The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are beloved fantasy stories that helped to shape fantasy fiction ever since they were released. The movies based on these books helped to show Hollywood that large, epic fantasy stories could be a goldmine, and it is likely that the success of the movies helped to pave the way for things like The Witcher and Game of Thrones as a television show, even though they had already been successful literary properties. However, as successful and popular as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit might have been, this did not mean that everyone was happy with the situation.
The Lawsuit Goes Ever, Ever On
In 2012, HarperCollins and the Tolkien Estate filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros., as well as New Line and Saul Zaentz. Co., which held the rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. It was claimed that Warner Bros. and company were infringing on copyright and that they had breached their contract. The plaintiffs in the case said that the rights agreement that was granted was only for the creation of tangible merchandise that was based on the books. There were not supposed to be any “digital exploitations” according to the plaintiffs. These exploitations included things like the use in games and online slot machines.
Warner Bros. filed a counterclaim saying that because of other, older contract issues, they needed to use those “digital exploitations” and that it was within their rights. However, HarperCollins said that the studio never had the rights to license characters for other purposes.
This battle went back and forth and lasted in the courts for five long years. Both sides were very aggressive in the case and each seemed to believe that they were in the right. The battle went on long enough that there was a risk that it could have caused issues with other shows, games, etc. that would be based on these characters and stories.
However, in 2017, it seemed that those who were involved in the case had finally come to an agreement with one another. They filed with the court that they had resolved their rights dispute. There were no costs or fees awarded by the court, but it was not known what the actual agreement was between the parties.
This was not the only time that the parties had been at odds. New Line and the Tolkien Estate had been arguing over profit participation, where they finally came to a lucrative deal in 2009 that was estimated to be worth more than $100 million. There was a time during this lawsuit when it was questionable as to whether the three films of The Hobbit trilogy would be made. Given the amount of money that was involved, though, most believed – and rightly so – that it would go forward.
Good News for Fans
To be honest, most fans tend to get worried when these types of rights battles ensue, as it means they might not be able to get more of the property that they enjoy. There are many who love more than just the books and the movies, such as video games. Of course, the lawsuit also made many wonder whether the proposed The Lord of the Rings television show on Amazon would be able to proceed. Fortunately, everything still seems to be in place for the show and as of now, it does not look like there are any other lawsuits or disputes on the horizon. Let’s just hope that the Amazon show lives up to the expectations that have been set by the books and the f