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Re: The Wonders of eBay
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I believe Garm that you are indeed well informed about these books and probably have the original hand-outs that tells all about these Alex Lewis editions.

There is however a lot of judging going on here on these boards. A lot of things are being said here without looking into it deeper - or even just out of 'we don't like this - so all is bad attitude'. (this is not you or anyone else I'm talking about Garm, it is the feeling I get when reading many posts,...).

Like whenever the name 'Tale of Gondolin' is mentioned there is a lot of "boooh' screaming going on. Ok, maybe it is a fan piece and maybe most don't like it, and some even know about 'reviewing your own books' story, but back then it was well known that all profit made from these books was used to present a gift to Christopher Tolkien. Anyways,.. you know all that and a lot has changed since then. For example Priscilla Tolkien does no longer come to Oxonmoot and you can only contact Tolkien Estate to obtain permissions.

As for seeking permissions... this board is one of the most beautiful examples of not seeking permission to publish or reproduce unpublished material on a regular basis. So far as I know, I have been in constant contact with the Tolkien Estate to seek permissions to reproduce things for my website and aiding others to receive permissions to get things published (Oliphaunt print, 3-minute Tolkien, Frisian and Marathi translations, The Inklings of Oxford, Cor Blok, ... ). Sometimes it works out and sometimes not.

For example it was not my site who published the English translation of the Christopher Tolkien interview from le Monde, since we did not obtain permissions. A lot of work was done by some of the better translators in the field of Tolkien (still thanking them for all the effort and time), but we did not get permission... so were sad to see someone else to publish a translation. We did not complain or make public shouts about it, we did not even doubt publicly if the other person who published it did have permission or not. Maybe they had obtained permission after all? We cannot know...

And I have indeed had some cases where I was contacted by the Tolkien Estate to remove something (like for example a cover from Children of Hurin, an article that I was not allowed to sell / promote, ... ) and I did so right away.

No person is perfect and sometimes makes a mistake. I'm not here to defend myself or to judge anyone (I even hate to have to write this answer here). I'm here to discuss about my love for Tolkien books and collecting. I only notice a very black & white mentality and there is no need for that. We are all here because we love all things Tolkien! I hope we can agree to that?!

Posted on: 2013/1/6 7:11


Re: The Wonders of eBay
Shirrif
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I don't recall any particular negative comment on these boards in regard to Lewis's Gondolin (etc.), other than to point the obvious --that it's fan fiction. For that reason alone some probably find it unworthy of collecting. Personally I'm quite interested in reading it, but don't really want to spend hundreds of pounds to do so.

As for publishing/reproducing unpublished material here --I assume you're referring to Tolkien letters only, as I don't recall any other instance of the board posting unpublished Tolkien material; except (although not Tolkien) when Deagol posted material from The Tolkien Collector, which Findegil promptly brought to his attention.

In regard to letters, there is no breach of copyright (is there?) in reproducing & discussing images of letters; images which are already available online for the purpose of selling the item shown. If there is, then it's a technical breach that is flouted (& goes unchallenged) by everyone, from Sotheby's to Tolkien Library --or anyone else who shows an image of a letter they're selling. Either way, if there is any breach, it is by those selling the item (since there is financial gain to be made from the promotion of the letter's contents), not those discussing the item i.e. academic/educational discussion & all that.

Aside from this, I think you're missing the point if you conflate the discussion (of information/images/material) on these boards (which are for no other purpose besides gaining greater knowledge of Tolkien & Tolkien publications) with information/images/material appearing on sites promoting merchandise; books or otherwise. This is a line: not drawn by me, but drawn by the law. I think the distinction is pretty clear. Whether one agrees with it is a separate matter entirely.

I agree with you regarding things being painted too black & white, up to a point. However, in this particular case, I believe garm draws his views & conclusions from a position of enviable knowledge. He's about as informed as you could be in this instance.

BH

Posted on: 2013/1/6 9:31
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Re: The Wonders of eBay
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To put the history of these publications briefly and to clarify a few points:

The Tale of Gondolin is Alex Lewis's 'completion' of Tolkien's 'Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin' in Unfinished Tales, combining Tolkien's text with slight alteration by Lewis, plus Lewis's additions from the notes to Unfinished Tales and the Book of Lost Tales, Part Two. Lewis made two copies of this work and presented one to Priscilla Tolkien as a gift. Ruth Lacon later added illustrations, and the designs were presented to Priscilla at an Oxonmoot. Lewis related the story of how the latter occurred in an interview for the Polish Tolkien society's journal Aiglos (Summer 2012), but we can quote also from Beren's own 2005 article: 'The designs were presented to Priscilla Tolkien and verbal permission was given to produce The Tale of Gondolin as it now is.' Fifty copies were subsequently produced for sale and bound according to demand.

The Ruins of Osgiliath is also Tolkien-based fan fiction by Alex Lewis. This was originally produced as three small booklets of 100 copies each, and as Lewis tells the story in Aiglos, were written so that they could be sold and the proceeds used by the Tolkien Society 'to buy decent presents for Priscilla and Christopher Tolkien for the 1992 centenary conference'. These stories were later collected into a single volume of twelve copies, which also was sold though not as a function of the Society and with a charitable purpose.

Beren is right to bring up the issue of permissions. The problem here is the assumption that Priscilla Tolkien could, or would, unilaterally grant formal permission for an adaptation of her father's work, or (as in Lewis's Tale of Gondolin) lengthy quotations from her father's work, to be published. She cannot; she is only one part of the Tolkien Estate. Even Christopher Tolkien, as appointed literary executor, could not grant such permission by himself, without consultation, especially with the Estate's solicitor. Substantial quotation from Tolkien's published writings also must involve HarperCollins, as copyright licensee. Of course, we ourselves over the years have had many contacts with Christopher and with the Estate's solicitors and with HarperCollins, and this procedure of going through proper channels and obtaining written (not just 'verbal', i.e. oral) permission has always been the case.

garm is also right to point to the statement on the Estate's website, which is unequivocal that it 'never has, and never will authorize the commercialisation or distribution' of fan fiction. From this it follows that The Tale of Gondolin and The Ruins of Osgiliath may exist as a private accomplishment but should never have been produced as distributed publications, whether for profit or not, profit being only one factor in 'fair use' or 'fair dealing'.

garm did not quote the final paragraph of the Estate FAQ statement, but this is also important: 'The Estate exists to defend the integrity of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings. Christopher Tolkien's work as his father’s literary executor has always been to publish as faithfully and honestly as possible his father's completed and uncompleted works, without adaptation or embellishment.' That is, the Estate also exists to protect Tolkien's moral rights as the creator of his works, against alteration or expansion.

We would point out as well, for as much as it may be worth, that the statement on the Tolkien Estate website about the authorization of fan fiction was added to the FAQ not long after a lengthy discussion about the quality and legality of The Tale of Gondolin appeared on the now-defunct HarperCollins Tolkien fan forum site.

In Aiglos, Alex Lewis was asked his opinion about 'the restrictions concerning the names invented by Tolkien or fragments of his texts, imposed by the Tolkien Estate', and he replied that it was 'hard to say for certain' how 'legally valid' the Estate's claims may be. 'There is such a thing as "fair use" - which says you can use ten percent of a text without breaking copyright if it is for a legitimate purpose, such as research etc. The problem we have is the Estate is very rich and can employ more lawyers than most of us. . . . Is a person's own creativity fair use? For me the answer is emphatically yes! . . . All that can be said is copyright runs out. They can't prevent artists and creativity forever.' In fact, the 'ten percent' rule for fair use is merely a rule of thumb which some may arbitrarily apply and which a copyright holder need not approve. Nor can an artist plead 'creativity' and freely use someone else's intellectual property, however much he may wish it were so.

In regard to the quotation or reproduction of Tolkien's letters online, which Khamûl brings up, it's an acknowledged grey area of law when it comes to letters being sold, online or in catalogues. Quotation or reproduction for other purposes, of letters or complete poems or what have you, is another matter entirely.

Wayne & Christina

Posted on: 2013/1/6 10:20


Re: The Wonders of eBay
Shirrif
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So, to be simplistic about it, would it be fair to say: Lewis crossed a line --& if The Tolkien Estate had wanted to, they could have, & would have probably succeeded in, getting the book(s) withdrawn from distribution?

BH

Posted on: 2013/1/6 10:28
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You drive a hard bargain – you can have it for £10 all-in – one consolation (for you) is that you do not have to hear the cries of my children, for bread...


Re: The Wonders of eBay
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Which they did not up to the 1994 and earlier editions (but were well aware of them), but did so immediately when someone bound the sheets that had not been sold under the 'verbal' arrangements made with Priscilla Tolkien. And this was halted rather quickly. Some may recall this action.

I believe Findegil sums up the history quit well (Thanks so much!). I was however not aware of the Aiglos interview (which I find interesting, but somehow find the answer by Alex Lewis kind of harsh towards copyright). Maybe it is a good thing the Tolkien Estate did an update of their legal texts!

Posted on: 2013/1/6 10:35



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