Publisher Appeals Ruling Against Harry Potter Lexicon

from the good-for-RDR dept

We were somewhat dismayed by the ruling against the Harry Potter Lexicon, a guidebook of sorts for the universe created in the Harry Potter series of books. J.K. Rowling argued against the book on emotional, rather than legal, grounds, but the judge still found it to be a violation of copyright, and not covered by fair use. For a variety of reasons many copyright scholars felt this to be a bad decision. However, since the judge put in place a rather low fine, it wasn't clear if the publisher would bother appealing.

A bunch of folks have been submitting the fact that RDR Books has, in fact, decided to appeal the ruling and to argue that publishing such a guidebook is, indeed, fair use. Hopefully the Appeals Court recognizes the problems of the lower court ruling and protects fair use for such guidebooks. Of course, some of us are still hopeful that even J.K. Rowling realizes that pursuing this case only serves to damage her reputation, and that she realizes (as she did when the Lexicon was just a website) that allowing fans to help explain and expand the universe she created only increases the value of her works.

Filed Under: copyright, harry potter, j.k. rowling

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  1. identicon
    Commentator, 12 Nov 2008 @ 6:49am

    Thoughts on originality

    It is true that J.K. Rowling's works owe literary debts to many predecessors - for example, you see numerous themes from Tolkien being used (Voldemort have a precedent in Sauron, the Dementors in Ringwraiths, etc...). But Ms. Rowling managed to take these elements and turn them into an original tale of her own. Similarly, Shakespeare completely ripped off the plot-lines of Hamlet and numerous other plays, but still put his own unique stamp on them.

    There are numerous Harry Potter guides out there which describe the world of Harry Potter by combining elements of the books with deep original research and insight by their authors, and none of those has been challenged. The Lexicon is an alphabetical arrangement of various characters and objects from Harry Potter, the descriptions for which many times have been taken directly from the books where they were described. Hence, limited original content, hence the lawsuit. Ms. Rowling supported the website when it was simply a passionate hobbyist, but when it tried to become a money-making venture off of her content with nothing added except re-organization, that's where it crossed the line.

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