Official Thimbleweed Park Forums

Petition: Disney, please sell the rights to 'Monkey Island' back to its creator Ron Gilbert


Nobody knows for sure what Disney will decide to do with it in the future. For example they might license it to someone, as LucasArts did with Telltale Games when they produced “Tales of Monkey Island”.



Gawd how I miss those burgers.


Ron wants complete creative control of the Monkey Island IP. That rules out settling for a license from Disney, and he’s definitely not going to write a story using characters owned by Disney without permission (even though he created those characters in the first place). The only option that’s acceptable to Ron is purchasing the rights to Monkey Island outright, so that he doesn’t have to worry about approving every detail with Disney, or dealing with other developers/authors creating contradictory works.

What other options do you see that don’t involve breaking the law or settling for less than full ownership of the rights to Monkey Island?


I think Ron is only after the merchandise rights so he can produce these:


Ahahah I had forgotten that part!!
Geez, I should replay Tales of Monkey Island, long time has passed since the last (and only) time I’ve played it. Some parts are fading out from my memory…


Also this gamer didn’t know you can you can get different responses selecting the same dialog options again… Do you remember?


Yes :slight_smile:
Anyway my favourite part was the 5th… especially the dialog with “Charon”…


I really liked that fourth game!


Yes. Ron wants to do an adventure game. To do this he needs the IP. But he don’t need the IP if he just writes down the story of a MI3 game. He could easily publish this story (or a first draft of a design document) on his blog. Similar to Lobots:

With this strategy Ron hasn’t to fear the Disney lawyers. All of us who watched 2/3 of the “movie” get the end. If someone doesn’t want to know the end, he has just to ignore the post. If Ron should get the IP he could still make a MI3. And no hamsters are harmed.

Of course we all want an adventure game. But at least I (and a few others) would love to know how the story ends. And I think such a publication would be a good compromise. But if someone has a better idea: Please share it!

(btw: Ron published already several (confidential!) deign notes of Lucas* games on his blog - and assume that no Disney lawyer has knocked on his door yet. And see also:


Publishing a book based on the unauthorized use of someone else’s IP isn’t legal. The fact that it’s a different format than the original source material doesn’t make it legal. And while it’s true that Disney hasn’t shown any particular interest in litigation based on documents previously posted by Ron, there’s a big difference in risk between your examples and writing a Monkey Island novel. Being told to take down a post that maybe took Ron an afternoon to compose including scanning and uploading documents is very different from being told to shut down a project that’s taken a year of his life.

As for that year, it’s not as if writing a novel is some simple, quick process that can be done while waiting in line at the store or whatever. It’s a very time-consuming process, and nobody is going to be paying him to do it, because if he did get paid to do it, that most definitely would attract Disney’s lawyers. Scaling back the scope of the writing to that of a design document or something similar would avoid some of the time issues, but that just leads to another problem…

Ron already said in this topic that the gameplay and the story are interwoven. If Ron were to just come up with a story for Monkey Island 3a without the associated gameplay, that could have a big impact on how the writing turns out. For instance, the insult sword-fighting was a pretty big part in the first Monkey Island. But if Monkey Island had been a book instead, would it ever have made it in? It sure didn’t make it into any of the draft documents online. For that matter, the earlier drafts were nothing like the final product. I’m not convinced that a quick plot summary written to get a bunch of fans to shut up would really be an accurate representation of how he would have concluded the story. It would be one thing if he already had it all planned out in his head, but he already said he doesn’t have the whole story worked out.

And what if by some unlikely stroke of luck he does manage to buy the rights–but it happens after he’s written the plot summary? Should he be slave to the document he wrote, even at the potential cost of satisfying gameplay or narrative? If he does let the development of the game dictate its own path, what about that published draft? How is it going to feel to find out the draft he wrote wasn’t really the true conclusion to Guybrush’s story? I understand that development of any creative work is an iterative process with lots of changes, but some people will undoubtedly feel betrayed when story elements that were “set in stone” are suddenly changed. That’s not some unfounded assumption either. Pretty much every book that was ever turned into a movie has a number of people who are upset at the changes made in the movie.

Now don’t get me wrong–I’d love to get a conclusion to Guybrush Threepwood’s story. I’ve been eagerly awaiting a true sequel to Monkey Island 2 since I first completed it on my new-at-the-time 386DX40 computer. I’d be ecstatic to hear that Ron Gilbert was able to buy the rights to Monkey Island, and I’d be nearly as ecstatic to hear that he compromised his principles and settled for a licensing deal. And truth be told, I’d probably be willing to settle for a written short story despite my concerns mentioned above. But if Ron Gilbert was willing to settle for licensing, he’d have already done it. If he was willing to make a “Monkey Island with all the names changed”, he’d have already done it. If he was willing to write a story, he’d have already done it. And if he really felt the need to get the story out one way or another, he’d have already had the story figured out. After all, he’s had over 25 years to think about Monkey Island 3a.

Ultimately, I respect Ron Gilbert and whatever decision he decides to make. As much as I’d love some sort of conclusion, I can’t in good conscience pester him to put my desires (and the desires of many fans) over his creative freedom and personal integrity. It’s Ron’s story. How, when, or even if he chooses to finish the story is his decision, and his decision alone. I’d feel terrible if I were to try to pushing him into doing something he doesn’t want to do.



Aww, no that´s more of a Secret of LeChuck.

I´m still not convinced the original title of the game wasn´t going to be “Guybrush Copyright Infringement and the Monkeys of Monkey Island” *

*Reminder: don´t be so convulted with my references


You seem to have some knowledge about legal stuff. I have a question: are Monkey Island fan fictions legal?


I don’t have knowledge about legal stuff but a person who makes fan fiction can’t profit from it. That’s usually where the big companies draw the line. But it depends, Lucasfilm let the Star Wars fans do almost anything with their intellectual property. Bob Dylan, Prince and Led Zeppelin on other hand are very closed minded about it their songs.


For companies, fan fiction and fan art comes down to the PR trade-offs, that’s about it. If you doing fan stuff is helping them, then it’s fine. If it’s hurting them, prepare to be sued. There is a big grey around around fair use, transformative work, etc, that lawyers love, because it makes them money auguring over it.

There is also the difference between violation of copyright and trademark. If you put a companies trademark (company name, product name, character names) on something, it’s almost a guaranteed take-down notice due to how trademark works and your need to defend them, or lose them. Copyright (game art, character art) has lot more wiggle room, since you’re not in danger of losing the copyright for not defending it.

I say all this from experience, I am not a lawyer.


That’s what happened to the Star Trek fan film. It became too big of a deal to the company disregard as a fan art. They sued the shit out of the creators.


Ok, I give up. It surprises me how negative the reactions were to my suggestions. Don’t get me wrong: Some of my ideas were beep. But I have scanned the thread again and it seems that no one has tried to be constructive and/or to find (other) ways.

Of course it is Ron’s decision and he stated in older posts that he would only do an adventure game (and this only if he gets the IP). I don’t want to persuade Ron, but I wanted to show some possibilities. Because I found it extremely unfair to the fans of MI1 and MI2 to say: “Hey, guys, I have a great idea, but you will never get to know how the story ends.” Disney will never sell the IP and if Ron dies (what I hope will never happen!) we won’t know how MI ends. This makes me really sad and frustrated. I can only repeat: It’s like watching a movie and after 2/3 the projector eats the only existing copy of the film. I’m fine with any solution, to sign an NDA or whatever. (Monkey Island is the reason why I don’t buy and play adventure games with an open end anymore.)


Depends on the country and how the trademark is used. :slight_smile: I don’t know the laws in the USA but here you can use the trademark for example in reports or texts about the product/company/whatever. You can even write negative about it as long as you don’t lie. So even fan fiction could be legal (to all critics: yes, could, not is. I know this.)


Why is it unfair? It is not owned by you nor by “fans of MI1 and MI2.” The owner of the property has the prerogative to do as they wish. They owe you or the fans nothing. It may not be nice, it may not be what you wish, but it is not unfair.

But you do know how it ends: it ended with MI2’s closing. It wasn’t a grand plan or a single fully fleshed story that transcended multiple episodes. Granted, it’s an expansive game and story world which they could continue exploring in multiple installments; but they never made a third game, so it’s over.

Mr. Gilbert has stated that he is not interested in just writing “fan-fiction” or facsimiles, nor is he interested in licensing the property or affiliating with corporate entities – he would only make a new episode if he owns it outright.

Disney won’t sell it, though, so what else is there?

I understand, it is not a happy situation for anybody, and Disney does not seem to care. Perhaps it’s time to move on. It looks to me like Mr. Gilbert has done so already.

It is not at all like that. It’s not like they wrote a single very long game, divided the diskettes into three sets and published only two.

The way these things work is that every game stands more or less on it’s own to some degree, otherwise it reduces it’s marketing appeal. Also, companies like LucasFilms only decide to make sequels when the property is hot and becomes popular, and there is a chance to make more money from turning it into a franchise.

The first Monkey Island game was a best-seller, so it was natural that they made a second; but you could play them to completion and have a fully realized story arc after each. In fact, many people took it as such.

The authors may have hoped to continue making episodes, but that was never guaranteed, especially in a corporate environment driven by commercial and marketing forces.

Besides, I could be wrong, but I do not think Mr. Gilbert is sitting on a fully designed and written game for the past 20 years, waiting for the opportunity to release it.

I appreciate that you really like the Monkey Island franchise and really, really want a new episode; but sometimes we don’t get everything that we want. It’s frustrating, but such is life. We take the good with the bad. :wink:

Personally, I think it’s a blessing that Mr. Gilbert can focus on completely new and original properties of his own devise, such as Thimbleweed Park, rather than continue to milk dry a 20 year-old franchise.

Life is too short, so we must pick our battles. :slight_smile:



I have different information about the development of Monkey Island 2:

Monkey Island was never a big hit. It sold well, but not nearly as well and anything Sierra released. I started working on Monkey Island II about a month after Monkey Island I went to manufacturing with no idea if the first game was going to do well or completely bomb. I think that was part of my strategy: start working on it before anyone could say “it’s not worth it, let’s go make Star Wars games” [Ron Gilbert, on his blog]

Anyway, I wanted just to add an opinion about the “it will never happen” mood that I have detected in some of the previous posts. I prefer to see it as probabilities. I would say that Disney selling the IP to Ron is extremely unlikely but not utterly impossible.

As long as Ron says things like…

Don’t expect me to ever answer this question… [If he had approached Disney and if they responded; LowLevel’s note] many people ask. It would not be in my negotiating best interest to say anything about any negotiations, or even if we’re having them. This isn’t to say we are, but I will never confirm or deny them." [Source]

… it means that he still thinks that it makes sense to protect his interests. These are not the words of someone who has thrown in the towel.

I don’t think about MI all the time but I think it’s fair to leave me an ounce of hope to see the trilogy completed, one day, maybe. :slight_smile:


You’re presenting this as if you’re the first person to come along and try to get Ron to come up with a public conclusion to the story in one way or another. The reality is that Ron has been pestered about a conclusion to Monkey Island for literal decades now. Every idea you’ve presented has already been proposed over and over. You’re not finding new solutions, you’re repeating solutions that have been presented by many other equally motivated fans over a multitude of years. The solutions didn’t work then. Why would they work now?

I’ve seen the exact same things proposed repeatedly regarding the fate of the Half-Life series, which also ended on a cliffhanger, with no sequel in sight. Half-Life 3 hasn’t been in development limbo anywhere near as long as Monkey Island 3a has, yet people keep clamoring for the sequel, or at least a comic that tells a conclusion to the story. Unlike Ron, Valve does in fact own the rights to their IP, and could legally publish (and optionally charge money for) a conclusion in any form they desire, yet it hasn’t happened.

The reason for the “negativity” is that many of us have already seen how this plays out several times already. Ron has undoubtedly heard it all when it comes to requests for a conclusion to Monkey Island. If he was going to be moved to give into the requests, 25 years is plenty of time for it to have happened. And considering his article about a hypothetical Monkey Island 3a, it’s pretty clear to me that he only wants to continue telling the story in a very specific way. Why would he go to all the trouble to spell out what it would take for MI3a to happen if he was actually open to alternatives?

To look at it a different way, think of how bothered you are about the negative responses in this thread. Now imagine if instead you presented your ideas 26 years ago, and people have been continuously telling you over and over again for each and every one of those 26 years all the reasons why it’s not going to happen? Ron is basically in that position. He decided a long time ago that he wasn’t going to make Monkey Island 3a for someone else, but he’s had to listen to people pestering him for a quarter-century about why he should do it anyway–even if it needs to be some bootleg version in a different format. I don’t want to be yet another person telling him that my desires for a 3rd game should trump his personal feelings about what it would take to conclude the Monkey Island story.

The way I see it, the effort is being misplaced. The solution isn’t trying to find a way to break Ron Gilbert. The solution is trying to find a way to convince Disney to send the rights to Monkey Island back home to Ron Gilbert, where they belong. Admittedly very unlikely, but sometimes people can defy the odds. When it comes to making fan games, people will tell you (and rightfully so) that making a game based on someone else’s IP is a recipe for a Cease & Desist letter–especially if it’s based on Nintendo IP. So when people started making a fan remake of the original Half-Life, many people assumed Valve would kill it. Instead, Valve embraced it. The only legal action they took was to make a minor change to the project’s name (dropping the word “Source” from the title) to prevent it from seeming like an official Valve product. The fact that they allowed the project to exist was impressive enough, but when Greenlight was first launched, the devs put Black Mesa on there. Instead of rejecting the project due to IP infringement, Valve approved it as a Greenlight title, and later signed a deal with the developers allowing them to charge for the game, as well as granting source code access in the process. The end result is that a game that originally started out as a Source engine mod got promoted to full-fledged standalone title available for sale on Valve’s own Steam platform. I’d have never guessed that Valve would be so accommodating with their own IP if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. The odds are against Disney giving up the rights to Monkey Island, but I’d sure feel a lot better about annoying Disney into giving in than I would Ron Gilbert. I can live with Disney selling the rights to Ron just to shut us up. I don’t know that I could live with pushing Ron into publishing any old half-assed conclusion to Monkey Island just to shut us up. It’s important to me that whatever he releases is what he wants to make–not what he’s pressured to make. So to conclude, what do we need to do to convince Disney to do the right thing?