The community manager for The Lord of the Rings Online shared an official cease and desist letter to the operators of private vanilla server project Echoes of Angmar sent by Middle Earth Enterprises, owner of rights to Tolkien’s works. The letter requests that all development and action on Echoes of Angmar shut down and all related materials referring to Tolkien’s work be removed since the project does not have an official license.
“As owners of the intellectual property rights, we are charged with protecting those rights both morally and legally. Unfortunately, Echoes of Angmar uses specific content from the books and from our Licensee for The Lord of the Rings Online without the benefit of a license. Honestly, it breaks our hearts to post letters like this one. It is not uncommon for fans to create things reflecting an affection for the Tolkien works. It is thus with a heavy heart that we must ask that you immediately cease all of your unauthorized use of Echoes of Angmar, and all other Tolkien-related IP on all platforms, including Discord, Youtube and on https://www.echoesofangmar.com/.”
Given that the Echoes of Angmar team doesn’t maintain public social channels or an official community, there has been no response yet, and the project’s website remains up as of this writing.The project’s Discord also did not come up in a search today.
When it comes to private servers, there are some projects where the IP holders, usually to dead MMOs, may have some leeway to look the other way (and sometimes bless) private server development. However, the Tolkien estate is known for fiercely protecting its ownership rights, which are worth considerable amounts, given that they pertain to one of the biggest fantasy IPs out there.
There has been a planned first testing round scheduled to open on August 19th, but it seems likely we will see a shutdown instead.