Terrible Ruling: Judge Halts Publication Of Harry Potter Lexicon

from the bad-news dept

Despite the fact that J.K. Rowling relied on emotional, rather than legal reasons for not wanting the publication of a guidebook about the Harry Potter universe, called the Harry Potter Lexicon to go forward, it appears that a judge was convinced. The judge has halted the publication of the Lexicon, saying that it violates Rowling's copyrights and did not establish a fair use defense. Hopefully the book publisher will appeal, as there seems to be some questionable statements in the ruling:
"because the Lexicon appropriates too much of Rowling's creative work for its purposes as a reference guide, a permanent injunction must issue to prevent the possible proliferation of works that do the same and thus deplete the incentive for original authors to create new works."
It's quite difficult to see how the publication of the Lexicon, which would only encourage more fans to dig even deeper into the Harry Potter universe somehow "depletes" the incentive for the original author to create new works. The Lexicon does nothing more than add more value to the rest of the Harry Potter books, and to deny its publication seems like a travesty of a broken copyright system.

Filed Under: copyright, fair use, guidebook, harry potter, harry potter lexicon, j.k. rowling


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  1. identicon
    LostSailor, 10 Sep 2008 @ 8:18am

    Re: It isn't this case...

    From here on, if this decision stands, no unauthorized works on copyrighted material will withstand a lawsuit, regardless of the judges comments on the matter.

    Actually, not so much. This case doesn't set any new precedent. The judge's decision fairly clearing acknowledges (and cites precedent) that unauthorized works relating to copyrighted material are protected as they have long been. There are many such "unauthorized" works out there that have easily survived legal scrutiny. This Lexicon would almost definitely have survived if the author had been a little more careful, copied less of the original text, and used more of his own words rather than using Rowling's.

    As I have said before, it was not a jury who pronounced this verdict, but a single judge of questionable character.

    I have no idea why this was a bench hearing, but usually it's the defendant who gets to opt for a jury instead of just a judge. Why is the judge "of questionable character"? That's quite an accusation to make. Do you have evidence of corruption or conflict of interest? Does he hate puppies?

    A court of appeals should overturn this easily, but we'll have to wait and see.

    I doubt there will be an appeal. And though I'm not a lawyer, having read the court's decision, there are scant issues of law that could be appealed.

    In the meantime, it is good to see that JK has lost in the court of public opinion.

    Well, she's certainly lost in the Techdirt court of opinion. It remains to be seen whether the general public is even really aware of the case. Personally, I doubt she's lost anything by winning this case as far as the pubic and most Harry Potter readers and movie-goers.

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