"One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness SUE them"
February 26, 2011 5:56 PM   Subscribe

A 'Mirky' legal battle for J.R.R. Tolkien Estate. Texas case will contest the right of Tolkien's literary estate to block fictional use of the Lord of the Rings author's name. The estate of JRR Tolkien is embroiled in a fierce legal battle over an American novel that uses the author of The Lord of the Rings as a central character. The J.R.R. Tolkien's Estate has been involved with other legal battles in the past.
posted by Fizz (36 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
We've been discussing some of this stuff a little bit in the other Tolkien thread.
posted by nowonmai at 6:11 PM on February 26, 2011

How cool that he had three initials. That always made the man himself seem like someone from another time and place: a name like that wouldn't have been at all out of place in Middle Earth.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:13 PM on February 26, 2011

A lawsuit like this must really be a Thorin in this guy's side... If he loses it the publication of his novel could be Bard. He'll wish he'd never been Beorn and will probably die penniless and Lonely. Thinking about it gets my eyes all Misty. Or maybe it's just the Smaug.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:17 PM on February 26, 2011 [11 favorites]

wow that was terrible i apologize
posted by nathancaswell at 6:18 PM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

wow that was terrible i apologize

Puns: Never Explain, Never Apologize.
posted by eriko at 6:27 PM on February 26, 2011 [8 favorites]

If he punches a fictional C.S. Lewis in the neck, I'm all for it.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:29 PM on February 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Now the estate, registered in Oxford, where Tolkien was a university professor, is demanding the destruction of all copies of Steve Hillard's Mirkwood: A Novel About JRR Tolkien. The 450-page work recounts a young woman's quest to find her grandfather after discovering documents given to him by Tolkien. The estate is demanding an immediate halt to further sales, and threatens legal action to obtain damages.

Sounds like they'd find true beauty in making that...

*dons sunglasses*

...seller poor.

posted by Rhaomi at 6:31 PM on February 26, 2011 [12 favorites]

I don't get it.
posted by nowonmai at 6:39 PM on February 26, 2011

I've always appreciated that the Tolkein estate has been vigilant about unauthorized use to protect the integrity of the story and their father's good name. It's much easier to get behind a cause like this when it's not about the money or anything.

*flips the light switch on Sauron glass that was bought from Burger King for $2.99*
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:40 PM on February 26, 2011 [6 favorites]

So that's why we never got a Bill & Ted 3.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:01 PM on February 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

Yeah, on initial blush I gotta say I think the lawsuit is bullshit.
posted by edgeways at 7:02 PM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

This lawsuit is brainless and being pursued by people with more money than sense. Dead people do not need to be protected from fictional depiction.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:15 PM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I ent interested in the lawsuit. The questions in which I'm most interested Arwen will they re-release the Lord of the Rings in 3D--i'm sure the DVDs would Silmarillion copies--and will the new Hobbit movies be released in Tuor three installments? Idril-y like to think two, but with so much money at stake I'm sure they won't want to Rhun a good thing.
posted by Zerowensboring at 7:16 PM on February 26, 2011 [5 favorites]

Inside in the hall there was piled a large assortment of packages and parcels and small articles of furniture. On every item there was a label tied. There were several labels of this sort: For ADELARD TOOK, for his VERY OWN, from Bilbo; on an umbrella. Adelard had carried off many unlabelled ones. For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large waste-paper basket. Dora was Drogo's sister and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century.

For MILO BURROWS, hoping it will be useful, from B.B; on a gold pen and ink-bottle. Milo never answered letters. For ANGELICA'S use, from Uncle Bilbo; on a round convex mirror. She was a young Baggins, and too obviously considered her face shapely.

For the collection of HUGO BRACEGIRDLE, from a contributor; on an (empty) book-case. Hugo was a great borrower of books, and worse than usual at returning them.

For LOBELIA SACKVILLE-BAGGINS, as a PRESENT; on a case of silver spoons. Bilbo believed that she had acquired a good many of his spoons, while he was away on his former journey. Lobelia knew that quite well. When she arrived later in the day, she took the point at once, but she also took the spoons.
Whether the Tolkien Estate is Bilbo or the Sackville-Baggins is, of course, open to interpretation.
posted by NoraReed at 7:28 PM on February 26, 2011 [9 favorites]

Offhand, I don't see how the estate can claim rights over Tolkien's 'personality'. That's not exactly a copyright issue. Given how you cannot defame the dead, there's no libel issue, either. No copyright, no libel, what else is left? Did the Estate trademark Tolkien's name?

Case dismissed with costs.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:32 PM on February 26, 2011

Christ, what a nazgûl.
posted by scruss at 7:42 PM on February 26, 2011 [15 favorites]

So, take that, "The Sherlockian"!
posted by inturnaround at 7:49 PM on February 26, 2011

Techdirt has their take, along with a copy of the actual complaint (Flash required for the latter.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:58 PM on February 26, 2011

Somewhere in the next life, Lizzie Borden is suing Agnes de Mille for finding her guilty.
posted by thomas j wise at 8:08 PM on February 26, 2011

Quoted in the comments here:
“Dragons steal gold and jewels, you know … and they guard the plunder as long as they live (which is practically forever, unless they are killed), and never enjoy a brass ring of it. Indeed, they hardly know a good bit of work from a bad, though they usually have a good notion of current market value; and they can’t make a thing for themselves …” ["The Hobbit", J.R.R. Tolkien]
posted by jtron at 8:10 PM on February 26, 2011 [11 favorites]

Somebody should show them some Inklings RPS (it has to exist, right?) and blow their minds.
posted by kmz at 8:47 PM on February 26, 2011

The estate is clearly wrong here, but seriously stop it. Stop writing fanfiction about your favorite author.
posted by graventy at 8:55 PM on February 26, 2011

One wonders why Hilliard didn't just take a page from the Alan Moore playbook and write a novel about B.F.D. Porkins or some other obvious Tolkien expy, for the sake of heading off the inevitable and crippling lawsuit from the Tolkien estate.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:00 PM on February 26, 2011

Eh. If I were in charge of Tolkien's estate, I'd be taking frivolous legal action against that Sword of Shannara dude.

Just because his books suck.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:46 PM on February 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

Stop writing fanfiction about your favorite author.

Um, like C S Lewis did?
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:43 PM on February 26, 2011

The best thing Peter Fucking Jackson did was exorcise Tom Bombadil from his adaptation of Lord of the Rings. Tolkien created that awful, dreadful motherfucker that could end the whole war of the rings in an instant but chooses not to because he can't be bothered and serves no possible purpose except to remind us that Tolkien, for all his linguistic gifts, wouldn't have recognized good doggerel if it walked up to the old professor, shoved hobbit weed up his ass, lit it up, and then smoked it out of the old man's mouth like he was some sort of living bong.

So, yeah, not only do I support Tolkien being a fictional character in this novel, I think he should be made a fictional character in every novel from now on, and be forced at gunpoint to explain Tom Bombadil, and if the author of the novel can't come up with a suitable explanation, John Ronald Reuel should be fictionally forced to listen to an out loud reading of The Silmarillion by somebody utter incapable of pronouncing and of the names properly.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:20 AM on February 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


I hate it when I ruin my incoherent rants with spelling and grammatical errors. That's why I'll never be Tolkien.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:22 AM on February 27, 2011

Stop writing fanfiction about your favorite author.

Because Tolkien never did that.
posted by empath at 2:54 AM on February 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

Apparently humorous buttons worn by fans at conventions also upset the all powerful seeing eye that is Tolkien Estate. [Boing Boing]
posted by Fizz at 5:26 AM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Dear Tolkien Estate,

You keep using this word, "copyright." I do not think it means what you think it means.

Thanks, the rest of the world.
posted by localroger at 6:51 AM on February 27, 2011

Up next: Vergil's estate sues Dante's.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:34 AM on February 27, 2011

As he deplaned at what was then Idlewild Airport, the old man was scarcely recognizable as the chipper Merton Professor of Anglo-Saxon Literature who enthralled his students at Oxford."

Thus begins the saga, and the writing really it doesn't appear to get any better. No surprise that it is a BookSurge ("An Amazon Company") creation.

While I would agree that the author should be allowed to go forward, I can quite see how the Tolkiens themselves find it unwelcome. The author clearly is taking strong liberties with, or is utterly unfamiliar with, the real JRRT.

Steve Hillard grew up in Bossier City, Louisiana and Grand Junction, Colorado. He graduated from Colorado State University and later earned a degree in philosophy at Columbia University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Colorado. Before settling into his current career as a private equity entrepeneur, Hillard was a teacher at Rikers Island Prison, a welder, a carpenter, and a practicing lawyer. He is the founder and head of Council Tree Communications, a private equity fund involved in the entertainment and telecom industries. He resides with his wife, Rosita, in Austin.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:04 AM on February 27, 2011

...the chipper Merton Professor of Anglo-Saxon Literature who enthralled his students at Oxford.

Strong liberties, indeed. I had an old English prof who studied under Tolkien in the 50s, and wasn't at all 'enthralled'. "He wrote for his children," he'd say, not meaning it to be a compliment in the slightest. Indeed, he thought there was an excellent paper to be written comparing Tolkien, who clearly loved his children, and A.A. Milne, who clearly hated his, and why that should make Milne the better writer, though they were both miserable.

I miss that old sourpuss.

posted by Capt. Renault at 8:17 AM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Were I the author, and if the lawsuit does succeed in getting an order that all copies be destroyed, I'd have a torrent set up and ready to go. "How dreadful, some horrible vile pirate must have gotten hold of my intellectual property and spread it on the internet, I do so hate those pirates!"
posted by sotonohito at 12:55 PM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Milne hated his children? I've read that he was not comfortable with children (some people are not) and left the general childminding to the nanny - but so did many at that time. I've never seen any suggestion that he actually hated the little blighters.

Kingsley Amis had some recollections of study under Tolkien.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:01 PM on February 27, 2011

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