I heard about a Copyright drama on Twitter regarding the new Tolkien t.v. series, I didn’t actually see anything about it. But I thought I would write a little about Copyright and what I know and what I understand about. I studied to become a Librarian a few years ago, Copyright is a BIG issue and a complicated one.
It’s a complicated issue, mainly because it’s varies from country to country and format to format.
The main thing you need to know, is that as soon as you create something that is tangible (perceptible), it is automatically protected by copyright. Basically, as soon as you start to create, like writing a poem in a book, sketches in a art book, start to compose a song. As as you and other can “see it” it is automatically protect by copyright. You don’t need to apply for anything, although you absolutely can.
The other main thing to know that, which Country your work is created in. Your work will apply to that Countries Copyright Laws. It can beied together by a series of international agreements, ie the Berne Convention. The vast majority of countries recognise reciprocal rights in fellow treaty countries.
Too make it a little more easier sense, I am going to use the current Tolkien t.v. series as an example.
- Currently, Amazon (US) only has some rights to the t.v. series of LotR series. They can not make changes to the movies or the Tolkien’s work.
- Amazon will be the producer in conjunction with the Tolkien Estate (UK) and The Tolkien Trust (UK), HarperCollins (UK/US) and New Line Cinema (US).
- You can give all rights and/or some rights to other people/companies.
- Exclusive worldwide rights to motion picture, merchandising, stage and other rights in certain literary works of J. R. R. Tolkien including The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were sold by Tolkien himself to United Artists in 1969 and are currently owned by Middle-earth Enterprises (formerly Tolkien Enterprises), inc. Located in Berkeley, California.
- In 1976 United Artists sold most of their rights to Tolkien’s work to Saul Zaentz Company, who have licensed all subsequent authorized adaptations of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings through Middle-earth Enterprises. However United Artists retains the world distribution rights to film adaptations. These are currently exercised by their parent company MGM, which under contract co-financed The Hobbit film trilogy.
Like I said, it’s all complicated, lol.