Middle Earth gambling
The estate of J.R.R. Tolkien and Warner Bros. have reached a settlement over the use of The Lord of the Rings characters in slot machines and other merchandising. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but the lawsuit by the estate had claimed copyright infringement and breach of contract because of the use of Tolkien characters in ways that were allegedly not agreed on when the rights were transferred in 1969.
The very existence of Tolkien gambling devices, some of which are manufactured by Reno-based company International Game Technology, nearly escaped the estate’s notice. It was only a spam mailing that revealed the usage. Warner countersued, claiming it was harmed by the filing of the suit, which said Tolkien fans had expressed “consternation at seeing The Lord of the Rings associated with the morally questionable—and decidedly nonliterary—world of online and casino gambling.”
Movie corporations have long been known for a deeply entrenched culture of corruption. “Well, Jack, I’ve got a notion you’re screwing me,” John Wayne is reported to have said to studio executive Jack Warner. “Duke, of course we are, but we’re your friends,” Warner replied.
Corruption by the studios is rarely prosecuted. The bestseller Indecent Exposure by David McClintick deals with $65,000 stolen by Columbia Pictures president David Begelman and the way the Columbia board of directors persecuted Begelman’s accusers.