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  • WendellWag@aol.com
    The Lord of the Rings collectible electric train set: _http://www.collectiblestoday.com/ct/product/prdid-917035.jsp?cm_ven=Shopping&
    Message 1 of 21 , May 12, 2007
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      The Lord of the Rings collectible electric train set:

      _http://www.collectiblestoday.com/ct/product/prdid-917035.jsp?cm_ven=Shopping&
      cm_cat=Froogle&cm_pla=Direct&cm_ite=917035-The%20Lord%20Of%20The%20Rings_
      (http://www.collectiblestoday.com/ct/product/prdid-917035.jsp?cm_ven=Shopping&cm_c
      at=Froogle&cm_pla=Direct&cm_ite=917035-The%20Lord%20Of%20The%20Rings)

      And that's not even the worse thing. Note the following statement on this
      page:

      The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The
      Return of the King and the names of the characters, events, items and places
      therein, are trademarks of The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Tolkien Enterprises under
      license to New Line Productions, Inc.

      (d/b/a means "doing business as.")

      Not trademarks belonging to the Tolkien estate, you'll notice, but belonging
      to Saul Zaentz. Apparently this is all in preparation for the day when
      Zaentz announces that since no one has contested such a claim, he now owns the
      copyrights to the books and can demand the royalties from them. No, first
      he'll withdraw the books from publication until he can get someone to rewrite
      them to be closer to the movies, which are, of course, the real thing, not some
      silly scribblings by a dead author.

      Wendell Wagner



      ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • David Emerson
      ... I believe it was part of the film-rights deal to include merchandising. All the doodads and gizmos marketed since the movies came out just pour money into
      Message 2 of 21 , May 12, 2007
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        -----Original Message-----
        >Note the following statement on this
        >page:
        >
        >The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The
        >Return of the King and the names of the characters, events, items and places
        >therein, are trademarks of The Saul Zaentz Company dba Tolkien Enterprises under
        >license to New Line Productions, Inc.
        >
        >Not trademarks belonging to the Tolkien estate, you'll notice, but belonging
        >to Saul Zaentz.

        I believe it was part of the film-rights deal to include merchandising. All the doodads and gizmos marketed since the movies came out just pour money into Zaentz's pockets, and nothing to the Tolkien estate. They still have the books, but precious little else. Yes, it's horrible and unfair, but unfortunately it is legal.

        emerdavid

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      • Elena Rossi
        ... Yes, the site of Tolkien Enterprises states they have legal right on names of characters and places as well... The only luck is that only (non-book) rights
        Message 3 of 21 , May 12, 2007
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          --- David Emerson <emerdavid@...> wrote:

          >>
          > I believe it was part of the film-rights deal to
          > include merchandising. All the doodads and gizmos
          > marketed since the movies came out just pour money
          > into Zaentz's pockets, and nothing to the Tolkien
          > estate. They still have the books, but precious
          > little else. Yes, it's horrible and unfair, but
          > unfortunately it is legal.

          Yes, the site of Tolkien Enterprises states they have
          legal right on names of characters and places as
          well... The only luck is that only (non-book) rights
          of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" were sold;
          all the rest still belongs to Tolkien Estate.

          Regards
          Elena


          ____________________________________________________________________________________
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        • WendellWag@aol.com
          In a message dated 5/12/2007 6:32:28 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, rossiele@yahoo.com writes: Yes, the site of Tolkien Enterprises states they have legal right
          Message 4 of 21 , May 12, 2007
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            In a message dated 5/12/2007 6:32:28 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
            rossiele@... writes:

            Yes, the site of Tolkien Enterprises states they have
            legal right on names of characters and places as
            well... The only luck is that only (non-book) rights
            of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" were sold;
            all the rest still belongs to Tolkien Estate.



            If the non-book rights includes the right to sell _The Lord of the Rings_
            electric train sets, then they are worth much more than the book rights. I
            thought that Zaentz owned just cinematic rights to _The Hobbit_ and _The Lord of
            the Rings_. That's not what the sentence I quoted claimed. It claims that
            they own the trademarks on the phrases "The Lord of the Rings," "The
            Fellowship of the Ring," "The Two Tower," and "The Return of the Rings." It claims
            that they own the trademarks on all the characters, places, ideas, and events
            in those books. The sentence isn't claiming that they just own the images
            from the movies that are based on these things. It's claiming that they own
            the characters, places, ideas, and events themselves.

            And, yes, Saul Zaentz really is a big enough slimeball to try something like
            this. Saul Zaentz bought all the rights to John Fogerty's songs that he had
            written and sung in the group Creedence Clearwater Revival when Fogerty was
            in desperate need of money. Fogerty didn't do any of his own songs in
            concert for over a decade so he wouldn't have to pay Zaentz. Finally Fogerty began
            writing good songs again and became popular again. Zaentz sued him because,
            Zaentz claimed, the new songs were too similar to his old songs. Luckily,
            Fogerty won in court. Zaentz is capable of doing making grandiose claims on
            what he owns.

            Wendell Wagner



            ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Elena Rossi
            ... They are certainly worth much more than the book rights _now_! When Tolkien sold them, he couldn t imagine what the movie industry would have become in
            Message 5 of 21 , May 13, 2007
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              --- WendellWag@... wrote:

              >
              > If the non-book rights includes the right to sell
              > _The Lord of the Rings_
              > electric train sets, then they are worth much more
              > than the book rights.

              They are certainly worth much more than the book
              rights _now_!
              When Tolkien sold them, he couldn't imagine what the
              movie industry would have become in time...
              Now it often happens that more money is made from the
              "merchandising" (toys, video-games, all the sponsered
              items such as T-shirts and gadgets bearing the movie
              logos, etc.) then from the movie itself.

              > I
              > thought that Zaentz owned just cinematic rights to
              > _The Hobbit_ and _The Lord of
              > the Rings_.
              > That's not what the sentence I quoted
              > claimed. It claims that
              > they own the trademarks on the phrases "The Lord of
              > the Rings," "The
              > Fellowship of the Ring," "The Two Tower," and "The
              > Return of the Rings." It claims
              > that they own the trademarks on all the characters,
              > places, ideas, and events
              > in those books. The sentence isn't claiming that
              > they just own the images
              > from the movies that are based on these things.
              > It's claiming that they own
              > the characters, places, ideas, and events
              > themselves.
              >
              > And, yes, Saul Zaentz really is a big enough
              > slimeball to try something like
              > this.

              It's possible, but the problem is that all depends on
              the contract that was originally signed by Tolkien!
              My guess is that it was rather vague as terminology as
              to allow the present situation, otherwise I think
              Tolkien Estate would have already sued Tolkien
              Enterprises...

              Regards
              Elena



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            • mailbox@hughes.net
              Wendell s observation about Zaentz acquistion of John Fogerty s songwriting copyrights from the Creedence Clearwater Revival hits catalogue is true, and it s
              Message 6 of 21 , May 13, 2007
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                Wendell's observation about Zaentz' acquistion of John Fogerty's songwriting copyrights from the Creedence Clearwater Revival hits catalogue is true, and it's why those of who had not ignored the lessons of history had an inner "Uh oh!" moment when Zaentz' involvement with the Jackson film project became known.

                Fogerty fueled the fire by releasing a song with the refrain "Zaentz can't dance but he'll steal your money," altering the name to "Vanz" after rumblings from the legal volcanoes.

                Fogerty indeed boycotted live performance of his own CCR songs until, as he recalled it, Bob Dylan pointed out that if he had come to a Fogerty concert and Fogerty hadn't played "Bad Moon Rising" and "Lodi" [not sure if those were the titles Dylan cited & 7 times zones east of my archives] that he [Dylan] would feel cheated.

                The record label, by the way, was Fantasy.

                Cheers,
                Mike

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              • Kim Jaudon
                ... They are certainly worth much more than the book rights _now_! When Tolkien sold them, he couldn t imagine what the movie industry would have become in
                Message 7 of 21 , May 13, 2007
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                  --- WendellWag@... wrote:

                  >
                  > If the non-book rights includes the right to sell
                  > _The Lord of the Rings_
                  > electric train sets, then they are worth much more
                  > than the book rights.

                  They are certainly worth much more than the book
                  rights _now_!
                  When Tolkien sold them, he couldn't imagine what the
                  movie industry would have become in time...
                  Now it often happens that more money is made from the
                  "merchandising" (toys, video-games, all the sponsered
                  items such as T-shirts and gadgets bearing the movie
                  logos, etc.) then from the movie itself.

                  > I
                  > thought that Zaentz owned just cinematic rights to
                  > _The Hobbit_ and _The Lord of
                  > the Rings_.
                  > That's not what the sentence I quoted
                  > claimed. It claims that
                  > they own the trademarks on the phrases "The Lord of
                  > the Rings," "The
                  > Fellowship of the Ring," "The Two Tower," and "The
                  > Return of the Rings." It claims
                  > that they own the trademarks on all the characters,
                  > places, ideas, and events
                  > in those books. The sentence isn't claiming that
                  > they just own the images
                  > from the movies that are based on these things.
                  > It's claiming that they own
                  > the characters, places, ideas, and events
                  > themselves.
                  >
                  > And, yes, Saul Zaentz really is a big enough
                  > slimeball to try something like
                  > this.

                  Elena Rossi <rossiele@...> wrote:
                  It's possible, but the problem is that all depends on
                  the contract that was originally signed by Tolkien!
                  My guess is that it was rather vague as terminology as
                  to allow the present situation, otherwise I think
                  Tolkien Estate would have already sued Tolkien
                  Enterprises...

                  Regards
                  Elena

                  A Lord of the Rings electric train set. What in the WORLD would make a marketer come up with such a non connected notion? I imagine such a thing would enrage JRR. I certainly hope the estate didn't sign such a crazy contract that would allow such an outrage, and that the lawyers are already busy.

                  An electric train. In the Shire. Or even Mordor, for Pete's sake. This seems, to me, beyond mere slime. It's a new level of wormy.

                  Kim Jaudon

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                • John D Rateliff
                  ... I don t think this is any worse than the Lord of the Nazgul piggy bank Zaentz & Co. put out thirty years ago as part of the merchandizing for Bakshi s
                  Message 8 of 21 , May 13, 2007
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                    On May 13, 2007, at 10:56 AM, Kim Jaudon wrote:
                    > A Lord of the Rings electric train set. What in the WORLD would
                    > make a marketer come up with such a non connected notion? I
                    > imagine such a thing would enrage JRR. I certainly hope the estate
                    > didn't sign such a crazy contract that would allow such an outrage,
                    > and that the lawyers are already busy.
                    >
                    > An electric train. In the Shire. Or even Mordor, for Pete's
                    > sake. This seems, to me, beyond mere slime. It's a new level of
                    > wormy.

                    I don't think this is any worse than the Lord of the Nazgul piggy
                    bank Zaentz & Co. put out thirty years ago as part of the
                    merchandizing for Bakshi's abomination.
                    There's a difference between trademarks and copyrights: the
                    Tolkien Estate holds the latter, and Tolkien Enterprises (Zaentz)
                    claims the latter. But there's nothing new about that; it was Tolkien
                    Enterprises that forced TSR to remove the names "hobbit", "Nazgul",
                    "balrog", "ent", and the like from D&D in the mid-seventies. So this
                    has been going on for a long, long time, with the number of licensed
                    products (e.g., the entire MERP rpg line and its associated
                    collectable card game, board games, artbooks and puzzles) now in the
                    hundreds. Fortunately it's easy to ignore any licensed product that
                    doesn't interest you, and the books rise above it all.

                    --JDR
                  • WendellWag@aol.com
                    In a message dated 5/13/2007 1:56:30 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, kim4fsu@yahoo.com writes: A Lord of the Rings electric train set. What in the WORLD would
                    Message 9 of 21 , May 13, 2007
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                      In a message dated 5/13/2007 1:56:30 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
                      kim4fsu@... writes:

                      A Lord of the Rings electric train set. What in the WORLD would make a
                      marketer come up with such a non connected notion?


                      Money.

                      Wendell Wagner



                      ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Jack
                      ... So? You don t need to be concerned about it. Just read the books.
                      Message 10 of 21 , May 13, 2007
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                        >A Lord of the Rings electric train set. What in the WORLD would make a
                        >marketer come up with such a non connected notion?
                        >
                        >Money.

                        So? You don't need to be concerned about it. Just read the books.
                      • WendellWag@aol.com
                        In a message dated 5/13/2007 7:04:26 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, ... So? You don t need to be concerned about it. Just read the books. This is a mailing list
                        Message 11 of 21 , May 13, 2007
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                          In a message dated 5/13/2007 7:04:26 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
                          jack@... writes:

                          >A Lord of the Rings electric train set. What in the WORLD would make a
                          >marketer come up with such a non connected notion?
                          >
                          >Money.

                          So? You don't need to be concerned about it. Just read the books.



                          This is a mailing list for news and discussion about the Inklings. The fact
                          that someone is selling an electric train set that claims to be authorized
                          is an important fact about the current public attitude about Tolkien.
                          Furthermore, Kim Jaudon asked a question in her post. I answered her question.
                          When I'm nice enough to answer someone's question, I think a comment that says,
                          "Why are you bothering to answer this question?" is both irrelevant and
                          impertinent.

                          Wendell Wagner



                          ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com


                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Joan.Marie.Verba@sff.net
                          ... From: WendellWag@aol.com ... fact ... question. ... says, ... It is appropriate, Wendell, to respond to a question. However, it is also appropriate for
                          Message 12 of 21 , May 13, 2007
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                            --- Original Message ---
                            From: WendellWag@...

                            > jack@... writes:
                            >
                            > >A Lord of the Rings electric train set. What in the WORLD would make a
                            > >marketer come up with such a non connected notion?
                            > >
                            > >Money.
                            >
                            > So? You don't need to be concerned about it. Just read the books.
                            >
                            >
                            > This is a mailing list for news and discussion about the Inklings. The
                            fact
                            > that someone is selling an electric train set that claims to be authorized
                            > is an important fact about the current public attitude about Tolkien.
                            > Furthermore, Kim Jaudon asked a question in her post. I answered her
                            question.
                            > When I'm nice enough to answer someone's question, I think a comment that
                            says,
                            > "Why are you bothering to answer this question?" is both irrelevant and
                            > impertinent.

                            It is appropriate, Wendell, to respond to a question. However, it is also
                            appropriate for Jack to express his opinion that this issue is no big deal. He
                            did not say "Why are you bothering to answer this question?" and his response
                            can be interpreted other than in that manner.

                            Joan
                            Friendly Neighborhood Mythsoc List Administrator
                            (On the job to prevent needless misunderstandings on the list.)
                          • David Bratman
                            ... I m a little puzzled as to what that last phrase means, since depending on your definition of involved Zaentz was either involved with the Jackson
                            Message 13 of 21 , May 13, 2007
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                              At 02:53 PM 5/13/2007 +0000, mailbox@... wrote:

                              >Wendell's observation about Zaentz' acquistion of John Fogerty's songwriting
                              >copyrights from the Creedence Clearwater Revival hits catalogue is true, and
                              >it's why those of who had not ignored the lessons of history had an inner
                              >"Uh oh!" moment when Zaentz' involvement with the Jackson film project
                              >became known.

                              I'm a little puzzled as to what that last phrase means, since depending on
                              your definition of "involved" Zaentz was either involved with the Jackson
                              project long before Jackson was, or isn't involved with it at all. In
                              fact, Zaentz bought the Tolkien film rights from earlier owners way back in
                              the 1970s, and he was the producer of the Bakshi film. The New
                              Line/Jackson films were produced by a license from Zaentz; as he still owns
                              the rights, they couldn't do it without his permission. As far as I know
                              he had nothing to do with the Jackson films themselves other than to
                              authorize them (and to get paid for doing so), though his Tolkien
                              Enterprises arm has been busy marketing.
                            • lynnmaudlin
                              No fears, Wendell, the books are safe. This issue is from the days when books weren t *optioned* but rights were actually bought outright. Saul Zaentz was the
                              Message 14 of 21 , May 13, 2007
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                                No fears, Wendell, the books are safe. This issue is from the days
                                when books weren't *optioned* but rights were actually bought
                                outright. Saul Zaentz was the one with the foresight and good fortune
                                to make that purchase. Thus he can legally sublicense various other
                                uses and promotions and the Tolkien estate has no say about it.
                                Believe me, if he oversteps his legal boundaries, I'm sure the lawyers
                                will step in quickly with flamethrowers...

                                Many a tear-drenched discussion has been held on both sides of the
                                Atlantic over the "unfairness" of it all - but JRRT himself agreed to
                                the sale (and it was fairly typical of the day); he and the family
                                enjoyed the proceeds of the sale during his lifetime.

                                "coulda shoulda woulda" I expect, or so much spilt milk.

                                -- Lynn --

                                --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, WendellWag@... wrote:
                                >
                                > Not trademarks belonging to the Tolkien estate, you'll notice, but
                                belonging
                                > to Saul Zaentz. Apparently this is all in preparation for the day
                                when
                                > Zaentz announces that since no one has contested such a claim, he
                                now owns the
                                > copyrights to the books and can demand the royalties from them.
                                No, first
                                > he'll withdraw the books from publication until he can get someone
                                to rewrite
                                > them to be closer to the movies, which are, of course, the real
                                thing, not some
                                > silly scribblings by a dead author.
                                >
                                > Wendell Wagner
                              • mailbox@hughes.net
                                Dear David, Perhaps connection, rather than involvement, would indeed have been a more precise locution regarding Zaentz. A lamprey is connected to a
                                Message 15 of 21 , May 13, 2007
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                                  Dear David,
                                  Perhaps "connection," rather than "involvement," would indeed have been a more precise locution regarding Zaentz. A lamprey is connected to a fish, rather than involved with it.

                                  Cheers,
                                  Mike

                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                • WendellWag@aol.com
                                  In a message dated 5/14/2007 5:19:25 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, lynnmaudlin@yahoo.com writes: No fears, Wendell, the books are safe. This issue is from the
                                  Message 16 of 21 , May 14, 2007
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                                    In a message dated 5/14/2007 5:19:25 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
                                    lynnmaudlin@... writes:

                                    No fears, Wendell, the books are safe. This issue is from the days
                                    when books weren't *optioned* but rights were actually bought
                                    outright. Saul Zaentz was the one with the foresight and good fortune
                                    to make that purchase. Thus he can legally sublicense various other
                                    uses and promotions and the Tolkien estate has no say about it.
                                    Believe me, if he oversteps his legal boundaries, I'm sure the lawyers
                                    will step in quickly with flamethrowers.wi



                                    I'm worried about the specific claims that Zaentz made in the webpage
                                    advertising the electric train set:

                                    > The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The
                                    > Return of the King and the names of the characters, events, items and
                                    places
                                    > therein, are trademarks of The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Tolkien
                                    Enterprises under
                                    > license to New Line Productions, Inc.

                                    If he were to merely claim that he owns the rights to all visual images
                                    derived from either the Bakshi or the Jackson films, I would have no problems.
                                    It's also clear that he owns the rights to any future movie or TV adaptations
                                    of _The Hobbit_ and _The Lord of the Rings_. What he's claiming here goes
                                    beyond that. He's claiming that he owns the trademarks to the names of the
                                    books and the trademarks to any characters, events, items, and places therein.
                                    It wouldn't be necessary for him to make this broad a claim to merchandise
                                    the train set, since there are images from the Jackson films on them. What
                                    he's claiming in the above sentence goes beyond that though. The sentence is a
                                    claim that anyone using *anything* from the books and films as merchandise
                                    has to pay royalties to Zaentz (and not to the Tolkien estate), regardless
                                    whether it uses the visual images of the films. Furthermore, if I remember
                                    correctly, a trademark is perpetual, unlike a copyright. He's claiming perpetual
                                    ownership of the titles, characters, events, and places from the books and
                                    movies. That's pretty close to claiming the copyright. It's claiming that he
                                    owns everything about the books except the actual text of the books. Any
                                    names derived from the books are his, he claims.

                                    Wendell Wagner



                                    ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com


                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                  • David Bratman
                                    ... therein. ... is a ... It s quite different from owning the copyright. For one thing, as you note, copyright isn t perpetual (though in practice nowadays
                                    Message 17 of 21 , May 14, 2007
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                                      At 11:07 AM 5/14/2007 -0400, WendellWag@... wrote:

                                      >He's claiming that he owns the trademarks to the names of the
                                      >books and the trademarks to any characters, events, items, and places
                                      therein.
                                      >It wouldn't be necessary for him to make this broad a claim to merchandise
                                      >the train set, since there are images from the Jackson films on them. What
                                      >he's claiming in the above sentence goes beyond that though. The sentence
                                      is a
                                      >claim that anyone using *anything* from the books and films as merchandise
                                      >has to pay royalties to Zaentz (and not to the Tolkien estate), regardless
                                      >whether it uses the visual images of the films. Furthermore, if I remember
                                      >correctly, a trademark is perpetual, unlike a copyright. He's claiming
                                      >perpetual
                                      >ownership of the titles, characters, events, and places from the books and
                                      >movies. That's pretty close to claiming the copyright. It's claiming that he
                                      >owns everything about the books except the actual text of the books. Any
                                      >names derived from the books are his, he claims.

                                      It's quite different from owning the copyright. For one thing, as you
                                      note, copyright isn't perpetual (though in practice nowadays it apparently
                                      is). For another, copyrights don't have to be defended to remain valid,
                                      whereas trademarks do - that is one reason for all these fearsome notices.
                                      Most importantly, Zaentz owns no rights to the books. He can make another
                                      film adaptation from them any time he wants to - in fact he did - but what
                                      he owns gives him no rights to publish the books whatsoever, or to
                                      interfere with the Tolkien Estate's contracts with publishers, present or
                                      future.

                                      In practice, what Zaentz owns that you're so concerned about is the
                                      _merchandizing_ rights to LOTR-related material. In other words, you're
                                      not free to commercially release your own LOTR train set, or your own
                                      engraved One Ring, or your own plastic copy of Anduril, without a contract
                                      with Tolkien Enterprises, Zaentz's merchandizing arm. The rights come from
                                      him, as you noted.

                                      But this is nothing new. This has been the case, and loudly proclaimed to
                                      be the case, ever since Tolkien Enterprises was first set up in the midst
                                      of publicity for the Bakshi film, nearly thirty-bleeping years ago now.
                                      (It was true before then, too, but it had never come up in those low-key days.)

                                      The trademark rights, besides not interfering with publication rights, also
                                      don't interfere with scholarship rights. We're free to write anything we
                                      want about Tolkien's works without interference from Tolkien Enterprises.
                                      Policing things like fan fiction, or anything regarding the integrity of
                                      Tolkien's works, is the responsibility of the Estate, not of Zaentz. As
                                      you may know if you're still a member, The Tolkien Society has a specific
                                      legal understanding with the Estate permitting them to use that name
                                      (because it might sound like it was authorized by the Estate), and the
                                      agreement about what the TS is and is not allowed to do is hedged with as
                                      many legal clauses as anything Zaentz says.
                                    • WendellWag@aol.com
                                      In a message dated 5/14/2007 11:42:20 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, dbratman@earthlink.net writes: It s quite different from owning the copyright. For one
                                      Message 18 of 21 , May 18, 2007
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                                        In a message dated 5/14/2007 11:42:20 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
                                        dbratman@... writes:

                                        It's quite different from owning the copyright. For one thing, as you
                                        note, copyright isn't perpetual (though in practice nowadays it apparently
                                        is). For another, copyrights don't have to be defended to remain valid,
                                        whereas trademarks do - that is one reason for all these fearsome notices.
                                        Most importantly, Zaentz owns no rights to the books. He can make another
                                        film adaptation from them any time he wants to - in fact he did - but what
                                        he owns gives him no rights to publish the books whatsoever, or to
                                        interfere with the Tolkien Estate's contracts with publishers, present or
                                        future.

                                        In practice, what Zaentz owns that you're so concerned about is the
                                        _merchandizing_ rights to LOTR-related material. In other words, you're
                                        not free to commercially release your own LOTR train set, or your own
                                        engraved One Ring, or your own plastic copy of Anduril, without a contract
                                        with Tolkien Enterprises, Zaentz's merchandizing arm. The rights come from
                                        him, as you noted.

                                        But this is nothing new. This has been the case, and loudly proclaimed to
                                        be the case, ever since Tolkien Enterprises was first set up in the midst
                                        of publicity for the Bakshi film, nearly thirty-bleeping years ago now.
                                        (It was true before then, too, but it had never come up in those low-key
                                        days.)

                                        The trademark rights, besides not interfering with publication rights, also
                                        don't interfere with scholarship rights. We're free to write anything we
                                        want about Tolkien's works without interference from Tolkien Enterprises.
                                        Policing things like fan fiction, or anything regarding the integrity of
                                        Tolkien's works, is the responsibility of the Estate, not of Zaentz. As
                                        you may know if you're still a member, The Tolkien Society has a specific
                                        legal understanding with the Estate permitting them to use that name
                                        (because it might sound like it was authorized by the Estate), and the
                                        agreement about what the TS is and is not allowed to do is hedged with as
                                        many legal clauses as anything Zaentz says.






                                        As I said, I know that Zaentz has the right to make as make movies from _The
                                        Hobbit_ and _The Lord of the Rings_ as he wishes. I know that he has the
                                        right to royalties from merchandise using visual images from either the Bakshi
                                        or the Jackson films. That's not what I'm complaining about. I'm
                                        complaining that he has made the following claim:

                                        > The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The
                                        > Return of the King and the names of the characters, events, items and
                                        places
                                        > therein, are trademarks of The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Tolkien
                                        Enterprises under
                                        > license to New Line Productions, Inc.

                                        He's not saying here that he owns the trademarks to the cinematic versions
                                        of _The Lord of the Rings_, _The Fellowship of the Ring_, _The Two Towers_,
                                        _The Return of the King_ and the names of the characters, events, items, and
                                        places therein. He's saying that he owns the trademarks to *any* version of
                                        these words, characters, events, items, and places, including the books
                                        themselves. What Zaentz is doing is slowly increasing his claims, each time making
                                        a slightly greater claim than what he actually owns. He could defend the
                                        electric train set just by saying that it includes images from the movies, but
                                        he goes beyond that.

                                        He's also slowly drifting farther from the things that are clearly derived
                                        from the movies. The earlier things that he was selling were things like
                                        copies of swords and amulets that were clearly based on the ones used in the
                                        movies. Indeed, I presume he had them designed for the movies knowing that
                                        afterwards copies of them could be sold in catalogs for inflated prices. This
                                        time though he's selling an item (an electric train set) that has nothing to do
                                        with the movies in itself. He has the right to sell it and claim royalties
                                        on it, since it has images from the movies on it, but it's just barely related
                                        to the trademark rights that he does own.

                                        I predict that Zaentz is going to continue to do this, making the items more
                                        and more loosely derived from the movies. Eventually he will be selling
                                        things that use the names of _The Lord of the Rings_, _The Fellowship of the
                                        Ring_, _The Two Towers_, _The Return of the King_ or the names of the
                                        characters, events, items and places in them without any images from the movies. At
                                        this point the Tolkien estate will realize that he's been slowly encroaching on
                                        their trademark rights and threaten to sue him. Zaentz will say that the
                                        Tolkien estate has sold or authorized very little merchandise using trademarked
                                        items from the books, while he has sold or authorized a lot of merchandise
                                        using trademarked items from the movies. He will claim that he has thus
                                        defended his trademarks better than the Tolkien estate. He will also point out to
                                        the estate that he's worth a lot more money than they are, so he can keep
                                        them in court forever. At that point he will say, "Why not sell me *all* the
                                        trademarks to both the books and everything derived from them? You're not
                                        making much money from them. I'll pay you $10,000,000 for them. That's more
                                        than you've ever made from the trademarks (as opposed from the copyrights).
                                        You'll keep the copyrights, of course, and can continue to sell the books."

                                        If the estate agrees to this, he will then go wild merchandising these
                                        trademarks, and he'll make the copyrights by themselves less valuable. He'll pull
                                        the rights to use images from the movies on the books. He do what he can to
                                        see that the books are sold as inconspicuously as possible. He'll do what
                                        he can to make the movies better known than the books. He'll also probably
                                        step over the line in his use of the trademarks, using quotations from the
                                        books. He'll dare the estate to sue him if they complain.

                                        A few years later then, he'll offer to buy the copyright to the books for
                                        $100,000,000. He'll point out that that's not much different from the amount
                                        that Tolkien and the Tolkien estate have made from the books over the past
                                        fifty-some years. (My guess is that Tolkien and the Tolkien estate have only
                                        made about $100,000,000 to $200,000,000 from the books, despite them selling
                                        over 100,000,000 authorized copies and about 50,000,000 unauthorized copies
                                        over that period.) Zaentz has already made more money from the cinematic
                                        rights, even though he's only owned them for only about thirty years. He'll point
                                        out to the estate that he has more money than they do. Even if he encroaches
                                        on their copyright rights, he can keep them in court for a long time with his
                                        greater money and more vicious lawyers.

                                        And if the estate is reluctant to do this, Zaentz can threaten to sue them.
                                        He can claim that because the estate failed to adequately protect the
                                        copyrights and trademarks of the books over the past fifty-some years, they were
                                        making the trademarks he would own at that point less valuable. This claim is
                                        both somewhat true and yet extremely unfair to the estate. The estate has
                                        never been as viciously nasty about its defending its copyrights and trademarks
                                        as it could have been. They allowed fan fiction and fan art of _The Lord of
                                        the Rings_ to thrive. Part of the reason that _The Lord of the Rings_ has
                                        become so popular over the past fifty years, though, was the existence of fan
                                        fiction and fan art.

                                        If the estate agrees to selling the copyrights, Zaentz can then do anything
                                        he wants to with all the rights to _The Hobbit_ and _The Lord of the Rings_.
                                        He'll increase the prices on the books. He start demanding royalties from
                                        all Tolkien art. He can put out abridged editions of the books. He can put
                                        out editions that are rewritten to be closer to the movies. He can withdraw
                                        the editions with the original text from print. He can sue any Tolkien-clone
                                        novelists. He can demand royalties from Tolkien scholarship. He'll threaten
                                        to bankrupt anyone who fights this in court.

                                        And then he will have every reason to join the other big media companies who
                                        are trying to make copyright perpetual. The length of copyrights has been
                                        increasing lately. It's now something like 75 years or 50 years after the
                                        death of the author. The groups fighting to increase the copyright lengths are
                                        not authors but big media companies like Disney that own the copyrights to
                                        works created by other people (either their employees or authors whose
                                        copyright they bought). Zaentz will join this group, and if they succeed in making
                                        copyrights perpetual, he'll own the copyrights to _The Lord of the Rings_
                                        forever.

                                        This is why I think that authors should never outright sell the copyrights,
                                        trademarks, or merchandise rights to their works outright to media companies
                                        for any amount. This is also why I think that J. K. Rowling is a brilliant
                                        businesswoman, whatever I think of the Harry Potter books themselves. In just
                                        ten years, she has made over $1,000,000,000 from the various rights to the
                                        Harry Potter novels. (She's now the second richest woman in the entertainment
                                        field after Oprah Winfrey, who's worth $1,500,000,000. It took over twice
                                        as long for Oprah to make that much money.) In contrast, in over fifty years,
                                        Tolkien and the Tolkien estate have only made something like $100,000,000 to
                                        $200,000,000 on all the various rights to Tolkien's books. Right from the
                                        first, before the Harry Potter books even sold that well, Rowling has made
                                        good deals. She has never outright sold movie rights, so the companies making
                                        the movies were just distributors of the films rather than owners of rights.
                                        She has kept the merchandising rights to Harry Potter items. She even has
                                        script and casting approval for the movies.

                                        This is not because the Harry Potter books have sold better than _The Lord
                                        of the Rings_. The way I see it, the Harry Potter books have sold only about
                                        60,000,000 copies. (Here a copy of the Harry Potter books is a set of the
                                        six books sold so far.) There have been over 100,000,000 copies of _The Lord
                                        of the Rings_ so far, counting just authorized editions, and over 150,000,000
                                        copies if you include unauthorized editions. (Here a copy of _The Lord of
                                        the Rings_ is either one one-volume book of it or a set of _The Fellowship of
                                        the Ring_, _The Two Towers_, and _The Return of the King_.) The total length
                                        of the Harry Potter books is not that much greater than _The Lord of the
                                        Rings_. It's spread over six (and soon seven) long and expensive volumes instead
                                        of a single volume (or at most three volumes), and thus each copy makes more
                                        money for Rowling than a copy of _The Lord of the Rings_ makes for the
                                        Tolkien estate, even if the copy is a $100 deluxe edition.

                                        Wendell Wagner




                                        ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com


                                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                      • Elena Rossi
                                        ... Actually, such claim is practically worthless. The only trademarks that can really be owned are Registered trademarks (the ones symbolized by a R within
                                        Message 19 of 21 , May 18, 2007
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                                          --- WendellWag@... wrote:

                                          > I'm
                                          > complaining that he has made the following claim:
                                          >
                                          > > The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring,
                                          > The Two Towers, The
                                          > > Return of the King and the names of the
                                          > characters, events, items and
                                          > places
                                          > > therein, are trademarks of The Saul Zaentz Company
                                          > d/b/a Tolkien
                                          > Enterprises under
                                          > > license to New Line Productions, Inc.
                                          >
                                          > He's not saying here that he owns the trademarks to
                                          > the cinematic versions
                                          > of _The Lord of the Rings_, _The Fellowship of the
                                          > Ring_, _The Two Towers_,
                                          > _The Return of the King_ and the names of the
                                          > characters, events, items, and
                                          > places therein. He's saying that he owns the
                                          > trademarks to *any* version of
                                          > these words, characters, events, items, and places,
                                          > including the books
                                          > themselves.

                                          Actually, such claim is practically worthless.
                                          The only trademarks that can really be "owned" are
                                          Registered trademarks (the ones symbolized by a R
                                          within a circle). The others, Unregistered trademarks
                                          (symbolized by a small caps TM placed near the symbol,
                                          or word) can just be _claimed_, but they are not very
                                          protected by the law (basically you have to
                                          demonstrate that whoever else uses them, does it to
                                          exploit the popularity of your trade).
                                          Why Mr. Zaentz didn't register all "his" trademarks?
                                          Simply because it's impossible to register as
                                          trademarks words, symbols, phrases or anything that
                                          are already in common use and not associated with your
                                          trade....So he will _never_ be able to register as a
                                          trademark "The Lord of the Rings" (which is a book
                                          written by someone alse decades ago...) or names of
                                          people and places that are in the books.
                                          He can _claim_ whatever he wants, but an unregistered
                                          trademark has really little value.
                                          Of course his lawyers can frighten people who write
                                          fan-fiction or make some fan site close down, but he
                                          wouldn't get very far if things were brought to a real
                                          tribunal and he had to support his claims.

                                          Of course, as the lawful owner of the movie
                                          rights(and games, and other licensee) he has complete
                                          control over the movies and anything deriving from
                                          them (toys, videogames, miniatures and trains :-)).
                                          It's possible that the movie titles -written in the
                                          font used for the movies- are registered trademarks,
                                          but all the rest is just a claim.


                                          > He has the right to sell
                                          > it and claim royalties
                                          > on it, since it has images from the movies on it,
                                          > but it's just barely related
                                          > to the trademark rights that he does own.
                                          >

                                          Well, this is no different that what happens with
                                          Spiderman or Harry Potter movies...The "collateral
                                          merchandising" is as profitable as the movie, and
                                          often very unrelated to it.
                                          It's modern commerce... One may not like it, but
                                          that's the way it works (I've also seen a tv ads of a
                                          "Spiderman train"; probably trains have become a must
                                          since Harry Potter and Hogwarts Express...)

                                          > I predict that Zaentz is going to continue to do
                                          > this, making the items more
                                          > and more loosely derived from the movies.
                                          > Eventually he will be selling
                                          > things that use the names of _The Lord of the
                                          > Rings_, _The Fellowship of the
                                          > Ring_, _The Two Towers_, _The Return of the King_
                                          > or the names of the
                                          > characters, events, items and places in them
                                          > without any images from the movies.

                                          I don't think so, movies popularity lasts a short
                                          time... PJ LOTR was spread on three movies and a
                                          number of years, but I think that in another few
                                          years, LOTR "gadgets" will have completely
                                          disappeared.


                                          > "Why not sell me *all* the
                                          > trademarks to both the books and everything derived
                                          > from them? You're not
                                          > making much money from them. I'll pay you
                                          > $10,000,000 for them. That's more
                                          > than you've ever made from the trademarks (as
                                          > opposed from the copyrights).
                                          > You'll keep the copyrights, of course, and can
                                          > continue to sell the books."


                                          I'm sure that if Tolkien Estate ever decides to sell
                                          the movie rights for the other works, they will do it
                                          with plenty of advice from good lawyers in order to
                                          make things well clear and not to run any risk.

                                          The problem is that when Tolkien sold movie rights,
                                          the world was really different from today.
                                          What did he expect that could be done with those
                                          rights? A movie, that in the best of cases would have
                                          circulated for a while in cinemas and then passed a
                                          few times on TV.... And that was all, movie rights
                                          were just movie rights.
                                          There were no home VCRs. No DVDs. No videogames. No
                                          merchandising with movie logos. The fact that one day
                                          the movie itself could be _bought_ by many million
                                          people was simply beyond imagination, as all the
                                          rest...That's why what may have seemed a fair deal at
                                          the time became a rip-off, and now only Tolkien
                                          Enterprises makes big money with commercial
                                          exploitation, while Tolkien estate is left just with
                                          the books rights.
                                          But I'm sure that today things would go very
                                          differently, and Tolkien Estate will be able to
                                          maintain its rights.


                                          Regards
                                          Elena



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                                          to amazing places on Yahoo! Travel.
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                                        • David Bratman
                                          ... Including the books themselves ? No he s not. He couldn t. If that were the case, then Houghton Mifflin and HarperCollins would need a license from
                                          Message 20 of 21 , May 18, 2007
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                                            At 04:03 AM 5/18/2007 -0400, WendellWag@... wrote:

                                            >He's not saying here that he owns the trademarks to the cinematic versions
                                            >of _The Lord of the Rings_, _The Fellowship of the Ring_, _The Two Towers_,
                                            >_The Return of the King_ and the names of the characters, events, items, and
                                            >places therein. He's saying that he owns the trademarks to *any* version of
                                            >these words, characters, events, items, and places, including the books
                                            >themselves.

                                            "Including the books themselves"? No he's not. He couldn't. If that were
                                            the case, then Houghton Mifflin and HarperCollins would need a license from
                                            Zaentz in order to publish the books. That is not true, and would be
                                            absurd. Zaentz has no rights whatever to the books except the right to
                                            make cinematic adaptations from them. And it was in order to make that
                                            clear that I repeated all that stuff that you said you already know.

                                            What Zaentz's claim to trademark on the titles means is that you can't
                                            commercially sell your own "Lord of the Rings train set" without a license
                                            from Tolkien Enterprises.

                                            The rest of your story is on a par with Sam's imaginings of what he could
                                            do with the Ring. Tolkien merchandise isn't going to be that much of a hot
                                            growth industry. Even Star Wars and Star Trek merchandise have peaked.
                                            And defense of trademark has absolutely nothing to do with how much
                                            commercial exploitation of it you make.
                                          • lynnmaudlin
                                            ... The biggest difference is outright sale of film rights, as opposed to licensing the rights for a particular film project. Now days no one sells the rights
                                            Message 21 of 21 , May 18, 2007
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                                              --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Elena Rossi <rossiele@...> wrote:
                                              >
                                              >
                                              > The problem is that when Tolkien sold movie rights,
                                              > the world was really different from today.
                                              > What did he expect that could be done with those
                                              > rights? A movie, that in the best of cases would have
                                              > circulated for a while in cinemas and then passed a
                                              > few times on TV.... And that was all, movie rights
                                              > were just movie rights.
                                              > There were no home VCRs. No DVDs. No videogames. No
                                              > merchandising with movie logos. The fact that one day
                                              > the movie itself could be _bought_ by many million
                                              > people was simply beyond imagination, as all the
                                              > rest...That's why what may have seemed a fair deal at
                                              > the time became a rip-off, and now only Tolkien
                                              > Enterprises makes big money with commercial
                                              > exploitation, while Tolkien estate is left just with
                                              > the books rights.
                                              > But I'm sure that today things would go very
                                              > differently, and Tolkien Estate will be able to
                                              > maintain its rights.


                                              The biggest difference is outright sale of film rights, as opposed to
                                              licensing the rights for a particular film project. Now days no one
                                              sells the rights "outright" because it does exactly what happened
                                              here: it gives the control over the product and related merchandising
                                              and subsidiary rights to the person who bought them.

                                              There were, in fact, HUGE merchandising rights throughout the 20th
                                              century; by 1930 Shirley Temple was being merchandised; later Hopalong
                                              Cassidy, The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans - these were huge
                                              merchandising brands throughout the mid-20th century.

                                              Granted, there weren't DVDs or videotapes (or whatever the future form
                                              will be) - but music from soundtracks had been turned into records for
                                              decades, so it wasn't a big leap. The more challenging leap, actually,
                                              was broadcast television and how to figure out licensing fees for that
                                              kind of usage. Now there are standard formulas that lawyers plug in
                                              and then negotiate tenths and hundredths of percentage points.

                                              I'm not sure that Tolkien got good legal advice even when he made the
                                              sale, but that would have more to do with 1) being located in Oxford
                                              and not Hollywood and 2) even his publisher being British and not as
                                              savvy about media issues as they might have (should have? hmmm) been.

                                              But this is life: we make decisions and we live with the consequences
                                              of those decisions, both good and bad.
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