Lord of the Rings fanfic author sued for self-publishing a sequel

Demetrious Polychron, a fan fiction writer based in the US, has found himself entangled in a legal battle with the estate of JRR Tolkien for alleged copyright infringement. This legal dispute arises from Polychron’s decision to publish his own sequel to The Lord of the Rings, titled “The Fellowship of the King,” which became available in 2022. Polychron boldly claimed his work to be the “pitch-perfect sequel” to Tolkien’s masterpiece.

The court has recently delivered a verdict in favor of the Tolkien estate, demanding that Polychron cease the distribution of his book and further instructing him to destroy all existing physical and electronic copies. This legal action underscores the estate’s determination to protect the intellectual property and legacy of JRR Tolkien.

In an interesting twist to the legal saga, Polychron attempted to counter-sue the Tolkien estate and Amazon in April 2023. His claim asserted that the TV series “Rings of Power” infringed upon the copyright established by his book. However, this counter-suit was swiftly dismissed by the judge, who ruled that Polychron’s own book was, in fact, infringing on Amazon’s prequel, released in September 2022.

Following the dismissal of his counter-suit, the Tolkien Estate pursued a separate lawsuit against Polychron. Seeking an injunction to prevent further distribution of “The Fellowship of the King,” the estate secured a victory in court. The presiding judge, Steven V Wilson, not only granted a permanent injunction but also deemed Polychron’s initial lawsuit as “frivolous and unreasonably filed.”

The court’s ruling prevents Polychron from selling his book and any planned sequels, of which there were reportedly six in the works. As a further consequence, the Tolkien Estate and Amazon were awarded lawyer’s fees totaling $134,000 in connection with Polychron’s legal actions.

Steven Maier, the UK solicitor representing the Tolkien Estate, commented on the outcome, emphasizing the significance of this victory in protecting JRR Tolkien’s literary works from unauthorized commercial exploitation. Maier stated that the estate hopes the permanent injunction and the awarded attorney’s fees will serve as a deterrent to others considering similar actions.

Amidst these legal proceedings, it was announced earlier this year that Warner Bros has plans for more Lord of the Rings films in the coming years. Additionally, Amazon’s second series based on the epic fantasy world of JRR Tolkien began production in October. The legal battles add a layer of complexity to the ongoing narrative surrounding the beloved literary legacy and its adaptations in various media.

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