Why J.K. Rowling should lose her misguided copyright lawsuit against the author of a Harry Potter reference book. [Slate via BoingBoing]


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  1. She has confused the adaptations of a work, which she does own, with discussion of her work, which she doesn’t.

    If she doesn’t know the difference then why didn’t they sue Mugglenet when they sold a book about what they thought would and wouldn’t happen in Book 7?

  2. megnificent says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: She’s suing the Lexicon for repackaging her work in slightly different words. I think I saw a quote from her somewhere saying there were no original ideas involved, that’s why she was mad. The Mugglenet book at least, from her POV, has original material. I think the whole thing is crap. It’s not like the Lexicon book would hurt sales of her as yet nonexistent HP encyclopedia, fans will buy both.

    I’m still a Potter fan, not so much a Rowling fan anymore.

  3. chili_dog says:

    Rumor is shes gonna write an 8th book. and now the last film will be in 2 parts. MILK the Harry Potter for all it’s worth because she has peaked.

  4. Pink Puppet says:

    Honestly, Rowling isn’t the devil here. People not within fandom probably won’t get much more information than what’s being bandied about by Slate and Salon, but I’d be happy to see RDR crash and burn.

  5. Trai_Dep says:

    She’s not. In addition, many (well, let’s be honest: most) of the additions, revisions, corrections and distillations were the result of armies of fans contributing their time, gratis, for their passion.

    Which the Lexicon author shamelessly rips off by trying to sell a commercial product off THEIR sweat, with no recompense.

    The additional fact that the Lexicon book is ripping off a freaken charity – that’s where the proceeds of the Potter extras go – makes JKR’s position even more ethical.

  6. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    @trai_dep: Word. People are totally missing the point of her suit. They think it’s about some greedy millionaire stepping on the little guy. But really it’s about the little guy breaking the law, stealing profits from a charity, and whining about getting caught.

  7. KashmirKong says:

    I’m biased against Rowling and the Potter books for reasons I won’t go into, but regardless I hope she loses this one.

    These people are within their rights to make a book of this nature. They saw a need and are filling it. Capitalism at it’s finest.

    As far as stealing from charity… Rowling could practically put her used facial tissues up for auction and make a boatload of money for charity.

  8. czarandy says:

    Rowling has over $1 billion. If she really cared about charity she could certainly part with say, half of that, couldn’t she?

  9. srhbks says:

    Slate and Salon are playing up the wrong angle on this story. I root for the little guy too, but the Lexicon and RDR have made some terrible missteps. The best reporting I’ve seen on this story so far has come from Fandom Wank, and that’s saying something.

  10. ncboxer says:

    It might be bad form to take user contributed info and package it into a book, and it might look bad that you are going to taking money from a charity, but so what? Is it illegal? No. So the suit looks like it has no merit.

    I don’t even know why anyone would be interested in the lexicon book if all it is is facts from the 7 books. I would be more interested in Rowling’s book because likely she will add material to it to make the everything more richly woven (and make the book actually worth buying).

  11. NeoteriX says:

    “These people are within their rights to make a book of this nature. They saw a need and are filling it.”

    Despite the Slate author’s assertion that there is a right, I don’t see that as clearly cut. As a law student having taken Copyright Law, a copyright holder has a right to create “derivative works”, and if this includes things like “sequels” (which it does) in my mind, this includes reference material.

    The beanie baby analogy cited in the article does not connect because (I’m assuming) beanie babies have no fictional background, and so a reference compendium on beanie babies would simply state “facts” which are not protectable by copyright (e.g. this bunny beanie baby was produced from 1999-2000 and is worth $x).

    A compendium based on fiction however is reliant upon that fiction and so it is distinguishable; the encyclopedia must naturally draw upon the written (copyrighted) work.

  12. Pink Puppet says:

    @srhbks: Hey, FW is a beautiful place. We’re snarky and rude with a sharp disconnect from reality sometimes, but we’re fandom~<3 And no one’s better qualified to know what’s going on than those of us who point at laugh all day.

  13. NeoteriX says:

    I consulted my Copyright Law Professor and he indicates to me that this is a highly contested area of copyright law… so there is no clear cut answer.

  14. From what I understand, this is a battle of lawyers. The lawyers for the book company are being jerks, and were being pissy to the WB lawyers. I heard that when asked for an advanced copy of the book, the book companies lawyers told them to “Get an intern to print out the website.” I think the press is latching onto JK and Steve and making them to seem like they are locked in battle, when it’s the lawyers.

  15. Daveed says:

    @ceejeemcbeegee: But the whole point of the article was that he isn’t breaking the law?

    I agree with the Slate article…if you read the reference book you won’t get Harry Potter. It isn’t an adaptation. In fact it makes it essential to buy the original Harry Potter books.

    This isn’t precedent per say but there are tons of reference books on Tolkien and other people…and they add not detract from the original work, yet add or help. They should be allowed.

    If JK Rowling wants to add her own reference book I’m sure it will be seen as gospel and easily beat this guy.

  16. NeoteriX says:


    This isn’t precedent per say but there are tons of reference books on Tolkien and other people…and they add not detract from the original work, yet add or help. They should be allowed.

    Just to point out: I’m not sure whether this is the case or not, but the existence of reference books on Tolkien alone can’t really tell us much; they may very well be licensed by the Tolkien IP holders.

    In other words, despite the fact that the reference books are authored by someone else, a person wishing to do so could in theory pay for and license for the right to do it.