Lord of the Rings Slot Machines Provoke Tolkien Lawsuit

Lord of the Rings Slot Machines Provoke Tolkien Lawsuit

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The estate of J.R.R. Tolkien believes Warner's LotR slot machines are highly offensive.

The Tolkien estate and publisher HarperCollins are going after Warner Brothers and its New Line subsidiary, claiming that the slot machines Warner intends to produce based on The Lord of the Rings are well outside the agreement originally reached in 1969.

"The original contracting parties thus contemplated a limited grant of the right to sell consumer products," the complaint claims, "of the type regularly merchandised at the time, such as figurines, tableware, stationery items, clothing and the like. They did not include any grant of exploitations such as electronic or digital rights, rights in media yet to be devised or other intangibles such as rights in services."

"Particularly in the aftermath of the unprecedented financial and critical success of the Films," the complaint continues, "defendants have, with increasing boldness, engaged in a continued and escalating pattern of usurping rights to which they are not entitled." The full complaint can be found here, courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter.

The complainants are seeking an injunction against the slots and anything else that goes beyond the original agreement, and a cool $80 million in damages.

The complaint specifically mentions videogames and other "intangible" merchandise, but it's the slot machines - both virtual and real world - that really have them up in arms. The Tolkien estate in particular finds the slots highly offensive, and the complaint claims the slots have done irreparable harm to the goodwill the books have generated over the years.

That said, the Third Claim for Relief also targets any and all digital, download-only videogames associated with The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. The Plaintiffs seek permanent injunctive relief; in other words, those games have got to go.

Source: VG24/7

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Does that include the new MOBA/ARTS Lord of the Rings game? Because I have no trouble letting that one disappear whatsoever.

Really now? Irreparable harm?

While I can understand them being upset(not going to comment on the whole legality thing), I do think they are being a tad hysterical.

One vice to rue them all,
One vice to find them,
One vice to bring them all
and with injunction, bind them.

I wonder if this means anything for the team that was working on the Middle Earth Skyrim mod.

Also: Irreparable harm? On what planet?

I don't see either party as more legitimate than the other, LotR's copyright should have expired 44 years ago.

If there's a hole in the contract tough luck I'd say! Maybe you should have included a right on holographic lens projection porn after all.

Nope, irreparable harm is actually easy to prove; the "harm" itself can really be anything: including harm of conscience, as well as more tangible harms such as the degradation of the LotR brand as a whole.

Basically speaking, as long as the Estate can prove that gambling machines such as the ones that were made would have been offensive to the sensibilities portrayed in the source material -Tolkien's wrtings- they can win the case. Since the estate is largely considered the expert on the subject of the source material, they can provide their own arguments. Also, they should have access to many biographers and academics who have studied Tolkien, because he is one of the most discussed authors of the 20th century.

So, as far as I am concerned, this is a clear win for the Estate. On the other hand Warner is no slouch, they are huge and powerful. Likely they will try to change venue to get a judge that they like, and they may even appeal if the decision goes against them. Though, it depends on how much Warner wants this. Were it me in charge, I would kill the slot machines immediately, and try to settle out of court for the rest.

Gambling is a sin and thus can offend religious people, wouldn't surprise me if there are some among that estate that see gambling as something downright evil. Silly or not I think it's within their rights to stop people doing what they consider a violation of morality with their property.

It's rather hard to imagine selling the rights to a film without the adjacent rights to the various offerings that typically support a film and keep a franchise in the mind of its target audience. I'll grant the slot machines might be a little over the top, but c'mon- even the freaking Expendables has a video game now.

LOTR: Conquest caused irreparable harm to my good-will, sanity and wallet. THAT's the sort of stuff that should be clamped down on!

KDR_11k:
Gambling is a sin and thus can offend religious people, wouldn't surprise me if there are some among that estate that see gambling as something downright evil. Silly or not I think it's within their rights to stop people doing what they consider a violation of morality with their property.

You don't have to look on it as a sin to know that associating Tolkien's work with gambling does his legacy no good.

This worries me. What does this mean for Lord of the Rings Online?

Mr Cwtchy:
Really now? Irreparable harm?

While I can understand them being upset(not going to comment on the whole legality thing), I do think they are being a tad hysterical.

Lord of the Rings was designed to be British equivalent of Wagner's ring cycle. Tolkien's son who runs the estate is trying to preserve his fatherer's vision and you don't do that by allowing Warners to sell slot machines.

Sonic Doctor:
This worries me. What does this mean for Lord of the Rings Online?

If the estate wins, it looks like they are trying to get paid for the use in games rather than shutting them down. Getting an injunction is the best way to lean on Warners, because then all the companies the have paid Warners for the rights get to sue as well. Looking at the complaint the only thing really want to shut down is the slots

albino boo:

Sonic Doctor:
This worries me. What does this mean for Lord of the Rings Online?

If the estate wins, it looks like they are trying to get paid for the use in games rather than shutting them down. Getting an injunction is the best way to lean on Warners, because then all the companies the have paid Warners for the rights get to sue as well. Looking at the complaint the only thing really want to shut down is the slots

Okay. Hopefully the whole thing doesn't create enough waves to mess with LotRO, because about three months ago I started a Kinship and just got the Kinship house for it today. And of course I've been putting a lot of work in on 9 separate characters.

The servers for Battle for Middle Earth 2 are already gone, I don't give a shit about LOTR anymore.

At least I have you, Gameranger

DVS BSTrD:
One vice to rue them all,
One vice to find them,
One vice to bring them all
and with injunction, bind them.

nicely put together xD

anywho, I think the Tolkien family going this all-out is..mixed. On one hand I could agree the slots are a bit much, but on the other, if they request a certain % of sales or revenue from the slots, it could net them a pretty steady penny, instead of just BAM..money.

Then..them demanding the digital-downloads of games taken away? That is senseless. Their is no reason to say 'we want digital gone, original disc-copies are still cool'.
That..and if they wanted to be real pricks about it, this means they could possibly put a serious dent into LOTRO's possible recruitment.

Tenlaius:

DVS BSTrD:
One vice to rue them all,
One vice to find them,
One vice to bring them all
and with injunction, bind them.

nicely put together xD

anywho, I think the Tolkien family going this all-out is..mixed. On one hand I could agree the slots are a bit much, but on the other, if they request a certain % of sales or revenue from the slots, it could net them a pretty steady penny, instead of just BAM..money.

I don't know about them, but I wouldn't really WANT that money. I am not religious, but I do have a family prone to addictions and extremes, and gambling is one of the things that has plagued it. And when you look into things like casinos and slot machines, they are so utterly foul and predatory. I do not in any way disagree with them that a LOTR slot machine harms the brand, especially as a family friendly brand. But mostly, because in the end neither JRR nor his family seem to be all that into the blood sucking nature of that industry.

Probably they included all video games because to not would leave a potentially exploitable hole. It may also be a bargaining position where if they get rid of the worst things (The slot machines) and give them proper royalties on the rest, they will ease off. But I do see their point in the crass merchandising of the franchise when it goes beyond the 'expected' things (Even video games to an extent, at this point in history) and on to more questionable things (LOTR bongs for all! Now you too can smoke the pipeweed from Gandalf's crackpipe!)

Sonic Doctor:
This worries me. What does this mean for Lord of the Rings Online?

Not only does LotRO treat the source material respectfully, it is also unable to be targeted by this lawsuit. The lawsuit is only directed at things which have only ever been made available by digital means, whereas you can buy LotRO on Amazon and have a box shipped to you right now.

Branovices:

Sonic Doctor:
This worries me. What does this mean for Lord of the Rings Online?

Not only does LotRO treat the source material respectfully, it is also unable to be targeted by this lawsuit. The lawsuit is only directed at things which have only ever been made available by digital means, whereas you can buy LotRO on Amazon and have a box shipped to you right now.

Okay, didn't know that. Every brick and mortar store I've been too has never carried the game, I'm surprised I never thought too look on Amazon, seeing as 95% of the games I get, I get from Amazon.

Though back almost three years ago when I started my LotRO account, I bought the game digitally because I didn't want to wait to go look for it and have it sent to me.

 

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