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Re: [mythsoc] Tolkien estate sends cease and desist letter to Zazzle

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  • David Bratman
    That s very interesting, Carl: do you happen to have any links to sources expressing that perspective? Certainly it does sound odd, to supposedly sue over a
    Message 1 of 6 , Feb 27, 2011
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      That's very interesting, Carl: do you happen to have any links to sources expressing that perspective?

      Certainly it does sound odd, to supposedly sue over a single button that does not itself infringe copyright or trademark, so I cite again the rule of thumb I posted here last week: "If you read about what appears to be a totally absurd lawsuit, either 1) there's a lot more to the story that you're not being told (the McDonald's coffee case is the classic example of this), or 2) it was thrown out by the judge at the first opportunity."



      -----Original Message-----
      >From: "Carl F. Hostetter" <Aelfwine@...>
      >Sent: Feb 27, 2011 11:19 PM
      >To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      >Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Tolkien estate sends cease and desist letter to Zazzle
      >
      >The linked articles both fail to note that Zazzle.com sells a great many items in/on which Tolkien's name and/or associated characters, entities, places, etc. feature prominently, the net effect of which is indistinguishable from producing and selling a line Tolkien-related products: i.e., Tolkien merchandizing on a non-trivial scale. The Estate has every right to protect its trademarks by prohibiting their unauthorized (and unlicensed) use in such large-scale merchandizing efforts.
      >
      >Of course, it's much more provocative to pretend through silent omission that the Estate is suing over of a single button. That gives one that warm, tingly feeling of self-righteous outrage that is so highly prized these days, and it drives people to one's site.
      >
      >Carl
      >
      >
      >
      >On Feb 28, 2011, at 2:02 AM, WendellWag@... wrote:
      >
      >>
      >> Another threatened lawsuit by the Tolkien estate:
      >>
      >> http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2999
      >>
      >> http://www.giro.org/2011/02/23/the-jrr-tolkien-estate-can-go-fuck-itself/
      >>
      >> Wendell Wagner
      >>
      >>
      >
      >
      >
      >------------------------------------
      >
      >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
    • scribbler@scribblerworks.us
      Yeah, I can t get so worked up over someone complaining about a C&D for one item. I think the Estate does have the right to protect the quality of items
      Message 2 of 6 , Feb 28, 2011
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        Yeah, I can't get so worked up over someone complaining about a C&D for
        one item. I think the Estate does have the right to protect the quality of
        items reflecting on their trademarks - and that was a rather bland,
        unlovely button.

        But Entitled Blogger decides this is cause to go on a rant about the Big
        Meanie Estate. Sorry, but I have an artist friend who has done licensed
        Tolkien related art, and the uncommissioned things she's done out of her
        fangirl heart she retitles with inoffensive titles in order not to tread
        on the Estate's toes. And she does not find this cause for complaint.

        I get a bit tired of the anti-CT ranters. Even though I wish the Estate
        would allow the rest of JRRT's Beowulf notes and translations to be
        published. Their choice, their right.

        > The linked articles both fail to note that Zazzle.com sells a great many
        > items in/on which Tolkien's name and/or associated characters, entities,
        > places, etc. feature prominently, the net effect of which is
        > indistinguishable from producing and selling a line Tolkien-related
        > products: i.e., Tolkien merchandizing on a non-trivial scale. The Estate
        > has every right to protect its trademarks by prohibiting their
        > unauthorized (and unlicensed) use in such large-scale merchandizing
        > efforts.
        >
        > Of course, it's much more provocative to pretend through silent omission
        > that the Estate is suing over of a single button. That gives one that
        > warm, tingly feeling of self-righteous outrage that is so highly prized
        > these days, and it drives people to one's site.
        >
        > Carl
        >
        >
        >
        > On Feb 28, 2011, at 2:02 AM, WendellWag@... wrote:
        >
        >>
        >> Another threatened lawsuit by the Tolkien estate:
        >>
        >> http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2999
        >>
        >> http://www.giro.org/2011/02/23/the-jrr-tolkien-estate-can-go-fuck-itself/
        >>
        >> Wendell Wagner
        >>
        >>
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • scribbler@scribblerworks.us
        I went back and looked at the two links, and noted some crucial things. (1) The Giro rant says that she got the take-down notice from ZAZZLE, not from the
        Message 3 of 6 , Feb 28, 2011
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          I went back and looked at the two links, and noted some crucial things.

          (1) The Giro rant says that she got the take-down notice from ZAZZLE, not
          from the Tolkien estate.

          The wording from Zazzle is not reproduced, and the indication that it was
          in response to a C&D from the Tolkien Estate was made as "Guess who
          complained about copyright infringement?" - which is not really a clear
          indication that the Estate lodged a complaint about her specific button.

          (2) The Language Log link merely picks up the Giro rant, but says
          (although it is NOT explicity said in the Giro rant) that Giro received
          the C&D from the ESTATE (which is not what the original post says).

          I think what Giro does not "get" is that both Zazzle and Cafe Press have
          made a POLICY of watching out for products which use "Tolkien" or ANY of
          specific Tolkien related keywords (hobbit / Gandalf / Sauron, etc.) and
          have those products taken down. As a matter of POLICY in order to avoid
          lawsuits from the Estate. They don't wait for the Estate to move, if they
          happen to catch it.

          It's possible that if she had responded to ZAZZLE by observing that HER
          button did not infringe on trademarks, and was within Fair Use of
          Tolkien's name, she could have had her Precious Button back up in short
          order. But that would require her actually learning a few key things about
          copyright and trademark and it's more fun to go off ranting about Big
          Meanies.


          > That's very interesting, Carl: do you happen to have any links to
          sources
          > expressing that perspective?
          >
          > Certainly it does sound odd, to supposedly sue over a single button that
          does not itself infringe copyright or trademark, so I cite again the
          rule
          > of thumb I posted here last week: "If you read about what appears to be
          a
          > totally absurd lawsuit, either 1) there's a lot more to the story that
          you're not being told (the McDonald's coffee case is the classic example
          of this), or 2) it was thrown out by the judge at the first
          opportunity."
          >
          >
          >
          > -----Original Message-----
          >>From: "Carl F. Hostetter" <Aelfwine@...>
          >>Sent: Feb 27, 2011 11:19 PM
          >>To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
          >>Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Tolkien estate sends cease and desist letter to
          >> Zazzle
          >>The linked articles both fail to note that Zazzle.com sells a great many
          >> items in/on which Tolkien's name and/or associated characters,
          entities,
          >> places, etc. feature prominently, the net effect of which is
          >> indistinguishable from producing and selling a line Tolkien-related
          products: i.e., Tolkien merchandizing on a non-trivial scale. The
          Estate
          >> has every right to protect its trademarks by prohibiting their
          >> unauthorized (and unlicensed) use in such large-scale merchandizing
          efforts.
          >>Of course, it's much more provocative to pretend through silent omission
          >> that the Estate is suing over of a single button. That gives one that
          warm, tingly feeling of self-righteous outrage that is so highly prized
          these days, and it drives people to one's site.
          >>Carl
          >>On Feb 28, 2011, at 2:02 AM, WendellWag@... wrote:
          >>> Another threatened lawsuit by the Tolkien estate:
          >>> http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2999
          >>> http://www.giro.org/2011/02/23/the-jrr-tolkien-estate-can-go-fuck-itself/
          Wendell Wagner
          >>------------------------------------
          >>The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
          >
          >
        • Jef Murray
          Greetings! Just to give an alternative perspective, I personally, along with John Howe and Ted Nasmith, had my works appear on Zazzle items for sale with no
          Message 4 of 6 , Feb 28, 2011
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            Greetings!

            Just to give an alternative perspective, I personally, along
            with John Howe and Ted Nasmith, had my works appear on Zazzle
            items for sale with no mention of who owned the copyrights, and,
            of course, no mention of who had created the works, no requests
            for my approval, etc.

            This is basically theft. And it is theft whether I am
            the victim or whether the Tolkien Estate is the victim. The
            size and wealth of the owner of the copyrights does not matter.

            This sort of looting has been going on for years now, not only
            with Zazzle, but with other sites. Like the hydra, as soon as you
            slay one of these sellers of stolen goods, another springs up.
            And, although I will confess to being flattered by being in
            the same company as John and Ted, I expect that that novelty
            will wear off pretty quickly...

            No, this suit by the Tolkien Estate is not about a single
            button. It is about Zazzle not policing (or even screening, from
            what I've seen) the folks that offer items for sale to make sure
            that said items have the approval of the copyright holders. Alongside
            of my work, John's and Ted's, there were buttons and other items that featured the original JRRT-created cover image artwork from "The
            Hobbit". Again, all of these were unacknowledged and unlicensed;
            someone basically snagged an image off the internet, slapped it on
            a mug, and started making (or trying to make) money off of it.

            Although it's not a popular topic, it serves all of us as
            a community to make known and observe copyright laws regarding
            mythopoeic and other materials. Many of us are writers, authors,
            and creative folk of every stripe. When any of us is robbed by
            folks like some of the merchants on Zazzle, we are all robbed.
            Artists are a struggle breed, and there's little enough remuneration
            for a lot of what we do without having looters abscond with the
            results of our efforts. The end result of this, left unchecked,
            is that none of us will be able to legitimately support ourselves
            through our own creative efforts, as the market will be flooded
            with illegitimate products faster than we can create new ones....

            I know I'm largely preaching to the choir, here. But, I do
            think it's mighty easy to demonize the Tolkien Estate primarily
            because they are aggressive in defending their rights. Unfortunately,
            many of us smaller artists have not the resources to protect ourselves
            in similar fashion...so even if all that results from the TE's
            lawsuits is that folks think twice before looting other artists,
            I can't help but think this is a good thing.

            Nai i-Valar tiralyë

            Jef




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