Warner Bros. Issues Cease-and-Desist Letter over “Middle-Earth Roleplaying Project” Skyrim Mod

MERP team sets up a petition asking fans to help change Warner Bros.’ minds.

Middle-Earth Roleplaying Project (MERP), is a complex and detailed Skyrim mega-mod which uses the game to portray a more Lord of the Rings-esque experience, including quests, characters, locations and imagery lifted from the films and books. All was going swimmingly, until last week, when Warner Bros. issued a cease-and-desist order to the team behind MERP. Now, that same team has taken to GoPetition and to Facebook, imploring fans to help them convince Warner Bros. to withdraw the letter.

The petition reads,

“As of 2012, the team ported the mod to the newest Elder Scrolls game from its predecessor, Oblivion. Since the move, the team has built up a huge following due to its quality and drive. This rise in popularity has also drawn the eyes of Warner Bros., currently the rights-holder to The Lord of the Rings in gaming, who then issued the MERP team a cease-and-desist letter. We now need you, our fans and other gamers, to help make Warner regret sending that letter by showing them just how many people are behind this mod.”

“Save MERP from corporate greed,” it warns.

Modder Maegfaer posted in an Elder Scrolls forum at the end of August that development would be halted, citing the Warner Bros. order. While speaking to PC Gamer, Maegfaer described encountering the Warner Bros. lawyer, saying

“WB first said they wanted to see if we could come to some sort of understanding, but when we offered to remove the Ringbearer mainquest (they mentioned specifically that it was a problem) they refused and immediately wanted us to cease & desist without any further negotiations. We then offered to become a private project, with us only releasing screenshots/movies of MERP to be able to recruit modders, and they still refused. The negotiations felt like a farce, because they refuse anything unless practically all LotR content is removed.”

PC Gamer later reached out to Warner Bros., whose VP of Public Relations Remi Sklar said,

“While we appreciate our fans’ enthusiasm, we also need to protect our IP rights.”

Maegfaer also provided snippets from the “most interesting parts” of the team’s communication with Warner Bros., which you can peruse on PC Gamer.