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Ea Tolkien Society January 2017 Meeting Notes

by Hawke published Feb 18, 2017 12:15 PM, last modified Feb 26, 2017 01:04 PM
Many thanks to Brian Huseland, the Ea Tolkien Society Secretary, for the meeting notes. See you all at our next society meeting!

Here are the Secretary's notes for the January meeting of the Ea Tolkien Society of the Inland Northwest.

Here is the video archive:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Brian: [somebody please remind me the keyboard command for the umlaut a so I can type "ea" properly]


JANUARY 21, 2017

Smial at the domicile
Of our moderator and founder, Hawke Robinson
Spokane, WA 99218

1. Attended: Richard, Chris, Corey (welcome back Corey Newkirk), Hawke, and ye balding Secretary.
2. Chris read the December notes. *and there was much rejoicing*
--We discussed the reference to On Fairy Stories which Hawke had made last time
--We also advised that in the formal record, the December Notes be amended to say Letter 131.

3. Brian recommended Planet Narnia by Michael Ward to everyone as good insight on Tolkien's friend C.S. Lewis and his veiled references to the 7 planets of the medieval thought: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn... and how they relate to the 7 books of the Narnia Chronicles.

4. Discussion of The Golden Key.

5. Administrivia talking points from Hawke ("tolkiensociety" now on Google Groups) new email list. Recommended wiki for all things Tolkien-related is Tolkien Gateway (i.e. Michael Martinez article not allowed on Wikipedia.

6. We read about The Third Age in Tolkien's Letter 131.
--Discussion on the Necromancer
--the Istari: Gandalf vs. Saruman
--Tolkien here summarizes the relation of the Hobbit to the LOTR.

7. We discuss the issue of Tolkien's readability, and the difference one generation makes as we live "further" away from the time in which JRRT wrote. A very vigorous discussion on the topic of education!

8. gets away with LOTR read... (how can we read the Lord of the Rings out loud online without legal issues?)

9. We close the meeting of our smial and plan to meet again Saturday, Feb. 18, from 1-3 pm. Same hobbit-place, same hobbit-channel, reading Letters 132-133, another essay by Michael Martinez, and lots of lively discussion on the relevance of the themes raised to current events and our lives.

Filed under:
emynwen says:
Feb 26, 2017 07:17 AM
Copyright issues are a great concern to me. Not just the asking to use a picture or a passage or sharing a video, but trying to get a reply. Is their any "blanket rule" about "Stuff" found on the internet?
Hawke says:
Feb 26, 2017 01:04 PM
Usual disclaimer, "not a lawyer". As someone that has been part of multiple communities harassed by Tolkien/Middle-earth Enterprises/Saul Zaentz, though never any problems with The Tolkien Estate, it is unfortunately complicated.
As far as getting a reply from the main copyright holders. In the Tolkien world, as an individual person this has been tough. I have submitted many requests since the 1980s, and never received even a courtesy response when sent in advance of taking action. I have only seen action after the fact in the form of C&D, or if you are a company looking to spend a lot of money on licensing.
Ultimately it comes down to whether the original copyright holder believes you are threat to their brand/content recognition or profitability. The Tolkien Estate (the Tolkien family) is much more concerned about literary quality control, etc., while Tolkien/Middle-earth Enterprises doesn't care a whit about such things, rather they have a bank of lawyers that get paid for licenses and lawsuits.
There are generally three bodies of concern, WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) and related International copyright laws/agreements, National copyright law for your location, and the entities that own the actual copyright.
The key thing to understand is what is "fair use". And this is not clear or consistent. One of the safer areas is literary discussion. As with our Tokien Society group, we can talk about, dissect, and read passages, as long as it is for literary discussion. You will note we tend to interrupt our readings with commentary and such. While it might be more enjoyable to read it straight through taking notes, it is "safer" that we interrupt it frequently with discussion on the topic. Is this foolproof? Not at all, but it does fit closer to fair use. Just a reading of the passages straight through without discussion, could be argued more as performance of a copyrighted work. So far, that has worked for us, since about 2005, without a whiff of any trouble.
Another aspect is, does it cause potential confusion about the original property. Is there any chance people may confuse you are an original source, causing brand or trademark confusion from those that do not know much about the property.
Yet another concern is the whole derivative works. This seems to be the second most common one people get in trouble over (the first being public performance). While some properties such as Paramount's Star Trek, has allowed derivative shows (more than 100!) under specific and complex terms, others such as Tolkien properties, really crack down periodically on the fandom communities. The main culprit is the Saul Zaentz company previously known as Tolkien Enterprises, but somewhat recently renamed Middle-earth Enterprises. The Tolkien Estate does jump in from time to time, but usually more reasonably appropriate concerns.
Of course, in the United states, prior to the 1990s, if they had not implemented the "Mickey Mouse" updates to copyright law (and the DMCA), The Hobitt, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion would (at least in the USA), be public domain by now. But they partly did it to keep up with other countries timelines, which unfortunately keep getting extended. I'm referring to the copyright clauses about the time after the authors/publications death, that a property becomes available as public domain. Unfortunately it is very likely they will just keep doubling these timelines as more properties get closer to expiration. :-(
All of the above is pretty straight forward, but really it comes down to, do they notice you enough, and is your work enough of a threat to make it worth their while to (easily) file a DMCA take-down and/or Cease and Desist order.
This is a heavily misused and abused approach by these companies and lawyers, and most of them overreach their rights. There were communities wiped out abut such take-downs on the web, where ISPs don't want to deal with the trouble and just take the sites offline. One site, managed to be the only survivor in a wave of attacks around '04 and '07, thanks to help from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) (which by the way was created because of a role-playing game company, Steve Jackson games, being unfairly harassed by the US Federal Government). EFF helped respond to Tolkien Enterprises, forcing them to comply with actual laws, rather than the overreach they claimed. They were claiming thousands of violations, but when confronted, it was a matter of only removing around 100 links out of thousands! Many of the other sites shut down could have survived if they had not been intimidated by the Tolkien Enterprises lawyers.
So, that's a rough, not-a-lawyer, commentary related to this topic. I hope it was helpful, but as you can see, it is difficult to know the exact line.
Generally, if you scan something in, and make it publicly available, that is clearly a violation, especially maps, books, and the movies. Derivative artwork and maps are tricker. Derivative writing, gaming modules, and other derivative works by fandom are technically in violation without a license, but enforcement has been variable.
Again, hoping that helps. Namarie!