Commercial law firm Manches has secured author JRR Tolkien’s estate a subpoena against content-sharing website eSnips, it was revealed today (22 February).
The subpoena, issued by the US District Court, requires eSnips to divulge the identities of those who posted illegal copies of Tolkien's works, including The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Intellectual property partner Steven Maier of Manches said that there has been an increase in the infringement of Tolkien’s works since The Lord of the Rings films were released in 2001 and 2003.
"The Tolkien Estate has a duty to protect the copyright in Tolkien's much-loved works and cannot allow infringement materials available,” said Maier. “With every case we bring for the Tolkien estate it’s about protecting the integrity of his work not winning damages, which at best cover the Estate’s costs.”
eSnips has removed the infringing material from the site but were unwilling to provide Manches with its members' contact details without a court order, hence the action taken.
Maier added that further legal action against individuals was unlikely, except in the case of persistent offenders.