Tolkien Trust sues New Line Cinema
It is more than probable that you watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy of films. It is even more probable, if you are an adult, that you have read the Lord of the Rings books. You will then know that they were written by J.R.R. Tolkien. You may further know that he has living descendants. It is these descendants, through the Tolkien trust, which administers the rights to his books, who are now suing New Line Cinema (a Warner company).
Why would they sue the makers of the films? Surely, New Line Cinema has made them astoundingly rich, through the multi-billion dollar success of the films?
Well, not exactly. Instead of paying the agreed upon 7.5 % of gross receipts for all film related income, New Line Cinema, in an astonishing display of greed and lack of generosity, have paid the Tolkien Trust, just $62,500. Yes, you read right - sixty-two thousand five hundred dollars.
I was shocked by this. Yet, perhaps I shouldn't have been. Hollywood is famous for its greed. However, sometimes the extent of that short-sighted, deep-seated greed, is stunning in its odiousness. I have read somewhere that total revenues connected to these films are in the region of $3 billion. That is $3 billion that New Line Cinema (and associated Warner companies) would not have made, were it not for the life work of one J.R.R. Tolkien. It is disturbing that they think they have the right to make a film based on someone else's work - and then not pay for doing so. It is a crime. I know it is being pursued in the civil courts - but in every sense of the word, it should be regarded as a crime. They have essentially stolen someone's work and used it to generate $3 billion of revenue. That is a $3 billion crime. Oddly, though, the world doesn't seem to recognize it for the crime that it is. It is just a civil matter. It is a matter for the Tolkien family to pursue in the courts. However, looked at with any moral sense at all, it should be regarded as much more serious than that. There should, in fact, be criminal charges for such behaviour. It is a theft as real as a physical one - so it should be treated as such.
The Tolkien Trust is seeking $15o million in compensatory damages, unspecified punitive damages and a court order banning New Line from making films of any more Tolkien properties.
I think their suit is certainly justified by the facts. I would go further however in proposing that the right response of the courts is to take ALL of the $3 billion revenue and hand it over to the Trust. That would punish this most greedy of all companies for its actions. Then it would seem wise to levy punitive damages on top. If a court were ever to do this, that single example would show the New Line Cinemas of the world that they cannot steal from creators, without suffering a greater loss than any possible gain.
It is time that the courts stood up not for big business, but for the little creators out there, on whom the big businesses feed. Greed such as New Line's...in fact, theft, such as New Line's, must be severely punished, if it is to be contained and curtailed.
It cannot be right that the company which made the films based on Tolkien's work took $3 billion for doing so - and paid the Tolkien Trust essentially nothing at all.
I hope the courts take the time to understand that without Tolkien's work, none of the films would ever have been - and compensate the Tolkien Trust accordingly.
I shall follow the case as it proceeds.
Interestingly, New Line Cinema are making a habit of not paying their dues. Peter Jackson, the director of all three films, himself had to sue them for proper payment for his work.
What is the lesson to the world's creative people out there? Don't do business with New Line Cinema - for they will probably shaft you. It might be wise to avoid all Warner related companies, in fact. (They share common practices). It would seem fit to reward honest companies with your custom - and dishonest ones with a cold shoulder.
Remember this: do you want to work with or for companies that will not pay you, unless you sue? I don't.
(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and one month, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and seven months, and Tiarnan, two years exactly, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)