Hope you’re in the mood for some hobbits – because we’ve got two stories of people paying “homage” to Tolkien’s classic novel before the first installment of Peter Jackson’s film version hits the screen next month.
You may have noticed we singled out the word homage there – because the first story involves copyright, courts and lawsuits. One man’s homage is another man’s rip-off – or something like that.
Warner Bros., New Line, MGM and producer Saul Zaentz – better known as the guys bringing you Jackson’s lavish take on The Hobbit next month, have followed through on their threat to sue low-budget film producers Asylum to prevent it from releasing its latest “mockbuster” – The Age of Hobbits.
Warner Bros. and the other plaintiffs feel that the Asylum is attempting to cash in on their branding – and they’re right. That’s what the Asylum does. Here’s an excerpt from the lawsuit outlining their position:
"The Asylum has been and is promoting and advertising its low-budget film using the confusingly similar and misleading title Age of the Hobbits, in an intentional and willful attempt (i) to trade on the popularity and goodwill associated with the Tolkien novels, the extraordinarily successful Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and the famous HOBBIT mark, (ii) to free-ride on the worldwide advertising campaign in connection with the forthcoming Hobbit films, and (iii) to divert customers and potential customers away from the Hobbit films."
Seems pretty reasonable, right? Well, not so fast – the guys over at the Asylum have a response, and it even looks like they might have a legal leg to stand on.
"Age of the Hobbits is about the real-life human subspecies, Homo Floresiensis, discovered in 2003 in Indonesia, which have been uniformly referred to as 'Hobbits' in the scientific community. As such, the use of the term 'Hobbits' is protected under the legal doctrines of nominal and traditional fair use."
As THR points out, a Google search for the term "hobbit" and archeology reveals “dozens of articles containing the term ‘hobbits’ in the titles.
We’re no lawyers, and we’d guess that the real-life “hobbits” earned their name based on Tolkien’s books, but maybe that’s enough to make this work for the Asylum. We’ll have to wait until there’s a judgment to know for sure.
Tolkien fan builds hobbit hole out of balloons
In less litigious news, a man named Jeremy Telford has created his own homage to Tolkien’s work – crafting his very own hobbit hole out of 2,600 balloons.
Telford, known as “The Balloon Guy,” took an ordinary living room and turned it into his very own re-creation of Bag End. The massive job took 40 hours over the course of three days. We can’t begin to imagine putting out that much hot air. Worse still? Having to tie 2,600 balloons.
Check out the video below which features the full construction (in time lapse) and then destruction of Telford’s architectural masterpiece.
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