PDA

View Full Version : I may be old, but being naive is not just for the young...


SFFWorld.com
Home - Discussion Forums - News - Reviews - Interviews

New reviews, interviews and news

New in the Discussion Forum


juzzza
April 1st, 2004, 06:31 AM
Okay, what are the legal implications of writing about Orcs, Elves or any other popular races? And I don't mean fan fiction.

If I tried to publish something featuring these creatures, would the Tolkien estate or the reps of Salvatore send assassins?

Thanks

Expendable
April 1st, 2004, 07:39 AM
Originally posted by juzzza
Okay, what are the legal implications of writing about Orcs, Elves or any other popular races? And I don't mean fan fiction.

If I tried to publish something featuring these creatures, would the Tolkien estate or the reps of Salvatore send assassins?

Thanks

TSR gets away with orcs, goblins and elves but notice they don't have Hobbits, they have halflings. And in Willow, they were Pecks, not Hobbits.

So write all you want to about elves, just don't mention Hobbits.
No! Wait! I didn't mean to say the 'H' word! Honest! No, not the...!

Jadziel
April 1st, 2004, 08:09 AM
I think there are probably only very particular terms that the Tolkien Estate would sue authors for including in their writing without approval. Namely those that are clearly attributable to Tolkien and central to his writing, rather than ones drawn from a long history of mythology and folk tales.

The Tolkien Estate did accuse TSR of copyright infringement for using the words Hobbit, Ent and Balrog. As a result, TSR changed those terms to Halfling and Treant. It led to TSR including a list of texts in the first edition of their Dungeon Master's Guide, explicitly identifying the authors and novels that influenced the development of the game. Notably, after the copyright accusation, they omitted Tolkien from the list.

The following article is interesting for giving a brief idea of the origins of some of the fantasy terms and concepts used in D&D.

http://www.geocities.com/rgfdfaq/sources.html

Looking at the list, there are some terms which are used by Tolkien, but for which his estate couldn't claim copyright. E.g. Wight...

Wight


Essentially identical to the barrow-wight from Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. ("Wight" is the Anglicized form of the Germanic "wicht", which now means "elf, goblin, dwarf, gnome", but originally simply meant "a being". The English word used to mean "a human being", but changed to be a term for a type of malicious sprite during the 14th-16th centures, like happened with many English synonyms for "person", including hob, pukka, orc, and boggart.)

There are also some terms which are apparantly invented in Tolkien's work, but which the Tolkien Estate have not pursued regarding copyright infringement, e.g. half-elf...

Half-elf


The character of Elrond (and his family) from The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien is the origin for the half-elf, but the D&D version is significantly changed from Tolkien's view. For example, Tolkien's half-elves had to choose whether they would be elves or men, and as a result had lifespans typical for the race of their choice, whereas D&D half-elves are a true amalgamation of elves and men.

Then a few terms where copyright infringement has been pursued - Hobbit, Ent, Balrog, etc.

I hope that helps a little.

juzzza
April 1st, 2004, 08:12 AM
Thank you Jadziel & Expendable, that helps a great deal.

And how apt, that you two should respond.

;)

JRMurdock
April 2nd, 2004, 03:07 PM
Copyright also applies to songs, poems and other works. Fairy Tales in general are NOT copyrighted nor are very old songs (pre 1900) and you can use these in text as quotes without permission. BUT make sure you check. You may get text from Hansel and Gretel, but make sure it's the original. A modern version may be modified and copyrighted.

As for Tolkein's works, If he created(i.e. hobbits, ents, Saruon) it, it's his (even though he's dead) and you need permission before using it. If he didn't create it (i.e. elves, dwarves, shire) you can use these are you will as they're common enough that no one person owns them.

All in all, you need to research who owns what. This is a good place to ask, but make sure that you've done your homework and asked for the proper permission before using anything that might be in question.