Monday, 13 August 2012

More Copyright bullying

The Hobbit pub in Portswood has been trading under that name for over 20 years. It features characters from Tolkien's stories on its signs and has "Frodo" and "Gandalf" cocktails on the menu.

The pub was threatened with legal action by Hollywood Lord of the Rings film firm the Saul Zaentz Company (SZC) in March. Following a campaign to save the pub, led by the likes of Stephen Fry and Sir Ian McKellan, SZC offered to resolve the dispute over the pub's name and decor by licensing it to use JRR Tolkien brands. Wrangling over the small print of the deal is continuing and legal fees are mounting. The pub is hosting fund-raising events (with a little help from Neil Gaiman, Stephen Fry, and Sir Ian McKellan) to pay legal fees.

Nearly 60,000 people have also joined a Facebook campaign to save the pub thanks to the backing of Fry through his Twitter Account. Fry, who stars in the forthcoming Tolkien film The Hobbit, called it "self-defeating bullying", while Sir Ian, who plays Gandalf in the Lord Of The Rings films, described it as "unnecessary pettiness". Both actors have offered to pay the licencing fees once the dispute is settled.

I reported some time ago of similar bullying of Ravelry by the American Olympic Committee. Bullying in all forms, but espcially of the rich and powerful of those unable to match them, makes me cross to say the least. I suspect that without influential 'friends' Fry and McKellan, The Hobbit would have faced an uncertain future and even closure.