Fanfiction Writer Tries To Sue The Original Author’s Estate (And It Doesn’t Go Well)

A judge ensured the bold strategy blew up in his face. Fanfiction Writer Tries To Sue The Original Author’s Estate (And It Doesn’t Go Well) Giphy

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You’ve got to admit, it takes some serious chutzpah for the author of a derivative “fanfiction” novel to take the estate of the original work’s author to court. But that’s exactly what Demetrious Polychron did in a poorly executed effort to protect his 2022 book “The Fellowship of the King.”

It’s a spinoff of the “Lord of the Rings” series by JRR Tolkien, and Polychron planned for it to be part one of seven in a fanfiction franchise.

Enter “The Ring of Power”

The American author’s plans changed when Amazon released its TV series “The Ring of Power,” which is also based on Tolkien’s story. Polychron decided to take the online retail giant (as well as the Tolkien estate) to court for alleged copyright infringement, but a California judge was quick to toss the case out.

Furthermore, the decision found that Polychron’s work had actually infringed on the prequel series released by Amazon. As a result:

  • All copies of “The Fellowship of the King” were ordered to be destroyed
  • Polychron was prohibited from any further fanfiction distribution
  • Amazon and the Tolkien estate received a total of $134,000 in damages

A tough lesson learned

When it comes to building on the work of other creators, it’s always important to make sure your t’s are crossed and your i’s are dotted. And the judge in this case determined that Polychron fell far short of that standard by initiating an “unreasonable” and “frivolous” lawsuit.

Steven Maier, an attorney working on behalf of the Tolkien estate, issued a statement calling the decision “an important success” and reiterating that the estate “will not permit unauthorized authors and publishers to monetize JRR Tolkien’s much-loved works in this way.”

Chris Agee
Chris Agee December 22nd, 2023
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