The Hollywood Reporter updates a story I mentioned a couple of months ago, regarding the lawsuit filed by a historical novel author whose book featured Tolkien as a character. When Stephen Hilliard received a cease-and-desist order from the Tolkien estate, he filed a preliminary suit himself seeking a declaration that he had a first-amendment right to publish Mirkwood. Now, Hilliard and the Tolkien estate have reached a settlement that will allow the continued publication of the novel.
Under the terms of the settlement, Hilliard is changing the cover to involve a modified reference to Tolkien and a disclaimer stating that the estate does not endorse the book. Hilliard is accordingly dismissing his lawsuit. A Tolkien estate lawyer expressed satisfaction with the outcome. On Techdirt, Mike Masnick expressed disappointment that Hilliard didn’t stick to his guns and force the estate to back down. (But then, it’s easy to do that when you’re not the one paying legal fees.)
Either way, the lawsuit and associated hoopla might be the best thing that could possibly have happened to Hilliard. It earned his (self-published) book a whole lot more publicity, and that has almost certainly translated into more sales. (I know I’m more than passing curious about how the book holds up, myself. The few reviews it has seem by and large positive. Perhaps after I finish my current reread of Lord of the Rings, I’ll buy it and see for myself. It’s only $2.99 for the Kindle edition, after all.)