Wednesday, April 16, 2008

J.K. Rowling Vs. Vander Ark - The Fight For Harry Potter Lexicon. To Publish Or Not To Publish?

It looks like the new Rowling case is a fan's passion carried too far. I do believe the the HP Lexicon site just wants to expound on the work of J.K. Rowling and in effect "be part" of the Harry Potter world, but J.K. Rowling does have a point about trying to stop it.

J.K. Rowling wants to be the supreme authority on Harry Potter as should be because she is the book's author. We should probably give her that. I think it's more a matter of integrity now rather than a case of copyright.

In the Reuters article below, both sides are mentioned as saying their piece with regards to whether the book should or should not be published. I think it shouldn't. Vander Ark should just respect J.K. Rowling's work by letting her write it. If he truly does admire her work then he should respect it as well. Say no to the money man!

Author J.K. Rowling said on Wednesday publication of an unofficial
encyclopedic companion to her Harry Potter books would "open the floodgates" and
threaten other authors.

The British author and Warner Bros., a subsidiary of Time Warner Inc.,
are suing independent U.S. publisher RDR Books, which plans to publish "The
Harry Potter Lexicon," a 400-page reference book written by Steve Vander Ark
based on his fan Web site (

"This case is about an author's right to protect their creation," Rowling, 42, told a New York court. "If this book is allowed to be published the floodgates will open."

"Are we, or are we not, the owners of our own work?" said the author of
the seven Harry Potter books that have sold about 400 million copies. "It's not
just my work that is endangered."

Rowling, estimated by the Sunday Times to be worth about $1 billion, said she was outraged her work was considered fair game because it was so popular.

She has called Vander Ark's book "sloppy, lazy" work, unlike other Harry Potter companion books already published, which added original commentary
and criticism.

An emotional Vander Ark, 50, wearing spectacles similar to those worn
by Harry Potter, said on Tuesday his book was intended to help readers and
celebrate Rowling's work. He denied accusations of plagiarism.

A lawyer for RDR books said the book by Vander Ark, a librarian who has
spoken at Harry Potter conferences in several countries, would promote Rowling's
series and not hurt sales. Two literary experts testified for each side on
whether Vander Ark copied too much text, citing works on authors like C.S. Lewis
and James Joyce.

In closing arguments, Dale Cendali, a lawyer for Rowling and Warner,
said the lexicon reproduced "tremendous amounts of text" without attribution.
"There has been no testimony that it would add anything new or original," she
said. "The lexicon is filled with errors."

But Anthony Falzone, a lawyer for RDR, said Rowling could not suppress
a book just because she thought it was no good. "Copyright law does not permit
an author to suppress a book because she doesn't like it," he said.

U.S. District Judge Robert Patterson urged the sides to settle, saying
the case reflected an emerging part of copyright law with no clear precedents.
"I may need a reference guide to this case," he joked. He is expected to
take several weeks to reach a decision.

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