”.  It funded on September 17, 2012.
  • I wrote a blog piece about it on September 3, 2012.
  • There were two primary groups tied to the project. Iconoscope Films and Westpaw Films
  • A falling out occurred at some point during the making of the film and the primary groups formalized an agreement through the courts that dealt with remaining ownerships and duties to the film so that it could still be made to satisfy the investors (we Kickstarter Backers etc.). This Settlement Agreement was signed December 5, 2013.
  • This Summer another Documentary purporting to be a “true tale of the rise and fall of the creators Dungeons & Dragons” thus a film also concerning at least a portion of the history of D&D appeared on Kickstarter under the title “The Great Kingdom”
  • “The Great Kingdom” is helmed in part by individuals who were involved, and still are to an extent, with “Dungeons and Dragons: A Documentary” as Iconoscope Films.
  • On or about June 20, 2014 Westpaw films filed a Complaint with the intent to keep “The Great Kingdom” from being made, rescind the original Settlement, and other forms of relief (some monetary) to be extracted from the defendants.
  • “The Great Kingdom” funded on July 20, 2014

Well that ended up being more verbose than I intended but does the job nicely.

I’m not going to pass judgment here, as I’ve stated before.  I simply mean to pass along some details to those interested.  Firstly, “The Great Kingdom” has funded so apparently the lawsuit did not detract people from contributing.  This says to me that the lawsuit likely won’t go away as simply as it might have if the second film hadn’t funded.  This is pure conjecture but I think settlement would have been far more possible if there was no Kickstarted second film.  Now though, we certainly have two projects vying for existence here so it may mean that we might see a decision via Summary Judgment or even a full blown trial if there’s an issue of fact.  Things may get really interesting.

Honestly, I know too much about lawsuits to wish this situation on anyone.  There’s going to be a lot of difficult times ahead for both parties and I can only hope they come to a peaceful resolution where no one really comes out a villain here, but that can be hard to achieve.

Well, I need to wrap this up with the real reason I sat down to write this post.  I wanted to provide my readers with the information regarding how to follow along with this suit via the publicly available court documents.

  • Step One: Visit the New York State Unified Court System website Link
  • Step Two: Click “Search as Guest”
  • Step Three: Do the CAPTCHA
  • Step Four: Do a Name search for “Westpaw”

There you have it.  That will lead you to where you may peruse the court docs and make your own decisions.  A good thing to remember when going over these documents is that everything you read is merely an Allegation.  Even the Affidavits, which amount to sworn testimony, are to be considered “truths” as to the person swearing to them.  I know the situation isn’t really all that fun but it is nice to be able to keep up with it.  I’ll try to post anything remarkable I discover throughout folks.  Good day and good gaming!

UPDATE: 10-06-2014: There have been some fairly heavy developments so I’m updating rather than adding an entirely new post.

  • Since July the court case has proceeded.  Both sides presented their story before the court during the month of July.
  • In Early August an injunction was Ordered against the Defendants (those behind The Great Kingdom) that essentially shut them down completely.  They are restrained from “taking any action in futherance of the creration, production, manufacture, etc. for any documentary film about the fantasy role-playing game “Dungeons & Dragons”.
  • Oddly enough (in my opinion) the Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint around that same time despite the Injunction Order. (I say oddly because that Injunction Order seems fairly telling re the opinion of the court.  This is only my inferred feeling though, not anything concrete.)
  • The Defendants have file an Appeal of the Injunction
  • The descision on the Motion to Dismiss has been adjourned to October 29, 2014 marking the date for the Plaintiff to respond to it for October 22, 2014.

UPDATE: 05-22-2015

Some shocking news to relay on this matter. Seems the Defendants have concurrently had their counsel withdraw and have filed an Answer to the Complaint (presumably Pro-Se) stating that they “deny all of the substantive allegations in the Complaint”. This move is far removed from where I thought this was headed if I’m to be honest, I had really put my hopes into settlement. This has the potential to really draw things out for this litigation. The Answer to a Complaint is really early in the litigious process were this to go all the way to some sort of Jury/Non-Jury outcomes. Not looking good for a quick resolution anymore sadly.

UPDATE 09-15-2015

At this time it appears an Order has been issued after a Preliminary Conference detailing further Discovery (Interrogatories & Document Production) to be handled by the end of November. Chances are good we see some continuances but at least things are moving along.

UPDATE 08-17-2016

Here we are almost a year after my last update and it seems things are moving again. At least, looking at the court documents it appears so. Let’s see what is out there and what it may mean for seeing this come to a resolution.

There was an Order for Mediation issued by the court back in January 2016 to be held in April. While I have no insight as to what was discussed withing that Settlement Conference I can say that it appears no resolution was reached.

A new Judge has taken over the case and we are now deep into Discovery and Depositions. For those unfamiliar it means that each side is now presenting paperwork and verbal testimony in an effort to prove up their end of things. A Deposition works just like giving testimony on a witness stand in a trial but it is handled outside the courtroom and the whole thing is recorded by a stenographer, sometimes it is also recorded by audio or video tape as well.

What this means is we are gearing up for one of two things. Either this case will be decided “Dispositively” meaning the judge will review all the Discovery and Testimony and then render a verdict if the judge feels enough information is available to comfortably do so or some or none of it is decided Dispositively and it goes to trial.

The best result for backers of Dungeons and Dragons a Documentary would be for the judge to rule in favor of the Plaintiff (Westpaw Films, Inc.) on the Dispositive Motion, which is returnable in December (barring further extensions surrounding Discovery, etc.) This would finally free them up to finish the film and get it out the door. I’m not familiar enough with this type of suit to know how long it might take to rule on a Dispositive motion here but…I don’t hold out hope of it being quick.

Hey, there’s always the chance they finally work out some kind of settlement.

-Melvs

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2 thoughts on “Competing D&D Documentaries: Continuing Coverage

  1. Crazy situation all in all. I wonder though if a little controversy might not positively help the eventual winner in this deal. That is the doc-drama were to hit the mainstream news and not just through the blogosphere or kickstarter. Thanks for keeping on top of this story Melvs.

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  2. It’s been my pleasure. Stuff like this walks the line of my passion in Tabletop RPGs and my profession in law so it certainly interests me. Personally I’d watch both films if they came to fruition but I understand the idea of protecting one’s interests.

    At Gen Con, at the D&D A Doc panel there were hints that we may see a theatrical release when all’s said and done.

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