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
    Roger Rapoport, 5 Jan 2010 @ 6:43pm

    The Lexicon by Steve Vander Ark

    A great deal has happened since the events referred to in this commentary. Hundreds of newspapers and magazines, including the Associated Press, have reported that Steve Vander Ark's Lexicon: An Unauthorized Guide to Harry Potter Fiction and Related Materials has been published by RDR Books and is widely available in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and elsewhere around the world. . Mr. Vander Ark has lectured widely across the United States and Britain on the new book which has been well received by the critics. Kirkus Reviews has high praise for the new book: "Stealing a march on all competitors, this wins points for currently and all but the most obsessive readers will find it unexcelled for ease of use as a quick reference guide." Many other reviewers have similarly praised the book.
        In a statement issued to Publishers Weekly, J.K. Rowling's lawyer Neil Blair said: "We are delighted that this matter is finally and favorably resolved."
        Many legal commentators have written that Judge Patterson's decision, which should be read by anyone interested in this case, makes clear for the first time that reference books are transformative under the Fair Use Doctrine. The judge created a very clear roadmap for the author of the Lexicon and other authors of similar non-fiction companion works on fictional series.
        In an article written for the American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries attorney Jonathan Band explains "How Fair Use Prevailed in the Harry Potter Case." A great deal of additional up to date information is available at and also at the Stanford Law School Fair Use which represented RDR books, Visit

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