by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 1st 2009 5:38pm
Stephen Turner alerted us to a story about an impressive looking fan film "prequel" to Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy that is being released this weekend. The project cost all of £3,000 and involves a huge cast and crew of volunteer fans -- but still looks amazingly professional (and stunningly like some of the real actors/characters in Jackson's version):
Once again, we're seeing how modern technology allows people to create nearly the equivalent of a high budget production on a shoestring budget. But, of course, there are copyright questions raised by this whole thing. Tom sends in another version of this story that quotes the EFF's Fred von Lohman saying that it's not at all clear if the film violates anyone's copyright. While the characters are the same, the story was created by a fan. In the original link above, the guy behind the project, Chris Bouchard, notes that he "got in touch with Tolkien Enterprises and reached an understanding with them that as long as we are completely non-profit then we're okay." So, it's unlikely that any copyright lawsuit will arise from this, but the original question does remain: what if people made such a creative film without reaching such an agreement -- or without promising to be totally non-commercial? Would that be so wrong? It wouldn't take away from or harm Tolkien or Jackson's work. It would only enhance it. So why should these fans even need to gain permission to create such a movie?
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