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
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2008 @ 8:20am

    Re: Further thought

    that is a specious argument that misrepresents the lexicon book and website.

    First the Lexicon does more than reprint the words. infact about the only time it reprints passages is when it defines a term that is slang or british names for things followed by a few (short) excerpts of where it was used, with proper attribution.

    as for things that rowling "created" (seeing as how she just built off of and profited off the work of others, just like nearly all writers) they repackaged all the information in their own words with lots, and lots of references and attribution. you can see for example, the Death eater entry look at Avery:
    Attended Hogwarts with Snape and was one of his "gang of Slytherins," according to Sirius Black (GF27). The first Death Eater to crack and grovel at Voldemort's feet during the reunion at the Little Hangleton graveyard, having avoided Azkaban by claiming he'd acted under the Imperius Curse. Voldemort responded with the Cruciatus Curse, saying that he wanted 13 years repayment before forgiving the Death Eaters for their lack of belief in him (GF33). When Voldemort later learned from Rookwood that Avery's information about the Department of Mysteries had been wrong -- that only he himself or Harry Potter could safely take the prophecy sphere from its resting place -- Voldemort punished Avery again (OP26). Avery survived to fight in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries (OP35). Probably related (father/son?) to the Avery that attended Hogwarts with Tom Riddle (see above).

    clearly in the author's own words, but with lots of accreditation and references. perfectly valid under fair use.

    the rest of the content on the site is the same, summaries in the author's own word with lots of references. as to the top 100 songs example a better example would be to compare it to a countdown format where they add info and trivia about the song and group, current events when the song topped the charts, and lots of other content besides the 30 seconds of the song. and if someone did that, it is unlikely anyone would win any case trying to stop it.

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