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, 8 Sep 2008 @ 2:17pm

    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.

    Well, it would certainly encourage fans to dig deeper into their pockets to enrich Vander Ark.

    It's quite difficult to see why Mr. Vander Ark should profit by leaching off of the work of another writer. While there is a fair use argument for guides and reference material even based on bestselling fiction, the ruling apparently decided that he'd copied too much.

    Yes, it may increase interest in the Potter books, but it's not very likely (the films will do much more in that regard). And Rowling has likely already made the bulk of the money she's going to off of the Potter material already in print (unless she decides to write more). But neither of those are the issue, really.

    Mike says that this is evidence the "copyright system" is broken, but why should this person profit mainly on work that is not his own? Can't this also be seen as an attempt to cash in on the back of Rowling's work? As I recall, she had no complaint when Vander Ark had all this material published free on the web, but only took legal action when that material was about to be published and sold in book form.

    I have not read the complete decision yet--Thanks DanC for the link.

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