The fan made DoomRL is a custom made version of Doom based on the 1990s version of the first-person shooter. The game has been out since 2002. Well, recently ZeniMax Studios sent the developer a cease and desist letter.
The cease and desist letter from ZeniMax was posted up on the Twitter account of developer Kornel Kisielewicz, who notified the gaming community about the legal threats from the company.
ZeniMax owns Bethesda and Bethesda is the parent company over id Software; id Software is the maker of Doom. So ZeniMax is marking their territory and letting Kisielewicz know that he's in violation of their intellectual property trademarks.
Even though they threaten legal action, the reality is that Kisielewicz isn't located in the United States. He's actually based in Poland and currently working on a new project called Jupiter Hell. In fact, the game is currently being Kickstarted right now. The project is a turn-based, isometric action title based on the work that Kisielewicz and Derek Yu did on DoomRL, which is a rogue-like, isometric edition of Doom.
The original DoomRL released as freeware back in the early aughts in 2002. The game has been updated frequently since release, with the last update being 11 years after its release in 2013. The bizarre thing about the cease and desist from ZeniMax is that first off all the freeware title is well over a decade old. Second of all, the last time DoomRL was updated was three years ago. So ZeniMax sent out a cease and desist letter to stop a decade old freeware project that hasn't been updated in three years.
It's a bizarre waste of resources given that the game was doing nothing but sitting on the internet for the past three years being made available for free. Artist Derek Yu and developer Kornel Kisielewicz have long since moved on to other projects.
Some people suggested to Kisielewicz to simply delete and remove any mention of Doom or the Doom Guy or the art that's based on the demons and villains from the old 1990s Doom games. Kisielewicz didn't want to get rid of Derek Yu's work, though. Also, it would require rebuilding all the assets from scratch to not look like Doom characters, and they're sort of already doing that with Jupiter Hell.
DoomRL hasn't been the only one to encounter this sort of issue, though. The fan made Pokemon Uranium didn't even feature the standard Pokemon or images from the Nintendo games, but Nintendo still had the project shut down and removed from the internet. The Big 'N' also went after Another Metroid 2 Remake, which was released freely as a fan-made tribute and celebration to Samus Aran and the 30 year anniversary of the Metroid series.
Nevertheless, as we've seen in these most recent cases, fan games aren't very appreciated by the publishers in this day and age. It's kind of odd given that there are tons and tons of fan made movies out there based on popular properties like Star Wars, Blade Runner and Batman, but the movie studios don't seem as strict when it comes to shutting down those videos on YouTube.