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Stephen Fry Fights for Hobbit Pub

That’s one of the more unusual headlines I’ve posted, I think…

British actor and comedian Stephen Fry has lent his name and support to a pub in Southampton (that’s the south coast of England) which has found itself under surprising legal attack. The pub is called “The Hobbit”, and has been for over 20 years, happily operating without incident until now. And what now? Middle-Earth Enterprises (a strange mix of whimsical and corporate, that name), a division of Saul Zaentz company, who are the lawyers for the production of Peter Jackson’s upcoming Hobbit movie, as well as controllers of the worldwide merchandising rights to all things Hobbit and Lord of the Rings (did you follow all that?) have threatened the pub with legal action over copyright infringement if they don’t rename the pub by the end of May.

Fry, who is set to portray the Master of Lake-town in the 2012 film adaptation of the Tolkien film, publicly denounced the legal attack, skewering it via Twitter as nothing but “pointless, self-defeating bullying.”

Pub landlady Stella Roberts has been overwhelmed by the support in her defense, but nevertheless expressed dismay at the expense of rebranding, and at the ridiculousness of the situation, after 20+ years without a peep. She acknowledged that with court costs and the power and resources behind Middle-Earth enterprises, fighting the threat would not be realistic and she will likely have no choice but to comply if the legal action proceeds.

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