Neil Gaiman On JK Rowling, Fair Use And The Flattery Of Derivative Works

from the flattery-will-get-you-everywhere dept

Copyfight points us to a fun blog post from Neil Gaiman where he discusses the lawsuit involving the "Harry Potter Lexicon" that JK Rowling is so upset about. He makes a bunch of good points about fair use and derivative works, saying that he'd be flattered if someone had done something similar with his works, and also notes that his own first books probably could be found as violating copyrights as well, and he's happy that no one acted like Rowling in trying to sue him for his work:
Lots of emails from people asking me to comment on the JK Rowling/ Steve Vander Ark copyright case. My main reaction is, having read as much as I can about it, given the copyright grey zone it seems to exist in, is a "Well, if it was me, I'd probably be flattered", but that obviously isn't how J.K. Rowling feels. I can't imagine myself trying to stop any of the unauthorised books that have come out about me or about things I've created over the years, and where possible I've tried to help, and even when I haven't liked them I've shrugged and let it go.

Given the messy area that "fair use" exists in in copyright law I can understand the judge not wanting to rule, and assume that whatever he says the case will head off to the court of appeal.

My heart is on the side of the people doing the unauthorised books, probably because the first two books I did were unauthorised, and one of them, Ghastly Beyond Belief, would have been incredibly vulnerable had anyone wanted to sue Kim Newman and me on the grounds that what we did, in a book of quotations that people might not have wanted to find themselves in, went beyond Fair Use.
He also goes on to note, if somewhat tangentially, that others have accused Rowling of copying his own works -- specifically The Books of Magic that involve a young magician "with potential" who (at one point) goes off to a magic school. Gaiman points out that he does not believe Rowling took the idea from him (or even that she read his works), but that people writing within a certain genre are always going to overlap with ideas -- some of which they glean from others and some of which they come up with themselves. And that's a good thing. It's only in this unfortunate era when people seem to think that all ideas must spring brand new from a virgin mind that the ideas of sharing, building on the works of others and creating new derivative works are seen as being bad.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Andrew Peterson, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 7:56am

    genre vs specifics

    I'm gonna have to side with Rowling on this one. It's not that a specific genre is overlapping, or that ideas are being borrowed. The entire book is based off of, and using direct quotes from Rowling's work.

    If you were to create a Star Wars Encyclopedia, Lucas would hang you high. If you created a book about a rebellion with main characters having mystical forces and follow all the other suggestions from Joseph Campbell, you would blend in with the 1000's of other stories like this. No big deal.

    The issue is with specifically using Rowling's works to make a profit. And for that, she should have the final say on what is done with her works.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 8:05am

    Poor billionaire. My heart goes out to her. Boo hoo.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Mudlock, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 8:09am

    O RLY?

    http://www.amazon.com/Unauthorized-Star-Wars-Compendium-Complete/dp/0316329290

    I never thought I'd see the day when there'd be a bigger boy-who-cried-copyright-infringement than George Lucas; and yet, there she is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Cygnus, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 8:11am

    understanding copyright law and flattery

    Mike,

    You seem to get the "idea/expression dichotomy" of copyright law when it suits your needs and forget it when it doesn't. In another context, you would have responded to "He also goes on to note ... that others have accused Rowling of copying his own works ... that involve a young magician 'with potential' who (at one point) goes off to a magic school" by correctly noting that copyright does not protect and idea; it only protects the expression of an idea.

    Also, this entire copyright-infringement-as-flattery argument is lost on me. Flattery doesn't pay the bills. Flattery in this sense really means riding someone else's coattails without their permission and without paying for the ride.

    C

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Pete Valle, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 8:35am

    Re: genre vs specifics

    There a a whole lot of unauthorized Star Wars books out there, specifically encyclopedia-type books and trivia books. I've also seen unauthorized Harry Potter reference books before, so I don't see the hoopla about this one, unless its that Rowling and co. were planning to release their own when this one came to light.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 8:35am

    Re: understanding copyright law and flattery

    Don't bother with Mike, because he has it all figureed out. Everything should be free and everyone will work to contribute. This model has worked before and will work again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Apr 24th, 2008 @ 8:41am

    Re: understanding copyright law and flattery

    this entire copyright-infringement-as-flattery argument is lost on me. Flattery doesn't pay the bills. Flattery in this sense really means riding someone else's coattails without their permission and without paying for the ride.

    JKR *totally* has to worry about paying the bills, i mean this guidebook is going to sell one millionth of the number of books that the harry potter series has sold, so clearly her ability to pay bills is in danger.

    thank god the richest woman in england has you looking out for her welfare.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    John M, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 8:42am

    I'm very amused that Rowling is mad about this book after reading of the issues with her being mad that someone thought of the name Harry Potter before her (see link): http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080417/030914871.shtml

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 8:46am

    Re: understanding copyright law and flattery

    Let's say I write a big encyclopedia on Gaiman's works; pick whichever one suits your fancy. I take direct quotes, piece together information from his different books, and maybe (but not necessarily, if you hold it would ruin my analogy to the Vander Ark bit) extrapolate to fill in the empty spaces. I publish it and sell it and it gets to be really popular. Maybe I make a lot of money.

    Now, I submit there are three people who will have read and bought my book: those who read gaiman's books, those who hadn't read his works but were directed toward them after discovering his world through me, and those who hadn't read his works but decided after reading mine they didn't care for it anyways.

    The first group has already benefitted Gaiman, and if I'm 'riding his coat-tails,' it's only because I've offerend the information in a useful way that hadn't been available before. (Mike will note how significant 'Official' is in these cases, and Gaiman could still make an Official Encyclopedia that would likely trump mine.

    The second group didn't know about Gaiman's works before I introduced them to the world. Maybe they'd seen his books on the shelf, maybe not, but he was an unknown quantifty. As a fan, I've explained to them in my book what I love so much about Gaiman's works and having discovered this world, they go out and buy his series. You can't say I'm riding his coat-tails if my audience has never read him, and what's more I'm just directed new readers his way. I've benefitted him.

    The final group is those who read my book and DON'T go on to read his series. As my encyclopedia is decidedly not the same thing as a narrative story, the only conclusion to be drawn is that they don't care for Gaiman's work and, as such, wouldn't have bought his series anyways. As above, I can't be riding his coat-tails if my audience is not already his fans. What's more, I haven't hurt him because these people who didn't buy wouldn't have bought even in my absense. And if you allow for direct quotations in my encyclopedia, you can't argue that it's my poor portrayal of his works that turned off prospective readers: if they liked his writing, they would have checked out the books.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    nipseyrussell, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 8:48am

    Re: genre vs specifics

    "The entire book is based off of, and using direct quotes from Rowling's work...The issue is with specifically using Rowling's works to make a profit. And for that, she should have the final say on what is done with her works."

    i see no reason this should be. who cares if someone is "profiting off someone else???" this is not taking a single dime away from rowling. you think her fans wont buy her books because some no name wrote a book based on her ideas. ridiculous

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    SomeGuy, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 8:48am

    Re: understanding copyright law and flattery

    It's flattery because you're enough of a fan -- you care enough about the characters and world they've created -- that you not only take the time to think and learn about everything they've presented, but you want to share that love of their works with the world. That's fairly flattering.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Neverhood, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 8:51am

    Ideer belonging to a person

    I think it is crazy to suggest that an idea can belong to a person... but I guess that is just my personal opinion.

    The whole concept gets impossible to put in to practice if you just dig a little under the surface.

    Rowling wrote Harry Potter, and i agree that she alone should have the right to sell copies of that book and make money on it. But if she should have the right to all DERIVED products aswell, then everybody should have that right.

    Did she invent the art of writing? No.
    Did she invent the concept of story telling? No.
    Did she invent the computer/pencil she wrote the story on/with? No!

    She used the work of all the inventors of these things to make her book, and you don't see her paying them a dime!
    Why?
    Because it doesn't make sense to look at ideas as property that can be owned.

    But that is exactly what our society is trying to do now, and it creates all kinds of problems like this.

    Boys will be boys... Even when they grow up and make laws.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 9:16am

    Re: genre vs specifics

    I think the thing to consider is not whether someone else is profiting from her work. Undoubtedly they would be. The questions should really be - does the derivative work impede Rowling's ability to sell her own product. In this case, I think JK is safe as houses. I have read all the books and have loved every single one. A "lexicon" would be a neat thing for a fan to have. Same as a bibliography or lyrics book for a favourite band.

    I think the impression she's giving here is that this work will detract from her own work and certainly it will not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Apr 24th, 2008 @ 9:23am

    Re: genre vs specifics

    I'm gonna have to side with Rowling on this one. It's not that a specific genre is overlapping, or that ideas are being borrowed. The entire book is based off of, and using direct quotes from Rowling's work.

    Again, people seem to get blinded by the content, and miss the fact that the *value* is clearly not in the content. If it were, then no one would by the Lexicon. Why would they? The content is already out there.

    The *value* is in the *organization* of the content -- and that's new to this book. That's not Rowling's work.

    So why do people get so upset by this?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Apr 24th, 2008 @ 9:25am

    Re: understanding copyright law and flattery

    Also, this entire copyright-infringement-as-flattery argument is lost on me. Flattery doesn't pay the bills. Flattery in this sense really means riding someone else's coattails without their permission and without paying for the ride.

    Copyright isn't designed to pay the bills either. And, the point is that *anyone* who writes anything is somehow "riding on someone else's coattails." But, the real point is that if this book didn't have significant value above and beyond Rowlings' work, no one would buy it.

    That's the point. If it were just a copy and added no value, no one would buy it anyway. The fact that people are interested in it suggests that it *adds* value, and therefore does *more* than what Rowling had done.

    That should be encouraged.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Matt, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re: genre vs specifics

    100% agreed.

    Also note: if Rowling wins this case, it has a bit of really bad legal precedents it could be setting. Specifically when it comes to video game guides and whatnot as well, not by name of guide, but by organization.

    I really hope Rowling's publisher can remove the Harry Potter broomstick from her ass.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    BinaryWorld, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 9:44am

    Put It In The Hands Of The Fans

    The fans are the ones that made her. They bought her books, they watched the movies, they bought the DVDs, etc. I don't see a true fan refusing to buy her 'Official' version just b/c they had already bought the 'Unofficial' version. Let the fans decide what they want or don't want. She seems to have quickly forgotten how truly lucky she is that the Harry Potter craze caught on. I bet if she was still a struggling single mom, she'd embrace the exposure the Lexicon book would create.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    oh noes (profile), Apr 24th, 2008 @ 10:02am

    rehash of old ideas

    hmmm....welcome to science fiction, where witht the current state of laws of physics, means that everyone is copying someone else anymore because there just isn't any new science. Saying jk is being hurt by this, is like saying azimov was hurt by all the "bad" portayals of robots run amok. Is like Sir Clarke being hurt bacause someone showed a satellite going nuts. The list can go on and on. There is overlap because, ideas are finite. There are only so many ways you can describe bloodthirsty robots. There is only so many ways you can describe first contact. The "father's" of sci fi would, by the comments posted here, have the right to sue every other sci fi author out there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    interval, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 10:20am

    Re: genre vs specifics

    Just because George Lucas can "hang you high" doesn't make him correct. The issue needs to be resolved on the basis of law, not on how any one personality "feels" about a derivative work. We have waaay to much feeling-based nonsense going on in the country.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    interval, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 10:24am

    Re: Re: genre vs specifics

    This one is probably so good Rowling feels threatened. Too bad. If I were her I'd laugh all the way to the bank and retire. Take a vacation. Anything other than worry about what other authors are legally allowed to do with my stories.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    duderindo, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 11:01am

    Re: Ideer belonging to a person

    "Did she invent the art of writing? No.
    Did she invent the concept of story telling? No.
    Did she invent the computer/pencil she wrote the story on/with? No!

    She used the work of all the inventors of these things to make her book, and you don't see her paying them a dime!
    Why?
    Because it doesn't make sense to look at ideas as property that can be owned."

    That is just plain illogical. She did pay for the computer/pencil. No "one" invented story telling, it's open source. But when it comes to using someone else's work to gain profit, especially considering the guy quoted so much of her work, you need permission. I don't think her "people" are worried about her ability to make profit, it's just, had this guy asked permission, it would have been a different story.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 11:09am

    Re: Re: Ideer belonging to a person

    But as proven by the legion of unofficial StarWars guides and video game guides and encyclopedias and trivia books and everything else, you don't need permission. You think Lucas would let those things make a priofit without his hands all over them if he had the choice?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Dr. Mounir Bashour, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 11:12am

    Agree with Neil

    I have to agree with Neil Gaiman on this. Copyrights, trademarking and IP protection in general has gotten out of hand in the last 30 years as humans fall deeper into the illusion of scarcity. Hopefully as with Creative Commons and open source software the ideas of sharing, building on the works of others and creating new derivative works will start to shape our world more favorably as time goes by and we will begin to realize that scarcity is an illusion born of fear. www.drbashour.blogspot.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    neil, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: genre vs specifics

    Mike you cant switch arguments.

    you argue that the value is not in content or in the orginization of it.

    for you the value is in advertising and only advertising.
    Everything must be free and we will all profit from the advertisers.

    respond when you figure out the flaw in your free market concept.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    BinaryWorld, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 11:28am

    Lexicon vs Research Paper

    Relatively speaking, what is the difference between the Lexicon and a research paper? Do students have to ask permission before they quote an author or use an excerpt? Research papers are usually filled with citations and some original thought to explain the citations.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 11:33am

    Re: Lexicon vs Research Paper

    No one sells research papers. Mostly, I guess, because no one buys research papers...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    BinaryWorld, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 11:41am

    Re: Re: Lexicon vs Research Paper

    The profit made by Lexicon is monetary. The profit made by a research paper is a passing grade. It depends on what it is worth to the person creating it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    John, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 11:50am

    Gray area

    I am friends with the owner of Mugglenet, another site that acts as a forum for discussion on Harry Potter. Rowling has always maintained a good relationship with her fans and especially the owners of the fan websites. My friend says that his site uses plenty of content that could potentially infringe on WB and her copyrights, but that their good relationship allows the site to use the material. He recently wrote a book about predictions for the 7th book, and many of his predictions were spot on. Rowling had no problem with the book because it offered independent literary criticism and created new ideas. It clearly fell on the side of fair use. I think in some sense Rowling feels betrayed by this guy writing the encyclopedia. On a common-sense level, I think this guy is being an arrogant prick who is ruining his relationship with Rowling and the HP community in order to make an encyclopedia that essentially organizes existing knowledge. On a legal sense, I think he is pushing the boundaries of fair use, but I don't know if he is crossing it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    erica, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 11:53am

    original ideas

    I've heard that in this day and age there are no real new original ideas that someone else hasn't thought of at one time or another.

    So many frivolous lawsuits these days.. and a judge has to rule who thought of it first and who should get credit - now that's a lot to ask of anyone.

    I wonder if anyone thought of making a movie of that... wait. I bet that has already been done!

    I wonder if thinking that there already has been one made was already made into a movie?

    And on that note - Who is anyone to say who thought of something first? We are only seeing the counter of someone who is living. What if every dead person was alive too - maybe someone else a year ago - or 30 years ago voiced that he or she should get the credit??

    Could you prove who thought of first? Would you want to judge who the profits should goto?

    The whole thing is just too much to ask of anyone! It outta just be let go of.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Gray area

    I don't understand how the Lexicon is any different from the 'approved' predictions book. It's obvious that the reorganization of information is valuable, in this and every other similar case. So what's the problem?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 12:10pm

    Re: genre vs specifics

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    barren waste, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 12:11pm

    fair use

    Creating an encyclopedia of movie/book information is legit fair use. It's been going on for years without qualm. Suddenly it's morally repugnent and grounds for law suit? There is something else going on here, or, and I hate to say this as I like her work, J.K. Rowling is acting the part of a four year old. As far as I can tell the author isn't claiming that the encyclopedia's content is anything but J.K.'s work, only that the encyclopedia gathers all the info and trivia into one handy format. Essentialy, the "crime" here is the gathering and organisation of data not created by the author. Hmm...does that mean all encyclopedias are copyright infringements?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Willton, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Gray area

    On a common-sense level, I think this guy is being an arrogant prick who is ruining his relationship with Rowling and the HP community in order to make an encyclopedia that essentially organizes existing knowledge. On a legal sense, I think he is pushing the boundaries of fair use, but I don't know if he is crossing it.

    He's crossing it. See Castle Rock Entertainment, Inc. v. Carol Publishing Group, 150 F.3d 132 (1998) (holding that the book The Seinfeld Aptitude Test, a trivia quizbook devoted to the show, infringed on Castle Rock's copyright in the show because the book "so minimally alters Seinfeld's original expression" as to not qualify as a transformative use).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Willton, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 12:30pm

    Re: Re: Gray area

    It's obvious that the reorganization of information is valuable, in this and every other similar case. So what's the problem?

    The problem is that merely making something more valuable does not by itself negate infringement.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Willton, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 12:33pm

    Re: original ideas

    You're missing the point. Copyright does not protect original ideas. Copyright protects the original expression of an idea.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    icon
    Dan Zee (profile), Apr 24th, 2008 @ 12:56pm

    Going over the line

    I guess this is a question of what is going over the line. Anyone has the right to do an encyclopedia or reference book on just about any subject they want. It's not just fair use, but an actual protected part of the copyright laws. Information cannot be copyrighted

    But from the press descriptions, apparently, instead of writing his own entries, he used J.K. Rowling's own words for the entries.

    If this is true, I think this is a big difference and probably why J.K. Rowling is angry enough to spend big bucks to sue him and his publisher. He should have written his own entries and not extensively quoted Rowling.

    However, I do agree with some folks who say the judge is trying to avoid a ruling on this because he's afraid of establishing a "line in the sand" reference point over how much quoting is allowed or not allowed in such a work. And Rowling doesn't need the extra cash from a proposed profit split. She can fight this as long as she wants to.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Motown, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Re: understanding copyright law and flattery

    As a musician (read: poor), I love the idea of using being able to use open source/ public domain stuff without having to pay for it (check out my screen name). On the other hand, as a songwriter who one day hopes to profit from my craft, copyright infringement is taking food out of my mouth. That, I feel, is the real issue at stake. Those who accuse Rowling of being greedy are probably right, but her insistence on controlling how her creative work is used also helps protect the millions of authors, songwriters, painters, etc. who aren't so rich and who stand to lose big time.

    Gaiman appears to be in a position where he can afford to have his work 'ripped off'. Many, though, can't. History (particularly the music industry) is full of examples where the people who did the remake, version, or other derivative work made millions, but the one who penned (painted, or sang) the original receives little (Consider, who wrote Twist and Shout? It wasn't The Beatles).

    Yes, I'm as annoyed as the next guy at the greedy rantings of the George Lucases and JK Rowlings of the world when they cry, "Copyright infringement!" None-the-less, their rantings and insistence on the law can help the little guy protect him or herself from the predatory practices of those who would like to profit from their work without paying for it (or at least asking permission)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 1:03pm

    Ms Rowling can suck my butt. Period. I don't mind her making a profit on Harry Potter. I don't mind her being upset if someone ripped off her work and reprinted it defacto. But this.. I have sitting on my bookshelf unofficial reference books for X-Files, StarWars, and DiscWorld. Theres some material in each of them lifted straight from the source material. It of course quotes what episode/book its in, and basically helps me keep everything straight in my mind about how different points connect. Thats what reference books do. They aren't the original material, they aren't a replacement for the original material. They are a compendium to help you with the original material. You get nothing out of them without already having read/watched/bought/studied/obsessed over the original material. And btw, I'd give Mr Gaiman a much better case of abuse against JKR, than I'd give her against the schmuck who wrote the encyclopedia. Neil's a nice guy, I've always thought that with the interviews I've seen of his. But for him to sit there and say that the her books only vaguely overlap with his books as anything in the same genra would... Well, the man should be nominated for Sainthood.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Deb, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re: genre vs specifics

    I dunno, but I would be pretty upset if I spent a decade of my life creating these ideas, nurturing them, devoting countless hours to make them come to a life on the page...

    ...only to have someone lift whole passages without credit and print them presented as his original research and conclusions which is what the fan in question is doing.

    If he used small parts of the descriptions and then followed with critique or expanded based on his view and interpretation, I would have no problem with it. But that isn't what he's doing.

    He pulls entire passages from the books without changing a word, doesn't cite what book or what page and which edition, that's a problem. He's presenting her work as his own simply by organizing it in reference form.

    That's copyright infringement. Not flattery.

    "Copyright infringement is a violation of the rights of the copyright holder, when material is used without the copyright holder's consent."

    He's taking material (names, items, full passages from the books wherein the item/person is described) from the books, directly.

    If he were to interpret it and write a different, non word for word description, I'd support him. But the way he's done it, I won't.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: genre vs specifics

    I don't think that I ever read Mike say that value is in advertising specifically. Got cites for that assertion?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: genre vs specifics

    So where does your model allow for fair use of another's material? You skipped right over it and regardless of your opinion, the law has a special place for it, even if it is a bit murky to know where it really is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 2:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: understanding copyright law and flattery

    If you're for open source/public domain then you must also be for fair use, something you left out of your post. If we don't have fair use, most of the reference material you see today would be non-existent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Apr 24th, 2008 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: genre vs specifics

    you argue that the value is not in content or in the orginization of it.

    Hmm? Not at all. I've always argued that the value is in the organization. When have I said otherwise.

    for you the value is in advertising and only advertising.

    Again, not at all. If you look at my posts on business models, I explain why advertising is *not* always the right business mdoel.

    Everything must be free and we will all profit from the advertisers.

    Again, not at all. In many cases, advertisements are a bad way to monetize.

    Please do not ascribe to me positions I have not taken.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: genre vs specifics

    "He pulls entire passages from the books without changing a word, doesn't cite what book or what page and which edition, that's a problem. He's presenting her work as his own simply by organizing it in reference form."

    You do realize that he couldn't cite what page these were from because there are hardbacks/paperbacks and there are massive differences in U.S vs U.K. editions as well. The book it was in would be helpful(I don't know anything about it..I hate Horny Porter personally) but I don't think it's necessary by any means.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 3:22pm

    Re: genre vs specifics

    Actually Lucas endorses derivative works and often holds contests to find the best stuff. Now, if you directly tried to copy something, it might be a different story.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Nick Burns, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 3:46pm

    Re: Re: genre vs specifics

    Did Lucas endorse Steven Colbert's Green Screen Challenge?

    I remember him on the show to submit his entry into the contest (clips straight from Episode I). Hilarious.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Clueby4, Apr 24th, 2008 @ 6:31pm

    It's fair use.

    It's fair use.

    Those flapping "I wouldn't want..." just keep projecting their lack of knowledge of copyright.

    If you spanks were right, there would be no guidebooks, encyclopedias, dictionaries, Idiot Guides to Subject X, etc.

    Rowling's core issue, is that she can't keep track of her own content, and knows that the UNOFFICIAL encyclopedia will be more accurate, complete, and lacking weak rationalizations meant to conceal numerous plot holes and deformed character development. Hence her statement regarding using the Lexicon to help write her books.

    Copyright's original goal is provide incentive to create, that incentive was achieved by giving LIMITED rights to the original creator. It was never intended as never ending revenue stream.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2008 @ 5:21am

    Re: Re: Re: understanding copyright law and flattery

    You make a wonderful point regarding musicians and covers: some bands can just make better music that the original artists. I LOVE covers because I love hearing songs in different styles. Performance is almost 100% of what music is, and if you complain that other bands perform better than you... well, maybe music isn't your place.

    Songwriters are in a sticky place, especially if they're "freelance" and make a living selling transcripts of their songs. I think a much better place would be to attach to a certain band, at least until you make a name for yourself and can get paid on a hire basis. But that's neither here nor there.

    Anyways, there's a big difference between writing an encyclopedia and ripping off a series wholecloth. The series the encyclopedia is ABOUT is already popular, otherwise no one would care enough to write it, let alone read it. Rowling is not being harmed here, nor is she "protecting" other writers. No one writes an encyclopedia about a series people have never heard of. And no one imagines that an *unofficial* encyclopedia is anything but the ideas of another person, collected and organized in a formal way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Andrew Peterson, Apr 25th, 2008 @ 5:32am

    Re: Re: Re: genre vs specifics

    I couldn't agree more. There will always be similarities (the other book with the main character Harry Potter) This book doesn't even try to add anything new. It is putting Rowling's works in a different order and then spitting them back out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Eliza Days, Apr 25th, 2008 @ 7:12am

    Copyright issue unnecessarily scares genuine scholars

    I wrote a review recently wrote a review for a young lady from Oxford who wrote a book called "Prejudice in Harry Potter", outlining the ways Rowling creates metaphors of real-world prejudice and discrimination in her work. It was a very good read and one I think Ms Rowling would be proud of. After all, she wants people to take her books seriously and has said she is "delighted" about the reading critical analyses of her work. Scholarly commentary she should definitely feel flattered about, but mere copying and pasting like this Lexicon guy is doing is highway robbery and plundering. The worst part of all of this is that the court case might scare off legitimate critics who have something important to say about Rowling's contribution to popular culture. And core Harry Potter fans who are fiercely loyal to her don't care about the seriousness of the themes like the ones Brown highlights in her work. We just want to talk about the movies and what Emma Watson wore to the latest premiere. As much as I like Rowling I fear that she has made a circus out of all of this. And rather unnecessarily given Steve Vander Ark a lot of free publicity.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    joel, Apr 25th, 2008 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Re: understanding copyright law and flattery

    I think there's a flaw in your reasoning. Some hypothetical readers of your near-copy didn't know in advance whether they would like it or not. They paid you for the chance to find out, and decided they didn't like it, or didn't like it enough to buy Gaiman's in addition. Absent your near-copy, some of those readers would have bought his instead--after all, people don't know in advance which books they will like; rather, they pick books based on plot synopses, genres and favorite sub-genres, indicators which your near-copy would be a near copy. So you'd be getting some money he otherwise would have gotten, when he did hard work and you did easy work.

    This does not, of course, address the Rowlings situation at all--I just thought there was a missing step in your reasoning.

    Briefly, I think Rowlings is almost certainly not worried about the money. I think either her sense of fair play is offended, or perhaps she has a fairly tender sense of possessiveness about her creations. I'm not sure what the public policy should be, but on an emotional level, I'm inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt and allow that she may not be a crazy witch.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    Mitur Binesderty, May 1st, 2008 @ 7:53am

    Harry Who?

    Harry Potter sucks, 'nuff said.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    oregonnerd, May 3rd, 2008 @ 10:12am

    Re: Ideer belonging to a person\no, but...

    She invented English!
    --Glenn

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    ag, May 16th, 2008 @ 9:44pm

    So Neil Gaiman sides with the Lexicon for the fact that he himself infringed on copyrights?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    Brittny, May 30th, 2008 @ 6:52pm

    Rowling...

    J.K. Rowling has allowed several unauthorized books. So it's not about unauthorized books. It's about the fact that she wants to release an encyclopedia of her own. Who gets first dibs? A fan whose been cataloging the content of J.K. Rowling's book on his website? Or the author of Harry Potter herself. It's wonderful to allow fans to create an encyclopedia of your own work if you don't intend to write one yourself. Otherwise I'm sure the author of Neil Gaiman's guide to the Sandman would have bowed to Gaiman's wishes if he had a cool idea of his own guide on the subject. THAT is my problem with it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    English Learning Center, Feb 15th, 2011 @ 4:01am

    Rowling of Copy of his work !!!!

    It was so interesting article because a person who copy his own work for Rowling ,it really amazing and new article.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This