This is a great case study in the way intellectual property rights can be incredibly complicated in this modern financing age.
We reported last week that The Sean Daniel Company had closed a deal to turn the upcoming video game “Dead Island” into a movie. I had my sources on the story, and we had our end of the story mostly right. As a few other outlets reported, Union Entertainment was partnered with Daniel on the deal, and it looked like it was set in stone and good to go.
Then Deep Silver popped up saying “Whoa whoa whoa… who bought what?” A subsidiary of German media giant Koch, Deep Silver is indeed the sole rights holder to the “Dead Island” IP, and they had not made a deal to sell those rights.
That doesn’t mean our reporting was wrong, or that the other outlets independently reporting the same thing were wrong. It took me a few days to piece together what happened, but it’s not the first time I’ve seen this situation. The rights were represented to The Sean Daniel Company and Union Entertainment a certain way, and they honestly thought they had them pinned down. They were moving forward in good faith, and it seems like the reason Deep Silver went so public with their statement about who owned the rights was to make sure nothing else happens where things are confused or obscured.
According to a report in The LA Times, Daniel and Union are still in the hunt, and still eager to pin the rights down. They aren’t the only people interested, though, and so it’s moved back to an auction situation, where many bidders are going to have their shot at the material. Right now, the idea of IP farming is such big business that there are companies that have been built entirely on moving an intellectual property from one party to another, never really creating anything of their own, and it can complicate things needlessly. They could write a book about the behind-the-scenes fun-and-games that took place before “The Walking Dead” ever made it to your TV screen, and I guarantee there were plenty of points during that process where you could have published a completely accurate headline that still ended up being wrong in the end.
We take seriously our obligation to present you with news that is both timely and accurate, and in this case, our best efforts were frustrated by some behind-the-scenes developments that we never could have anticipated. For now, “Dead Island” appears to be back on the market, and we will continue to follow the story. When there is a genuine sale to report, we’ll have that news for you.
In the meantime, when is someone going to option the rights to “Dino D-Day”?
Nazis and dinosaurs? What… is it my birthday?!