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The "long story short" of the Tolkien/WB/Zaentz lawsuits

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Yep, I used the rough anniversary date in my joke article. If I had to guess, the license goes throughout all of the year it refers to, in this case 2014.

 

Which would mean December 31st, 2014 being the end of the year.

If they haven't used the option to extend it to 2017 already.

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yeah without seeing the actual contract; it is anybodies guess.

 

but if there was an exit contingency, it would likely be a window of time, rather than a specific date; to allow for player accounts to be settled, for example.

 

so i wouldn't say the end of this, or the next year, but a period of time during...

 

"IF" the option wasn't exercised.

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OK that makes for interesting reading, and gives the context to why no one at Turbine is saying anything about the game's future beyond the vague stuff seen so far. -- they just don't know. As things stand they have a license, but it might have been invalid for a while.

 

From my minimal knowledge, it seems that paragraph 35 of the Tolkien suit is the key to this. It seems telling that the Zaentz response agrees partially to a lot of the paragraphs, and comments on others in their counter-suit, but to that point its a single word denial.

 

The Tolkien estate seems to be trying to hold to the core idea of the license only covering physical objects and going after digital/online only products as violating that rule. (In their usual attempt to pull as much of Lord of The Rings back under their control as possible I suppose).

 

They might not like games, but SOA and Moria could fall within what Zaentz could legitimately license, as there was some physical media involved. Its pushing the edge of what was probably intended, but probably not a fight worth picking.

 

2010 keeps coming up as a key date in terms of finding out about the gambling, but it is worth mentioning that Mirkwood released in December 2009. -- It has been a while, but I think that it was digital download only (as has been everything since), which carries the argument into a new area, and presumably one the Estate figured gave them a case they could win. If they do win, potentially the last 4 expansions could be in violation of the license, which could be rather bad. -- People have been talking about a run-down period for the game, but potentially, we could be in a: 'switch the servers off now or else' situation.

 

Depressing.

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People have been talking about a run-down period for the game, but potentially, we could be in a: 'switch the servers off now or else' situation.

 

Depressing.

 

it certainly is in the scope of possibilities.

 

i will point out that the only games to be removed so far, were the 2 virtual Lord of the Rings slot games.

 

so again, who can say for certain, as all parties are more likely to hold their cards to their chest, rather than rehearse the trail publicly.

 

...

 

one additional point about the Zaentz counter...  they acknowledge the original merchandising agreements & the 3 updates to those original agreements.

 

where i think Zaentz go off the rails totally, is they seem to assert that the 1996 consideration & the later 1998 agreement automatically adds video games to the previous merchandising agreement.  which is a stretch.  even if they were 100% the middlemen for licensing video games; i can't see how that would cancel the Tolkien Estates position with regard to being able to take action against materials that fell outside of those original merchandising agreements.  & after point 35 of the Tolkien Estates suit, they state that the merchandising agreements include provisions to:

 

 

the right to utilize and/or dispose of all rights and/or interests not herein specifically granted...

 

 

Zaentz (&Warner) further stretch their case by saying the 2010 re-grant also adds 100% digitally distributed material to those merchandising agreements.  i think Zaentz/Warner will have a very difficult time establishing that before a judge, without Tolkien Estates having explicitly signed away that right...  and that just doesn't seem plausible to me.  Tolkien Estates have even pointed out paragraph 15 of the merchandise agreement (not viewable) & other clauses in the amended rights, which undermine the Zaentz/Warner counter suits. (36 - 40 of the Tolkien Estates suit.)

 

so unless Zaentz/Warner have some very clear agreements showing Tolkien Estates have relinquished their rights...  honestly, Zaentz/Warner don't have a leg to stand on.

 

& then it becomes a matter of how much will Tolkien Estates reign in.

 

unfortunately with Lotro now being a digitally distributed product & the crass addition to the game of things like hobbit presents...  whatever good will this game may have garnered seems all but dried up.

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The Hobbit is likely to enter public domain in roughly twenty years, and the LoTR roughly 35 years from now. The question is there any "irreparable harm to the lore" caused by WB ? If yes, then the Tolkien estate should seek statutory damage and offer a license to continue using the lore as they won't be able to profit from it in any other form. If there are no "irreparable harm", then seek damage for unlicensed used of IP and license it to  profit from it.

 

I don't see any good reason not to license the IP after the trial, in both cases they won't have any rights in twenty to thirty years, and that is the time frame for a new generation to read books, go watch new movies on the LoTR, etc.

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@LasraelLarson I agree completely about the situation Zaentz is in, and while no one knows the agreements made, it has been the Tolkien family's intention for decades to recover as much of the rights as possible. 

 

Granting access to a whole range of merchandising not included in the original agreement seems utterly contrary to that, and money would seem no motivation for them. 

 

Considering Christopher Tolkien disliked the films, I cannot see him giving up an opportunity to shut down LOTRO as another adaptation of the books. In part I kind of like the attitude, despite the consequences.

 

The only positive could be that the time needed to resolve the lawsuits might render the situation moot as far as LOTRO is concerned.

 

 

The Hobbit is likely to enter public domain in roughly twenty years, and the LoTR roughly 35 years from now. The question is there any "irreparable harm to the lore" caused by WB ? If yes, then the Tolkien estate should seek statutory damage and offer a license to continue using the lore as they won't be able to profit from it in any other form. If there are no "irreparable harm", then seek damage for unlicensed used of IP and license it to  profit from it.

 

I don't see any good reason not to license the IP after the trial, in both cases they won't have any rights in twenty to thirty years, and that is the time frame for a new generation to read books, go watch new movies on the LoTR, etc.

 

Sadly, I wouldn't be so sure bout the copyright. In theory, both LOTRO and the Hobbit stay under copyright for a while (and depending on where you live), and then go public domain, but that assumes that Disney do not manage to get the Mickey Mouse protection act (Part 2) passed in a few years. 

 

If they do, the EU might have to follow suit (even though they really don't want to go beyond death +70). It may well be that the dates will keep getting extended as long as it is in Disney's interest to keep pushing for it (and spend the necessary cash lobbying for it), so as a knock-on effect, nothing else enters the public domain.

 

If the EU don't go along, it could get interesting as well.

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I think the EU about had it with US intellectual property antics.

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Considering Christopher Tolkien disliked the films, I cannot see him giving up an opportunity to shut down LOTRO as another adaptation of the books. In part I kind of like the attitude, despite the consequences.

 

ah, on this point i have commented elsewhere, but just highlight again...

 

that is were Lotro is utterly an anomaly.

 

it is more than just reasonable to associate the original merchandising rights as promotional tools for the stage & theatrical productions.  ironically, the virtual slot games were in fact utilizing completely, material from the films.

 

with Lotro, time & again it has been stated that this game in particular follows the books, NOT the films.  as example: Haldir will not be at Helms Deep.  Arwen did not rescue the Morgul blade wounded Frodo. and so on.

 

Lord of the Rings Online arguably infringes on the literary works; rather ( or more so) than acts as a promotional tool for the movies.

 

& given the previous conflicts with Warner...   yes, it would seem likely, that given the opportunity,  the Estate would issue a cease order for LoTRO.

 

i do not see this case coming to resolution prior to year end & this could drag on for quite some time.

 

so i agree it may be moot with regard to LoTRO...  however i can't see Warner investing in an almost 7 year old title, given the state of affairs.

 

now here is the interesting part...  if the 2010 re-grant is what sought to unify video games & online & digital distribution...  that is now in jeopoardy should that element of the Zaentz/Warner suit fall to the favor of Tolkien Estates.

 

so, that being at issue, the original distribution license would need to be...   place-held in the interim.

 

& that is why i have been saying repeatedly...  it looks like LoTRO is headed into maintenance mode.

 

Helms Deep will very likely be this games last expansion.

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I think the EU about had it with US intellectual property antics.

 

 

heya Darmokk, are you the one who usually links threads to facebook activity & voting?  i see this one isn't yet in the new facebook sidebar list & it probably should be.

 

i am asking you, (or anyone for that matter)  because i am a grumpy old person who detests web 3.0 schlock & doesn't use facebook in any capacity.  }:|

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heya Darmokk, are you the one who usually links threads to facebook activity & voting?  i see this one isn't yet in the new facebook sidebar list & it probably should be.

 

i am asking you, (or anyone for that matter)  because i am a grumpy old person who detests web 3.0 schlock & doesn't use facebook in any capacity.  }:|

What is a facebook sidebar? :)

Everybody can post on that FB and G+ page.

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What is a facebook sidebar? :)

 

the activity feed thing on this forum.  it is only showing like 3 topics currently, none of them this material.

 

given the actual lawsuits have never, nor would likely ever manage to show up on the other forums...  & the rather misinformed spiel that usually comes from Kafar, Yula & the other usual suspects...  just think the more folk have opportunity to see the actual lawsuit material, the better.

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I'm still not sure what you are asking to happen.

 

 

then i guess, that makes 2 of us...

 

i've only ever heard you mention linking up activity on this forum with other social media, so if you don't know...

 

never mind, i guess.

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Shameless bump because at this point I'm more interested about the fate of the whole IP and how Tolkien's works will be remembered over the next decades more than small peanuts like LOTRO which is a confirmed Facepalm Epique, Sappo who we all know is a pain, and the fanbois who we all know are a pain.

 

Fate of the IP in a way determines what possible future in LOTR-Hobbit based MMO's we could see in the future (aka. some form of mod like MERP but with.. 2017 tech for example) while we're at it.

 

And just to make a point that I'm tired of Sapience and fanboi related threads, no gif for anyone today.

 

Wurm Online rocks in a big way btw.

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Wasn't a new Tolkien/lotro-related game announced somewhere this month by WB for pc/ Xbox360/ xbox One/ PS3/ PS4?

 

If they (WB) win, they can publish both (Lotro and the new one) games, if they lose, they can't. So I think they are fully going for the win ;)

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No, not that one; I searched it and found it: https://www.shadowofmordor.com/agegate/

 

REALLY WB?! NO!!!!! JUST NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A ranger with Wraith abilities, might as well call him a wraithenger, fucking horrible for lore.  If the God's can hear us PLEASE LET WB LOSE THIS LAWSUIT in the name of preserving the Tolkien estate and not to tarnish it anymore then it already is after the launch of HD after Turbine just took a shit with that expansion.

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Wasn't a new Tolkien/lotro-related game announced somewhere this month by WB for pc/ Xbox360/ xbox One/ PS3/ PS4?

 

If they (WB) win, they can publish both (Lotro and the new one) games, if they lose, they can't. So I think they are fully going for the win ;)

And after The Tolkien estate see that game you can bet they will be going all out for the win as well.

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Me too. When you buy rights or even lease them long term, you don't own the right to do whatever you want with it to the point of changing the very lore of it, I'd say at that point it is no longer part of the lore, but a whole other product labeled as under the IP so they can make use of the name. I'm sure the judge will land on the side of the estate.

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so WB has lotro, GoME and now SoM. All seem to be rushed to market endeavors (either new or as expansions) in an effort to exert a prior use and development outlay to support standing in a countersuit, from my perception. Long term commercial success doesn't seem to be a priority, but initial sales and rollout timelines do.

 

The unfortunate aspect in my opinion is there are rank and file dev resources who probably want to do a great job and just can't because of corporate politics and tied hands. And players who are merely tools to be exploited in this political/legal mess.

 

I remember something from an interview with one of the arenanet founders (IIRC), may have been O'Brian, or Strain before he left. The money quote was something to the effect of "never build a game based on a third party IP license". There were other gems in there but that stood out.

 

The more I see in this industry the more I gather the subtle but hidden wisdom in it. From everyone's standpoint; corporate owner, developer and player alike. And honestly, it looks to me like the big three in the MMO world are WoW, GW2 and Rift right now, all without the chains of a licensed IP.

 

Edit: Found it, it was Strain http://www.guildwars.com/events/tradeshows/gc2007/gcspeech.php

 

And what humble wisdom it is. Read it while thinking about what Lotro has been through and all the alienation they have created for goals that he is specifically warning against. And when done, immediately go watch the vid of Fernandud Putz and compare the arrogance displayed to the humility you just read. 

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Do people still think there is a real chance this game could close in April 2014?

I think the current license and expiration thereof doesn't matter at all with this lawsuit looming. The lawsuit overrides it, questions the validity of the original license in the first place and a settlement (or judgement) will probably directly determine conditions for continuing LOTRO.

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