Aragorn! Anarchy! Action!

pubkeeper Bilbo trying to make sense of threatening legal missive from Mordor

pubkeeper Bilbo trying to make sense of threatening legal missive from Mordor

The copyright orcs at the Saul Zaentz Company were trying to shut down a pub named after The Hobbit, but thanks to enormous internet backlash, including Hobbit actors Ian McKellen (“as if it were possible to control the way Tolkien and his characters have entered the culture”) and Stephen Fry (“what pointless, self-defeating bullying”), as well as a facebook support page set up by student Heather Cartwright (“how long do we need to protect works for? do we protect the works of Mozart and Shakespeare?”), the orcs have backed down, saying it was all a “misunderstanding,” and the pub now need only pay a tribute of $100 a year – which is still too much (the right to freedom of speech shouldn’t come with a pricetag), but it’s a lot better than being forced to change their name or go out of business.

It’s good to see that concerted activism can succeed in shaming these companies out of their cyberbullying. And it’s more evidence for the strategic effectiveness of direct action over legislative reform.

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10 Responses to Aragorn! Anarchy! Action!

  1. Stephan Kinsella March 17, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

    I thought the pub had to agree not to sell merchandise too. Not a good result.

  2. Joseph Hertzlinger March 17, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    Can they call it “The Green Dragon” or “The Prancing Pony” instead?

  3. da99 March 20, 2012 at 3:01 am #

    This is pretty awful. Of all things to fight for and they chose a copyright issue for a pub?

    How about toddlers being subjected to unlawful search?

    People being jailed for lying to the govt when politicians who lied make millions. (Tony Blair)

    Regulation of private schools and homeschooling.

    Mike Rogers commented on how Americans go crazy for dumb stuff while the Japanese go crazy when the govt takes away the few things they have left (eg homes and Narita Airport expansion).

    What next? Barbara Streisand scolding the President over not getting enough gays to run secret prisons and die as IED fodder?

    (Sidenote: I really love your site. Never a dull moment.)

  4. Baus March 21, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    I wonder if they’ll go after the Bilbo Baggins Restaurant (near DC) next.

    • Roderick March 21, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

      From a glance at the menu, I see that “Frodo’s Pie”contains coconut, and “Sam’s Garden” contains tomatoes.

      Somehow I doubt that these ingredients were in ready supply in Third-Age Eriador.

      • Rad Geek March 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

        Maybe not. But it’s a matter of canon that Third-Age Eriador did have potatoes, and probably also tobacco. So post-Columbian-Exchange crops are not necessarily ruled out of the picture. The coconut does seem somewhat more out of place than the tomatoes, though.

  5. Stephan Kinsella March 21, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    There is a subdivision in Baton Rouge La near Village St. George, off Perkins Road, with LoTR theme named streets, e.g. Michel Delving Lane. (I used ot call my brother MIchael, “Michel Delving”.) I would bet they did not get “permission”. Sue the Post Office!

    • Roderick March 21, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

      On the subject of cool street names, there’s a neighbourhood in San Diego (along the northwest side of Rosecrans Street) where the streetnames run: Byron, Carleton, Dickens, Emerson, Fenelon, Garrison, Hugo, Ingelow, Jarvis, Keats, Lowell, Macaulay, Newell, Oliphant, Poe, Russell, Sterne, Tennyson, Udall, Voltaire, Whittier, Xenophon, Yonge, Zola; and then start again with Alcott, Browning, Curtis, Dumas, Elliott, Freeman, Goldsmith, Homer, Ibsen, James, Kingsley, Lytton. (One suspects there was once an A-author-named street before Byron, but it’s Avenida de Portugal now.)

  6. Stephan Kinsella March 21, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    Yes, in my former neighborhood, West University, in Houston, they have a bunch of liberal arts streets, like Tennyson, etc.

    • Roderick March 21, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

      But it’s especially odd in San Diego, which historically was … not especially literary.

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