The Rat Patrol
|Name:||The Rat Patrol|
|Date(s):||1966 - 1968|
|Country of Origin:||USA|
|External Links:||wikipedia, IMDB|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
The Rat Patrol was a 1960s US television series set during World War II. The four main characters — Sergeants Sam Troy and Jack Moffitt and Privates Tully Pettigrew and Mark T. Hitchcock — were members of the Long Range Desert Group, stationed in North Africa, assigned the task of harrying Axis convoys in the desert, sending troop movements and intelligence to the Allies, and occasionally conducting clandestine raids on towns and fixed military positions. Often operating behind enemy lines, the unit generally found themselves fighting against German forces commanded by Hauptmann (Captain) Hans Dietrich, almost as many times as various Arabic tribes and desert conditions saw them reluctantly and temporarily joining forces.
Though only lasting for two seasons, the show did attempt to address the various tensions and subtleties of the North African campaign, the necessities of war, and the colonization of North Africa by European countries. The efforts of resistance movements are taken into account, as well. Each episode was approximately thirty-two minutes long, and infrequently narrated.
The show's substitution of American military for all but one major characters (the British Sgt. Moffitt was seconded from the Scots Greys) and military personnel created controversy. The real life Long Range Desert Group was, in fact, a division of the British Commonwealth Forces, made up of New Zealander, British, and Rhodesian troops.
For some related fandoms, see List of Military Fandoms.
The Main Characters were: Sergeant Sam Troy (Christopher George), Sergeant Jack Moffitt (Gary Raymond), Private Tully Pettigrew (Justin Tarr), and Private Mark T. "Hitch" Hitchcock (Lawrence Casey).
Their most consistent antagonist, Hauptmann (Captain) Hans Dietrich, was played by Eric Braeden .
Cease and Desist
In late 1997, a major zine publisher, KnightWriter Press, received a cease and desist notice that led to the reduction of the number of fanzines. It is unknown if other zine eds received letters as well.
Linda Knight's Email
In January 1998, the zine publisher's owner sent out an email of explanation:
To: <FANZINE@lists.psu.edu> Date: Mon, 22 Dec 1997 16:59:26 -0700 Subject: Legal notice from MGM/UA - RE: Rat Patrol My apologies, in advance, for a long post but this is a major problem. Saturday, 12/20/97 I was served with legal papers that ordered me, as KnightWriter Press, to immediately stop publishing any material that mentioned, referenced, or addressed Rat Patrol. This came from MGM/UA and has been confirmed by phone today.
As my major fandom is Rat Patrol I am crushed. I was further devastated to learn that the person who alerted them to my publications was on a listserv  with me! I don't know her name, only that it is a woman on another listserv (not this one) and that she had taken the time to write MGM/UA and "turn me and others in".
Whoever this idiot is she might well have sounded the death knell of all fandom -- she has certainly killed Rat Patrol in one fell swoop!
The attorney at MGM/UA reminded me that last week a law was passed that states, in part, that "the use of any copyrighten name is illegal and forbidden no matter whether potential profit will or will not be made". (I am paraphrasing.) The law states that even a web site that advertises nothing, uses no photos, no sound bytes, but calls itself (for instance) the X-File Site makes the owner of that site liable for legal action! Need I say what category that now puts fanzine writers and publishers?
MGM/UA currently has the stand that web sites, like my Rat Patrol fan site, are fine. They even have no problem with my using photos from the show. But they refuse to allow ANY fiction (prose, poetry or otherwise) to be published! Whether a fanzine makes a profit or not is not the issue. The simple existence of the fanzine will be cause for legal action.
They have agreed not to sue me -- after fast talking on my behalf -- but as a warning, they are not only surfing the net but he told me that they will have people attending all "fan" cons that they can locate. Now that they are aware of fandom, due to this idiot with a grudge against me, they want to "stop it completely".I suspect before this is over that they will likely make Paramount look fan-friendly! 
Cease and Desist Aftermath
In the end, KnightWriter Press made the following announcement:Sometime in the mid to late 90's, a popular RP writer, editor, and zine publisher received a very stern cease-and-desist order (C&D) from MGM/UA, who were under the impression that she was publishing actual books based on Rat Patrol. When she spoke with them on the phone, they apologized and said that if they had realized that she was just putting out zines, she would have gotten the milder letter they occasionally send to fans. They said that they were forced to send her a letter to protect their copyright because they had received a letter from someone on the email listserv that gave the impression that the zine publisher was a professional publisher. They described the letter as "surprisingly hate-filled." No one ever found out who the listserv member was who sent the letter to the copyright holders...
(Special note — On any of these fanzines containing Rat Patrol material the Rat Patrol stories will have to be 'removed' from the fanzine. If this constitutes more than 2-3 pgs you will be credited for the difference. Sorry — this action is caused by the legal order by MGM/UA). After some back and forth negotiations with MGM/UA, Knightwriter was allowed to continue publishing Rat Patrol fanzines without using any images from the series.
For a list of Rat Patrol Fanzines, see List of Rat Patrol Fanzines.
- amedia, rough draft - RP sockpuppeteer account June 22, 2006; reference link.
- Kathy Agel in amedia's LJ, Another account of the RP sock puppet fiasco June 26, 2006; reference link.
- [http://amedia.livejournal.com/59214.html Maquisbabe's Posts (RP Sock Account)] dated June 27, 2006; reference link.
- Additional contributions to RP Sock Account dated June 27, 2006; reference link.
- likely Ratpatrol-L
- amedia, The C&D and additional tidbits on the RP sock fiasco June 27, 2006; reference link.
- Knightwriter website announcement (1998)
- Knightwriter website accessed March 13, 2010; archived link.