Chaosium unilaterally issues limited license extension so Éditions Sans-Détour can fulfil their obligations to backers

Posted by Michael O'Brien on 23rd Dec 2018

As announced in previous statements (here and here), Éditions Sans-Détour's license for Call of Cthulhu was not renewed after it expired in September of 2018. This was due to non-payment of royalties and other cardinal violations of the contract.

ESD acknowledged to us that it is aware of this termination in mid-November.

In early 2017, with Chaosium's approval, EDS crowdfunded a French translation of Masks of Nyarlathotep/Day of the Beast on crowdfunding site The campaign concluded on March 17, 2017 and raised €261,544 (approx. USD$300,000) from 1936 backers. 

ESD agreed to pay Chaosium a share of the proceeds of the Ulule campaign. This is the standard license fee to use Chaosium's trademarks, logos, copyrighted material and all related intellectual property for Masks of Nyarlathotep/Day of the Beast. Although this sum was meant to be remitted to Chaosium within 10 days of ESD receiving the crowdfunding funds from Ulule, it was never paid. In fact, ESD has not paid Chaosium any royalties from late 2016, nor even sent us sales reports despite us asking repeatedly. 

Hence, the cancellation of the license. Permission to use our trademarks, logos and all related intellectual property has been withdrawn. Any publication using Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu material past October 1st 2018 without our express permission would be a violation of international copyright and trademark laws. This includes Masks of Nyarlathotep/Day of the Beast

However, Chaosium has stated from the outset that we do not want ESD's failure to perform its contractual duties to result in Ulule backers not getting the product they have already paid for (although we ourselves have not been paid). 

In the past weeks, ESD has finally replied back to us several times, only for communication to go dead again once we ask them to actually do something (e.g., pay past royalties, give us sales figures upon which royalties can be estimated, etc.).

We are understandably concerned that ESD lacks the funds to pay us even the royalties for just the 2017 campaign. We despair of having the two years of unpaid royalties on our work ever being repaid, even in part, by ESD. 

Hence, we are taking this unilateral step to at least enable Éditions Sans-Détour to fulfil obligations to their Masks of Nyarlathotep/Day of the Beast backers:

  1. Chaosium will unilaterally grant a license to Éditions Sans-Détour to fulfill the 2017 crowdfunding campaign. We do that despite our concerns that we will never see a cent of the not insubstantial royalties owed by ESD, by ESD’s repeated acts of bad faith, for their serious breach of contract, and copyright and trademark violations. We do that because we don’t want the fans to get punished for someone else’s deeds.
  2. This license DOES NOT permit Éditions Sans-Détour to sell Masks of Nyarlathotep/Day of the Beast to game stores, distributors, or online. It ONLY allows ESD to fulfill the Ulule crowdfunding campaign to existing backers and nothing more. Nor does it waive ESD of its obligation to pay Chaosium the royalties owed. Chaosium reserves all rights to seek legal relief against ESD as specified under its (now-lapsed) contract with ESD.

We’ve tried to work with ESD to move past what is obviously a difficult period in their company’s finances, but not only have we not received any royalty payments for books sold since the end of 2016 - we haven’t even received sales data upon which royalties could be estimated. Our requests for this information have been ignored. As we originally noted, Éditions Sans-Détour has long been a valued part of the Call of Cthulhu family, and we are saddened that we have been unable to resolve these matters in a constructive manner.

We will be announcing the new Call of Cthulhu licensee for the French language soon.

Michael O'Brien
Head of Licensing
Vice President - Chaosium Inc.