Taken down

Cryios099

Member
I posted my story on another internet forum and it got taken down. The reason given was "We do not allow fan fiction on our site." I'm not interested if my work is fan fiction or not. Its meant to be a fun adventure to the surface world about three boys with totally different worldviews. The mention of the Ring and later the Mirror was supposed to be comical and perhaps I failed to communicate this. I'm not really mad about it just annoyed. I will just post it on another forum to try and get feedback. Of course I will post it here first because I want to give something back to our community. Just a little thank you for the books, lectures and fellowship. This got me thinking about censorship I wanted to know if anybody else had this problem or something similar.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I do not know if you are aware of the history, but fanfiction has occasionally been a target of 'cease and desist' motions from various authors/copyright holders. There are certain franchises that you Do Not write fanfic about, or if you do, you do not share it online in any format (not even with a disclaimer). As an example...do not write fanfic about Anne Rice's vampires.

Now, the Tolkien Estate is not one of these bodies. Whether or not they like it, they have allowed fanfiction to exist and have not gone after fanfic writers. IF someone were to try to sell their work, that would be a different matter. The Tolkien Estate goes after fan videos based on Tolkien's work that does not have movie rights (ie, The Silmarillion). Someone tried to make a fan video of the Fall of Gondolin some years back, and that got shut down, hard. There is a reason we have to say that we are not actually making a TV show of the Silmarillion, just talking about a theoretical adaptation!

Basically, this is just a reminder that certain websites have rules like that to protect themselves from any possible repercussions with the copyright holders. If you've ever heard the phrase 'Don't mess with the Mouse', you'll recognize that Disney can come down hard on fan groups who do not comply with the restrictions set down. They are willing to go to great lengths to protect the copyright on their intellectual property, as the current statute of limitations of US copyright law makes very clear. It is no mistake that AO3 (An Archive of Our Own) has a legal team.

So, yes, sometimes a website has to say 'not here, please'. It's not censorship. You're welcome to publish your story on a fanfiction site. ...And that comes to the other point. All internet forums have a focus/purpose, and thus a limitation on what is welcome there. You'll notice we don't exactly have a forum for debating religion and US politics here on Signum U's website - that wouldn't be on topic for anything this site is about. And...apparently, works that are derivative or mention a published work are not welcome on the site you tried to post on. Stuff that is outside the scope is going to be taken down.
 

Jim Deutch

Well-Known Member
I know of two Tolkien fan movies, The Hunt for the Ring, and Born of Hope. Both are actually pretty good! Both are about Aragorn, too.

Born of Hope is mostly about Arathorn and the Rangers; Aragorn is just a baby. It's still up.
The Hunt for Gollum takes place during the timeline of tLotR; Aragorn searches up and down Wilderland searching for Gollum after he escaped the Elves. It seems to have been taken down.

Whether the distinction is between "before" and "during" the LotR timeline or something else, and whether the movie was taken down at the behest of the Tolkien estate, are things I do not know. But it's interesting. . .
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Yes, both of those projects exist because the film rights to LotR do not rest with the Tolkien Estate, and the Saul Zaentz company did not feel in any way threatened by an amateur fan film posted free online. There are fan films set in the Star Wars and Star Trek worlds as well, and as long as you don't try to charge admission to watch them or sell DVDs of them...they will leave you in peace. In other words, both Born of Hope and The Hunt for Gollum could claim to be making a fan video based on Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings. That is why they are 'safe.' I met the person behind Born of Hope back in 2006, and getting shut down by the Estate was definitely a real concern on that project.

The distinction is that 'The Fall of Gondolin' was based on Silmarillion content, and the Tolkien Estate has not sold the film rights to that intellectual property. So, yes, the Tolkien Estate did go after them; they got a cease and desist letter, and that was the end of that. In order to continue with their project, they would have to change all the names to not be Tolkien's. They can make a generic low budget fantasy film all they want, but it can't be 'The Fall of Gondolin.'
 

Cryios099

Member
what if I wrote a story about a character named Otm Lidiabomb? Would that be considered copy-write infringement.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I am not a lawyer, and I do not work for the Tolkien Estate. I do not know where they draw the line, how they decide what to go after, nor what they think they have the grounds to shut down. Nor do I know what would hold up in court when it comes to intellectual property rights. Usually, when someone issues a 'cease and desist' letter, the other person backs down rather than contest it in court.

While that is obviously an anagram of Tom Bombadil, they would not have a copyright on that name. But if your character wears a bright blue jacket and yellow boots and speaks in trochees....

Like I pointed out before, you can write all the fanfic about Tom Bombadil you like, and post it on a fanfiction website; the Estate won't go after you. But if you try to publish your own work (ie, get paid for it)...that is a different matter. It has to be different enough to not tread on their rights.

Or, as it happens, if you were the owner of the url "tolkienonline.com" and the Estate decided that was a great website address and they wanted it...they would send you a cease and desist letter and insist you give it up. Which is precisely what happened to the folks at theonering.com
 
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