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'Lord of the Rings' author estate sues movie company

The estate of author J.R.R. Tolkien is suing Warner Bros. and its subsidiary New Line for copyright infringement. The estate claims that the movie studio violated an agreement that allows the studio to use the right to the Lord of the Rings to make tangible merchandise. This means they can make things that are physical but doesn't include digital rights, such as an online slot machine which the studio is accused of making.

While the author of the books may have passed away, the estate could still sue on behalf of the beneficiaries to make sure the author's rights are protected even after they pass away. The use of someone's idea to make an online slot machine could cause controversy and in this case, the estate says the misuse of these rights is highly offensive.

The estate is seeking to stop games and other products that weren't a part of the agreement the author's estate and the studio have. It is also seeking $80 million in damages. Because these movie series that are derived from successful books can garner so much money, the use and misuse of rights relating to ideas and brands can be highly contentious.

While many people don't have highly successful book series tied to their estates, it is important that works and ideas of a family member are protected even after they pass away. A person's work can be an invaluable sense of pride for a family and raise considerable income for future generations within the family.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, "Tolkien Estate Sues Warner Bros. Over 'Lord of the Rings' Slot Machines (Exclusive)" Matthew Belloni, Nov. 19, 2012

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