Ownership of the Lord of the Rings series has somehow been in the news twice this week. Firstly and most prominently, because the rights to the series are going up for sale for the first time since the 1970s. Secondly, and more bizarrely, because this week of all weeks a prominent Lord of the Rings mod was hit with a copyright notice.
The bigger news first: the Saul Zantz company has owned most of the rights to Tolkien’s works since the 1970s. Almost everything that has been made based on the books in the fields of “film, video games, merchandising, live events and theme parks” has had to be negotiated and paid for accordingly. Variety reported this week though that the company is moving to sell those rights, for a sum that’s expected to be around the $2 billion mark, with Amazon expected to be front of the line to make the purchase, which seems like an absolute worst-case scenario.
So it’s weird, then, that given the timing of that sale, Warner Bros.—who currently licenses the rights to Lord of the Rings video games—have chosen February 2022 to go after a prominent and highly-anticipated mod for the Total War series called Rise of Mordor.
This mod has been around for years—we wrote about it in 2018!—and has quietly gone about its business with the assumption that, like its popular predecessor Third Age, nobody really cared. Only now somebody clearly does, because Rise of Mordor’s Mod DB page has been hit with a takedown notice (Third Age’s, however, remains).
While the project’s Nexus Mods page is still up and running, the team have decided to make some changes regardless, and as Gamewatcher reports, the mod recently polled fans for input on a name change. Maybe this was a case of Warner tidying up loose ends before handing over the licenses, who knows. But equally uncertain is what happens to projects like this when the rights actually change hands.