When the news first came out about the decision of the C S Lewis Company to file a complaint against the Scottish couple who bought the domain name Narnia.mobi, I was rather indignant. To take action against someone for wanting to provide an extra-special birthday gift for their child seemed rather uncalled for.
But as Proverbs 18:17 reminds us: "The first speech in a court case is always convincing—until the cross-examination starts!" [The Message Bible] It seems that the Saville-Smiths were not exactly forthcoming with all the significant details when they were interviewed by the Press. In fact, it appears that the story about wanting to give their son a birthday present was just that--a story. The conclusion by the experts at IPKat was that
...their actual motives had very little to do with simply getting a nice birthday present for their son. Instead, their acts of registering so many domain names now makes them appear like classic cybersquatters, but perhaps with a particular talent for tales of fantasy.
Jesus told His followers that we are to be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." [Matthew 10:16] Rather than this being a case of The Man oppressing the little guy, as this has been presented in much of the Press, perhaps it would be much more accurate to portray this as discerning followers of Christ practicing wisdom. Let's look at a couple facts.
First of all, the testimony presented in this case overwhelmingly shows that the Saville-Smiths' intent was to make money off a protected trademark, not to buy their son a birthday present. It is true that while C S Lewis was alive he gave most of the proceeds from his Narnia works to charity, but this is certainly different than allowing someone to steal copyrighted material. The Saville-Smiths certainly are not a charity case!
Secondly, the C S Lewis Company is not in the habit of filing litigation against those who use the "Narnia" name. Those who follow the law, and use the name for a legitimate non-commercial purpose, have been left alone. A quick search of the Internet bears this out. Here are some examples: NarniaWeb.com, NarniaFans.com, NarniaStory.com, Narnia.org and Narnia.Freeservers.com.
So, where are all the royalties that are paid to the Lewis estate going? That seems to be a bit of a mystery. Besides lawyer's fees, apparently the money is put in trust. (See this article in the November 6, 2005 Sunday Times.) What the money is being used for seems to be a mystery. I certainly hope that Lewis's interest in helping the needy is being carried forward.