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Thread: One Pub to rule them all

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In a land, many many miles away (England), where dragons roar, nazguls ride, and trees walk among us, there is a pub.

A very small pub.

A Hobbit, if you will.

In fact, the pub is called the Hobbit. It's an integral part of the community in Southampton, England, where Tolkein enthusiasts might meet up to enjoy a drink in this highly reputed tavern surrounded by Middle Earth's incredible universe.

This pub is unlike any other, with Middle Earth inspired cocktails (such as the Gandalf and Frodo), Tom Bombadil music evenings, and fantastic wall art in the garden supplied by a local artist.

The patrons and staff alike are fans of Tolkein's work, and the pub has been serving weary "Striders" for over 20 years, with no prior complaints or claims. The pub is a tribute to the master author and his major works, and is loved by all the local community. and

But evil is afoot.

It’s David versus Goliath, or rather, Frodo versus Sauron: A small English Hobbit pub versus a Hollywood giant with an evil eye.

Lawyers representing the Saul Zaentz Company (SZC) in California have told the pub it must carry out a complete rebranding before the end of May, or face legal action. SZC owns the worldwide rights to several brands associated with Tolkien, including the film rights to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as merchandise. It has yet to surface if the company owns the actual book rights.

The pub has been called The Hobbit for more than 20 years and copyright has never been a problem previously, but it is having to change the name of the bar and of its drinks, as well as painting over murals and removing posters. It's like losing an old friend, something so integral to our makeup.

The Landlady said "It has always been a tribute to Tolkien's work and not a case of us jumping on a commercial bandwagon. It's a real blow for me, our customers and staff. We are all Tolkien fans and I don't see what harm we are doing."

The pub is taking legal advice but cannot find the financial resources to fight a big company. They may now face closure.


But we are mustering the Rohirim.


A campaign to save the Hobbit pub name has been launched on the internet and attracted almost 10,000 followers, and this figure is still rising.

The pub is considered a tribute to a wonderful author and a magical universe. People wander in to enjoy themselves, laugh, make friends... Where else can you enjoy a Gandalf cocktail with Gandalf or rub elbows with a Nazgul? Maybe you'll visit one day, on your travels there and back again.

We treasure this pub. It has never been attacked by copyright previously and has been trading under the name and theme for over twenty years. If anything, it offers free advertising to the series. Any of the customers will tell you that they will see the films and read the books, even if they hadn't visited the pub. Some even because of it - this local landmark has introduced many people to the wonderful series in the first place.

We are seeking aid in our fight against Zaentz.

We shall never boycott the films or wish harm on any of Tolkein's works. We are fans and consider Zaentz's attacks disrespectful towards this great author (especially considered that many say the company is not directly related to the filming). We merely seek support.

Please, if you could spread the word in any way (tweeting @savetheHobbit or #savetheHobbit, tweeting actors - Stephen Fry (who is involved with filming the Hobbit) has tweeted his support for the cause already, commenting, or even joining the facebook internet campaign), we would be most grateful.

One does not simply rebrand the Hobbit.


This shall not pass.


The Hobbit has my sword, and the bows of almost 10,000 others.


Do we have your axe?




That is sad. I am very sorry for these people who treasure the pub.

However I doubt if mustering any one really would help. The law is the law and it is not as if the pub is a heritage place or whatever. The owner should have checked out the rules and regulations from the start and maybe something suitable would have surfaced.

So really only a first class lawyer would be able to even give advice i suspect. In this world outside of Middle-Earth copyright and ownership and money rule. And i suppose thinking from the point of view of the owners the dismantling business is the way to go, else a million other pub owners could do the same thing.

Still I am very sorry for you all.

Hi Leelee!

Actually, the Hobbit has been operating as an establishment before any of the films began production. Tolkein lost the copyright for films and merchandise to Zaentz after his death, but Zaentz has never had rights to the book or the rest of the Lord of the Rings series. More specifically still, Zaentz is claiming on Hobbit copyright infringement, but the majority of the decor and ambiance is related to Lord of the Rings (of which I am led to believe Zaentz does not have ownership).

Admittedly the pub should have sought a license for permission to use images from the films (although from my point of view this is easily rectified without the threat of closure and suing), but the company is trying to claim any profit made by the pub was wrongful and is contributed to the films. This is simply not true. Many people come to enjoy the drinks and company, which, although linked to the characters, are excellent in their own rights. And doesn't the company have something better to do than sue a small pub that is hardly making millions? Should its efforts not be focused on making the movies as successful as possible rather than threatening the comparatively tiny incomes of small establishments?

Furthermore, some believe that when the Hobbit was opened, there was a copyright lapse. Copyright on a dead author's work lasts (if I am correct) 60 years or so after their death. If what I am led to believe is true, Zaentz had not at this point purchased copyright from the estate. Ergo, some think that in this period there is a chance that the Hobbit may have been legally able to freely use the details.

Still, we appreciate your sympathy and that (unlike some) you have not taken an aggressive stance on either side.

Hope that helps at all? We still urge support, as these people's livelihoods are at stakes as the pub faces closure, as well as the loss of a local icon.

This is rediculous! Has anyone tried to contact Sir PJ? I'm sure he would think this absurd and may have some swing with the copyright owner. I think the proprietors will find that unless "The Hobbit" is registered in whatever class hotels are registered under, the copyright owner won't have a chance. Best of luck to the pub owners!

This may be true, what Brego says. I am only vaguely familiar with international law, i am only in my second year law toward my degree. However you may be sure there is something, even if it is a loop hole that is enabling  this demand. People don't make threats like that without considerable money and 'contacts' to back them up. i thought that Peter Jackson would not get away with what he did in paying the Tolkien foundation and others back when but in fact he did in many respects. So, honestly,the only thing I can suggest is that you get to your local law library and look seriously hard for precedents along the very same lines as you are hoping to win in. If in fact you can find a precedent let's say ....Giant Corporation vs. little guy David and David won on this tiny technicality or that, then you can present that to the judge, absolutely chapter and verse and perhaps in the widest interpretation of the law he or she would find in your favour, But I assure you that where money is involved it is rarely that emotion or even a ton of signatures can save the day. I myself only once was able to do that when a woman was desperate to find her missing husband and his missing plane. Nothing no appeal worked until I went around and got a ton of signatures, then forced our member of parliament to present it down east in federal parliament and then and only then were we given fifty thousand dollars for only three days I believe to fund helicopters and pilots to search and he was found. But that was only one.

But as Brego the big hearted says the very best to you. It would be lovely if you could prevail.

Leelee doesn't agree with me, but what you told sounds quite great.

I appreciate good pubs and so forth, since I am a great fan of beer.

I would love to go to England, so I could have a real taste of it's pub culture. Smile Smilie

What is it Idon't agree with dear prince of poems? I myself don't drink any sort of alcohol, but i have eaten in pubs and the food was fabulous. blush

Well, I'm not sure, oh well, I must've meant that pub + alcoholics thingy, since I often go to pubs only to seek out good dark beers and such stuff. But, a local irish pub, Parnells, which is definitely my favorite place to spend a night, has some great sandwiches and that kind of snacks to offer. One of the best experiences in that particular pub was a new year's eve two years ago, when I was there in a fine jacket, about to go for a cigarette, and then I shouted at the bartender woman: 'Could ya play my fav, girl!?' and she just smiled and shouted back: 'Yeah, I'll put that to queue.' and moments later, Flogging Molly's - Drunken Lullabies started to play. Good times. Smile Smilie

But, considering The Hobbit Pub, I could check that FB channel out and so forth. Definitely interested.

You are right, Leelee. The company (who are not affiliated with New Line cinema or Peter Jackson) would not be making claims unless they felt entitled. And yes, it is a question of who has the biggest pocket. But should the pub be forced to close because of this?

We argue that the pub is a tribute to the books (to which Zaentz Enterprises does not own the rights) and Tolkein's marvelous Middle Earth universe rather than the films, and that suing the pub to the point of closure is an insult to Tolkein's memory and all that the stories stand for.

We have been featured on the BBC, the Guardian, the Telegraph, and BBC Worldwide amongst other national and international news, television and radio companies.

We have also garnered the support of Stephen Fry, Frank Turner (a British musician),, and many others.

Please continue to support by tweeting @savetheHobbit or #savetheHobbit, commenting, reading the various news articles, and joining the facebook campaign group


Just to reiterate, Leelee, I fully understand your responses and appreciate your rational stance on the matter. Nonetheless, we appreciate any and all support given. Thank you ever so much to Brego and Oreath Windsoul, your support is really appreciated!


PS It's an awesome pub Smile Smilie You go for the food, company and atmosphere, not just the drinks (though they are exceptionally yummy).

I will do my best, i will get into it and study what has been brought forward, what their legal position is, what yours is and make my choice. I am an elf and we don't generally do things upon emotion, but upon what historically and according to the rules of the Blessed Realm are right and proper.

Have you asked the Tolkien Society what their position would be on this, or asked any representative of the Tolkien Estate to give a thought? The Tolkien Estate has had their rows and have an emotional and a legal opinion Or what about recruiting Royden is it , Royden Tolkien, the fellow who played one of  the soldiers fighting with Faramir? He has a blog i think, ask him point blank what he thinks of your position. I should rather get an opinion from someone like that than anyone else in the world actually.

At any rate i will look up what i have time for , my daughter is desperately ill right now and we don't know the outcome just now. But in the evening hours I might have some time to work on this.

Now I really want to go and have a Pint by the fire.......  We can only have open fires for 2 weeks of the year because its too hot here in Aus!

Stephen Fry as you know is on board with you now and perhaps if he and other high profile persons would contact SaulZ and share their concerns for your pub some sort of deal can be struck to allow the pub to continue in the manner it has for decades. That would be wonderful.d

However, the problem legally and financially as I see it so far is the fact that after having told the pub to cease and desist, allowing them then to go on would certainly set a precedent and what might follow would be a flood of pubs all over the world who would like to jump on the bandwagon and what a mess might follow. It would be hard to keep tabs on say a thousand pubs world wide doing what initially the gentleman and rightful owner of all this specifically said he did not want., I cannot see this one exception being allowed. So it will be interesting to watch and see if Saul will bow to public critique or not. I suspect the number of people joining your Facebook appeal would have to reach a million or more to see any interest at all in his looking at the sentiment of those who love the pub and merely wish to continue doing what they did quietly for so long without an uproar. Here is hoping though.

Just read some good news. Thanks to The Mayor of Lake Town and of course Gandalf The Grey and I'm sure Sir PJ!