Over at Havard's Blackmoor Blog, there's an interesting post in which it's stated that the license Wizards of the Coast extended to Zeitgeist Games to produce Blackmoor-related RPG materials will likely not be renewed at the beginning of next year. A lot of old schoolers are surprised to learn that Dave didn't own the rights to his own creation, Blackmoor. Nearly all the proper names and concepts associated with the setting were owned first by TSR and then by its successor, WotC. I couldn't tell you precisely how this came about, since Supplement II contains barely any Blackmoor-specific IP and The First Fantasy Campaign, which does contain a lot of details about the setting, was published by Judges Guild. I can only presume that the late 80s "DA" series of modules are the basis for this arrangement, but, as I said, I don't know this for a fact.
Regardless of the why, Blackmoor was not owned by Arneson nor is it now owned by his heirs. New Blackmoor materials only appeared under a licensing arrangement and it appears as if that arrangement will soon be at an end. On the one hand, I'm not surprised. Licensing arrangements are rarely stable, particularly when dealing with big licensors. On the other hand, I have to wonder why WotC would even care all that much about Blackmoor. Nostalgia aside, it's not a particularly valuable property and I have a very hard time imagining an official D&D IV Blackmoor campaign setting. Bleeding heart that I am, I long felt it would have been a nice gesture to return Blackmoor to Dave or his estate, but I also knew that that wasn't very likely.
The funny thing is that, as I descend deeper into old school madness, I find myself less and less concerned about things like this. It's sad for Blackmoor's fans, of which I count myself one, but the reality is that I no longer care much about pre-packaged campaign settings, even my beloved Greyhawk. It takes comparatively little effort to create a campaign setting of one's own and it has many advantages over relying upon the work of others. Plus, it's not as if we'll ever again see Blackmoor material written by Dave Arneson or that reflects the actual play of the Twin Cities campaign. The same goes for Greyhawk. It's a shame, because I would have found such material interesting from a historical perspective, but the hobby will survive nonetheless, as will my own campaign, whose setting is one my players and I are creating together. From my perspective, that's where the heart of our hobby lies, not in the ideas of any single creator, no matter how remarkable he might have been.