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Geek Dad's Erik Wecks has some insight into the Tolkien Estate's lawsuit

News from Bree
spymaster@theonering.net

Nov 22 2012, 12:16am

Post #1 of 4 (264 views)
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Geek Dad's Erik Wecks has some insight into the Tolkien Estate's lawsuit Can't Post

[caption id="attachment_58841" align="alignright" width="150"] Christopher Tolkien[/caption]

You may have read recently that the Tolkien Estate has brought a lawsuit against Warner Bros., regarding Warner Bros.' marketing rights for Lord of the Rings and Hobbit products. Our friend Erik Wecks has written a great piece for Geek Dad at Wired.com, clarifying some of the issues at stake and suggesting why the Tolkien Estate may have felt the need to take such action. For fans of Tolkien's work, just how far is too far - when does a franchise become a sell out? Check out the excellent article here.

(This post was edited by entmaiden on Nov 26 2012, 8:17pm)


Bombadil
Half-elven


Nov 22 2012, 10:47am

Post #2 of 4 (145 views)
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Thank you I find this so Gross Bomby is siding with Christopher [In reply to] Can't Post

Problem is
Where do you draw the Line ?
This. Hurts. Very. Much.
Gross exploitation..
I'm feeling really. sad....Right. NOW

OUR BOOKS turned into junkfood?

Tears for. JRRT.


worldsmiths
Bree

Nov 22 2012, 5:13pm

Post #3 of 4 (113 views)
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Arrrrgghhhh. [In reply to] Can't Post

Look, I don't like slot machines of any sort. I think they're stupid. But this lawsuit is even dumber. Orders of magnitude dumber. No, I'm not saying that Christopher Tolkien and the Estate are trying to bilk Hollywood for more money. They're not being greedy. They're being stupidly protectionist of THEIR IDEAL VERSION of the Middle Earth myth - the one they own in book format. Somewhere between JRR Tolkien's death and now the Estate has become convinced that the only suitable medium for the story of Middle Earth are the books they own the license to. Despite the fact that Tolkien himself made several statements about his wish that other people would take up the myths and legends after he was gone so that they would become a real mythology, the Tolkien Estate has made themselves the guardians and trustees of the 'purity' of the original forms of Middle Earth, chasing down anyone who tries to enlarge the mythos beyond the original books (aside from themselves, of course). All the while, however, they want people to continue discovering and enjoying Middle Earth through those books which are increasingly falling out of the public's ability to easily read. It may not be easy for US to understand this, and as lifelong reader myself I can completely see why it's hard to understand this because for me the Tolkien books formed the basis of my functional understanding of English grammar and language when I was a kid and even though I'm an American I still find myself spelling color with a 'u' sometimes --- but the language Tolkien used to write the books is not spoken English anymore. It's becoming really archaic, and although an educated person can read them just fine, a lot of English-speaking students don't stick with the books because nowadays it a takes a lot more effort to slog your way through a copy of the Fellowship than it does a copy of Harry Potter. I'm not saying that's a good thing (because it's not), but it happens.

The books are becoming a narrower and narrower market for young readers. A lot of adults are still discovering Tolkien, which is great, but Middle Earth shouldn't be the exclusive property of the academic and scholarly types (and adult nerds) the way so many stories of the early-mid 20th century are becoming. The mythology needs to GROW. Every generation that loves Tolkien is going to start incarnating him in their own way. Fan-fiction IS one way, but the major mass media of this generation is visual. Again, not saying that's good or bad, but video games and movies have become the preeminent storytelling devices of the 21st century - books are lagging behind, especially books that are not written in colloquial English. LOTRO is a GOOD THING for Middle Earth, just as Peter Jackson's movies are. It's an IN to the Middle-Earth mythology for people who otherwise would not find their in -- because for a lot of people books are not the way they discover things that they love. Most of the people I know who play LOTRO who had never read the books before (most of them had seen the movies, obviously) have since begun at least TRYING to read the books because ... well, spend a few months in LOTRO and how can you NOT fall in love with Middle-Earth?

If the Tolkien estate manages to win this case and reduce Warner Bros. to only making movies, if it manages to prevent video games from every being made in the future without their permission, the Tolkien mythos will suffer significantly. People who were going to discover Tolkien through the media form that they love and then maybe go on to read the books out of interest and curiosity may not ever discover him beyond the movies that Christopher Tolkien hates so much. And two generations from now - 2062 - there may not be very many school children or young adults interested in slogging their way through books written in a form of English that is barely penetrable to them. Tolkien may be the new Shakespeare for school kids - "Why do we have to read himmmmm, he doesn't make any sensseeee...." That would be a tragedy. I understand that Christopher Tolkien is getting old and probably fell behind the times some way back, but the Tolkien estate can't afford to fall behind the times. If they want Middle-Earth to continue being beloved the way it is and a part of our public cultural understanding of the world -- Middle-Earth has to stay current. Video-Games are one way in which it can do that. Yes, there are some truly BAD video games out there that are just about hacking and slashing, and very few of the Middle-Earth video games are true to the storyline in any real way, but they are a way to keep the legend current for people who aren't going to discover it through the traditional format. They are a way to keep it alive. And not only will that ensure that some form of the Middle-Earth myth continues, it will also keep the books alive.

Now, Ideally, the books will eventually be 'translated' into a more modern form of English, maybe by 2030?, and imparted to new readers in an accessible format that way, and ideally eventually our copyright-crazed culture will stop trying to suck the lifeblood out of every bit of intellectual property and fair use provisions will be extended to works that were released a few decades ago so that future storytellers can continue to update the the Middle Earth mythos with video games, movies, tv shows, what have you.

But for just now, I wish the Tolkien Estate people would understand that they are only HURTING the stories that they love by cracking down like this, and I hope WB kicks their butt in court.


imin
Valinor


Nov 22 2012, 5:30pm

Post #4 of 4 (178 views)
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Very interesting article [In reply to] Can't Post

I am surprised so few have viewed this thread or posted in it.

here are some quotes from the article i think are worth a look:

'The lawsuit argues that Warner Brothers is trying to convert what was a limited right to profit from J.R.R. Tolkienís intellectual property into an unlimited right to use The Lord of the Rings and its characters as they see fit. '

OK i dont know how they can legally show what is tangible or intangible but i do believe it is the estates right to have some control over JRRT intellectual property - otherwise WB will just do whatever it can to maximise their profits, they wont care about anything else.


Next section:
'It isnít just the Tolkien estate and its charitable arm that are suing Warner Brothers; it is also HarperCollins, the holder of the English language rights to both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. There is a lot at stake here for them as well. You now have a tug-of-war to decide who controls the iconography of Tolkienís masterworks and their place in our society. On the one side you have the estate of the original creator and the publisher of his works. On the other side, there is the company behind one of the largest film franchises in history.'

For me the iconography should always be the source material, especially when the source material is better as is the case we have with JRRT compared to WB. I would prefer people found the books first, but the films are out there now so people can find them through the films, to me it doesnt mean the films have to be the defining mental image in the publics mind.

Finally:
'It is worth pointing out that it was the production company that folded at the end of round one between these two juggernauts. After laughably claiming that they didnít make any money at all on three of the highest-grossing films of all time, the production company coughed up 7.5 percent of their profits to the Tolkien Estate in order to settle a lawsuit that paved the way for the filming of The Hobbit, according to the French paper Le Monde. We will see if they try to pull the same ďwe didnít make any moneyĒ stunt on the next three films.'

Essentially saying that WB were not going to give the Tolkien Estate what they were due - its disgusting really they had the nerve to say a 3billion dollar franchise (from movies alone so far) made no money. Some people seem to forget there would be no movies if it were not for JRRT in the first place.

I can imagine WB doing the same thing again and Tolkien Estate having to go after what they are owed all over again in terms of the profits from the films.

 
 

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