Author Who Penned an Unauthorized “Sequel” to “The Lord of the Rings” Loses Copyright Lawsuit against Amazon and Tolkien Estate
Amazon and the Tolkien estate have successfully navigated a complex legal dispute concerning “The Lord of the Rings” franchise, according to Variety. In April, author Demetrious Polychron released a book titled “The Fellowship of the King,” purporting it to be a sequel to “The Lord of the Rings” and the inaugural installment in a seven-part series. Alleging that the streaming series “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” by Amazon had borrowed from his work, Polychron filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against both Amazon and the Tolkien estate.
Recently revealed details indicate that a California judge unequivocally dismissed Polychron’s lawsuit with prejudice in August. Subsequently, the Tolkien estate counterclaimed, asserting that the author had violated their copyright. In a fall ruling, a U.S. district judge sided with the estate, granting them a permanent injunction to prohibit Polychron from engaging in any activities that involve copying, distributing, selling, performing, displaying, or otherwise exploiting his book or its sequel, named “The Two Trees.” Additionally, the author was mandated to eliminate all physical and electronic copies of the works.
To conclude this legal saga, a California judge has issued a cost order, directing Polychron to pay $134,637 in attorney’s fees to both Amazon and the Tolkien estate. Judge Steven V. Wilson underscored the implausibility of Polychron’s claim for copyright protection, given that his book is entirely based on characters from “The Lord of the Rings.” The judge characterized the claim as “unreasonable” and “frivolous from the beginning.”
Representing the Tolkien estate in the litigation were Lance Koonce and Gili Karev of the New York-based firm Klaris Law, while matters in the U.K. were handled by Steven Maier of Maier Blackburn. Maier emphasized the significance of this victory for the Tolkien Estate, expressing the hope that the awarded permanent injunction and attorneys’ fees would serve as a deterrent to others with similar intentions.
The copyright landscape surrounding “The Lord of the Rings” franchise is notably complex, with Embracer, a Swedish gaming group, holding most rights for “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “The Hobbit” following a $395 million acquisition from the Saul Zaentz Co last year. The Tolkien estate retains specific rights, including those related to television series with eight or more episodes, as exemplified by their collaboration with Amazon on “The Rings of Power,” along with ownership of other Tolkien works.
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