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Tolkien Estate Censors the Word "Tolkien"

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the keep-my-name-out-of-your-mouth dept.

Censorship 433

An anonymous reader writes "Following their recent attempt to censor a work of historical fiction containing Tolkien as a character, the estate have now issued a takedown notice to someone making buttons with the words 'While you were reading Tolkien, I was watching Evangelion' on them, claiming 'intellectual property right infringement.' Predictably, a new store has appeared offering a range of censored Tolkien items, and the 'offending' product has had vastly increased exposure as a direct result of the removal."

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Tried to make up a scenario, failed due to filter. (3, Funny)

intellitech (1912116) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333250)

Apparently, the filter won't allow me to repeat Tolkien's name more than a few times in a row.

Filter error: Too much repetition

Didn't know slashdot caved, too.

Re:Tried to make up a scenario, failed due to filt (5, Funny)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333262)

Yo dawg, I heard you like Tolkien, so I [DMCA'd]

Re:Tried to make up a scenario, failed due to filt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333300)

Tolkien a Tolkien b Tolkien c Tolkien d Tolkien e Tolkien f Tolkien g Tolkien h Tolkien i Tolkien j Tolkien k Tolkien l Tolkien m Tolkien n Tolkien o Tolkien p... I dunno, perhaps you just gotta multitask a bit more.

Re:Tried to make up a scenario, failed due to filt (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333422)

Apparently, the filter won't allow me to repeat Tolkien's name more than a few times in a row.

Filter error: Too much repetition

Didn't know slashdot caved, too.

This is like how black people react when you say the word NIGGER.

"That be OUR WORD, yo. That be ate up, homez."

That's about as eloquent as they get. It's nigger pidgin because after 200 years in this country they STILL can't speak English. That's something every other kind of immigrant manages to do inside of one generation. But you better not notice that only blacks fail to do that because truth itself is racist.

A few black people understand that celebrating the ghetto makes them low-life gutter trash who fail at life. So they get an education and learn to speak great English. Those black people are NOT niggers. The other blacks, the niggers, hate them for doing this with a bloody passion. It begs questions like "why can't you do that too" so they call them Uncle Tom.

Anyway if you translate the nigger pidgin into English it would be "your use of this word without permission infringes on our perceived ownership of it." Sorta like the whole Tolkien deal except the black people might really have a reason to be such aggressive douchebags over a fuckin word.

Re:Tried to make up a scenario, failed due to filt (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333768)

you Eskimos are all alike.

Re:Tried to make up a scenario, failed due to filt (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333600)

It's just a simple repetition filter for any string. You'd have the same trouble typing in " Ha " too many times.

But from the Estate's point of view, they've just found a cheap form of advertisement. It costs them little to start an action like this and then everyone gets into it and, before you know it, everyone's discussing Tolkien again.

Re:Tried to make up a scenario, failed due to filt (2)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333716)

It's just a simple repetition filter for any string. You'd have the same trouble typing in " Ha " too many times.

But from the Estate's point of view, they've just found a cheap form of advertisement. It costs them little to start an action like this and then everyone gets into it and, before you know it, everyone's discussing Tolkien again.

True but it seems they have about as much need to advertise as say, McDonalds (yes, I note that McDonalds still airs commercials...).

Tolkien is as well-known among people who read books as McDonalds is visible since there's one on every street corner.

The gift of Illuvatar (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333256)

After death, lawsuits.

Awful Pun incoming (5, Funny)

jmac_the_man (1612215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333270)

It's not like the author played a big role in the censored story, though. It seemed like he was just thrown in to be there. Like, you know, a Tolkein character.

Re:Awful Pun incoming (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333752)

Joke's funnier when you spell it right.

Re:Awful Pun incoming (2)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333774)

he was tolkien a big joint just before he posted.

Enough of this already (5, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333278)

Can we please get off this hobby horse? The Tolkien estate isn't "censoring speech," it's protecting its trademarks, which it is required to do by law. If this guy had made a bunch of buttons for himself and as many of his friends as wanted them (all three), nothing would have happened. Instead he set up a store on Zazzle and tried to sell them. Zazzle has a clear policy that it will not sell items that violate copyrights, trademarks, or other intellectual property. These buttons do that. So the Tolkien estate complained, this guy's product was pulled, end of story. He wasn't sued, he wasn't thrown in jail -- in fact, he can still go buy a button maker and make himself some buttons and nothing would happen to him. The idea that he's being "censored" is silly, and there are lots of companies that are far more litigious about such things than the Tolkien estate.

Re:Enough of this already (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333302)

nobody here dislikes tolkien or his estate. but everybody here dislikes the bullshit intellectual property laws that enable this behavior. your rant assumes the wrong target. nobody is gunning for tolkien or his estate, they are gunning for bullshit laws

Re:Enough of this already (2, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333408)

nobody here dislikes tolkien or his estate. but everybody here dislikes the bullshit intellectual property laws that enable this behavior. your rant assumes the wrong target. nobody is gunning for tolkien or his estate, they are gunning for bullshit laws

I don't know about that. Go back and see all the griping about the evil Tolkien estate on the last thread, a few days back.

And let me throw something else into the mix. This guy seems to be reacting like the vast, evil Tolkien estate is bringing the hammer down on one hapless individual who made a few buttons. What he doesn't seem to grok is that the Tolkien estate isn't going after one guy, it is going after Zazzle, which, if it were allowed to print Tolkien-related products with impunity, could do the Tolkien estate a lot more damage than one guy with some buttons ever could. A law that enables a company to maliciously take down one guy might be a bullshit law, but a law that protects an entire product licensing business is not. (At least, not necessarily.) Case in point: Zazzle drafted policy long ago that it is not willing to fight the issue.

Now this guy has some options. As I said, he could make the buttons himself. He could also look for another printer that has fewer qualms about using the word "Tolkien" in its offerings. It strikes me that he's chosen Plan C: Whine about it, wrap himself in the flag, and settle for a pat on the back from the Internet.

Re:Enough of this already (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333448)

See, you can't trademark someone's name.

I was chatting with Tolkien last week. His name is actually Rob Tolkien.

If I were to print this, would it suddenly be taken down by the "Tolkien estate"?

Or is it "reading Tolkien" that magically makes it some sort of infringement?

WTF?

Re:Enough of this already (2)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333556)

See, you can't trademark someone's name. I was chatting with Tolkien last week. His name is actually Rob Tolkien. If I were to print this, would it suddenly be taken down by the "Tolkien estate"?

I don't think you understand how trademarks and licensing work.

Re:Enough of this already (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333688)

See, you can't trademark someone's name. I was chatting with Tolkien last week. His name is actually Rob Tolkien. If I were to print this, would it suddenly be taken down by the "Tolkien estate"?

I don't think you understand how trademarks and licensing work.

I understand that the man is (unfortunately) deceased and has been for some time. Thanks to the legal fiction of his "estate" plus nearly perpetual copyright the rest of his family gets to sit on their asses and make money from his corpse since 1971. If that were how I obtained my livelihood I think I'd be a bit more meek about it.

I definitely wouldn't be making legal threats over a button that happens to mention the author's name. This is like Kraft Foods threatening legal action because you made a bumper sticker saying "while you were drinking Maxwell House I was drinking Folgers." That's protected speech. It is the expression of a personal preference. It does not threaten Kraft's ownership of the Maxwell House trademark. Likewise, saying "while you were reading Tolkien I was watching Evangelion" is a statement of a personal preference -- no claim is made that this is an official licensed product or represents an official position of the Tolkien estate. If such a claim were made I would support this maneuver, but that just isn't the case.

What a contrast to the way Hormel handled the use of the word "spam" to describe unsolicited commercial e-mail. "Spam" is a trademark of theirs. They could have gone apeshit and launched a ton of lawsuits over it if they really wanted. Instead they decided to allow this use. They were good sports about it. They earned some respect for that, because it's a respectable thing to do.

It's time to separate your personal feelings about a man who was, without a doubt, a great author from the actions of his estate which seem determined to give him a bad name. If I could make money from work that was entirely done by a long-dead ancestor I'd consider myself unusually fortunate. I wouldn't feel threatened by every little use of said ancestor's name so long as there was no blatant infringement, which this definitely is not.

Re:Enough of this already (2)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333790)

While you were posting this, I was drinking a Tim Horton's coffee.

Re:Enough of this already (5, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333476)

This usage should fall under nominative use [wikipedia.org] use, though.

The product or service cannot be readily identified without using the trademark (e.g. trademark is descriptive of a person, place, or product attribute)

Check.

The user only uses so much of the mark as is necessary for the identification (e.g. the words but not the font or symbol)

Check, impossible to use any less than a single word.

The user does nothing to suggest sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark holder. This applies even if the nominative use is commercial, and the same test applies for metatags.

I see nothing in "While you were reading Tolkien, I was watching Evangelion" that suggests endorsement by the Tolkien Estate, check.

Additionally, this means the estate shouldn't have anything to worry about:

Furthermore, if a use is found to be nominative, then by the definition of non-trademark uses, it can not dilute the trademark.[2]

Re:Enough of this already (2, Interesting)

DJLuc1d (1010987) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333706)

What I have a problem with is that this button is, to me, a criticism of Tolkien. While it may not be explicit criticism, i.e., 'Tolkien was a bad writer' I think it is very much implied. Under section 107 of the 1976 act, criticism is covered under fair use. Although the article doesn't say which law the Tolkien estate is citing, or even that they are using US law (although they have been fond of it in the past), I suspect it would have very little impact on "(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work"

Re:Enough of this already (2)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333786)

And let me throw something else into the mix. This guy seems to be reacting like the vast, evil Tolkien estate is bringing the hammer down on one hapless individual who made a few buttons.

Because they are.

What he doesn't seem to grok is that the Tolkien estate isn't going after one guy, it is going after Zazzle, which, if it were allowed to print Tolkien-related products with impunity, could do the Tolkien estate a lot more damage than one guy with some buttons ever could.

Zazzle is just the printer. By going after Zazzle, they are going after someone who has no real incentive to fight them (because it's more trouble than it's worth for one low-volume customer). It's actually worse than if they were to go after the button designer personally.

Case in point: Zazzle drafted policy long ago that it is not willing to fight the issue.

That's not a "case in point". That's a demonstration of how the law invites abuse and invention of restrictions through legal intimidation.

Re:Enough of this already (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333462)

I had mod points all last week. Now, when I really need them, I don't. +1

Re:Enough of this already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333558)

nobody here dislikes tolkien or his estate. but everybody here dislikes the bullshit intellectual property laws that enable this behavior. your rant assumes the wrong target. nobody is gunning for tolkien or his estate, they are gunning for bullshit laws

I think you'd find in truth it's not an IP issue but a trademark issue. If he was doing a comparison of two products he'd probably be fine but he's invoking the Tolkien name in order to make a profit. It's like slapping Mickey Mouse's name on a badge and trying to sell them. Trademark laws are far stronger than IP laws. There is a reason for it since companies spend millions and sometimes billions building trademark names. It's not unlike putting an Apple logo on an item to boast sales. I know people think it's just a name but just like Disney it's also a trademark. Try changing the spelling. If you change it enough but it sounds like it that can get around the trademark law.

Re:Enough of this already (1)

WitnessForTheOffense (1669778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333672)

If you're required to misrepresent reality in order to not run afoul of a law, the law needs to change, not reality.

Re:Enough of this already (0)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333642)

everybody here dislikes the bullshit intellectual property laws that enable this behavior.

What law? There is no law enabling such behaviour.

Is this how intellectual property gleans so many negative myths?

Re:Enough of this already (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333758)

Oh, of course. We should banish all patents and copyrights, and now trademarks, too, huh? Can we for once get an explanation of how this would benefit society? If someone could finally make a good argument, something beneficial might happen. Continually whining that you don't like certain laws and making slogans like "information wants to be free" or "I don't believe in imaginary property laws" won't cause any change. Where can I find a rational, thoughtful discussion of the issues by someone who understands what they are?

Re:Enough of this already (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333314)

> The Tolkien estate alleges these buttons do that.

FTFY.

Re:Enough of this already (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333432)

> The Tolkien estate alleges these buttons do that.

Fair enough. So this guy should challenge Zazzle's decision to remove the product. If they have no procedure for that, or if they won't budge, he should find another vendor or make the buttons himself.

Re:Enough of this already (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333316)

A historical figure is not, and cannot be, anyone's property. End of story.

Re:Enough of this already (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333362)

A historical figure is not, and cannot be, anyone's property. End of story.

And yet Ford is a valid trademark. Weird, ain't it?

Re:Enough of this already (2)

Firehed (942385) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333478)

Ford is a company named after its founder. Tolkien is an author. To my knowledge, there is no Tolkien, Inc. founded by said author.

Also, you're able to use Ford freely when talking about the person, or in any context that's not Ford, Inc. Which is a good thing, otherwise my aunt would be a walking trademark violation after having married into the name (no relation to those Fords, though).

Re:Enough of this already (5, Insightful)

Thangodin (177516) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333648)

And if the Ford Motor Company had taken this stance, Brave New World would have been banned, and Aldous Huxley would have been sued into penury.

This is called rent seeking behavior, and it's almost always a bad thing, because it diverts resources and effort away from making things towards owning them. It blocks off whole fields of new enterprise, and it's entirely state dependent--if the law is stuck down, or the state loses the power to enforce it, all the wealth evaporates. So, if foreign countries decide to ignore our copyright laws, we're broke. But if we're still making stuff that they want, we're still in business.

Re:Enough of this already (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333686)

Ford is a company named after its founder. Tolkien is an author.

But the product licensing and merchandising associated with Tolkien's name and works is quite definitely a business.

To my knowledge, there is no Tolkien, Inc. founded by said author.

That would be the Tolkien Estate, Ltd.

Re:Enough of this already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333484)

Its also the name of the company. They might have a case if they owned a company called Tolkien.

Re:Enough of this already (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333486)

Yea but is "Henry Ford" a valid trademark?

Re:Enough of this already (5, Insightful)

green1 (322787) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333522)

It all depends how you use it. I can say that I drive a Ford, and that's perfectly legal. I can wear a button saying that I hate Fords, I can even publish a book about how Henry Ford lived, that's all perfectly legal. What I can't legally do is build a car and call it a Ford, Or operate any automotive business with the name "Ford", because that is protected by trademark law. (I could however start a landscaping company called "Ford's landscaping" and it would NOT infringe on the trademark because it's not competing in the same market segment as the car company by the same name (for example see apple computer vs apple records))

If the person published a book and claimed to be Tolkien then the concerns of the Tolkien Estate would be valid. But that is not what is happening here, instead they are simply talking about the historical figure Tolkien which is perfectly legal and there's nothing (legal) that the Tolkien Estate can do about it.

Re:Enough of this already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333652)

Ding, ding! We have a winner, someone who actually understands Trademarks.

Re:Enough of this already (1, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333398)

Dammit, I accidentally missed the "Insightful" on the pull-down list and hit the next item up, "Redundant." I'm posting to negate my moderation on this post. >:-(

Re:Enough of this already (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333588)

Thank you!

Re:Enough of this already (1)

echucker (570962) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333628)

Ever heard of Corbis? That's pretty much what they do. Einstein and the Wright Brothers immediately come to mind.

Re:Enough of this already (1)

mahoney.d.82 (1884354) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333322)

You must be new here, I can tell by your UID.

Re:Enough of this already (3, Insightful)

Travelsonic (870859) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333324)

It IS censorship, whether or not it is JUSTIFIABLE censorship is another matter entirely.

Re:Enough of this already (1)

Audiovore (572647) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333332)

But Tolkien alone is merely a name, which is not trademark-able. Trademarks are for logos and such, what they are trying to do is eliminate all use other than what they see fit. What if someone wrote a book with a serial killer in it with the last name of Tolkien? They have no leg to stand on, as its merely a name.

Re:Enough of this already (2)

imthesponge (621107) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333340)

Except "Tolkien" in this case is a dead person's name, not a brand.

Re:Enough of this already (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333492)

Except "Tolkien" in this case is a dead person's name, not a brand.

So if I come up with a new salad dressing, can I put Paul Newman's name on it?

Re:Enough of this already (1)

imthesponge (621107) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333516)

No, but you can put his name on a button. Just like you can't write a book and put Tolkien's name on it.

Re:Enough of this already (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333542)

No, but you can put his name on a button.

I wouldn't be so confident until I talked to a lawyer and did a trademark search.

Re:Enough of this already (5, Insightful)

jimhill (7277) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333342)

The idea that a man's very name can be placed under legal protections this sweeping is utterly absurd and I think that's what has so many people in a tizzy.

I have no problem with laws allowing the Tolkien estate to prevent someone from publishing "Gutter Sluts by JRR Tolkien" and using the 4-letter symbol on the cover. Being able to deny someone the privilege of even USING the name in another context? That's wack, yo.

Seriously? (1)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333346)

The fact that you think a name should be trademarkable is nuts. I have a last name, should I have the ability to ban anyone else from using it to gather money? This lawsuit is insane.

Re:Seriously? (0)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333500)

I have a last name, should I have the ability to ban anyone else from using it to gather money?

You're misrepresenting the issue.

This lawsuit is insane.

There is no lawsuit.

Re:Enough of this already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333354)

These buttons do that.

You're violating intellectual property laws by referring to a writer by his name?

Re:Enough of this already (5, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333368)

Trademarks to WHAT?
Did Tolkein sell a line of buttons also so that this is likely to cause confusion in the minds of consumers who thought they were buying a genuine Tolkein button when in fact they aren't?

I mean, that was after all the reason and justification for ALLOWING trademarks (notice I said allowing not recognizing. This is not a right being recognized by law, it is a privilege granted by law given certain provisos)

Trademarks are supposed to be limited to a type of industry. That's why Apple Computers and Apple Records and Apple Rubber Company can co-exist and it was only when Apple Computer got into the music business that Apple Records had any complaints.

Seriously. The guy wrote books, and therefore his estate should be allowed a blanket trademark on ANYTHING bearing the name Tolkein? Even cultural references? No, that's nonsense.
And it's also nonsense that the law requires them to complain. The law requires them to complain about INFRINGEMENT, meaning someone selling a competing product using their TM or passing something off as made by them OR liable to cause confusion. NOT anything that simply MENTIONS the name.

Re:Enough of this already (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333608)

I'd just like to add that there's a long standing precedent that even direct competitors can use a trademark, as long as they are using it as descriptive of the actual trademarked product. For example, Pepsi is well within it's rights to state "2 out of 3 hip skateboarders prefer the taste of Pepsi over Coke", even though Coke is trademarked by the Coca-Cola company. You even see it when products are trying to claim how similar they are: "If you like Cheerios, try HouseBrand OatRings." - This is perfectly allowed as long as it's clear that the product is not affiliated in any way with Cheerios or its manufacturer (which is why you'll always see a disclaimer somewhere on the box - it's sufficient, but not necessary.) Again, the point of trademarks is not to monopolize the use of a word, but to limit confusion about what's the "official" product, and what's an imitation.

I have no clue as to why anyone would think these buttons violate trademarks. The use of the word "Tolken" is clearly descriptive, and is clearly referring to the official Tolken-brand entertainment-like fiction product.

Re:Enough of this already (5, Interesting)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333390)

The Tolkien estate isn't "censoring speech," it's protecting its trademarks, which it is required to do by law.

Quoting Cory Doctorow, from the BoingBoing coverage: "a writer I admire was forced to put a series of books that in no way infringed upon Tolkien's copyrights out of print because the estate threatened to make her publisher's life a living nightmare (not naming names, because the writer has chosen not to go public with the story)."

Zazzle has a clear policy that it will not sell items that violate copyrights, trademarks, or other intellectual property. These buttons do that.

A very, very dubious claim. Simply using a word is not wholly sufficient for trademark infringement.

More generally, this is a fine example of what's wrong with intellectual property law. The guy's not only making his money from work his father did almost sixty years ago, but preventing others from even using his father's name. Trademarked or not, it's worthwhile stopping and questioning whether the legal framework that allows and encourages this is in the public interest or not. Again, quoting Doctorow "The professional descendants making millions off a long-dead writer have become a serious impediment to living, working writers -- and readers. If this isn't the greatest proof that extending copyright in scope and duration screws living creators and impedes the creation of new works, I don't know what is."

Re:Enough of this already (1)

justsomecomputerguy (545196) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333396)

"Fortunately, the trademark laws are fairly cut and dried. To be in violation, you either need to be using a trademark without permission in a way likely to cause confusion, or using the trademark in a way that causes "trademark dilution" which "dilutes the distinctive quality of the trademark". You seem to be doing neither in this case." Note - I am not a lawyer, I just found and paraphrased this by googling "referencing a trademark"

Re:Enough of this already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333454)

"Tolkien" isn't the name of a company or product as far as I know, so why is it trademarked at all? Yes, they are protecting the trademark, which is necessary in order to keep it, but why do they need to keep it?

Re:Enough of this already (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333460)

Watch this: Microsoft. I just said a trademarked brand name, and yet no laws have been violated.

You can't trademark someone's name unless actively being used in commerce, and only for a specific field. Further, they weren't claiming to be Tolkien, they were simply referencing him, which is completely legal in nearly all circumstances, trademarks be damned.

Re:Enough of this already (2)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333464)

it's protecting its trademarks

No it isn't. A trademark is not ownership of a word. It is a tool to allow the public to know that they are getting the genuine thing when they buy something. Referring to somebody else's trademarked goods is fine. Representing your own goods with somebody else's trademark is not. These buttons merely referred to Tolkein, they did not give the impression that they were one of his works.

If merely referring to a trademarked good was infringement, your comment would be infringing Zazzle's trademark.

Re:Enough of this already (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333482)

"Enough of this already"?

Dude... you are 10 years too late... this place attracted worthless moderators when a politics section was added right after 9/11... this place is the asshole of websites now... it is the FOX NEWS of tech...

the reason i come here to repeat myself... so this place will die a little bit faster than it already does..

Re:Enough of this already (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333504)

Why? There's been a steady progression of increasing asshattery shown by the various articles.

If Christopher Tolkien wants to act like a giant douche while living off someone elses work, what's to stop us from talking about it?

Re:Enough of this already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333566)

Can we please get off this hobby horse? The Tolkien estate isn't "censoring speech," it's protecting its trademarks, which it is required to do by law. If this guy had made a bunch of buttons for himself and as many of his friends as wanted them (all three), nothing would have happened. Instead he set up a store on Zazzle and tried to sell them. Zazzle has a clear policy that it will not sell items that violate copyrights, trademarks, or other intellectual property. These buttons do that. So the Tolkien estate complained, this guy's product was pulled, end of story. He wasn't sued, he wasn't thrown in jail -- in fact, he can still go buy a button maker and make himself some buttons and nothing would happen to him. The idea that he's being "censored" is silly, and there are lots of companies that are far more litigious about such things than the Tolkien estate.

Slashdot badly needs a "-5, Missed The Fucking Point" mod. That about sums up your post.

I see legions of the more shall we say average moderators have modded you up. They are thinking "well he articulates a viewpoint so this must be useful and informative and maybe even insightful, quick let's reward him!" Nevermind that this isn't about the estate censoring anyone. It's about why that would be considered normal and justifiable and even a requirement.

Bullshit NEWer Coyright laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333618)

Original:

The first federal copyright act, the Copyright Act of 1790 granted copyright for a term of "fourteen years from the time of recording the title thereof", with a right of renewal for another fourteen years if the author survived to the end of the first term.

from here [wikimedia.org]

It's one thing for an author to make a living off of his work and creativity and another for their kids and grandkids to become "trust fund" babies because of that work.

We need to go back to the original law to encourage folks to write and become professional writers. Just look around the web, we really need more professional writers. Which means, I completely disagree with everyone who wants to eliminate Copyright or any other IP law for that matter completely.

Re:Enough of this already (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333644)

It's a guy's NAME! What next, political protestors being silenced for using the name of a politician?

Mutter Mutter (1)

folderol (1965326) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333296)

Will you lot stop mumbling. I can't make out what you're tolkien about.

Re:Mutter Mutter (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333328)

Eh... A tolkien effort at best.

Re:Mutter Mutter (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333418)

What you Tolkien about Willis?

Re:Mutter Mutter (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333560)

Shakespeare. ...Wait, what were we doing again?

Re:Mutter Mutter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333658)

I ain't tolkien about anything, I'm just tolkein outta my bong.

Re:Mutter Mutter (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333474)

Been tolkien' on the pipeweed too much?

Tolkien made up Tolkien? (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333318)

If the name Tolkien is Tolkien's imaginary property, that would mean that Tolkien made up the name. Wikipedia's page on Tolkien claims that JRR didn't made up the name.
So, Tolkien Estate is trying to "steal" imaginary property? Isn't that illegal?

Re:Tolkien made up Tolkien? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333736)

Depends, there are some protections from individuals trading on somebody else's fame, but I'm not really sure that it applies in this case. The name is used as a minor character in historical fiction. I'm not sure how this would be any different than say: Young Einstein [imdb.com]

If tolkien was still alive... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333320)

He would slap the hell out of his entire family for pulling this kind of crap.

Way to honor the memory of your author ancestor.. By being a douchebag.

Re:If tolkien was still alive... (1)

The Great Pretender (975978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333534)

Can they censor misspellings? "While I was reading Tolkin..."

Yawn (0)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333336)

To be honest I cant see the issue, it's a simple case of copyright infringement and the rights holder doing what they legally have to do (don't forget if you don't protect your rights under US law you lose it). Suing when Tolkien is used in a historical context is pushing the limits though.

Re:Yawn (2)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333428)

Copyright doesn't work that way. A copyright persists no matter how much you don't bother enforcing it. You're thinking of trademarks.

Also, names alone are generally not enough to merit copyright, but they can sometimes be trademarked.

Doh! (4, Insightful)

Aighearach (97333) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333348)

Are they suggesting that the fictional Tolkein is a marketed as a real author, or that the real Tolkein is a fictional character?

Because your legal name is a fact, and people can talk about you all they want.

Trademarking names only works when it is not really your name. In that case, they'll have to say his legal name to show some chain of ownership regarding this supposed trademark. And then we can start fixing the references to him.

But in any case, they would have to argue that a reasonable person would be confused and think that the fictional Tolkein was really Tolkein.

IP in the West is broken (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333364)

Go to Japan this summer and drop by the Tokyo Big Sight convention center. If you go at the right time, you might run into Comiket, the world's largest convention, with a million attendees and over 30,000 groups (circles) selling merchandise, such as comics, video games, and music. For three days, millions of pieces of human culture trade hands.

The vast majority of this merchandise infringes copyright.

Yet the world is far better off for it existing -- even the companies whose copyright it infringes. Most companies have long ago realized that this is a massive, massive boon to their profits. Some companies have explicitly started to leverage this power, with franchises like Vocaloid making ridiculous amounts of money.

Meanwhile, in the West, we sue over buttons containing the names of long-dead public figures.

Re:IP in the West is broken (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333702)

Most companies have long ago realized that this is a massive, massive boon to their profits.

...which is why there is no problem. Legislating good business practice is rarely a good idea, because such laws are almost always redundant (since companies almost always gravitate to good business practices naturally) and/or myopic (since good business practices tend to change fairly quickly).

Streisand (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333392)

I can hardly believe that nobody has mentioned how much of a Streisand Effect this is creating. Everything the estate does to stop people from tolkien about Tolkien just further advances their 'problem'. It's like their lawyers are trying to troll them.

Wait. That's it. The lawyers for the Tolkien estate are creating these debacles simply to stay employed. Each one just creates another opportunity for them to capitalize on.

Re:Streisand (1)

sribe (304414) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333610)

Dear sir, I am writing to you on behalf of the Streisand corporation to demand that you cease & desist your abuse of our trademarks ;-)

Listen up! (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333404)

I'm Tolkien to you!

Re:Listen up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333612)

Dude, I was Tolkien on a
"erk: C0 CE FE 84 C2 27 F7 5B D0 7A 7E B8 46 50 9F 93 B2 38 E7 70 DA CB 9F F4 A3 88 F8 12 48 2B E2 1B
riv: 47 EE 74 54 E4 77 4C C9 B8 96 0C 7B 59 F4 C1 4D
pub: C2 D4 AA F3 19 35 50 19 AF 99 D4 4E 2B 58 CA 29 25 2C 89 12 3D 11 D6 21 8F 40 B1 38 CA B2 9B 71 01 F3 AE B7 2A 97 50 19
        R: 80 6E 07 8F A1 52 97 90 CE 1A AE 02 BA DD 6F AA A6 AF 74 17
        n: E1 3A 7E BC 3A CC EB 1C B5 6C C8 60 FC AB DB 6A 04 8C 55 E1
        K: BA 90 55 91 68 61 B9 77 ED CB ED 92 00 50 92 F6 6C 7A 3D 8D
    Da: C5 B2 BF A1 A4 13 DD 16 F2 6D 31 C0 F2 ED 47 20 DC FB 06 70"

rolled in a DMCA takedown notice, yesterday. It was sooooooo harsh, man; it was, like, cancer.

How about BHFA instead of Tolkien (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333456)

Butt Head Fantasy Author

hrm Tolkien (1)

chronoss2010 (1825454) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333520)

Tolkien Tolkien Tolkien Tolkien TolkienTolkien Tolkien TolkienTolkienTolkien boy i'm really gonna get it now aren't i

Christopher is hack thats why (3, Interesting)

grapeape (137008) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333526)

Is anyone surprised? Christopher tried his hand at continuing his fathers legacy but despite turning anything written by his father be it incomplete manuscripts or scribbles on a napkin into publishing deals he has shown he is nothing but a pale shadow...milking his fathers legacy is all he has left.

Just for this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333546)

Just because of this stuff, I am going to make sure that Tolkien is a character in the next thing I write where it would even make sense. I'm thinking my "steampunk alt-history retelling of WWI" project would benefit from a certain Second Lieutenant's appearance...

Re:Just for this... (1)

JohnRoss1968 (574825) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333668)

I think I'm going to write a story about a cross dressing, poodle molesting, never taking a bath, stupid failure at life serial killer. (who keeps a pair of his fathers old underwear around so he can sniff it). What should I name him???
How about Chris Tolken? Sounds about right to me.

My new Tolkien novel (4, Funny)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333568)

Here is my new Tolkien novel, in its entirety. The title is Screw the Tolkiens:

There once was was a man named Tolkien. He was nuts, and I don't care about him or his stupid family of bullies who misuse and abuse DMCA take-down notices. The End.

The preceding was a work of fiction which sprung purely from my imagination. As such, any similarity to actual events or persons is strictly coincidental. Now give me $5 since your read my book and probably enjoyed it.

Mr. Sunglasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333576)

Now that's...
*sunglasses*
what I'm Tolkein about.

William Shatner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333586)

This is like legally harassing someone not for making a T-shirt that said "I'm Kirk" on it, but instead said "I'm William Shatner."

If I name my next son Tolkien... (2)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333622)

Does this mean me or my son will get sued for copyright infringement?

Fake band names... (1)

Sean_Inconsequential (1883900) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333626)

So they wouldn't like my fake band name: Tolkien Heads?

(Background: I enjoyed making fake band names combining something from fantasy or science fiction with a real band name, like Jefferson Starship Troopers)

Those royalty cheques are now infringing too (3, Funny)

Maow (620678) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333656)

I do hope that their royalty cheques stop flowing due to this.

Publisher: "Sorry, Junior, cannot use the word 'Tolkien' anymore, so your royalty cheques are being put in escrow."

One can dream...

I just Tolkiened. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333670)

actually i may or may not have just Tolkiened. But im not so sure after leaving the Tolkien and coming to the living room. I stopped by the kitchen to Tolkien my Tolkies, but the Tolkien setting was not on par with the Tolkiness of the situation.

So i think i Tolkiened my Tolkies .....

Or, 'imaginary property' rights may have hit rock bottom, and the heirs of a person who tried to share positive and enlightened principles through fiction may have foaming at the mouth out of their base, despicable greed.

Tolkien is overrated anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333714)

Let them have their wish. Don't mention the name, the books, the characters or their world. Perhaps the next generation of geeks can grow up without that overrated source of computer names.

I am Tolkien (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333734)

I am Tokien. No, I am Tokien... etc. Now we can get sued by the Tolkien estate, and whoever wrote Spartacus.

Slow news day again? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333750)

Look, I don't really agree with the position, assuming the summary is representing it correctly - but what's with this particular submitter's morbid obsession with how the Tolkien estate is pursuing their purported intellectual property (or publicity) rights? Was he hoping to sell a line of Bilbo blow-up dolls?
 

Try an on-line directory . (3, Insightful)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333754)

Eg: http://www.123people.com/s/tolkien [123people.com] that turns up Tolkiens by the page full — do you think that some of them might have something to say about their name being grabbed by the estate of an author — even if he was a good one ?

Times that try nerds' souls (1)

eyenot (102141) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333800)

Wow, for the first time in generations it looks like nerds face a challenge they might actually be up to.

You don't censor criticism and mere mention.

What every t......n fan should do, now, is give them what they want: never mention the crazy old coot or his hillbilly descendents ever again.

That shit was rotting your brain, any way. Learning enough about middle earth to make reading the books worthwhile is equivalent to several college courses, only fewer people want to employ you if you mention your intimate knowledge of middle earth languages, history, and geography. Pssst -- its lame.

These reclusive and obviously business- and politics-retarded layabouts are giving you the challenge, now, to quit suckling fantasy and engage more in reality. NO, not by mastering a dungeon with your dice and pencil friends. NO not by taking a degree in Harry Potter instead.

Just walk away from the dumb shit, and never look back. You'll be able to say, "I did this really adult thing, once."

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