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Just weeks before The Hobbit hits the big screen, the family of author JRR Tolkien is once again suing the film's producers. The Hobbit Bilbo poster The Tolkien estate and the book's publisher Harper Collins claim Warner Bros, its subsidiary New Line and Hobbit rights-holder Saul Zaentz Company are overstepping their bounds …

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  1. Code Monkey

    The Tolkien family sit down and start singing about gold.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm sure it is more about not being seen to be associated with family destroying habits such as problem gambling.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Since Tolkein was a prominant Christian (as is pretty obvious from the books) I imagine this is likely to be the case.

        1. dogged
          WTF?

          I think you've got him confused with CS Lewis.

          There's no overt or covert Christianity in Tolkein's books. More a reflection of Anglo-Saxon paganism, I'd say.

          1. peyton?

            Tolkien vs Lewis

            Tolkien's books may not be allegorical, but he was an affirmed Catholic. Hell, he was raised by a priest after the death of his mother.

          2. JDX Gold badge

            @dogged

            No I do not have him confused with Lewis. The two were friends; Lewis preferred to be overt with his use of Christian message in stories (it's pretty blatant) but to say Christian themes are not commonplace in LOTR simply shows your ignorance of either LOTR, Christianity, or both.

            As a Christian and LOTR fan you'll have to take my word for that :)

            1. dogged

              Re: @dogged

              It's been a while but while Eru is the One Creator the, er... what was the collective noun? Melkor/Morgoth and his brothers and sisters, friends and enemies - are pretty firmly analogous to the Aesir or the Greek gods. Not very Christian.

              "Good defeats evil" is hardly limited to the cross-botherers.

  2. tojb
    Flame

    Longbottom Leaf in Colorado, Calif, etc?

    Warner bros have missed a zeitgeisty (marketing/getting sued) opportunity with that one.

    1. Santa from Exeter
      Joke

      Re: Longbottom Leaf in Colorado, Calif, etc?

      Hmmm, I wonder if HerefordSHIRE, HampSHIRE, HertfordSHIRE et al need worry?

      1. Osmosis Jones
        Go

        Re: Longbottom Leaf in Colorado, Calif, etc?

        Please tell me I'm not the only one to have realised Tolkien's verbose introduction to weed, in LOTR, merely reflects his concealed status as a heavy pot head.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Natural support with estate?

    Since there must be a legion of aficionados of the books that are prepared to pick holes in the most innocuous element of dramatic adaption for the purposes of bringing it to the silver screen.

    And I suspect many of them will be vociferous in their opinion. While secretly coveting a soon-to-be-rare Bildo one-armed bandit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Natural support with estate?

      His name is Dilbo. Or Bilbo, or Dildo - certainly not Bildo.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Natural support with estate?

        "His name is Dilbo. Or Bilbo, or Dildo - certainly not Bildo"

        oh, arse!

        1. Haku
          Coat

          Re: Natural support with estate?

          This tune might help you remember his name - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGF5ROpjRAU

          1. Z-Eden
            Mushroom

            Re: Natural support with estate?

            Oh my GOD! What hell is this? I don't know whether to downvote you or upvote you. Either way, away with you foul song! It's worse than getting rick rolled...

            Could be worse I suppose. Could be shatners rendition of lucy in the sky...

  4. DrXym Silver badge

    Outrage?

    More likely the estate is not getting the cut they feel they're entitled to.

  5. Steve Button
    Thumb Down

    cynical?

    ... but this has got The Reg and other news outlets talking about the film a few weeks before the release. Could the film producers have deliberately provoked this action, to drum up the publicity?

    Still, I can't wait to see it. :-) Can't imagine how they will stretch such a short story to 3 films?

    1. dogged
      IT Angle

      Re: cynical?

      There's even a (probably hokey and therefore ideal Reg-fodder) tech angle!

      http://www.wpcentral.com/windows-phone-8-get-marketed-hobbits

      Article claims that Nokia are jumping on the bandwagon too.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: cynical?

      Downvoted: not for the post but for the reminder that the filmS are going to take a great childrens' story and piss all over it in the name of milking many many more millions just like when they pissed over LotR.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: cynical?

        What are you on about, the films of LOTR were great.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: cynical?

          Indeed they were: if you like stupidly over-the-top CGI battles every 30 minutes, and a story dumbed down for 10 year olds (think of the MERCHANDISING!).

  6. 100113.1537
    WTF?

    A bit late...

    I was playing a Lord of the Rings video slot in Las Vegas last year!

    It was quite fun actually, with bonus games involving clips from the movies.

  7. Thomas 4
    Devil

    What other Hobbit merchandise could we be seeing soon?

    Perhaps Glamdring and Sting type contraceptives that glow blue in the dark when foes approach?

    1. Ian 62
      Alert

      Re: What other Hobbit merchandise could we be seeing soon?

      Am not sure I want to ask...

      "Foes approach?"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What other Hobbit merchandise could we be seeing soon?

      Sauron's Cock Ring - well that's my excuse anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What other Hobbit merchandise could we be seeing soon?

        You mean it's so small it's invisible?

  8. cs94njw
    FAIL

    I can't blame the Tolkein estate. If they agree to sell the rights to services, then they're gits and they do seem to be money grabbing.

    If they forbid gambling and similar services, then I think they're looking after their brand.

    We shall see...

  9. James Gosling
    Happy

    Inserts coin...

    Elf, Elf, Hobbit, Dwarf.... damn!

    Hobbit, Hobbit, Hobbit, Orc.... Aaaaaa!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Outraged Tolkien's devoted fan base?

    the estate objects to using Tolkienian names in the world of gambling, which it says "has outraged Tolkien's devoted fan base, causing irreparable harm to Tolkien's legacy and reputation and the valuable goodwill generated by his works

    This member of "Tolkien's devoted fanbase" doesn't give a toss about it.

    However, if they asked me what I thought of the use of "Tolkienian names" in Microsoft advertising material, I'd have to say that I am outraged, and that it causes irreparable harm etc etc etc

  11. Wayne Stallwood

    Erm

    http://www.fruitmachineworld.com/ekmps/shops/darrenlink/images/lord-of-the-rings-25-jackpot-pub-fruit-machine-123-p.jpg

  12. cortland

    Minus dots

    There's an interesting book parody of The Hobbit called The "Soddit," Interestingly, that word can derived from the trademarked one by converting the H and the B's into Morse Code, removing from each precisely one "dot" and translating back.

    . . . . - - - - . . . - . . . . . - to . . . - - - - . . - . . . . -

    If you can't "Hobbit"(tm), soddit!

    FWIW, the "author" is one "A.R.R.R. Roberts."

    A is a Morse code J with two "dashes" removed. Dashed good fun,what?

    Add a "G" at the end of the initials there to approximate what the family must be saying.

    http://www.orbitbooks.net/2012/09/18/the-soddit-if-we-likess-it-then-we-putss-a-ring-on-it/

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Minus dots

      That book has now been removed from orbit. Not surprising - they can expect a lawsuit. Same as the author of the "Last Ringbearer".

      Frankly, the Tolkien family is overstepping the line by far here. It is a venerable tradition to build on other people's works in world literature. Examples - Christopher Priest and "Space Machine" vs Wells and "Time Machine", Volkov's Emerald City series vs "The Wizard of Oz", etc. If we go further back in time we have Decameron & Canterbury Tales vs Aesop's fables.

      1. cortland

        Re: Minus dots

        Well, I bought a copy at a local booksellers. Cheaper than The (ahem) Hobbit. Which now I WON'T have to buy. Heh!

        Borders on funny, too.

  13. Dave Bell

    An Old Problem

    It was Professor Tolkien himself who sold the film rights, a few years before he died. A great many things have been licensed by the rights holders over the years. A great many new sorts of goods have also appeared.

    Media companies in the USA, not just Hollywood types, have been trying to stretch old contracts to include new sorts of goods for many years. Nobody dreamed of eBooks when The Hobbit was published, before WW2.

    Copyright lawyers struggled with computer software. I think part of what we are seeing now is the shift from the physical to the virtual. We used to have a stack of floppy disks, or a cassette tape. Then came the CD and DVD. Now we get a new game by logging into Steam. Within the computer business, we've coped with that change.

    You'd have to read the Tolkien contract, though I have heard it said that the definitions are unusually broad, and have sometimes made it difficult for the print publishers, because they were not sure that they could produce some publicity items for the books. This was a long time ago, and there were no big arguments, but somebody had to sign something. If what I heard was correct, those slot machines might be legitimate. Some of the other issues might be decided the other way.

    Just as in patents, some of the claims in a court filing are a stretch that will not stand up to challenge.

    When the Middle Earth Role-Playing Game appeared, it was licensed via the Saul Zaentz operation, but the publishers checked. They obviously were a sort of book, and new stories, and such. I expect a deal was done, but it wasn't a big money thing. And the MERP products were done well.

    Now we're talking about huge amounts of money, and both sides are playing a rough game. Besides, you know the reputation of Hollywood lawyers and accountants. The Tolkien Estate and their publishers are one of the few I can think of who have the resources to fight this sort of case. And, if the rights-stretch is part of the issue, will it ever get decided by a court? I don't think Hollywood can afford to have the judge decide against them on that.

    [Insert favourite warning of the rise of a Dark Lord]

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "gambling merchandise and online slot machines, hotels, restaurants,

    "housing developments and all manner of other stuff."

    You cannot pass! I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor. The dark fire will not avail you, Flame of Udun! Go back to the shadow.

    YOU SHALL NOT PASS!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps they could do a Gauntlet style version of the films

    Hobbit...is about to DIE!

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