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Re: Who owns LOTR?

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  • Michael Martinez
    ... licensing ... Based on the description in the original message, it sounds like AOL is asserting copyright over the catalog. The Saul Zaentz Company does
    Message 1 of 11 , May 23, 2003
      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, SusanPal@a... wrote:
      > In a message dated 5/23/2003 5:26:33 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
      > lizziewriter@e... writes:
      >
      >
      > > So AOL owns the rights to Tolkien's names and work?
      > >
      >
      > I very much doubt that the Tolkien Estate would stand for this. A
      licensing
      > agreement, maybe.

      Based on the description in the original message, it sounds like AOL
      is asserting copyright over the catalog.

      The Saul Zaentz Company does indeed, through its division Tolkien
      Enterprises, own a great number of trademarks which were established
      either after Tolkien sold the film/merchandising rights to United
      Artists or after Zaentz purchased the film/merchandising rights. The
      trademarks include many of the characters' names such as Gandalf the
      Grey, Gandalf the White, Frodo Baggins, etc.

      People often confuse trademark law with copyright law, and Tolkien
      Enterprises with the Tolkien Estate.
    • David S. Bratman
      Not even on the basis of what you quoted does AOL own any rights to Tolkien. What s owned is the rights to make films of LOTR, and reasonable marketing rights
      Message 2 of 11 , May 23, 2003
        Not even on the basis of what you quoted does AOL own any rights to
        Tolkien. What's owned is the rights to make films of LOTR, and reasonable
        marketing rights that go along with it, including the rights to create and
        sell endless quantities of "LOTR goodies" or inane tchochkes as they appear
        to me.

        Who owns these marketing rights? The firm calling itself Tolkien
        Enterprises, i.e. film producer Saul Zaentz, acting through his marketing
        firm. These rights include the right to sublicense. Zaentz sublicenses
        the rights to make tchochkes to tchochke manufacturers, and he sublicenced
        the right to produce Jackson's films to New Line Cinema. New Line Cinema
        is owned by AOL/Time Warner, but AOL, the Internet service provider, is
        another subdivision of AOL/Time Warner and has nothing to do with this.
        Zaentz's deal, it says from what you quote, was with New Line, not with
        AOL/Time Warner as a whole; and New Line doesn't own anything, it has a
        sublicense.

        Zaentz's rights, by the way, do not include the right to publish Tolkien's
        works, to novelize the films, or anything like that. He can and does
        publish books about the films themselves, though. (I suppose he could
        publish the screenplay, but I don't know for sure.) When Tolkien's
        publishers put photos from the films on the covers, they have to buy the
        rights to those photos from New Line, same as they have to buy the rights
        to any other artwork they put on their covers.

        Zaentz and his sublicencees may, however, have the rights to create
        additions to Tolkien's subcreation, and that's probably where "Hadhafang
        (TM): The Sword of Arwen" comes from, because there's nothing like that in
        the book. Gaming manufacturers have been creating additions of that sort
        for years, and there's a vast body of newly-invented persons, places, and
        things in the Tolkien gaming world, most of them with equally clumsy names.

        - David Bratman


        At 05:28 AM 5/23/2003 , Lizzie wrote:
        >So I was perusing my Noble Collection catalog of LOTR goodies this morning,
        >and came up with several questions. Here's one.
        >
        >In small print on the back of the cover, it says: (c) MMIII New Line
        >Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved. "The Lord of the Rings" and the
        >names of the characters, items, events and places therein are trademarks of
        >the Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a/ Tolkien Enterprises under license to New
        >Line Productions, Inc."
        >
        >Above it there is a line of logo type things. Under New Line Cinema's logo
        >it says "An AOL/Time Warner Company.
        >
        >So AOL owns the rights to Tolkien's names and work?
        >
        >Horror.
      • Elizabeth Apgar Triano
        Zaentz and his sublicencees may, however, have the rights to create additions to Tolkien s subcreation, and that s probably where Hadhafang (TM): The Sword of
        Message 3 of 11 , May 23, 2003
          Zaentz and his sublicencees may, however, have the rights to create
          additions to Tolkien's subcreation, and that's probably where "Hadhafang
          (TM): The Sword of Arwen" comes from, because there's nothing like that in
          the book. Gaming manufacturers have been creating additions of that sort
          for years, and there's a vast body of newly-invented persons, places, and
          things in the Tolkien gaming world, most of them with equally clumsy
          names.>>

          Actually I thought Hadhafang was a pretty name. I wonder what it's
          supposed to mean.

          So okay, in a nutshell all that legalese is supposed to protect someone's
          interest in marketing "the X of Y" where X=any interesting possession (sp)
          or attribute, and Y = any character of LOTR as it exists as a
          movie/screenplay? It would not, for example, cover Luthien Tinuviel's
          cloak (unless was she mentioned in the movie?).

          And yes, as you've mentioned, other companies have marketed Tolkien-related
          things. And I'm sure others will in the future. So each deal has to be
          separately negotiated with the Tolkien Estate (?) ... but I guess only one
          firm at a time could have the rights to a "reproduction" of Glamdring?

          BTW has anyone else noticed the resemblance between Elrond as portrayed in
          the current films, and Elrond the cartoon guy in "Return of hte King", the
          musical animated flick? I am serious.

          Lizzie Triano
          lizziewriter@...
          amor vincit omnia
        • David S. Bratman
          Lizzie - Marketing rights derived from the films have to be negotiated with Tolkien Enterprises, Zaentz s company. That includes trademark rights for the
          Message 4 of 11 , May 23, 2003
            Lizzie -

            Marketing rights derived from the films have to be negotiated with Tolkien
            Enterprises, Zaentz's company. That includes trademark rights for the
            character names from LOTR. All those nasty stories about how the Estate
            wouldn't let some kids' party magician call himself Gandalf - that wasn't
            the Estate, that was Tolkien Enterprises. The rights one would negotiate
            with the Tolkien Estate would be reproducing Tolkien's own works: quoting
            from his works (beyond what's permitted by fair use), reprinting them,
            reproducing his artwork, etc.

            I was struck by the number of people who commented that Jackson's Elrond
            reminded them, forcefully and rather against their will, of the character
            from "The Matrix" played by the same actor. I have not seen "The Matrix"
            so I remain immune, and should I see it now the reminding will probably go
            the other way. I am similarly immune against the resemblance you mention.

            - David Bratman


            At 10:58 AM 5/23/2003 , you wrote:
            >So okay, in a nutshell all that legalese is supposed to protect someone's
            >interest in marketing "the X of Y" where X=any interesting possession (sp)
            >or attribute, and Y = any character of LOTR as it exists as a
            >movie/screenplay? It would not, for example, cover Luthien Tinuviel's
            >cloak (unless was she mentioned in the movie?).
            >
            >And yes, as you've mentioned, other companies have marketed Tolkien-related
            >things. And I'm sure others will in the future. So each deal has to be
            >separately negotiated with the Tolkien Estate (?) ... but I guess only one
            >firm at a time could have the rights to a "reproduction" of Glamdring?
            >
            >BTW has anyone else noticed the resemblance between Elrond as portrayed in
            >the current films, and Elrond the cartoon guy in "Return of hte King", the
            >musical animated flick? I am serious.
          • Elizabeth Apgar Triano
            David said:
            Message 5 of 11 , May 23, 2003
              David said:

              << Marketing rights derived from the films have to be negotiated with
              Tolkien
              Enterprises, Zaentz's company. That includes trademark rights for the
              character names from LOTR. >>

              Well, how would one determine whether something was spinoff tchotchke from
              the Film versus from the Books? If I decide, say, to market Mithrandir
              Missile brand of bottle rockets, who would sue me? Theoretically speaking
              of course.

              Is there any amount of Tolkien's legacy that has become so popular that it
              can be used without such fear? I suppose one could cite Gandalf in an
              ad... say if I marketed wizard wands and said, "As would not have been
              sneered at by Merlin nor Gandalf?"

              Lizzie Triano
              lizziewriter@...
              amor vincit omnia
            • David S. Bratman
              At this point, Lizzie, you d need to consult a lawyer. - David Bratman
              Message 6 of 11 , May 23, 2003
                At this point, Lizzie, you'd need to consult a lawyer.

                - David Bratman


                At 02:07 PM 5/23/2003 , Lizzie wrote:
                >David said:
                >
                ><< Marketing rights derived from the films have to be negotiated with
                >Tolkien
                >Enterprises, Zaentz's company. That includes trademark rights for the
                >character names from LOTR. >>
                >
                >Well, how would one determine whether something was spinoff tchotchke from
                >the Film versus from the Books? If I decide, say, to market Mithrandir
                >Missile brand of bottle rockets, who would sue me? Theoretically speaking
                >of course.
                >
                >Is there any amount of Tolkien's legacy that has become so popular that it
                >can be used without such fear? I suppose one could cite Gandalf in an
                >ad... say if I marketed wizard wands and said, "As would not have been
                >sneered at by Merlin nor Gandalf?"
              • Elizabeth Apgar Triano
                At this point, Lizzie, you d need to consult a lawyer. ... Lawyer? Oh never mind, I m just wondering about the fate of all these ideas, how they seem to be
                Message 7 of 11 , May 23, 2003
                  At this point, Lizzie, you'd need to consult a lawyer.
                  >>

                  Lawyer? Oh never mind, I'm just wondering about the fate of all these
                  ideas, how they seem to be leashed and caged and owned, for their own
                  protection perhaps but it seems so odd. I'm not marketing anything hinging
                  on Tolkien, that's up there in the New Age blasphemy concept in my
                  worldview. Peddling one's visions of make-believe to a hungry credulous
                  public or whatever. I think we all need to find our own Rings and things,
                  staves and swords and whatnot.

                  Lizzie Triano
                  lizziewriter@...
                  amor vincit omnia
                • Michael Martinez
                  ... All non-book related merchandising contracts are negotiated with Tolkien Enterprises. At least, all the contracts I have been involved with and/or heard
                  Message 8 of 11 , May 24, 2003
                    --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Elizabeth Apgar Triano"
                    <lizziewriter@e...> wrote:
                    >
                    > And yes, as you've mentioned, other companies have marketed Tolkien
                    >-related things. And I'm sure others will in the future. So each
                    > deal has to be separately negotiated with the Tolkien Estate
                    > (?) ... but I guess only one firm at a time could have the rights
                    > to a "reproduction" of Glamdring?

                    All non-book related merchandising contracts are negotiated with
                    Tolkien Enterprises. At least, all the contracts I have been
                    involved with and/or heard of came from Tolkien Enterprises.

                    The Tolkien Estate works with people on books and still controls the
                    film and merchandising rights to most of the Tolkien books (Zaentz
                    only has the rights for THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS).

                    For what it's worth, MIT has developed a new metal fabric they are
                    calling MIThril. I haven't seen where they had to go to either
                    Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. Presumably they got
                    around any such necessity by capitalizing the "MIT" (which obviously
                    stands for the school).
                  • Bill
                    I have seen a commercial (forget for what) that mentions wizards and hobbits in passing. Bill ... popular that it ... Gandalf in an ... have been ...
                    Message 9 of 11 , May 25, 2003
                      I have seen a commercial (forget for what) that mentions
                      "wizards and hobbits" in passing.

                      Bill

                      At 02:07 PM 5/23/2003 , Lizzie wrote:

                      >Is there any amount of Tolkien's legacy that has become so
                      popular that it
                      >can be used without such fear? I suppose one could cite
                      Gandalf in an
                      >ad... say if I marketed wizard wands and said, "As would not
                      have been
                      >sneered at by Merlin nor Gandalf?"






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