J.K. Rowling Sues To Stop Publication Of Fan-Written Potter Reference Book

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling takes a dim view of independently authored reference books, it seems. She’s joined a lawsuit to stop the publication of a fan-written reference book based on a website that she herself admitted to using while fact checking her writing.

From Salon’s Machinist blog:

In the past, Rowling has offered high praise for the HPL. “This is such a great site that I have been known to sneak into an Internet cafe while out writing and check a fact rather than go into a bookshop and buy a copy of Harry Potter (which is embarrassing),” she says on her site. She calls the HPL “a website for the dangerously obsessive; my natural home.”

Thanks to such acclaim, Vander Ark recently landed a publishing contract with RDR Books to put out a printed version of the online lexicon. His book was to have gone on sale this fall.

You might suppose that given her appreciation of the online HPL, Rowling would have encouraged the book’s publication and sale. But you’d be wrong. On Halloween, Rowling and Warner Bros., which produces the Potter movies, filed suit to stop Vander Ark and RDR from selling the book. Late last week, RDR agreed to halt publication of Vander Ark’s Potter lexicon pending a federal judge’s review.

In her suit, Rowling, arguably the most well-remunerated writer in history, asserts complete and total control over the Harry Potter creative universe — a stance that, if affirmed by the court, would strike a deep blow to the legions of fans who have added immeasurably to her work online. Her attorneys claim that Vander Ark’s book will compete with Rowling’s own planned Potter encyclopedia; the lexicon, they say, is thus nothing more than an attempt to “make millions of dollars off the back of Ms. Rowling’s creativity.”

In a statement, Rowling added: “It is not reasonable, or legal, for anybody, fan or otherwise, to take an author’s hard work, re-organize their characters and plots, and sell them for their own commercial gain. However much an individual claims to love somebody else’s work, it does not become theirs to sell.”

Has J.K. Rowling ever been to a library? Seriously, I truly wonder. Because if she had, she might have seen many examples of exactly the sort of books she describes as “not reasonable.” For instance, a list of the allusions in “Ulysses”; or a complete guide to all of the characters in William Faulkner’s fiction; or a compilation and detailed analysis of Bob Dylan’s lyrics; or a book containing the complete chronology of the events in David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest.”

Hey, J.K. — can I call you J.K.? — these are known as “reference books,” and, like the HPL, they are not mere “reorganizations” of characters and plots.

We don’t know about you, but we think that if the woman used the site to help her write the damn books, they’re obviously useful reference tools and are protected under fair use, which doesn’t distinguish between the commercial and non-commercial. Even if J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. wishes that it did.

J.K. Rowling’s Crucio curse on fan’s Harry Potter book [Machinist]
(Photo:Getty)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Finder says:

    There aren’t any more Harry Potter books. Can’t we just forget about them already?

  2. ludwigk says:

    Is J.K. uneducated, or just greedy? I don’t know her background, but I thought she was some kind of rags to riches stay at home mum who now runs a multi-billion $$ franchise.

    If J.K. perhaps:

    - Never went to college
    – Never went to libraries
    – Never went to bookstores, except to purchase additional copies of her books (as stated above)

    then she might actually not know that these sort of derivative works are quite common. Not that it changes the legality of it all, whatever that may be. Perhaps she is just exceedingly ignorant?

  3. MENDOZA!!!!! says:

    threadjack
    United and Delta in discussion on merger
    /threadjack

  4. AstroPig7 says:

    Aren’t there already Harry Potter reference books in print? I recall one that speculated about the content of the final volume, so this can’t be something new.

  5. dorianh49 says:

    How dumbledore is that?

  6. zentec says:

    I guess the Cliff’s Notes version is going to be on hold?

  7. kylere says:

    She is just greedy. Also look in the dictionary under pointless, trite and ripping off all the good fantasy novelists. I cannot find anything original in the entire Harry Potter universe.

  8. Consumerist shouldn’t post this. This blog references the creative universe that JK Rowling invented.

  9. /end sarcasm

  10. sleze69 says:

    Is she attempting to sue in the US? Hello, Fair Use?

  11. Freedomboy says:

    Frodo is pissed and coming after his share.

  12. LiC says:

    Uh, you can’t publish something based on someone else’s copyrighted work and make money off of it. Leave it online.

  13. crescentia says:

    How much money does this woman need?

  14. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @Cassifras:

    Thanks, but in the future, please e-mail that info to tips@consumerist.com. We want to keep comment threads reasonably on-topic.

  15. vr4z06gt says:

    some of the examples given like Ulysses. are out of copyright though, copyrights are a tricky thing especially when the author dies, here in US the author of Ulysses, Sylvia Beach, had 28 years of copyright then another 28 years if she choose to renew. ([www.ivanhoffman.com]) However she died before reform went into effect so its in the public domain at this point. However Harry Pothead isn’t at this point so while there is a bit…..sort of….of hypocrisy occurring here she is well within her rights to tell them not to do it, however i don’t know the law in the UK, maybe its different over there.

  16. mcjake says:

    J.K. Rowling said not that it would compete against her writing in the series but against the Harry Potter Encyclopedia she is writing to raise funds for charity. Her argument was that he is taking a service that he has offered for free and now trying to charge money for it WHILE also ripping off the charities she is trying to benefit…Still asinine, but not nearly has evil as the above article made her out to be.

  17. vr4z06gt says:

    i used alot of annoying wording….damn sorry all

  18. JustAGuy2 says:

    This isn’t at all a clear fair use issue. If someone chose to write another Harry Potter book, with all the characters, etc., that would be beyond fair use.

    It looks like Rowling and her publisher were fine with the website until it started to try to compete directly (and try to make money off it), at which point they put their foot down.

  19. JustAGuy2 says:

    @vr4z06gt:

    So Joyce wasn’t the recognized author of Ulysses in the US?

  20. Hoss says:

    Look at the web page for RDR Books. Don’t they know that OMelvaney & Myers and Warner Brothers can squish their business over night? I don’t think they consulted lawyers, or maybe they don’t have any

    [rdrbooks.com]

  21. Buran says:

    Ah yes, good old hypocrisy. Where people who get rich off the work of the general public (or, at least those who contribute to public reference works for free) then turn around and sue to close off what they write based on those public contributions.

    Anyone remember the Gracenote/freedb fiasco?

    I used to admire this woman, but it seems like being rich has made her as greedy as any corporate scumbag lawyer.

  22. tylerk4 says:

    I sense a cross-complaint coming for unjust enrichment, or other similar cause of action based on the fact that her use of the website in writing subsequent books is basically her profiting from someone else’s work.

  23. Buran says:

    @Petrarch1603: You cannot, however, copyright a fact. It is perfectly legal to write reference encyclopedias based on fact — in fact, that’s what encyclopedias are: collections of facts.

    If I want to write an article about a copyrighted book, I’m perfectly free to do so, and discuss things about it, like “In this book, X happens to Y in location Z” and because it’s a fact, it’s okay to do that.

    If facts could be copyrighted, we wouldn’t have the encyclopedias and vast reference libraries that we do.

  24. vr4z06gt says:

    @JustAGuy2: im sorry brain fart i meant to say james joyce

  25. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Rowling has always been a lot nicer about fanfiction and fansites than other authors — look at, say, Anne McCaffrey’s longtime suppression of any and all Pern fanfic (which she’s now relaxed). I really think this encyclopedia idea is abusing her goodwill. She could have made a giant fuss about the site’s existence any time she wanted, and caused them trouble, but instead she endorsed them — until they started planning to publish for profit.

    I’m not a Harry Potter fan, but I don’t understand the rabid hatred going on here. You’d think she was Angelina Jolie and this was Jezebel.

  26. Gopher bond says:

    Eh, I dunno, I’d probably protect my golden goose as fiercely as possible, no matter how many of you nozzles think it should be free for everyone to use and make money.

  27. Amelie says:

    I wonder how much use she made of the their site, in collecting information for her new reference book?

  28. Beerad says:

    @kylere: Looks like someone’s jealous they didn’t get their book about life at a boarding school for wizards to the publisher in time!

  29. mbbilder says:

    This isn’t fair use, and she has every right to protect her intellectual property. The book is, or course, made up of “facts”, but those facts are the ENTIRE basis for the book. And those are not that same as scientific facts, which can’t be copyrighted. Harry Potter “facts” are the literary creations of Rowling, and are appropriately covered by copyright.
    Why so much outrage?

  30. Buran says:

    @mcjake: If you can’t cut it against the competition, make your product better.

  31. Buran says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: Problem is, they’ve done nothing actually illegal. It’s nice when you do something with cooperation from others, but you aren’t obligated to make everyone in the world happy, and that even applies to “I’m better than you” spoiled brat rich people who think the world revolves around them. Someone can be unhappy with things I do all they want, but I’m not legally obligated to listen to their protests.

    I also was on PernMush once wayyyy back in the day (briefly; I was an astronomer, which if you know me or know what my username means, is NOT a surprise; I’m a huge space geek) and at the time I was there the place had been around forever. It continued to exist for quite some time after I left, and for all I know is still around.

    Just as in real life, everybody ignored the astronomers… thankfully I never ever had to roleplay writing research grants or the local equivalent thereof. I get enough of that working in a research lab in real life …

  32. ladycrumpet says:

    I’ll be interested to see how this case shakes out. I can see both sides, but I think Rowling probably couldn’t ignore this project once it became a project for-profit.

    On another note, hello Anne McCaffrey fans! ;)

  33. Buran says:

    @ladycrumpet: *waves*

  34. dlab says:

    This isn’t the first thing JK has cried about. I’m sure she can dry her tears with the millions of dollars that she rolls around in every day before she goes to sleep.

  35. Buran says:

    @testsicles: Tell that to MLB which lost lawsuits against profit-oriented fantasy leagues because they couldn’t control how the public uses facts about its “product”.

    What people don’t seem to get here is that creative work based on someone else’s creative work is not OK because that’s not just straight use of uncopyrightable fact. That’s different from a reference work, which is all a lexicon is (a reference work that defines what things mean, e.g. “muggle” = “person who does not use magic”)

  36. mike1731 says:

    Consumerist, you’re getting pissy here! She cheerfully supported the on line dictionary and forum for many years. What she objected to in several interviews is that they are bundling the information and selling it for profit. Had they just kept it out there as a free resource, she didn’t have a beef. I think everyone just needs to go take a cold shower and cool off a bit. She created the characters and universe, she should be able to set the terms under which it is presented. And she is in truth pretty reasonable in her actions towards her fans.

  37. Flossie says:

    She has such nice teeth!

  38. Gopher bond says:

    My point is that I don’t care what is “right” or “wrong”, I’d do my best to protect my creation, win or lose. Even if it’s completely legal and my case would get thrown out, I’d still do something.

  39. UpsetPanda says:

    @mike1731: It would be kind of like people trying to take fanfiction and trying to sell it. Copyright infringement?

  40. GitEmSteveDave says:

    From what I have heard, the book company got very snarky with the other side(JK/warner bros), and I think that is what made this start to snowball.

    What they are printing is in essence, her book, just cut and pasted. OTHER books, like the one made by the MuggleCast/Net folks included commentary, and theories. So it included original content from the authors, in addition to referencing her work.

    I think it’s akin to copying the encyclopedia Brittanica from online, then re-publishing it in book form. It violates their copyright. But if you used the facts from there to research something, and present it to support stuff, then it’s fair use.

  41. camille_javal says:

    they’re obviously useful reference tools and are protected under fair use, which doesn’t distinguish between the commercial and non-commercial

    Consumerist: check your copyright law.

    17 U.S.C. § 107: Fair Use

    [...] In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include –

    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial neture or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

    (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

    (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    Commercial use *does* matter; also, if Rowling did indeed have a lexicon/encyclopedia in the works with her publishing company, the fourth factor could come into play, since she’s the one who holds the copyright.

    I’m not saying it’s right, but fair use can be pretty narrow.

  42. Quellman says:

    I was there when that picture was taken. New York City is nice, and so is she.

    To make up for lost revenue, RDBooks should put some sponsored ads on their site. They must be getting a ton of traffic these days.

  43. Sam2k says:

    Perhaps she fears for the integrity of her artistic work? Maybe she has received a copy of the disputed work, and it is factually inaccurate in a way that damages her franchise. Also, an encyclopedia like this makes it so that one could read the encyclopedia rather than the books themselves. I don’t believe this suit unjustified at all, JKR must protect her trademarks and copyrights.

  44. wring says:

    fucking money-hungry bitch. i’m not buying any more hp books or watching any movies ever again!

  45. Rowling created the intellectual property. Rowling gets to decide how it’s used and who profits from it. The fact that the website was useful is irrelevant. Rowling made a universe from scratch and is entitled to whatever cut she wants to take from derivative works.

    Mentioning Ulysses is a pretty silly red herring, given that Ulysses exists in the public domain and was written by a long-dead author.

  46. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    Funny how the same people that think J.K. should give up all her rights to the characters she created just because she has lots of money are the same people that think TV and movie writers currently on strike should have their creative rights protected and studios shouldn’t be able to make money off the writers without giving them a cut of the proceeds.

  47. @LiC: “Uh, you can’t publish something based on someone else’s copyrighted work and make money off of it.”

    OH YES YOU CAN.

    Did not our very own Meghann Marco write a book references other people’s copyrighted movies?

    Have you never been to a bookstore, where you can buy critical commentaries on books/movies/music that are CURRENTLY UNDER COPYRIGHT?

  48. Amelie says:

    @stanfrombrooklyn: a non-sequiter and a straw man, both in the same comment! Give the man a cookie.

  49. TPK says:

    So are you saying that Cliffs Notes only exist for public domain works? Try doing a search for Lord of the Rings reference material… there’s a ton of that out there. Surely Lord of the Rings, published in 1954-55 is not yet in the PD.

  50. Smashville says:

    I’d like to nominate JK Rowling for AfD.

  51. mandarin says:

    It makes sense, they should have asked her for her approval before making that book.

    Writing a commentary or criticism on a book or character doesnt count…

  52. spryte says:

    Sure is a lot of anger shown in these comments towards someone no one posting here actually knows (I assume…).

    If she HADN’T made bajillions of dollars on these books, and had just made a modest sum of money, would you people still be saying such hateful things like “money-grubbing bitch”? If YOU do something one day that makes you crazy rich, can we assume that anything you do after that point that relates to you making money is because you’re greedy and evil and horrible?

    Seems pretty childish to me. Cry more, noobs.

  53. atalantapendragonne says:

    When I first heard about this I was on Steve Vander Ark’s side, until I found out that the book is quite probably including essays others wrote for the Lexicon website, without getting permission from those authors to publish their work.

    And it is kind of shady when you consider that he DID ask her if it was okay and she said no.

  54. Graedus says:

    Ever heard of Cole’s Notes? I don’t see how this is any different than those types of publications.

  55. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    @stanfrombrooklyn: Word. You took the words right out of my mouth.

  56. Lerg says:

    Amazing amount of class envy in the original post and comments. How in the world does the amount of money the woman has made have anything to do with the copyright issue she is asking a court to decide?

    Let the jealousy go for a minute folks. A copyright becomes invalid once the owner no longer makes reasonable attempts to protect it.

    Has this place turned from consumerist into communist?

  57. mechanismatic says:

    In the end, if the book is just a restatement of things that can be found in the HP books, but written as a reference source, then there shouldn’t be anything wrong with it. This has been done thousands of times before with other book series – Lord of the Rings for example.

    And for anyone stating that Rowling created the universe from scratch hasn’t read much or even watched many movies. Rent the Worst Witch if you can find it. Read a bunch of mythology and see if many of the elements look familiar. Rowling’s original input in the series is very limited. She just repackaged a bunch of stories and myths. If she managed to make money off of that, more power (or money) to her. But if she tries to keep other people from trying to make money off of her creations, then all the dead storytellers of the past need to come back to life and sue Rowling for making money off of their ideas.

  58. @wring: Oh yes, how greedy of her to publish Harry Potter books just for charity!

  59. theninjasquad says:

    I doubt it is JK herself that is against it, it is more likely her publishing company. Since they aren’t going to have any more cashcow HP books coming, a reference book by JK will be the next best thing for them.

  60. Buran says:

    @Danilo Campos: Copyright law trumps greed and facts aren’t copyrightable.

  61. camille_javal says:

    @Buran: he’s right, though – they aren’t objective “facts” – she made all this shit up. This isn’t a phone book. It’s only in the past 20 years that commercial use wasn’t presumptively unfair, and now it has to be mitigated by being parody, criticism, or for some (not even all) levels of education use. The Justice O’Connor’s Feist Publicatons decision from 1991 puts something, even a lexicon, derived from Rowling’s work outside of the realm of “facts”: The key to resolving the tension lies in understanding why facts are not copyrightable. The sine qua non of copyright is originality. To qualify for copyright protection, a work must be original to the author. Original, as the term is used in copyright, means only that the work was independently created by the author (as opposed to copied from other works), and that it possesses at least some minimal degree of creativity. To be sure, the requisite level of creativity is extremely low; even a slight amount will suffice.”

    If fair use is the defense they’re going for, it’s probably not going to work.

  62. Xerloq says:

    @dorianh49: I think JK was once a man, until she cut off her Harry Peepee. This is money grubbing plain and simple.

  63. Trai_Dep says:

    If The HP Lexicon relied on armies of contributors, including contributors that created original works in the form of critique & commentary, where are their shares of the publishing deal? Or is the site owner – morally if not legally due to squirelly legalese buried on the HPL site – stealing their intellectual property. Absconding with it and walking arm-in-arm with the publisher, laughing, to the bank.

    It removes a great deal of their supposed innocent-little-guy status if so. Which I’m 99.9% sure it is.

  64. tempfoot says:

    Lot’s of armchair lawyering going on here (and elsewhere) and the term ‘fair-use’ getting thrown around quite a bit. As already pointed out above pretty clear that the original poster either knows that US law doesn’t apply in the suit and the local law is different w/r/t fair use.

    Another poster adds “A copyright becomes invalid once the owner no longer makes reasonable attempts to protect it.” – also not true under US law and most likely confusing trademark with copyright.

  65. DTWD says:

    @dorianh49: You win the internets.

  66. Ben Popken says:

    Yes, all those “statements” really sound like she wrote them. I’m sure the publisher is making her do this.

  67. darkened says:

    Copyright is appauling these days, copyright should no longer apply to anything except near exact duplicates that are attempting to counterfeit themselves as the orginal works.

    I feel this way and im a software engineer supposedly something hinges on copyright and I absolutely disagree.

    I hate this woman, she is a terrible person. I refuse to ever read her books because she’s an uninteligent bum. For those who made the comments about communism? This woman wrote her orginal books while being on state paid aid in england for being a bum. I sure hope she paid back all the money gave her.

  68. @mechanismatic: “Rent the Worst Witch if you can find it.”

    DUDE — BEST. MOVIE. EVER.

    Creepy Worst Witch Tim Curry in my childhood TOTALLY prepared me for Rocky Horror Picture Show Tim Curry in my teen years.

    But yes, for sure appears to be a major influence on the HP books.

  69. @theninjasquad, @Buran, @Xerloq: OMG!

    The encyclopedia she’s writing is for charity!
    The encyclopedia she’s writing is for charity!
    The encyclopedia she’s writing is for charity!
    The encyclopedia she’s writing is for charity!

    In what universe is giving to charity greedy? Please explain this to me! I suppose you expect me to believe that she wrote Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard out of greed too?

  70. srhbks says:

    The HP Lexicon isn’t just an encyclopedia- the site itself had copied information directly from the books, including lengthy quotes. JKR and her people sued because they had no idea what was going to be in the books- whether it would be commentary and essays, or if it would be the that was on the website. They sent repeated requests to RDR publishing to get a copy of the manuscript, and were repeatedly refused. JKR has allowed many books about Harry Potter, but they’ve been more essays and criticisms. Reportedly, Vander Ark asked permission to publish this book, and JKR refused it, and he went ahead anyway.

    I’m all for fair use, but this is really pushing it. The web site is free, and makes no (or very little) money. I can’t see any author allowing someone else to profit off of their characters- not to mention the contributors to the website who are getting nothing from the book.

    The Machinist article is a really poor examination of the legal issues involved.

  71. Javert says:

    @camille_javal: Thank you for pointing this out. If you are going to write a blog, get your facts straight.

    @Buran: You are correct, facts are not. This is from the copyright website of the US government. “Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to prepare, or to authorize someone else to create, a new version of that work. The owner is generally the author or someone who has obtained rights from the author.”

    Simply reorganizing a story into a reference book introduces no new material. These are not facts, these are items from a copyrighted story. She made it all up.

    Lastly, PLEASE, for the love of humanity, before any uses the phrase “Fair Use” again in a post, please, please, please, research it. I do not mean wiki either. Go look at the text of the law and then see examples of cases to see how the criteria were weighed. One of the most frustrating things on this web site is that whenever there is a copyright issue posters start pulling Fair Use out and use it as some sort of imaginary catch all that allows all sorts of things to be done with copyrighted work. If you look, you will find that it is much more narrowly construed that many of you seem to think.

  72. floydianslip6 says:

    hmmmm so it turns out she’s a greedy bitch after all! Who’d a thunk it.

  73. Daniel-Bham says:

    There aren’t any ‘facts’ in the lexicon. It is a collection of trivia derivative of JK Rowling’s work. Her work is not in the public domain, and examples such as Ulysses are not relevant because these entered the public domain long ago.

    I cannot write an encyclopedia of everything Star Wars, publish it, then not expect to be sued by LucasFilm. Even if George Lucas loves my fan site the most, the minute I start making money off of it, that is when he is ‘losing’ money in his view if I’m not forced to publish through him since he owns the IP.

  74. rjlewis74 says:

    Wow another lawsuit from Ms. Rowling…I think she is long overdue to beging getting over herself.

  75. corthepirate says:

    If everyone would just stop and reread that article, I think it would make more sense.

    She is in the process of publishing her own encyclopedia FOR CHARITY.

    If this book is allowed to be published, it will compete against her own encyclopedia, therefore taking money away from the CHARITY.

    She is definitely not a greedy-bitch. She gives to countless charities all the time.

  76. Mary says:

    @mcjake: Exactly the point. While I think this is slightly ridiculous, she’s SAYING that the book would hurt the sales of a book she is already writing, whose proceeds would go to charity.

    Which is a legit claim, actually. I wouldn’t go for it, but she has a leg to stand on. She is not saying it would do anything to the books that are OUT, but the one that is forthcoming.

  77. Buran says:

    @meiran: Legally, however, you can’t crush legal competition just because you don’t like the fact that they’re not kissing babies. You may post on your website that you’re “disappointed” that they aren’t helping you, or whatever, but that’s like bitching that the MS Zune is stealing potential donations away from the “Product Red” iPods via lost sales. You can bitch all you want but Microsoft is legally in the clear to sell a competitor to your charity-tied product.

  78. Buran says:

    @Daniel-Bham: You can, actually, write that encyclopedia. It’s a fact that “Coruscant, according to the Star Wars universe, is a planet located near the inner core of a galaxy. It has been under development for so long that the entire surface of the planet, except for one token small park, is covered by a massive city.”

    That is a factual statement and is not copyrightable, and if I desire to do so I can publish a book that includes it. I can also publish other related facts in my book.

    I can’t invent new places, characters, things, etc. but I can make true statements about what is already there.

  79. Buran says:

    @mbbilder: Because a fact is a fact and isn’t copyrightable and because this is an abuse of the law for profit that is harming the public by denying them choices?

  80. Buran says:

    @Javert: A “new version” would be a new story using characters that she created, or the universe that she created. Facts about what’s already been written are just facts.

    However, you are right in that I can’t figure out where fair use comes into play here. This is a debate about how something not copyrightable is suddenly trying to be swept under the copyright rug (something MLB tried, and failed, to do) because someone doesn’t like the fact that there’s now competition and they aren’t free anymore to monopolize whatever market there may be for this sort of reference work.

  81. Buran says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Giving to charity isn’t greedy.

    Trying to stop someone from doing something that is completely legal, because you want to keep all the profit for yourself, is.

  82. Buran says:

    @Danilo Campos: Except when the law says that you don’t get to choose, e.g. when someone compiles a list of uncopyrightable facts.

  83. Buran says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: I think that was a joke, given there aren’t any more books to buy.

  84. wring says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: she’s already made hella money and she already stopped writing the books. I say she should just retire a la JD Salinger/Thomas Pynchon and be removed from the public eye altogether. She has enough money, and more, to spend within her and her children’s lifetime.

  85. lincolnparadox says:

    Reference books like this are published all the time, typically under an “unofficial” moniker. Sometimes the author goes after them legally, an is usually happy with a licensing fee or a royalty residual from the book sales. In this case, JK is being proactive because she has a similar book planned. Said book will most likely sell out very quickly, and she probably wants people to wait for a 2nd edition, rather than buy this alternative title.

    What’s the difference between something like this and another compendium (eg. Robin Furth’s encyclopedia of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series)? Money.

    Whereas Furth’s book sold very well, King wasn’t the author. Rowling has the fanbase to sell millions more, especially if her name is on the book.

    Personally, I think that all this move will do is alienate her fan base. It might put a slight dent in book sales. That dent would probably be less than the dent from letting this other encyclopedia hit the racks.

  86. @Buran: So then you agree that she isn’t being greedy then! Excellent!

    @wring: Obviously she hasn’t stopped writing books in the Harry Potter universe if she’s just published The Tales of Beedle the Bard and is currently working on an encyclopedia.

  87. iceqwn says:

    For anyone actually interested in this issue, http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org has a full timeline and outline of the lawsuit including the attempts made by JKR and Warner Bros. prior to filing.

    Also- The Tales of Beadle the Bard are not being published. One is being auctioned for charity and the other 6 were given away as personal books.

    And for those whose response is that she is being greedy- all proceeds from her “companion” books (Quidditch through the Ages and Magical Creatures and where to Find them) Are donated to charity as well.

  88. Trai_Dep says:

    Not only given to charity, but charities that help kids.

    So it’s stealing from poor children. Nice.

  89. gibbersome says:

    Sure, the proceeds will go to the kids…after the publisher takes a nice chunk out.

  90. nardo218 says:

    Hm. The Lexicon complied with the other for-charity books by not posting the information contained in them on the website. If you wanted to know about a Fantastic Beast, you had to buy the book. Why the sudden change to infringing on the for-charity encyclopedia? Maybe the issue has gone from the hands of the Lexicon owners and into the hands of their greedy publisher and lawyer.

  91. Her Grace says:

    @CaffeinatedSquint: But that happens all the time, and by reasonably well known authors. Wicked by Gregory Maguire is Wizard of Oz fanfic. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fford is Austen fanfic. There are plenty of non-canon Buffy fanfic books on the market, and I’m sure the same is true for many television series. Clearly, publishing fanfic isn’t the be-all-end-all evil that some publishers might claim, because their companies are publishing plenty of work that is derivitive and rightfully should be called fanfic.

    I hope she gets her butt kicked in court.