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. icon
    PaulT (profile), 8 Sep 2008 @ 4:17pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Capitalism is also about protecting your property."

    She can "protect" it all she wants but she can't have it both ways. She's created a series of books that detail a world people want to read more about and are willing to buy a separate book to do this. She's not created such a work herself, so the market's open to others.

    This book doesn't negatively affect her sales. In fact, most of the people this book would be aimed at are existing fans who already own the other 7 books. She's exercising control, and in doing so losing fans. As for the work done, the author has done some work. Maybe not in creating the entire text from whole cloth, but by organising, editing and streamlining the selection of quotes and extracts from the novels - not an easy task I'd bet. Is this person not entitled to compensation of their own? Remember, we're not talking about someone trying to pass off a book as a new Rowling work, but someone producing a clearly labelled unofficial work.

    I've mentioned it before here, but let's contrast her behaviour with another famous author, Stephen King. There are not one but two now-officially approved books that chronicle the world of his Dark Tower series of novels. These books were not specifically commissioned, and King himself admits to having used them while writing the final chapters of his series. He doesn't mind his work being used as he recognises that only fans of the series would be interested, and has now endorsed them both, flattered that people would be willing to spend so much time compiling such a guide.

    Another example: I remember as a child discovering Tolkien's lesser-known works through a cheap, unofficial guide to Middle Earth that even made me want to buy the notoriously dry Silmarillion - no easy read as a 100 year old. Had Tolkien's estate had the same attitude as Rowling, I may never have bought any book of his other than The Hobbit and LOTR, yet now I own them all.

    Rowling wants to exercise control over her works, but fails to realise how much that makes her lose rather than gain.

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