Subject: I guess.
Posted on: 2023-05-09 13:43:26 UTC

There is a legal difference, though - you can see that in the Tolkien Estate's FAQ, which I've previously described as forbidding any use of the names of Tolkien's characters - but permitting basically any image that isn't a direct copy of Tolkien's. A £1000 painting of a burning red eye on top of a black tower with a volcano in the background is fine; a button with the word "Sauron" on in Times New Roman is not.

And it worries me. Fanfiction has always existed by the tolerance of the rights holders, and the reason they tolerate it is that it's not being sold. Going "aha, but technically the money I've received doesn't say 'for fanfic' on the invoice, so it's fine" isn't going to hold up if someone big decides to throw their weight around. In essence, fanfic survives by not being enough of a threat for anyone to care about.

Or maybe I'm just an overreacting, panicky hypocrite. Things like Disney dropping lawsuits on people selling Mickey Mouse t-shirts haven't turned into a crusade against fanart in general, so maybe this is just how you achieve a gradual shift to sellable fanfic. I dunno. That's why I yielded to more informed opinions in the first place.


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