Re: [mythsoc] Tolkien estate sends cease and desist letter to Zazzle
- 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
> That's very interesting, Carl: do you happen to have any links tosources
> expressing that perspective?does not itself infringe copyright or trademark, so I cite again the
> Certainly it does sound odd, to supposedly sue over a single button that
> of thumb I posted here last week: "If you read about what appears to bea
> totally absurd lawsuit, either 1) there's a lot more to the story thatyou'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
> -----Original Message-----
>>From: "Carl F. Hostetter" <Aelfwine@...>
>>Sent: Feb 27, 2011 11:19 PM
>>Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Tolkien estate sends cease and desist letter to
>>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,
>> places, etc. feature prominently, the net effect of which isproducts: i.e., Tolkien merchandizing on a non-trivial scale. The
>> indistinguishable from producing and selling a line Tolkien-related
>> has every right to protect its trademarks by prohibiting theirefforts.
>> unauthorized (and unlicensed) use in such large-scale merchandizing
>>Of course, it's much more provocative to pretend through silent omissionwarm, tingly feeling of self-righteous outrage that is so highly prized
>> that the Estate is suing over of a single button. That gives one that
these days, and it drives people to one's site.
>>On Feb 28, 2011, at 2:02 AM, WendellWag@... wrote:
>>> Another threatened lawsuit by the Tolkien estate:
>>The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
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
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