research * the future * culture

The Tolkien Estate vs. Madeline Ashby & Adam Rakunas

No, really.

Back in the late 2009, I got into a Twitter conversation with Madeline Ashby about geek culture, fandom, and a bunch of stuff like that. Madeline wrote, “While you were reading Tolkien, I was watching Evangelion.” I thought this was an excellent encapsulation of the divide in SF/F/Whatever fandom, and thus took to Zazzle to make little buttons with her quote. I bought a bunch, handed them out at a few conventions, then I had a kid and promptly forgot all about it.

Until today, when Zazzle emailed me to say they were pulling the buttons for intellectual property right infringement.

I wonder if the Tolkien Estate will nail me for my upcoming talk at the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy 16 March, 2011 called “While You Were Reading Tolkien, I Was Watching Evangelion“? I mean, I was all set to release Slideshare sets of my presentation, and post the speech here, and maybe (gasp!) film some of it and show it to you, but if the Tolkiens would rather I didn’t…

5 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. I wouldn’t worry; just don’t slip on the ring, and the All-Seeing Eye of Sauron will pass right over you.

  2. Madeline, don’t you dare cave to these bastards. Give that presentation. Share that slideshow. Turn it into billboards and laser writing across the moon.

    The other day, I was too stunned and tired to do anything about it. Today, I’m going to email the EFF and see if this is the kind of thing they’d like to take up and fight. I am sick and goddamned tired of the wealthy and powerful being able to fire off lawyergrams and have this kind of chilling effect on speech.

  3. Rene

     /  February 27, 2011

    What intellectual property right infringement? You did not use any of Tolkien’s work. Therefore there can’t be infringement.

    Don’t cave a bunch of people will be behind you on this. This is beyond ridiculous (and a good reason for me to never use Zazzle).

  4. Let me chime in with David and Adam: just give the talk, don’t cave in to such utter bullshit.

    It’s a bit too far away for me to attend, otherwise I’d show up with a T-shirt showing the button text up front and “The Tolkien Estate can go fuck itself” at the back.

    Hope you have a great presentation!

  5. Muriel

     /  February 28, 2011

    Ah, now we know who “He Who Must Not Be Named” really is, in a certain fantasy writer’s works … (I’d name her, but I wouldn’t want to get your blog into even more trouble with another fabulously rich publishing machine).

  • Madeline Ashby… a science fiction writer, futurist, speaker, and immigrant living in Toronto. She writes a column for the Ottawa Citizen. She is represented by Anne McDermid & Associates, and Jason Richman at UTA. You can buy her books here.

    She has worked with Intel Labs, the Institute for the Future, SciFutures, Nesta, Data & Society, The Atlantic Council, the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination, and others. Her short fiction has appeared in Nature, FLURB, Tesseracts, Imaginarium, and Escape Pod. Her other essays and criticism have appeared at BoingBoing, io9, WorldChanging, Creators Project, Arcfinity,, MISC Magazine, FutureNow, and elsewhere.

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    Designing for Interaction: Creating Innovative Applications and Devices (2nd Edition)Super Natural Cooking: Five Delicious Ways: To Incorporate Whole & Natural Ingredients into Your CookingGluten-Free Girl and the ChefPeople Crossing Borders: An Analysis of U.S. Border Protection PoliciesHalf the Day Is NightThe Magicians

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