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 @ 6:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It does not. The transformative nature of the work, that is, the organization, is part of what the court considered and is largely what would define it as fair use. In the course of putting together that organization, Vander Ark didn't just orgainize descriptions of persons and things in the Potter universe in his own words, quoting where approrpirate, but used Rowling's distinctive phrasing in many places without quotations. He was also inconsistent in attributing the book and chapters from which the material was taken. In some cases, he used direct language that was a very substantial part of two ancilliary books written by Rowling.

    No one said he wasn't adding value. But he was also using word other than his own beyond fair use. The ruling didn't prevent him from profiting from his work though it did prelude him from profiting from her work.

    The publisher was clearly aiming to get the book out as soon as possible after the publication of the last Potter book and before Rowling could complete her own. Clearly aiming at profiteering off of her success. If you read the decision, this was really more the publishers fault than Vander Ark's.

    Vander Ark is free to add value to his work and, within certain fairly reasonable restrictions, even to the Potter universe. "Unauthorized" fan books of this sort appear all the time. But he needs to use mostly his own words when describing all the thing Potter that he's organized.

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