We will discuss this in a future episode, for sure. Excellent points made, Steve. For the record, yes Intellivision Productions do own the rights to the EXEC, GROM, and the name Intellivision itself.
Here's my 2 cents. Something like the TRON compilation could only be done this way (homebrew). I have spoken to Keith Robinson numerous times, and I know that he is a huge TRON fan (hell, as we know, he programmed Solar Sailor). And I also know he would love to put something like this out through Intellivision Productions. But the reality is, he can't... well, not without losing his shirt, or being sued into oblivion.
When I was putting together the idea to do The Intellivisionaries Podcast, I had a lunch meeting with Keith. I told him what I wanted to do, and asked him if he was OK with the show name, using an image of the Master Component, and taking game sounds and music from the console, and his "Intellivision In HiFi" CD. He gave me verbal permission to do so. You will also notice that during the outro music of each episode, it is stated that "Intellivision is a trademark of Intellivision Productions". Do I have to do this? No. But I do it as a courtesy, and in recognition of his ownership of the brand.
From Keith's perspective, he is legally hamstrung when it comes to putting out new products that have (or HAD) a license attached to them. As an example, I spoke to him at Classic Gaming Expo a few years back about Joe Z's Space Patrol. He said he would love to get behind a homebrew game, but the fact that Space Patrol was a variation on Moon Patrol would likely put him at risk for a lawsuit.
And you may not think so, but even using the commercials can be a problem for Intellivision Productions. They own the rights to them, and are doing their best to get high quality versions of them to use on their website, etc. But the commercials that feature Henry Thomas of "ET" fame have not been released to them, as the management for Mr. Thomas wants a license deal in order to use them.
Getting back to TRON... renewing the long expired TRON license with Disney would be prohibitively expensive for Intellivision Productions, if Disney would even agree to their IP being used for something so "retro" (doubtful). And if Keith decided to proceed WITHOUT a license, bye bye Intellivision Productions.
This is true for all the other licensed Intellivision games, should Intellivision Productions, or a company that is not "homebrew" in the typical sense of the word, like Elektronite, decide to release a licensed game. In the case of Elektronite, they have license deals with First Star Software, Apogee and Cinemaware for Boulder Dash, The Lost Caves of Kroz, and Defender Of The Crown, respectively. They are a legal business, and as such, obtained the licenses to remake these games legally, without fear of a lawsuit. This, of course, adds to the cost of a game... a cost that a typical homebrew developer does not have to deal with. Technically and legally, they SHOULD have to deal with this, but the reality is that the chances of being sued by the license holder when you're a one man operation dealing in very small quantities is highly unlikely. If you're a large / legal business, regardless of how small you may be, you will be sued (assuming the copyright holder is still an active business, and/or cares to go after the copyright violator).
So a small homebrew developer gets away with things that a larger company can't. I know from discussions with him that Keith is disheartened by many of the homebrew games being released because he would like to get involved and help promote them, but the legal environment prevents that, when it's a game that uses a long expired license, or a license that couldn't easily (and affordably) be renewed. This is why INTV dropped all the licenses and started calling everything "Super Pro" with the sports games, for example.
And in Intellivision Productions case, when it comes to homebrew developers releasing games they don't own the rights to, legally, Intellivision Productions could sue those developers. But legal costs, and being perceived as the "big bad corporation going after the one man operation" makes the likelihood of that happening pretty much nonexistent.
In summation, from an Intellivision fan's perspective (MY perspective), I LOVE the homebrew support and scene. I really appreciate all that is being done, and support the scene as often as I can. I want to promote it on the show, but at the same time, being sympathetic to Intellivision Productions / Keith's position, I feel we HAVE TO mention the legal issue when it comes to the games. It's not a jab at the small developers at all. It's just something that I feel needs to be talked about, and I hope that the listeners of our show can see it that way.