One of the biggest global franchises is The Lord of the Rings, or more specifically the whole of Middle-Earth. It is such a huge franchise there is an entire division of The Saul Zaentz Company set up devoted to Middle-Earth. The division, Middle-Earth Enterprises, is in charge of the license, and it is up to them to maintain it’s integrity.
That’s all well and good, but some times the desire to protect the franchise ends up hurting it. One such instance is the recent attempt by Middle-Earth Enterprises to shut down a popular pub in Southampton, England called The Hobbit.
This Tolkien themed bar is a long established pub that was set up as an homage to the works of Tolkien. The intention was to bring positive new attention to the work in it’s own small way. The folks over at The Saul Zaentz Company have decided enough is enough and wants the bar to stop using the likenesses or pay up.
Of course this causes an outrage, there is nothing but love and affection for the pub, and the pub has nothing but respect and love for the works of Tolkien. Even the great Stephen Fry weighed in on the subject via his twitter account:
Sometimes I’m ashamed of the business I’m in. What pointless, self-defeating bullying.
He has a point. In the video game world, companies often turn a blind eye to certain types of rights infringement because it works for the brands. Letting the fans be apart of it grows the community, and there is few more active communities than that of Video Games.
Hopefully this ends with a positive resolution, because this is not the point of these great franchises. The point is to rise above the petty, useless bickering and come together in a single common place.
Here’s to hoping that The Hobbit pub can remain, and become a symbol for whats awesome about geek culture, not a victim of the dark side of popularity.