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Re: [mythsoc] Re: New LotR-based movie: The Hunt for Gollum

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  • Michael Cunningham
    Possibly they should have been mindful of the Damnatus outcome. Intellectual property issues are rarely black and white and may see this project slip into the
    Message 1 of 19 , Sep 24, 2008
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      Possibly they should have been mindful of the Damnatus outcome. Intellectual property issues are rarely black and white and may see this project slip into the Dead Marshes.

      Michael


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Croft, Janet B.
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 6:36 PM
      Subject: RE: [mythsoc] Re: New LotR-based movie: The Hunt for Gollum


      Being a non-profit doesn’t automatically give you free reign to do as you please with other folks’ copyrighted material, which is how they appear to be approaching this project. However, it can have weight in a Four Factors of Fair Use analysis, which is what they should sit down and do before the Estate or Saul Zantz or New Line takes notice of them. They should at least become more familiar with the vocabulary of fair use, and not rely solely on being non-profit to protect themselves.

      Janet Brennan Croft

      From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Michael Cunningham
      Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 12:19 PM
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: New LotR-based movie: The Hunt for Gollum


      I have been in touch with the two main producers of this project, primarily
      as a fan and because this independent has been receiving some very positive
      coverage in several genre-related magazines. Naively or otherwise I thought
      this to be a number of Tolkien aficionados with a cinematic and stage
      background (and therefore some knowledge of copyright issues) expressing
      their appreciation for the professor's works and, to a degree, Jackson's
      cinematic interpretation of such. The producers are aware of these concerns
      re copyright but raised the issue of the 'fan film' which may inhabit its
      own genre and as such not fall under the legal remit of a large scale,
      widely distributed, money making enterprise.

      It's certainly not going to win any Oscars (or praise, it seems) but in
      conversation with those involved the over-riding factor is that they are
      purely fans and the feature is a labour of love and affection for a masterly
      work that fires a creative spark in many of the folk who explore the world
      between its pages.

      I've pasted the response from the producers who sought to address the
      copyright issue.

      Michael

      -----
      I appreciate your editor's concern and he might be right. We haven't heard
      anything from The Tolkien Estate but I can't see that we pose them any
      serious threat. Hopefully we're helping to keep Tolkien's work alive. Anyway
      this is question we get asked a lot and it's very important to make clear
      that we feel there isn't a serious issue here. Let me explain why. The film
      is non-profit and we're just a bunch of Tolkien fans making this in our
      spare time as a labour of love. Here is an FAQ that explains more. It's also
      worth noting that since many Star Wars "fan films" have been made and widely
      publicised, the fan film has become recognised internationally as a genre in
      itself.

      How are you managing to make this with characters created by Tolkien when
      the intellectual property rights are held elsewhere?
      A very fair point. The answer is that we are a non-commercial film club and
      the project is entirely non-profit. We certainly do not intend to breach
      legal copyright and if we were to sell the finished film or anything related
      to it then this would indeed be illegal. However this project is non-profit
      and any videos and media generated will always be available freely and
      openly over the internet. Nobody is or ever will be profiting financially
      from this project. No products are being made or sold. The project is funded
      by the fans who are taking part in it, a group of individuals collaborating
      for fun. We're working on this project based on Lord of the Rings because we
      love the material and as a way to showcase our technical film making skills.
      If the copyright owners are concerned, then legally speaking we plead that
      we are only a bunch of Tolkien fans practicing our film-making skills and
      documenting the results online.

      ------------


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






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    • Sarah Beach
      The problem with the filmmakers citing the STAR WARS fanfilms as precedent is that Lucasfilm actually ALLOWS them to be made. Heck, Lucasfilm even sponsors a
      Message 2 of 19 , Sep 24, 2008
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        The problem with the filmmakers citing the STAR WARS fanfilms as
        precedent is that Lucasfilm actually ALLOWS them to be made. Heck,
        Lucasfilm even sponsors a Star Wars fanfic film (short) award at the
        San Diego ComicCon each year. So it is NOT a good example of "Well,
        if they can do it, so can we in this other property's playground."

        Alas, I think the filmmakers, though they may be "pure-hearted", are
        a bit naive about the possible ramifications.

        I do hope that if something does get stirred up about it all, they
        come through unscathed.

        --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Cunningham" <vargeisa@...>
        wrote:
        >
        > I have been in touch with the two main producers of this project,
        primarily
        > as a fan and because this independent has been receiving some very
        positive
        > coverage in several genre-related magazines. Naively or otherwise I
        thought
        > this to be a number of Tolkien aficionados with a cinematic and
        stage
        > background (and therefore some knowledge of copyright issues)
        expressing
        > their appreciation for the professor's works and, to a degree,
        Jackson's
        > cinematic interpretation of such. The producers are aware of these
        concerns
        > re copyright but raised the issue of the 'fan film' which may
        inhabit its
        > own genre and as such not fall under the legal remit of a large
        scale,
        > widely distributed, money making enterprise.
        >
        > It's certainly not going to win any Oscars (or praise, it seems)
        but in
        > conversation with those involved the over-riding factor is that
        they are
        > purely fans and the feature is a labour of love and affection for a
        masterly
        > work that fires a creative spark in many of the folk who explore
        the world
        > between its pages.
        >
        > I've pasted the response from the producers who sought to address
        the
        > copyright issue.
        >
        > Michael
        >
        > -----
        > I appreciate your editor's concern and he might be right. We
        haven't heard
        > anything from The Tolkien Estate but I can't see that we pose them
        any
        > serious threat. Hopefully we're helping to keep Tolkien's work
        alive. Anyway
        > this is question we get asked a lot and it's very important to make
        clear
        > that we feel there isn't a serious issue here. Let me explain why.
        The film
        > is non-profit and we're just a bunch of Tolkien fans making this in
        our
        > spare time as a labour of love. Here is an FAQ that explains more.
        It's also
        > worth noting that since many Star Wars "fan films" have been made
        and widely
        > publicised, the fan film has become recognised internationally as a
        genre in
        > itself.
        >
        > How are you managing to make this with characters created by
        Tolkien when
        > the intellectual property rights are held elsewhere?
        > A very fair point. The answer is that we are a non-commercial film
        club and
        > the project is entirely non-profit. We certainly do not intend to
        breach
        > legal copyright and if we were to sell the finished film or
        anything related
        > to it then this would indeed be illegal. However this project is
        non-profit
        > and any videos and media generated will always be available freely
        and
        > openly over the internet. Nobody is or ever will be profiting
        financially
        > from this project. No products are being made or sold. The project
        is funded
        > by the fans who are taking part in it, a group of individuals
        collaborating
        > for fun. We're working on this project based on Lord of the Rings
        because we
        > love the material and as a way to showcase our technical film
        making skills.
        > If the copyright owners are concerned, then legally speaking we
        plead that
        > we are only a bunch of Tolkien fans practicing our film-making
        skills and
        > documenting the results online.
        >
        > ------------
        >
      • David Bratman
        ... If they think this, they have mistaken probably too small to be worth suing for legally immune from being sued. They are also fantastically kidding
        Message 3 of 19 , Sep 24, 2008
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          >From: Michael Cunningham <vargeisa@...> wrote:

          >The producers are aware of these concerns
          >re copyright but raised the issue of the 'fan film' which may inhabit its
          >own genre and as such not fall under the legal remit of a large scale,
          >widely distributed, money making enterprise.

          If they think this, they have mistaken "probably too small to be worth suing" for "legally immune from being sued." They are also fantastically kidding themselves if they don't realize that posting something on the open Web is not a synonym for "wide distribution."

          And you quote them:

          >We haven't heard
          >anything from The Tolkien Estate but I can't see that we pose them any
          >serious threat. Hopefully we're helping to keep Tolkien's work alive.

          This is amazingly arrogant. The Tolkien Estate and their legal licensees get to decide what's to be released to keep Tolkien's work alive. Fan film makers don't get to decide that.


          >The answer is that we are a non-commercial film club and
          >the project is entirely non-profit. We certainly do not intend to breach
          >legal copyright and if we were to sell the finished film or anything related
          >to it then this would indeed be illegal. However this project is non-profit
          >and any videos and media generated will always be available freely and
          >openly over the internet.

          This is so inaccurate it's not even funny. Disavowing any intention of making a profit is not a "break copyright free" card.

          >If the copyright owners are concerned, then legally speaking we plead that
          >we are only a bunch of Tolkien fans practicing our film-making skills and
          >documenting the results online.

          Doing whatever you like with Tolkien's characters privately, for your own amusement, is one thing. Documenting it online is quite another. If that's really their intent, they should make up their own Tolkienesque story and film that. If they didn't do that because nobody would watch it, that only proves how much they're piggybacking on Tolkien's fame. It might seen, or even be, silly to worry that this little film could harm Tolkien's reputation and future earnings, but again: they don't get to decide that.
        • John D Rateliff
          ... Thanks for posting the link, Ellen. News to me that any such project was in the works, much less that it was nearing completion. As for whether they can
          Message 4 of 19 , Sep 24, 2008
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            On Sep 23, 2008, at 4:58 AM, Ellen wrote:
            > My question is this: can the filmmakers get away with blatantly
            > using Tolkien's world and characters in a movie?

            Thanks for posting the link, Ellen. News to me that any such project
            was in the works, much less that it was nearing completion.
            As for whether they can get away with this, I wdn't bet on it.
            It's one thing to post a piece of fan fiction; the Estate might be
            willing to let that pass. But a film is something else, and Tolkien
            Enterprises is famous for bringing the hammer down on anything that
            poaches on their turf. Nor are major studios like New Line inclined
            to turn a blind eye to competition in any shape or form. I think
            they've probably taken the Lovecraft independent film phenomenon as a
            model, not taking into account that Lovecraft's work is out of
            copyright. Then too, the $30 donation in return for a cd somewhat
            undercuts the 'not-for-profit' claim.
            And wasn't there someone else a while back working on a
            Tolkienesque film?

            Jason Fisher <visualweasel@...> wrote:
            > Actually, the visuals in the trailer are quite impressive. As is
            > the music . . . Though I will say the clips from the soundtrack
            > sound *strikingly* like Howard Shore!

            It was pretty clear that their goal was to make their piece seem as
            much like Jackson as possible, right down to the sweep across snow-
            covered mountains. Hence, the Shore-like music (which I thought they
            did a better job on with the first clip than the second). I was
            impressed by how beautiful the natural settings were; someone in the
            project has a good eye for cinematography.


            David Bratman wrote:
            > Have you noticed how nearly all fan-art depictions of LOTR
            > characters now look like Jackson's actors, whether the artist meant
            > to depict them or not?

            No, I hadn't, but that very issue (film-inspired art) is being
            debated in the latest AMON HEN (#213).


            On Sep 24, 2008, at 11:20 AM, Steven Sams wrote:
            > Where would the bridge film material come from again? What stories?


            Presumably from the Appendices. I'm sure they'd love to use material
            from UNFINISHED TALES, but they'd have to negotiate a separate
            license from the Estate to do that (unlikely, I shd think).

            On Sep 24, 2008, at 11:25 AM, Michael Cunningham wrote:
            > Possibly they should have been mindful of the Damnatus outcome.

            Ouch!. I'd forgotten that one. Good example.

            On Sep 24, 2008, at 9:19 AM, ccampboyle wrote:
            > If you check their website more carefully, you'll see this is not
            > feature-length; it's a 30 minute short.


            I'd missed the detail of thirty minutes, but they do refer to it
            several times as a short, so it's definitely not a full-length movie.


            On Sep 24, 2008, at 9:33 AM, David Bratman wrote:
            > I'm sorry; my eyes glazed over from the clips. Concern for
            > continued personal health caused me to stop there.


            Sorry to hear it; get well soon.

            --John R.
          • WendellWag@aol.com
            There s really no point in us discussing this. They re violating copyright law, but it s not our job to enforce the law. Somebody here notify the Tolkien
            Message 5 of 19 , Sep 24, 2008
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              There's really no point in us discussing this. They're violating copyright
              law, but it's not our job to enforce the law. Somebody here notify the
              Tolkien estate about this website. The estate will decide how to proceed against
              these people. Our discussing this accomplishes nothing.

              Wendell Wagner



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            • aveeris523@aol.com
              If by the bridge film you mean the connection between The Hobbit and LOTR , the essay The Quest of Erebor in Unfinished Tales might be a good start. Steve
              Message 6 of 19 , Sep 24, 2008
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                If by the "bridge film" you mean the connection between The Hobbit and LOTR ,
                the essay "The Quest of Erebor" in Unfinished Tales might be a good start.
                Steve Gaddis


                **************
                Looking for simple solutions to your real-life
                financial challenges? Check out WalletPop for the latest news and information,
                tips and calculators.
                (http://www.walletpop.com/?NCID=emlcntuswall00000001)


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              • Michael Cunningham
                Not my intention to linger on this but...another fan film in production was highlighted to me: http://www.bornofhope.com/index.html They have a disclaimer, but
                Message 7 of 19 , Sep 25, 2008
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                  Not my intention to linger on this but...another fan film in production was highlighted to me: http://www.bornofhope.com/index.html

                  They have a disclaimer, but that may be all it is. I suppose one may be looking towards a stated case being published if any legal action is taken to prevent future enterprises. As for me I think I'll just stick to music!

                  Michael


                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: WendellWag@...
                  To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                  Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2008 4:08 AM
                  Subject: Re: [mythsoc] New LotR-based movie: The Hunt for Gollum


                  There's really no point in us discussing this. They're violating copyright
                  law, but it's not our job to enforce the law. Somebody here notify the
                  Tolkien estate about this website. The estate will decide how to proceed against
                  these people. Our discussing this accomplishes nothing.

                  Wendell Wagner

                  **************Looking for simple solutions to your real-life financial
                  challenges? Check out WalletPop for the latest news and information, tips and
                  calculators. (http://www.walletpop.com/?NCID=emlcntuswall00000001)

                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






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                • William Cloud Hicklin
                  ... The Hobbit and LOTR , ... be a good start. ... Except, Steve, New Line/Time Warner/Zaentz have *no* rights to Unfinished Tales, nor to any other Tolkien
                  Message 8 of 19 , Sep 25, 2008
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                    --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, aveeris523@... wrote:
                    >
                    > If by the "bridge film" you mean the connection between
                    The Hobbit and LOTR ,
                    > the essay "The Quest of Erebor" in Unfinished Tales might
                    be a good start.
                    > Steve Gaddis
                    >
                    >

                    Except, Steve, New Line/Time Warner/Zaentz have *no* rights
                    to Unfinished Tales, nor to any other Tolkien writings
                    outside the covers of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
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