J.K. Rowling and WB File Suit Over Unofficial Encyclopedia

115

Oct 31, 2007

Posted by Melissa Anelli
Uncategorized

Reuters is reporting that author J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros., makers of the Harry Potter films, filed suit (update: details of suit are now below) today against a forthcoming unofficial encyclopedia book based on the Harry Potter series. Reuters reports the book, “The Harry Potter Lexicon,” due to be released by RDR Books on Nov. 28 in the United States, had “inappropriately referenced Rowling’s fictional characters and universe.”

The suit names the site owner, Steve Vander Ark, and several defendants, and is seeking “damages for copyright federal trademark infringement and any profits to be gained from the book.”

The suit, according to the article, states:

“The infringing book is particularly troubling as it is in direct contravention to Ms. Rowling’s repeatedly stated intention to publish her own companion books to the series and donate proceeds of such books to charity.”

The suit was filed today in federal court in Manhattan, NY.

USA Today contains further information including a comment from RDR books publisher Roger Rappaport, who said the book was a “critical reference work” and “dismissed any notion that it could compete with any official encyclopedia written by Rowling.” He also said that Vander Ark “cannot understand why she wouldn’t be supportive now.’

The article also says the suit “doesn’t seek action against the Web version of the Lexicon, but criticizes it for numerous sections that it said ‘regurgitate Ms. Rowling’s original creative expression with minimal additional commentary.’”

CNN Money says that the suit claims, “Warner Bros. and Rowling’s representatives have been ” rebuffed and treated rudely” in their attempts to engage in a dialogue with RDR Books…For example, while claiming not to have the ability or time to respond to plaintiffs’ multiple ‘cease and desist’ letters because of a family tragedy, defendant instead was hawking foreign publishing rights to the infringing book in Germany,’ the lawsuit said.”


TLC has also obtained a copy of the complaint, which further contains the following:

-The suit says any money award will be donated to charity.
-It seeks to halt publication and recoup whatever profits are made by the book or costs incurred by the suit.
-The suit says four letters to RDR Books (detailed below) regarding the issue before it went to a lawsuit.
-That RDR Books has refused to hand over a pre-publication copy of the books for review.
-It names RDR Books and 10 DOES – unidentified entities/people – who can be named later.
-In response to contact from JKR’s lawyers, RDR Books sent its own “cease and desist” letter to Warner Bros. regarding a timeline on the Harry Potter DVDs they claim infringes the Lexicon’s copyright, which the suit says is “a complete fabrication apparently intended to deflect Plaintiffs’ complaints – but which merely serves to highlight hypocritical nature of Defendant’s conduct.”

Excerpts from suit:

-”Plaintiffs did everything they could prior to filing this lawsuit to engage in a substantive dialogue with Defendant only to be rebuffed and treated rudely. For example, while claiming not to have the ability or time to respond to Plaintiffs’ multiple ‘cease and desist’ letters because of a family tragedy, Defendant instead was hawking foreign publishing rights to the Infringing Book in Germany. Moreover, Defendant had the audacity to accuse Warner Bros. of violating the purported copyrights of the Infringing Book’s author in a timeline based on the Harry Potter Books – a complete fabrication apparently intended to deflect Plaintiffs’ complaints — but which merely serves to highlight the hypocritical nature of Defendant’s conduct.”

-The suit says that there is a “big difference between the innumerable Harry Potter fan sites’ latitude to discuss the Harry Potter Works in the context of free, ephemeral websites ad unilaterally repackaging those sites for sale in an effort to cash in monetarily on Ms. Rowling’s creative works in contravention of her wishes and rights.”

-JKR has been “careful not to license” other “tie-in or companion books” which merely “regurgitate her creative expression without adding valuable analysis or scholarly commentary…in part, because…she has authored and published her own Companion Books and intends to create additional companion books.”

-JKR’s agency, Christopher Little, heard about the book from an online listing on Publisher’s Marketplace. The book and its disclaimer-less title led JKR and her agency to contact the author.

Pre-lawsuit timeline, as detailed by the complaint:

September 12: The Christopher Little Agency e-mailed Steve Vander Ark with a copy cc’d to RDR books, containing a reminder of JKR’s plans to write a future book and a statement that JKR did not wish to grant rights to any third party. “Appealing to Mr. Vander Ark as a friend and supporter of Ms. Rowling and the Harry Potter books, Ms. Rowling’s agent asked Mr. Vander Ark to forgo publication of the Infringing Book.” The email went unresponded for six days.

September 18: JKR and WB’s lawyer forwarded a letter to RDR Books and Steve Vander Ark via e-mail, notifying them that the book would be infringing copyrights and citing precedent (Twin Peaks Productions, Inc. v. Publications Int’l, Ltd, and Castle Rock Entertainment v. Carol Publishing Group; the first regarding a book of Twin Peaks plot summaries and the second a book of Trivia about the Seinfeld series). The letter requested the publication cease, in the U.S. and to all foreign publishers, and asked for a list of those entities so that JKR’s lawyers could contact them directly.

September 18: Steve Vander Ark responded to JKR’s agent by e-mail saying he had “been asked to leave all correspondence in this matter to others.”

September 19: RDR Books replied, saying, “[i]t is our intention to thoroughly study the various issues you have raised and discuss them with our legal advisers.”

October 3: JKR and WB counsel wrote again, “after waiting another two weeks and receiving no substantive response…emphasizing their clients’ concerns and the impending publication date.” Roger Rapoport, president of RDR Books, requested more time due to a death in the family, which was given by JKR and WB’s counsel.

October 11: JKR and WB counsel discovered that in the time period in which he had requested for a “good faith” delay to deal with a death in the family, he had sent a “cease and desist” letter to WB regarding “a timeline appearing on some of the Harry Potter DVDs [that] infringed the Lexicon Website. Warner Bros. responded that it would look into the matter more fully. In the meantime Warner Bros. asked for a copy of the”print version” of the Lexicon Website referred to by RDR Books in order to aid in its evaluation of the claims. RDR Books summarily dismissed Warner Bros. reasonable request,” the suit claims, “stating rudely: ‘If you do not know how to print that material [from the Lexicon Website] please ask one of your people to show you how.’ ”

October 19: JKR and WB counsel wrote a third letter; RDR responded again that they would reply after looking into allegations.

October 23: Christopher Little Agency learns that RDR had recently offered the publishing rights for the book in Germany to Random House and in Taiwan to Crown Publishing. “Plaintiffs grew increasingly concerned during the course of these events because it appeared that RDR Books was duplicitously stalling its response to Plaintiffs’ concerns in order to surreptitiously promote the Infringing Book in advance of the rapidly-approaching publication date.”

October 24: JKR and WB counsel wrote a fourth letter to RDR Books, “expressing their grave concerns about RDR Books’ recent behavior and asking for confirmation that RDR Books would not publish the Infringing Book until it attempted to resolve this matter in good faith.” The lawyers also repeated their request for a copy of the book. They also set a deadline for response of Oct. 29.

October 24: RDR Books responded that the “Plaintiffs’ ‘unwarranted’ objections were not appreciated,” and that the book was a “print version of the Lexicon Website, which was allegedly permitted by Ms. Rowling, and that there were allegedly other Harry Potter guides similar to the Infringing Book on the market.” The suit says in response, “While Ms. Rowling has permitted some fan sites certain latitude to make use of the material in her books, these sites are generally free to the public and exist to enable fans to communicate, rather than to permit someone to turn a quick and easy profit based on her own creativity. Ms. Rowling never gave anyone permission to publish a 400-page Harry Potter Lexicon.”

October 31: Suit filed. “It is apparent that RDR Books has no intention of working with Plaintiffs to resolve this matter amicably. Plaintiffs therefore have no choice but to file this lawsuit.”

The suit also states that JKR and WB are concerned not only because they claim the book infringes and it conflicts with her own plans but because “RDR Books has confirmed…that it cannot be trusted with one of the most beloved children’s book series in history.”

The suit also quotes a statement made by Steve Vander Ark on his site, that says, “…I don’t give permission for people to just copy my work for their own use. Not only is that illegal, since everything in the Lexicon is copyrighted, it’s also just plain wrong. Hey, I did all the work,I put in all the time, it’s my skill and talent in this area which allowed the Lexicon to come into being. No one else has the right to use my work.” The suit says, “this is exactly what Defendant is attempting to do here in connection with Ms. Rowling’s work.

Without a review copy, JKR and WB’s lawyers have been told the book will be a “print version” of the Lexicon, which they maintain means it will surely infringe on JKR’s copyright. It mentions the maps and passages of the books that the Lexicon has on its site, as well as lists and facts, class schedules, potion ingredients and wizarding histories. “The Lexicon Website also slavishly copies lyrics to entire songs, lifts long passages directly from the Harry Potter Books, and transcribes magic spells word-for-word. In addition to copying the fictional facts and language of the books, the Lexicon Website also contains numerous infringing photos taken from Warner Bros. copyrighted Harry Potter films.”

It also cites the “lengthy plot summaries and detailed descriptions” of characters.

“These descriptions, character details and plot points comprise stories created and owned by Ms. Rowling, who has the sole right to control their distribution and who did not give permission to the Defendant to publish a book that stands to make millions of dollars off the back of Ms. Rowling’s creativity.”

The suit also maintains that the book will be marketed to mislead consumers, because it does not have a disclaimer in its title or subtitle and is referred to as ‘the most complete and amazing reference to the magical world of Harry Potter,’ which the suit claims “gives the false and misleading impression that the book is an official Harry Potter book and that Ms. Rowling or Warner Bros. has authorized it or is associated it with it in any way.”

The suit claims seven counts:
-Copyright Infringement
-Federal Trademark Infringement
-Unfair Competition and False Designation of Origin
-False Advertising
-Deceptive Trade Practices
-Unfair Competition
-Declaratory Judgment Regarding Copyright Infringement

The suit asks for the court to find that:
-RDR Books has infringed copyright and trademarks and used a misleading book cover, design and advertising materials to “falsely designate the origin of the Infringing Book, falsely advertise the Infringing Book, and unfairly compete with Plaintiffs.”
-RDR Books and defendants have engaged in deceptive trade practices
-The “Hogwarts Time Line” in the DVD does not infringe the Defendant’s copyrights
-There is a substantial likelihood that defendants will continue to infringe unless halted permanently

The suit also asks for:
- a permanent injunction against the Defendant and associated entities from selling or distributing works derived or copied from Harry Potter
- an order instructing a recall of the book
- a judgment for damages and profits

There has not yet been a reaction filed by RDR Books or any other defendant.


The Christopher Little Agency has also answered some questions for Leaky in response to what has been mentioned in comments:

-The difference between the book and the Lexicon web site is that “the website is free for all fans but the book is to be sold,” and “other free web sites are fine so long as the material is appropriate.”

-Regarding whether the Lexicon has rights due to JKR’s use of it in the past, the “Lexicon has no rights in Harry Potter.”

-They can’t comment on whether it would have really overlapped with J.K. Rowling’s intended because they haven’t seen the book, and this was why they wanted to review it.


The Harry Potter Lexicon is a partner site to The Leaky Cauldron.





622 Responses to J.K. Rowling and WB File Suit Over Unofficial Encyclopedia

Avatar Image says:

Oh my… Is this why Jo made that news update on her site? This is just such a shock. And I love the Lexicon… so I’m quite torn about this.

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Usually I stand by JKR, but I think this is wrong. When JKR said she was releasing an encyclopedia, I think we all assumed she would be giving new information not previously given to fans (ex: Dean’s life story). Nothing the Lexicon provides will be anywhere near what JKR will give us. A book written by fans can really be nothing more than a companion book (many of which have been written in the past). It’s not as if the Lexicon is releasing previously unreleased information on the HP series, which would dirctly compete with her release.

I

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wow….thats all I can say. Im a fan of the lexicon, im suprised at their bad judgment. this is very schocking

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Is this against the Lexicon site or the book? I thought she and the movie people said they use the Lexicon as a reference site while writting the books or movies.

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It’s against the book, not the site. And the movie people never said that, though people at the Lexicon said they have.

I’m torn but I’m leaning to JKR here. It’s her world and we play in it.

Avatar Image says:

What does this mean for Melissa’s book? Can she even refer to the copyrighted characters?

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Checks calendar . . Hmmm . . It’s not April 1 . . or is it?

(Bloody ‘ell!)

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Wow. I’m shocked.

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I have to agree with “jaclyn” the lexicon has always been a great help when reading the books. This does worry me. This does leave me “torn” too.( I too read the announcement on Jo’s page ) In a state of shock.

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HAPPY DEATHDAY, NICK

Avatar Image says:

so.. what is the difference between an unofficial harry potter lexicon.. which could be called a study guide, and lets say, cliff notes, spark notes or anything else like that?

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So let me get this straight…is THE Lexicon writing this? Because is it is, hasn’t Jo sai din the past that she LIKES the Lexicon? She even gave it a site award…I really want more information on this. If it is how it seems, did Jo suggest this or did her lawyers?

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First impression: shock. Immediate 2nd reaction: Happy Halloween! (I hope)

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I think people are allowed to write about/ reference the HP characters. At least, they always have in the past.

I think the main issue here, and the reason why JKR filed the suit, was that Lexicon is using the word “encylopedia” in the title, which directly competes with JKR forthcoming book.

But, if this is the case, why didn’t Mugglenet get in trouble for “What Will Happen in Book 7”?

Avatar Image says:

I think melissas book is ok, her book is about the fandom not the characters of the book. Im sure they will be referenced but its different. Melissa is talking about what the book has done to peoples lives. The Lexicons book looks like it was talking directly about the book and its characters plots and themes. That is JKs not the lexicons there is a clear seperation between The two.

Avatar Image says:

Also, with Jo’s update on her site, as Flittwich said above, I was quite suprised. I know some of the authors wh write the commentry books and they are amazing people. Several of them are currently in the process of writing an updated verson of their current works after this summer’s revelations and events. Jo really shouldn’t stop them. I mean, they produce intrest adn keep people interested in ther series. What does she think she is doing? In a way, if I red it right, she is kinda dissing the fans….

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I don’t think she is upset about the website. She’s given awards to them on her site in the past. She is just upset that they are publishing a book with the info in it. She probably would be okay with it if she hadn’t planned on printing one in the future herself.

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You know, the not wanting an unofficial encyclopedia book to come out so it doesn’t affect charity earnings I can understand, but the resorting to lawyers and suits where simple talking could have worked out better is what really annoys me. And yes, there’s nothing new the Lexicon could add. I’ve always expected the information on JK’s encyclopedia to be stuff we haven’t read or know about because the way she told the story didn’t permit it, while the Lexicon’s is mostly reference material over existing stuff. Both books should complement each other not thread over the same ground.

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A bit more… (afterthought) There is a book that I currently forget what it is called that is pretty much a HP ensyclopedia. It is 600+ pages and has all the little details up to book 5 with diagrams, pictures, timelines, etc. Pretty much everything the Lexicon has. Now I’m rally confused…wht didn’t they get in trouble?

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It’s almost splitting hairs, but that’s what lawyers do…

Steve’s book is probably too close to Jo’s vision for her own book which will benefit charity. To allow the Lexicon to publish first would take away from the eventual book from Jo.

Melissa’s book is about the Potter fandom and not directly about the characters and universe. I would hope that Melissa’s publisher has already checked any copyright infringment possibilities.

Then again, one would think that Steve’s publisher would have checked too.

Jo has said that she loves the Lexicon website and refers to it herself to check facts. I’m sure that this was a wrench for her to pursue this lawsuit. But she has to protect her copyright.

It is a sad sad business. But it is just that: business.

Avatar Image says:

where simple talking could have worked out better is what really annoys me.

The thing is, they probably did “talk” and it didn’t work. That the filed suit today doesn’t mean it wasn’t a last resort.

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I want to know what Steve has to say about this?

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i dont buy Jo’s argument that this release will interfere with her ‘not even written book’ release sometime in the next decade, b/c she said her book has ‘info left out of the novels’ whereas the lexicon has summeries of info ‘included in the novels’. simple math really. the two are very much independent of one another. HOWEVER, i dont understand how the lexicon could get permission for copyrighted material to be published and all the profit to go to them(??) i would have thought that without the owner’s permission u would never be able to publish such material. so my question is, did they ask for permission first before doing smth like this or did they assume and jump ahead. cause if not i would be all for Jo. its her book, she has authority over who publishes what using her material and whether they pay compensation for it or not.

Avatar Image says:

I imagine Steve got in trouble when he decided to do a book rather than just the website. I remember reading that JKR said she referred to the Lexicon when writing (book 7, I think??). It’s a wonderful tool, but only deals with stuff she’s already published, not the kind of things I’d expected her to put in an encyclopedia of her world. I would’ve thought Steve would check with her publishers and/or lawyers to be certain he wasn’t infringing on her copyrights before going ahead with a book. It’s one thing to speculate (as Mugglenet did in their book on what might be in book 7), but another to print things that are facts from her world in a book you’re making money from. The Lexicon website may not be making much money – probably only enough to cover costs (I have no idea). If that’s the case, the website may be safe. But the book was probably a “for profit” venture, and that’s what caused the problem – it violates her copyright to make a profit from her intellectual property. I’d like to know what Steve has to say about this. I refer to the Lexicon a LOT and will be very unhappy to see it go if he’s forced to take it down. I hope she restricts her lawsuit to his book, not the site. I sure hope she doesn’t get this “lawsuit-happy” with everyone who’s played in her world, or a lot of sites and fanfics are in danger!

Avatar Image says:

Is this some kind of trick to balance off the Halloween Treats she left us on her sight. It is really hard to believe otherwise. Come on! A law suit filed by JKR on Halloween! Really! I hope this is a trick because I am completely disheartened if it is true. No matter how many books fans publish about the Potter world, none of them would ever surpass what an encyclopedia written by JKR herself would do. The charities would not be hurt. Again, I hope this is a trick.

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WHAT?! But Jo said the Lexicon was a great site and her natural home. She even gave it her fansite award. It’s not fair.

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i dont buy Jo’s argument that this release will interfere with her ‘not even written book’ release sometime in the next decade, b/c she said her book has ‘info left out of the novels’ whereas the lexicon has summeries of info ‘included in the novels’. simple math really. the two are very much independent of one another. HOWEVER, i dont understand how the lexicon could get permission for copyrighted material to be published and all the profit to go to them(??) i would have thought that without the owner’s permission u would never be able to publish such material. so my question is, did they ask for permission first before doing smth like this or did they assume and jump ahead. cause if not i would be all for Jo. its her book, she has authority over who publishes what using her material and whether they pay compensation for it or not.

Avatar Image says:

Jo has said she likes the site previously. The problem here is that they are now trying to gain monitary profit with her copywirted materials. She loves the fans and loves that the site was up as a reference but not they are stepping on her toes with their encylopedia. While they cant add new material like she could its still a matter of them using copywritten material

Avatar Image says:

I guess I can understand where Jo is coming from. What the Lexicon would be publishing would be an all comprehensive book on essentially all the information in the books. That would obviously might take away from her book sales, kinda sorta not really. But still, w/e I can understand that. But it’s not like they would be publishing info that no one has heard before. Jo should have just asked them to take Encyclopedia out of their title if that’s the problem. I’m sure the Lexicon would have zero problem with abiding by her wishes.

Avatar Image says:

Well… I don’t think anyone fan enough to buy that lexicon book wouldn’t buy the official one as soon as it come out. Like, at midnight. Everybody is gonna want that encyclopedia whether they have an unofficial one or not. And like people said, the real thing will probably have unreleased material in it… but still, it’s JK’s right to sue in this case… I’m kinda surprised the lexicon was doing a book, isn’t the site enough?

Avatar Image says:

Ohhhh no…

I’m really surprised at this. I love the Lexicon; I’m quite torn. I don’t think it was very smart of them to put this book out though…

Avatar Image says:

I don’t think encyclopedia is IN their title. i remember it was going to be called the harry potter lexicon.

Avatar Image says:

Deana, the Mugglenet book was opinion. There is a distinct difference in the publishing world. You can write your opinion about anything you want without any worry about copyright infringement.

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If as some people were saying is true and it is just too close to her ensyclopedia, then are we really not getting too much new info? This is just too much to think about…this and Nanowrimo= insanity.

Avatar Image says:

woooow, so that’s what that was all about.

why would Steve and Co. wanna publish the Lexicon anyway? isn’t it great as a site?

what about all of the other fan books, some being crappy ones, some not, that dealt with predictions, understanding the phenomenom, jo herself, and the themes and meanings behind the books?

please don’t hurt steve, or melissa!!

Avatar Image says:

what about cliffnotes and sparknotes? ok maybe that one’s a stretch.

Avatar Image says:

Totally agree with JK on this one. I can’t understand why you guys are “shocked”. She has already stated that she will write an encyclopaedia with all the left out info and that all the money will go to charity – which I think that’s fantastic.

There is no point for another one. Personally I don’t get why there needs to be companion books for this series (Fan Fiction sites are available for people to rewrite or write future stories without getting sued).

Avatar Image says:

I think Glenn has it right, this is sad. Melissa, would it be possible to get an interview with Steve on this, or JKR’s representatives? (probably not, but might be worth at least trying)

This also raises broader intellectual property rights issues, which is a very nasty and contentious area. I am an academic scholar, and people frequently prepare Lexicons, Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, annotated and critical editions, etc etc as part of scholary research and providing research tools for others. Could the legal owner of say Proust’s writings, or Jean-Paul Sartre’s, suddenly have rights to prohibit the preparation and publication of those works? Conceivably, depending on the wording of the decision, they could. Could Christopher Tolkein, cantankerous and determined to uphold his vision of his father’s works, suddenly start suing?

Worrisome. And I think in this case JKR is wrong (is WB calling the shots here?), since as others have noted she will be giving us far more in her planned Encyclopedia than Steve can based strictly on what is available as of this moment.

Avatar Image says:

I am dismayed…......I agree, with Tsuta. I am very suprised at the Lexicon folks, for even considering this. I am also, pretty sure, that there was “talking”done, as lal said. The fact that they even considered doing this, in my humble opinion, is a bit of an assumption. And, I think everyone knows what happens, when you assume….I feel, on the part of the Lexicon, they are being selfish, and contrary to Jo’s wishes. She holds the copyright, and it IS copyright infringement. And splitting hairs won’t change that. I am on Jo’s side, on this one.

Avatar Image says:

This is a ridiculous suit. This guy has done a lot of work, and it certainly never hurt Jo’s profit line before (it may have helped). There’s nothing wrong with him profiting a little too, especially since she admitted using the site. I think it’s wrong for Jo and the lawyers to try and hoard the released info about the characters.

This is just another case of copyrights being used to hurt the small individual, and not to protect them. I wonder if Steve can counter sue for her using his work to fact check her books so that she can profit.

Avatar Image says:

Well I support the Lexicon and Steve through their ventures on the website.

But they shouldn’t publish a book. And considering it wasn’t until today that JKR said not to, I think they shouldn’t sue and they should give him a chance to not publish it.

Avatar Image says:

It is absolutely ridiculous to say that a book published by fans in the near future would hurt the profit made by a book written by JKR in the far future.

If she doesn’t want other people to make money from her work, fine. But at least give believeable reasons for it and not something like this.

Avatar Image says:

Wait, I’m confused. O_o Is Steve Vander Ark the one trying to release the encyclopedia? That’s really strange.. I find it so hard to believe that he would try to do something like that without discussing it with the appropriate parties first, and knowing that Jo is going to release her own. Isn’t the site enough?

Avatar Image says:

Is this going to go away, like the other suit filed? The poor lexicon. It’s like someone busting into your home and taking away a notebook you’ve stored all of your notes in about the series!!!

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I am torn. I love the Lexicon and very much enjoy Steve’s commentary on Pottercast. I’d hate to see the Potter fan world sever its relationship with such a handy source. When it comes down to it though, is there any of us that wouldn’t buy Jo’s book even with the Lexicon book available? I’d buy the Lexicon book to not only support a wonderful source that has been there for me since the beginning of my obsession, but also to have a book that organizes all things Harry the way a fan thinks. I’ll buy Jo’s book because it will have new content and it will be part of Jo’s delicious vision. There are not many Potter people that aren’t hungry for more from Jo, but I think we all can appreciate how the Lexicon has helped us organize every bit of information available. I don’t think it is dirty of them to put all of their hard work into print.

sigh

Avatar Image says:

guys the fact of the matter is that it is HER material no one has the right to use it with out her permission for gain. thats why they have copyrights. Lexicon is wrong, no matter how much we like them they were in the wrong

Avatar Image says:

Steve is amazing! This is BS! How DARE she just go and sue one of her biggest fans that even SHE has recognized in the past! I’m disgusted with JKR! Steve, go publish that book! You probably know more than she does anyways!

Avatar Image says:

Personally, I want to blame WB for this, since technically they appear to own the rights to the characters, not JKR (lesson, be really careful about what contracts you sign, people!). WB appears to have accelerated its efforts to increase its own profits (those money grubbing toe rags). How much control JKR really has over this would be interesting to know…frankly, everything she has said in the past is that she has more money than she knows what to do with, so I cannot see her as a prime mover in this and some other recent legal actions. But, until its all over with, we probably won’t know.

Sad.

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It all goes to greed

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Riddikulus! It’s not right that Steve Van Ark is being sued over his Harry Potter Lexicon book since JKR has previously said that even she used the site on occasion. Besides there are already companions books out there! According to my Amazon.com search – there are 46 including several that specifically call themselves “encyclopedias”

I still say she should turn it into “Hogwarts: A History” – updated and revised by Hermione Granger-Weasley instead of just a straight encyclopedia.

Avatar Image says:

I suspect the use of the word ‘unofficial’ in the title would have avoided all this; however great a site the Lexicon is it is not an official, authorised source of information and any publication resulting from it should have reflected this fact.

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I am very saddened that Jo would target her own fans in this way. Disappointing.

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It is important to remember that when it says J.K. Rowling, it really means Jo’s publishers

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I will always lean towards JK Rowling as JK really has opened us all up to the magical world of Harry Potter. Although JK has essentially sanctioned sites such as The Leaky Cauldorn and The Lexicon, JK still has the right to all things Harry Potter. Long live The Lexicon, however the Lexicon is best viewed online and not in written form.

The encyclopedia that JK is writing/will write should hopefully contain everything that is known along with new information that we all want to know about. This will always be better than a rehash of old information that Steve from The Lexicon has produced. I am not dissing Steve, however when it comes to Harry Potter, JK is the one and only authority on such matters.

Avatar Image says:

Wait- we’re sure she’s suing STEVE? Or- what? Who? HUH?

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Hannah (I am very saddened that Jo would target her own fans in this way. Disappointing.)

Always remember that Jo is certainly not targeting her fans in any way whatsoever. Jo will be using her version of the encyclopedia to aid charities, whereas Steve’s version will not. Jo is the one and only authority on Harry Potter and waiting for her version of the encyclopedia is something good that she is once again doing for her fans.

Avatar Image says:

I can see where Jo is coming from with this but, it just doesn’t seem quite right. She gave the lexicon a fansite award for crying out loud. Plus I just looked it up on amazon to make sure I was right and there have been books published before that were both ‘campanion’ books and unoffical ‘encyclopedias’. So why now does she say that those kinds of books are not alright.

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pawnblue- She’s not looking to hurt the small individual at all… the profits of encyclopedia she has declared she will write are to go only to charity. She’s said this numerous times… just like how she did “Quidditch Through the Ages” and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” While it’s nice to have fan sites like the Lexicon, it is not Steve’s story, it’s Rowling’s. She wouldn’t be making a profit, but he would.

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There’s some interesting points people are making here. Reading the article on Reuters, JK says that she plans to include material that wasn’t in the novels in her own encyclopedia; however, she doesn’t say that she won’t also include known material. She calls her encyclopedia the “definitive Potter reference book” – so maybe she plans to include all the info that would be in the Lexicon as well, or perhaps a good chunk of it.

I am frankly surprised that Steve would go ahead and publish this book – while JK condoned his site, actually publishing a book of the material (for profit) is a different matter. I do find JK’s reasoning of depriving the charities of money to be a bit of a stretch, and it’s interesting to think that WB may have had a large part in the lawsuit.

Really, such an awful situation! To go after one of her biggest fans with a lawsuit, even if it may be necessary!

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Wow.. for once I’ve gotta say “boo” to Jo about this decision.

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Wow! I didn’t know they were publishing a book?! That is a shame! The Lexicon rocks. Wow! Yikes! Don’t even know what to say. The lexicon is a useful source. I can understand she doesn’t want them to publish a book, but geez, this kinda strikes at the heart of the fandom.

I always hoped that the fandom and her would work together on something personal for charity. But this dashes those hopes. Oops!

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Not cool, and quite a change of position given JKR’s history of fantastic support for various fansites and companion pieces.

1. Given that the “Lexicon” is about set to be published, it is highly probable that the book was well underway (or even nearly done save Book 7 info) at the time JKR made her comments about writing an HP encyclopedia. Accusing someone (Steve) whom she’s praised in the past of deliberate pre-emption is way, way out of line.

2. Any claim that a fan-book published now will in any way harm proceeds of a far-off encyclopedia of the HP world is frankly silly. I understand how important the HP books are to those of us who frequent fansites. The fact of the matter is, it is only the hardest of hardcore fans (like us) who rush out to buy books like this. I would be utterly shocked if a SINGLE PERSON who cared enough about JKR and HP to go and buy a fan-written book like this one would not bend absolutely backwards to buy a new HP-related book by Jo herself. SHOCKED.

3. The language in the suit could set a very dangerous precedent. At best, Jo is showing favoritism toward fan-authors with whom she has had personal interaction. At worst, Bloomsbury, WB and Scholastic can use the VERY broad language from the suit (unauthorized use of characters/trademarks, etc.) to shut down absolutely anything HP-related that is not officially sponsored.

I remain a huge supporter of JKR and of my favorite books. This is way, way disappointing, though.

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Right, old dude, I’m sure it all goes to greed… that’s why she’s donating all her profits of the encyclopedia to charity.

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Miguel,

I will always lean towards JK Rowling as JK really has opened us all up to the magical world of Harry Potter. Although JK has essentially sanctioned sites such as The Leaky Cauldorn and The Lexicon, JK still has the right to all things Harry Potter. Long live The Lexicon, however the Lexicon is best viewed online and not in written form.

The encyclopedia that JK is writing/will write should hopefully contain everything that is known along with new information that we all want to know about. This will always be better than a rehash of old information that Steve from The Lexicon has produced. I am not dissing Steve, however when it comes to Harry Potter, JK is the one and only authority on such matters.

There is no precendent setting here – just JK honoring her true fans with essentially another book on Harry Potter.

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I can’t help but feel sympathy for Steve and the Lexicon… He’s put hours and hours into his website and all this book would be is a paper format of his website. She doesn’t have a problem with the site, she shouldn’t have a problem with his book.

This is the same as shutting down all potter websites because they do the same thing. What about the Mugglenet book? I just think it’s stupid. She’s giving money to her charity, but she’s taking it right out of the pocket of Steve.

Stealing from the poor to feed the fashionably poor.

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Folks, please stop blaming JKR personally. This legal action is being taken by those who claim to be acting on her behalf, and on WB’s, in short, a bunch of lawyers. JKR didn’t wake up this morning and, gazing at a grey drizzly sky in Scotland, think “Gee, I feel grumpy, why don’t I screw around with Steve”

What would be important to know, can JRK intervene to bring this sad situation to a nice resolution, or is she totally tied by contracts that she signed (and which were read and explained to her by lawyers). Or has she too lost control over her own writing?

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Well, I can see both sides of the argument for this one. It’s still a head scratcher why no one would check to see if this type of book would be okay. Personally, I think the best resolution would be for JKR AND SVA to put the Encyclopedia together… together. Granted, JKR has the world at her fingertips, but Steve’s already done so much himself, research that could theoretically take years for one person alone to accomplish. Between the two… can you imagine the volume they would make? THEN, dedicate THOSE profits to charity.

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So after destroying the character of Dumbledore, she’s going sue happy on people who have devoted countless hours catering to her fandom.

What happened to you, JK?

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Jo doing an HP encyclopedia has been hinted at by her for years, so even if Steve’s was in the pipeline for a while, he knew that it was a possibility that Jo herself would be doing an official one.

It’s her property plain and simple.

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Theres been A LOT of work put into the lexicon, I think Steve should profit. And I think the fact he is putting out this kind of book might be incentive for Jo to put even more new material into anything she gives us. So yeah, I really hope Steve wins.

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Incidentally, there has been a parallel set of legal suits, by Disney. After years of allowing, even encouraging the use of its characters as decorations in schools, child care centers and other places, Disney began to demand either royalties or the removal of the characters! My impression is that after about a year of forcing child care centers to paint over Micky and Donald in front of crying toddlers, Disney finally realized they were hurting their corporate image and not making any money in the process….

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It’s a FAN site. He started it as a fan, knowing it would be just a fan site, so why should he profit from it?

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since everyone will by her book anyway, this would not hurt her sales or charities,BUT since hers would be for charity maybe Steve should agree to donate the money to a charity she chooses instead of profitting from it. this seems like an overreaction but it is strange that steve would publish just when she’s confirmed her own encyclopedia.

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Running a fansite is one thing, but infringing on copyright for profit is another matter entirely. JK Rowling (and WB) has every right to sue Steve (remembering that they’re suing over the book and NOT the fansite). She’s not ‘attacking fans’, she’s protecting her intellectual property. The contents of a lexicon based on the Harry Potter books would clearly be constructed from copyrighted information. As for those readers whose comments are attacking Rowling for suing rather than ‘talking about it’... seriously? You don’t think they might have already warned the publishers? The authors of the lexicon have NO right to profit financially, no matter how big a fan they are.

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“So after destroying the character of Dumbledore, she’s going sue happy on people who have devoted countless hours catering to her fandom. What happened to you, JK?”

Good Point! I really don’t know what’s happened to her.

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Miguel said:”The language in the suit could set a very dangerous precedent. At best, Jo is showing favoritism toward fan-authors with whom she has had personal interaction. At worst, Bloomsbury, WB and Scholastic can use the VERY broad language from the suit (unauthorized use of characters/trademarks, etc.) to shut down absolutely anything HP-related that is not officially sponsored.”

Yes, I think that is the point. JKR wants to be the sole user of her characters. She naively signed over many rights to WB for the movies, that knowing what she does now, she would never have done. What we think is certainly open for interpretation: megalomaniac, or protecting creative integrity? Since she is now suing fans who have always held her work with the utmost of respect, I’m leaning towards the former. Charity is a weak excuse at best Jo.

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Sorry . . still not buying it . . ;)

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Jo’s encyclopedia has been rumoured for ages, so the Lexicon would have known about it. Of course what will sell Jo’s book if she does eventually write it will be her name on the cover, and the new information she has said it will contain, so I rather doubt the Lexicon book will impact it much at all, particularly as I get the impression that Jo’s book is some way off. On the other hand this might be a legal issue, and Jo and her lawyers feel that if they allow this book there will be many other books in the same vein that will take this as a precedent.

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I think everyone here is a little shocked by this. I personally cannot beleive that Jo knew specifically who WB would be targeting.

It is very obvious that Steve would never try to publish an companion book simply to cash in on HP.

My very fist gut reaction is how can I help? Who do I start writing letters to. Because this is a pretty bad mistake, and if Jo does know its specifically Steve, well then I’m saddened.

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Anyone who thinks that lawyers are doing this without Jo’s consent is stupid. She knows exactly what’s going on. She’s made special note of it on her website. And while she may have what she thinks is perfectly good reason to be suing a poor fan who has devoted the last 10 years to her books, I simply cannot see it. Her book would sell just as well as his. SVA isn’t going to cut her sales.

The same way that Mugglenets book didn’t hurt sales of book 7. This is stupid.

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I’m going to get a book of copyright laws I think, to understand perfectly, before I comment further. They have to talk about this on PotterCast, even if they didn’t talk about the Indian suit on it. This directly effects the Floo Network.

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I don’t know the details of it…but from what I heard…it makes sense to prevent the publication of the lexicon. It is one thing to have a free lexicon online for all to read at no cost…but to have it published whereby someone not affiliated with JKR can profit from the sales of the book (which contains the sole intellectual property of JKR) sounds like a sneaky way of making money…intentional or not.

It seems JKR was fine with the Lexicon being online…but when they decided to bring money in is where she drew the line. Unless they intended on giving those unofficial books away for free?

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I think it’s rather simple really. The lexicon should have asked if it’s OK to publish something like this or not and they clearly didn’t. After all, we all knew that Rowling was going to write a companion / encyclopedia in the future. It’s a shame this is happening, but really it’s not wrong for her and the WB to do this.

“Theres been A LOT of work put into the lexicon, I think Steve should profit.” Well you don’t get paid to be a fan. It goes the other way around.

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Wow. I’m thinking a simple, behind the scenes request to shelve this project would have been SO much better than filing a lawsuit. What a slap! I don’t think this was about making money off her characters. I’m disappointed in how this was handled. I understand protecting copyrights, but this isn’t the first companion piece, and I don’t remember any lawsuits there.

LS

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I didn’t expected it. Jo has exagerated. Her book would sell the same. It’s a different kind of encyclopedia. One has the known canon of today, the other is a futurible book with exclusive canon. No competence.

My support to the Lexicon.

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I’m really sorry this has happened. Hopefully, something can be worked out.

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freeluciusnow21 – Isn’t it actually like the Lexicon stealing JK Rowling’s notes of the series? I think you got it backwards.

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Giving to charity is a wonderful and noble thing to do. And to spend hours and hours on a brilliant website that was free to all of us without a thought is also charity.

I feel kind of bad for Steve. Why Steve!!! And there have been all kinds of crazy Harry Potter books and study guides, etc. His book must be very good to get this kind of lawsuit and attention.

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It seems like if Steve were trying to be a respectful fan and steward of Jo’s work, he would have asked her first, not to mention not be making a profit off of it. That feels to me like at best a lack of forethought, and at worst a disregard for the very hard work she’s surely put into creating the Harry Potter books.

And guys, my guess is that this isn’t so much about the amount of money that she’ll raise for charity as it is about the fact that it’s a very blatant copyright infringement. They just don’t want to talk about the elephant in the room because it sounds accusatory.

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“Isn’t it actually like the Lexicon stealing JK Rowling’s notes of the series? I think you got it backwards.”

No it’s not. The Lexicon was created from painstaking work of combing through the published books, every interview, the movies, the video games, everything and assembled in a usable fashion. JKR has used it herself to keep her facts straight about “her” world. Whether Steve created the characters or not is not really the issue. JKR said it’s about money she intends to go to charity – weak excuse. Every time people at Leaky use the Lexicon I hope they appreciate the massive time and work that went into it, that you all feel is your right to use free of charge.

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Seriously, after she awarded them for their extensive effort? After all that the site did for her? That seems a bit wrong.

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Putting so much work into a fan site is all well and good, but he did it because he wanted to probably make it one of the best Harry Potter fansites out there, which it is. It still doesn’t mean he should profit from it. Because all in all it’s still just a fan site based on JKR’s work.

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oh I am SURE they asked him to shut it down behind the scenes.anyone who thinks a lawsuit is their first resort is pretty silly. There’s ni doubt they asked and Steve said no and that is why there is a lawsuit now.

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Caelead – selling JK’s own story as a fan is not treating her material with the utmost respect.

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Jo is suing Steve Vander Ark? Holy crap! Can’t say I expected that… I think I agree with her on this one though. I am sick of “fans” profiting off of Harry Potter, and apparently Jo is too.

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GOOD! Fans need to stop f!cking profiting off of Harry Potter, I’ve always thought it was wrong. I’m surprised she didn’t go after Mugglenet’s book which was very sloppily done and which they made an assload of money off of.

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A study guide and an encyclopedia are two very different things. An encyclopedia/companion is basically just quoting Rowling for an entire book and a study guide is a book written about the books. Now if he was doing an encyclopedia and DIDN’T have a permission to do it, then what on earth was he thinking?

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I agree with Lady Stratford. A settlement out of the public eye should have been the way forward, but this makes JK look like a media, attention-grabbing author. The Lexicon did do a lot work, but let’s not forget that the website had no profit to gain whereas putting it through a publisher and gaining capital is a copyright infringement. I doubt the fan sites will be affected by this law-suit as they’re not gaining profit.

Having said that, I completely feel dismayed that SVA is being personally penalised for all his hard work, and that he was publically named when it could have been done very quietly… This is a sad day in the world of Harry Potter.

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budd, WB has NOTHING to do with this. The characters still belong to JKR, and always will. I think it’s completely clear this is coming directly from her as per her note on her website.

I’m sure Jo appreciates the Lexicon website as much as anyone, but we’ve been hearing about her encyclopedia for years and this is her expressed wish. And for the person about who stated “Steve probably knows more about HP than Jo,” all I can say is that I hope you are joking. As the CREATOR of this work, Jo has spent nearly the last two decades in this world, filling hundreds of notebooks. It’s assinine to believe that there is a person alive who knows more about HP than Jo.

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Sounds like this book is just re-packaging Jo’s intellectual property for profit, in the exact same way she plans to do (except hers will be for charity). This is unlike other ‘companion’ books which do add something of their own e.g. speculation on the outcome of the series or examination of myth and folklore. It can’t be acceptable to re-hash someone elses’s work in this way and sell it. No matter how useful the website has been to us fans and how nice a guy the author might be. Free-access website fine, book sold for profit a step too far.

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This is crazy!! How shocking! I don’t know what to think!

I’d love to know what Leaky and the lexicon have to say.

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I don’t think that they should suit books like that. There are hundreds, thousands of books that are unofficial harry potter related things. “What will happen in harry potter 7?”, “Muggles and Magic”, “The Sorcerers Companion”. None of those are getting suited. Most of the people who write those books are HUGE harry potter fans and are more interested getting out there thoughts and such about harry potter then they are in making money. However, I don’t think warner brothers has anything to do with it. It’s J.K. Rowling’s business and they shouldn’t be butting into it. If they keep going at this rate, J.K. Rowling won’t even be part of the Harry Potter scene. It will all be part of “Warner Brothers” >:(

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My support to Leaky and Lexicon! It is incredible what Jo’s doing since the seventh was released. I’m really confused about everything she’s saying or doing, talking about things like these… I think she’s exagerating. Her enciclopedy is going to be released in… ten years? Really, I can’t understand it.

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Wow, I want to think this is a joke. This is so unlike Jo. I want to take her side because I love Jo, but I don’t really see how she can justify this. I mean, there have been many, many books like this that have been published. True, they were speculation, but I’m sure there have been encyclopedia-like books too, and I don’t see why she has to make an example of this one. A book being published by a fan site that she has respected and rewarded in the past. And that she says it will cut in to her profits. Total crap. I mean, a person who will go and buy a book published by a fan is absolutely going to buy a book written by Jo herself, so there’s no way that it would hurt the money being made for charity. And also, with the character infringement, what about all of the other books like this that have been published? And I don’t belive that Steve would have refused to not publish the book if he had been asked. We are fans, we practically worship this woman and then to turn around and ignore her when she asks us to not publish a book about her characters for any reason,not likely. But it seems so harsh and out of character to just slap a lawsuit on them. I’m so torn! It seems so…..not Jo to do this.

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How you can blame Steve for publish this book? For years, HPL has been FREE for all us. I am sure each one of us here has searched info on the Lexicon for at least 10 times in the last year. At least. All free. A book needs more work and if they can earn money for pay the website servers, believe I would be very proud of buy this book.

And Jo, I would buy your book TOO, of course. I am absolutly disappointed with this sue. With the indian pandal, with that… I can’t believe it is happening.

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I

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On a side note, does anyone know if Leaky will be allowed to talk to Steve about the suit? I highly doubt it, if he’s a defendant.

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WHY is everyone getting so upset? I really dont get it someone is using JKRs material for their own personal gain. We should all be standing behind her. Yes Steve and the saff at the Lexicon have put in alot of work into the site Jo has acknowalaged that. But now that they have over stepped their boundries and are tring to take what JK has spent 17 years creating they are wrong. end of story. Its hers no one else’s

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ALAS, we are but ants in the world of JKR….If she can go on the set of the movies and make adjustments, I’m sure could call the dogs off or at least come to some understanding (IF she choses to). Steve has shown her nothing but devotion and loyalty not to mention thousands upon thousands of hours into the Lexicon.

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“And I don’t belive that Steve would have refused to not publish the book if he had been asked.”

Well he clearly has, hasn’t he? Honestly people, get real. He might be a super nice guy and he certainly has done a lot of work for this, but you just CAN’T publish something like an encyclopedia that is mostly just quoting Rowling and hoping to get profit. It’s no legal.

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Here is the difference between Mugglenet’s book, companion books versus The HP Lexicon’s encyclopedia. Mugglenet’s book if a group of opinions. Other companion books about psychology, philosophy, etc. in Harry Potter are also opinions. They have their own statement of facts and their own purpose.

The lexicon is simply a group of information put in book form. It’s copy and pasted information. There is nothing unique about it. It’s Jo’s work and characters reprinted without her permission.

For those who are still confused about copyright laws, look at it from a differnt angle. I’m a photographer. Imagine if someone took my pictures and put them in a book without asking my permission, and sold it aas a collection of my work. Now if they used my work to explain the use of leading lines in photography, I think that would be okay.

I don’t think Steve meant any harm, and I doubt Jo hates him now. It’s just a bad decision by Steve and his staff. People make mistakes.

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There had to be private stuff which obviously we don’t know about because that is what private means. Putting her world wholesale into an encyclopedia is a lot worse than any of the others. So now a private request – there had tonhsve been one – just so they can say they tried to settle it quietly – has had to go public. It’s very different to give opinion than to put her property under a different cover and call it yurs and Steve should – I’d guess does – know that.

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I think the Lexicon book is a bad idea. Yes, the site is popular and useful, but essentially the book is providing at a charge what they are already providing for free. And that personally annoys me, but what makes the decision worse is that it is presumably marketed to coincide with the announcement of JKR’s own encylopaedia, which will be released for charity. Taken the wrong (I hope) way, the statement it makes is ‘Why buy that book when you can buy THIS one earlier?’. It appears to be riding the market in a fairly tasteless way.

It won’t affect most of the fandom, but who’s to say it will have no effect? Regardless, it’s tacky to benefit from the fandom’s lack of patience for something that will eventually provide funds for charity.

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I don’t think it’s our place to judge the decisions of either side in this case as we don’t know all the details. Also, remember what Jo said once? To question authority. So don’t absolutely 100% believe what Reuters has to say unless it comes from an official source such as Jo and her representatives or Steve Vander Ark. And just as a personal opinion, I don’t think Jo would sue unless she had a real legit reason to, and she’s only filing suit against the publication of the book, not the website.

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I stand by you, Steve. All my support.

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I can’t describe how torn I am over this. I love Jo, and normally wouldn’t think twice about supporting her decision to protect her copyright. But this is an odd case. Other companion books/encyclopedias have been published already, and she didn’t fight them. (I actually found one on Amazon called “The Unofficial Harry Potter Encyclopedia: Harry Potter A-Z” by Kristina Benson, published as recently as July 2007.) If she allowed those other books to go unchallenged, why pick on Steve? Steve has always shown the utmost respect for Jo and her work and has contributed in a real way to her devoted fandom. Steve’s book won’t take away from her sales. What will hurt her sales most is waiting too long to publish. The longer she waits the fewer people will be interested, especially once all the movies are out. Ultimately, I just can’t get away from the thought that even if she has a legal case here, it doesn’t justify the slap in the face she’s giving to Steve. (...and as someone who transitioned from casual-fan to devoted-fan by listening to Steve & company on Pottercast, and reading sites like the Lexicon and TLC… I can’t help feeling as if I’m sharing that slap in the face by extension…. if that makes any sense at all….)

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Caelaed, she isn’t shutting down the website, she is asking him not to print a book.

Please, everyone, learn about copyright infringement before typing. Jo has every right to do this. She is doing the correct thing. It’s Steve who messed up, and I bet he feels really bad about it.

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who says steve is a nice guy? I always found him rather arrogant and the fact that he didnt immediately admit he was wrong and pull the book proves it. It’s not his world and let’s not make him a martyr people. When he creates a world like harry potter he can create the encyclopedia to it.

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This has to be a trick. Did anyone even know Steve was working on a book? And as in-tune as Steve is with the fandom, I cannot believe he wouldn’t have sought JKR’s blessing on such a project. Additionally, given the respect and reverence Steve has shown JKR in the past, I would think that a simple request from her to not publish the book would be sufficient.

But, if it’s real then I guess I have to grudgingly agree with JKR. Nobody should profit by reprinting her material, which by definition is what an encyclopedia would be. I really don’t like the fact that she was so quick to sue a fan site, however. Especially one of the ‘core’ sites. She may as well sue Leaky!

Even if it is a Halloween trick, it is to soon after the Dumbledore disaster to be messing around like this.

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I’m not questioning the legality of JKR’s suit, but rather the ethics of it. Profit and fair compensation are very different things. The amount of time that went into cataloguing the HP world must be worth something. Hundreds of people have “profited” off of Harry Potter and JKR said nary a word. JKR herself profited monetarily off of Steve’s work. But suing the one person who has made “her” world understandable even to her for copyright infringement (which is not about intellectual property, but money) is a poor standard. It is our choices that define us Jo, as do yours.

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Oh, and no sympathy for the companion books from me, either, I’m afraid, but mainly because I have a personal dislike of those things. I don’t like the idea of Big Name Fans and don’t think one fan’s viewpoints are worth more than another’s just because they’re given at a cost.

Oh again, this lawsuit has nothing to do with whether JKR likes the lexicon website or not. You don’t file lawsuits just to say ‘Nyeeehh, I don’t like you very much!’.

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Maybe I’m being too cynical, but some of you guys have to get over this idea you have that JKR should be grateful for the “hours Steve spent putting the lexicon together.” She didn’t ask him to do it, he did it because he enjoyed it and wanted to do it. She even acknowledged his hard work by giving him an award. However, when he ignores her request not to print the book (which he has or there would be no lawsuit), then he unfortunately has to face the consequences of his actions.

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and i bet he doesnt fwel bad at all but rather entitled to publish. There is no way this is the first he is hearing of this suit or her displeasure, and even so if he didnt immediately abandon the project… Let’s be honest: he knew she didn’t want it and went ahead anyway. Not his decision to make and now it’s a lawsuit. He’s not respecting her at all.

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CNN and USA Today both have articles up on this.

“The complaint claims Warner Bros. and Rowling’s representatives have been ” rebuffed and treated rudely” in their attempts to engage in a dialogue with RDR Books.” From CNN. RDR is the publisher.

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Caelaed, It’s her work! She has celebrated the HP Lexicon in past. She loved that site. The difference is now Steve is trying to sell it as a book to make profit. Your darn right it’s about money. I don’t want anyone making money off of my hard work if they don’t put in any of their own opinions, thoughts, conclusions, etc.

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Maybe I’m alone here, but regardless of whether it’s right or wrong, Steve’s would have been WAY more comprehensive (more detailed, encyclopedic) than Jo’s. She’s amazing; her book will be funny and charming, and if I had to pick between the two, I’d take hers. But I want something the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and let’s face it; Jo is not going to spend the 1000’s of hours that Steve and his staff did for this one. His would be much more comprehensive than hers. They’re apples and oranges. What’s wrong with wanting both? Maybe part of the settlement will be her using the materials in her own work.

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And Caelead- JKR did not need Steve to catalogue the HP world for her, she has her notebooks and knows it front and back in her head. So, he must have done it for himself and for the fans so when you say “it must be worth something” actually, it does not. And how exactly did Jo gain monetarily from Steve’s “work”? Did people not understand HP before the website? Did people see the website and say “Oh, I think I’ll start reading the Harry Potter books!”

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everybody talks about the Hours Steve put in….what about the YEARS even DECADES JK has put in . what is she working for? to have someone else make money off of her and her ideas no not that needs the money but she has the right to say who makes money off of her and where is goes. its crazy to be mad a jo for pretecting her creation

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“Anyone who thinks that lawyers are doing this without Jo’s consent is stupid. She knows exactly what’s going on. She’s made special note of it on her website. And while she may have what she thinks is perfectly good reason to be suing a poor fan who has devoted the last 10 years to her books, I simply cannot see it. Her book would sell just as well as his. SVA isn’t going to cut her sales.”

Yeah, this isn’t the case of innocent little JKR who can’t help what the big bad lawyers do. I think this was a bad decision on her part and I have a feeling that the fandom is going to remember this for a long, long time.

It might take her years and years to actually do that encyclopedia. Everyone will buy it anyway because it’ll have new information. What’s wrong with having an encyclopedia in the meantime? There have already been loads of books about Harry Potter not by JKR, why go after one by someone who’s devoted so much time and energy being her fan? The idea that this book, with no new information, could take away from the sales of some far-distant future book with new information is ridiculous.

And if she’s so horribly concerned about money not going to charity, why doesn’t she just give more of her own money to charity?

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What about the companion to the Vampire Chronicles? That wasn’t written by Anne Rice. The amount of work put into reading Harry Potter and listing all the info, plus the obvious love of the book by Mr. Vander Ark, it’s like insulting to sue him for devoting his time to JKR’s work. It’s a complement!

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the diifference is that it is not Steve’s decision. It’s hers, no matter what way you would like to sugar coat it. It is her world and not his, period.

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Eyezbi, Steve’s material IS Jo’s material, so that would be ridiculous.

Thank you whatshername! Good to have definitive proof that they tried to settle this privately.

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I don’t believe that what Steve is doing is “copy and pasting” at all. He has spent hours and hours working out the secrets of the series, including all the things people wouldn’t have noticed on their own. It takes time and effort to do this, just look at the detail of the site.

Since I haven’t seen/read the book, I would assume that it IS a companion book, because it’s unofficial, and based on speculation and information figured out through cross referencing and research.

I can see why JKR, and Warner Bros would be upset if money is being made off of Harry Potter by other people. But, in the end, I bet a lot of that money would go back into the making of the Lexicon website.

Ultimately, ONLY JKR can give us new information. And, the people who are going to buy Steve’s book are the ultimate fans, who are going to be the first ones to buy JKR’s official edition.

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I don’t understand why they just don’t NOT publish the book. Couldn’t they have just said “Sorry, but Jo’s going to be doing this, so we’re not publishing yours.” Why does there have to be a big lawsuit??? I’m really confused.

Though it seems to me that Leaky is kind of torn on this too. Notice how at the end of the article Melissa wrote about how Leaky and the Lexicon are basically sister sites? I’m sure she feels upset over this, and unsure of what to do.

Poor Steve… he’s only ever loved Harry Potter, and basically dedicated a huge portion of his life to making that site.. I really hope it doesn’t cause any big problems. Lawsuits like these can ruin lives – he could lose tons, such as his house or job… it just seems like something else could have been done.

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No-one can take an author’s property and re-package the information therein and sell it on. It is a blatant infringement of copyright. The books that have been allowed thus far are not simply re-packaged versions, they add something extra in the way of discussion, ideas, intellectual input. This one apparently does not, or does not do so enough.

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There’s a big difference between having the online Lexicon a printed version….

The online Lexicon is free, the printed version (the book) is being sold for profit, meaning Steve will be making a profit publishing works of Jo’s.

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I’ve got to say, I don’t believe that Steve would make a book without consulting Jo. Moreover, I do not believe that he would rebuff and/or treat Jo rudely, however, I can’t believe Jo would be this suit-happy against the Lexicon. Really?

I’m a little at odds. If it turns out that Jo just arbitrarily sued Steve and the Lexicon- given, on grounds that are perfectly understandable but needn’t have gone to a lawsuit- I will be both extremely disappointed in Jo and quite angry.

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Could someone provide links to the CNN and USA Today articles? I can’t find the CNN one yet, and I’d like to read them.

LS

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on I believe he would do this without her permission. And be rude. He’s been arrogant on every pottercast and at prophecy he said mean thicngs about the last book and said she had done too many scenes to make the books movie friendly. I’ve seen his talks and they are displays fornhis pomposity and I don’t doubt for a second that jo and her people were treated rudely, especially if they put it down in the form of a legal document.

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JK Rowling wants damages. She doesn’t want to stop the book from further publication, the woman richer than the Queen wants damages. I don’t even know what to say.

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Hope this works.

http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/djf500/200710311744DOWJONESDJONLINE001189_FORTUNE5.htm

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I’ll I cany say is I feel sorry for Steve. It must hurt to have this suit come from someone he has admired so much for so long.

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“it all goes to greed”

Where? On the Lexicons part? Maybe. I’m sure that site is very popular, and at least partially profitable (jeez, didnt I read in the leadup to the Summer of 7, that some of these HP fansites make in the 5 to 6 figures???). Lets not be naive and think that there’s not at least some profit in running the lexicon (and remember, he designed it as a fan). No matter how much I love the Lexicon, it is not Steve V’s property. he is technically trying to profit himself off of someone elses creation. It cant be greed on the WB’s or JKR’s part, because all their profit will go to charity.

I think that her post on her website today just goes to show you how hard this step probably was. hindsight makes me think its almost an apology of sorts. I’m guessing she is supportive of the website, especially since she’s used it herself, but she just couldnt support the book. It will be to profit someone besides the owner of the copyright (or in this case, the charity she chooses), and will indeed infringe on her future book.

it doesnt really matter that she hasnt started it yet, or that we have no idea how far in the future it’ll be, it’s still her world. and it also doesnt hold true that The Lexicons book will cover old info, and hers will cover new info. I am sure, if she is going to publish an end-all encyclopedia, it will include BOTH old info, and new stuff she didnt get a chance to put in. and that means that their book would infringe.

Believe it or not, there are people out there who might purchase that one first, and not really care about the info that’s not already out there. Sure, it wouldnt stop me, or many others here, from buying both, but we’re not the majority. There are many who would love a reference about the published world who wouldnt give a toss about all that extra stuff that we’d love.

again… it’s her world, we’re just along for the ride.

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Acording to Jo, the main subject is that this encyclopedia would make loose benefits to the official one. It is what she uses to defend herself, in a news where I see she isn’t very proud of what she has done.

But do we really believe HPLexicon book could make loose benefits to the official one? It’s riddiculus, absolutly!

1- HPL book would be published in November 2007. Official encyclopedia doesn’t have date, but we will have to wait YEARS. 2- HPL book is from all the known canon. Acording to old interviews to JKR, her official encyclopedia will have ALL the content that has NOT appeared on the books. And of course, it will be with content that HPL book hasn’t. Different books.

I can’t still believe what Jo has done. From the pandal news to this, I am each day more dissapointed. It awful that her only text update from July has been a discrect explanation of her sue. Shaming.

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Eyezbi – there is no possible way that Steve’s book could be more comprehensive than Jo’s, because Jo will not only have every bit of information that Steve would put in his book, but all of the things that only she knows. Every little piece of information that Steve knows has come from Jo, either from her books, website, or interviews. She is the source.

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I was surprised at this. But only because it’s the Lexicon. Jo and WB have the copyrights, they can decide what to do with the characters and Rowlings invented world. A encyclopedia would be too much related to the books, and there would be made a nice amount of money (I guess), whereas the site is just a fanmade non-profit encyclopedia (I think). This book would be fully based on the HP-world, other books are related but stand on their own and discuss HP-[i]related[/i] stuff.

If I remember correctly, Mugglenet has once got a C&D letter not to sell Potter merchandise. This is something like that in my opinion.

The article says the book was already due to be released? It’s a bit strange a publisher doesn’t check if it’s okay to publish…

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I like how her own fans treat Jo Rowling as a greedy witch for suing on perfectly valid legal grounds, but when ‘One Of Us™’ gets in trouble for trying to pad their own wallet by selling somebody else’s intellectual property, they’re nothing but a dear, darling, innocent fan.

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Why is the Lexicon releasing an encyclopedia-like book when Jo’s already said she’s be doing one? Plus she’ll put a lot of new information into it that only she has access to. Looks like Steve’s just trying to profit from how famous his website has become. I love the Lexicon but if the book’s just a paper version of the website, who’d but that?

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The CNN link still doesn’t work. Can someone quote it?

LS

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By the way, if this story is true (I still somewhat doubt it), I wonder if, after the lexicon publication goes belly up, it would be legal to distribute their encyclopaedia for charitable benefit. That way they get to do their alleged ‘service to the fandom’ without the theft and greed.

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I do love the fact that WB is kind of jumping on the bandwagon in a way – it’s not like they are going to film the encyclopedia.

And I get the impression that poor Steve may be a little stuck in the middle – the article doesn’t quote him, only the publisher, who is the one refusing to give in. Seeing the book is supposed to be published in less than a month, they have the manuscript. The Lexicon has been fantastic at pulling things off the website in the past when Jo has asked – I’m sure, like many of us, they didn’t expect that JKR and WB would call it copyright infringement, and that they would not have written it if they knew that this would be the outcome (and if they do go to court, it will be interesting to see if they bring up WB’s use of the Lexicon timelines in the DVD…)

Though I must admit, I think I prefer the Lexicon as a website, not a book. I also agree that I couldn’t see it hurting future profits either, but they are her characters, after all. I’m so torn on this…

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JKR does tend to slam people with suits every other month… She obv. published that thing on her site because she knew people would be upset for Steve… It seems so unnecessary. It couldn’t have been a last resort because hello, Steve’s not an idiot – if JKR warns you off something, you’d better not go there. It seems she’s not gone straight to sueing. Not cool.

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JK Rowling never said before today that she was definately writing that encyclopedia; but now that someone else is, she’s suing them and pretending there was never any doubt she was going to write it?

What I really don’t understand is, with her suing the Lexicon people and the Indian religious party, why didn’t she file suit against the French boy who translated DH and published it over the web? I can’t see a pattern here…

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Spinks- You are the voice of reason in a field of hysteria. About a year ago I heard that Emerson was bringing in about $30,000 a month from Mugglenet. Now, this could totally be untrue, but I didn’t even realize that ANY money was being made from fansites.

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” It couldn’t have been a last resort because hello, Steve’s not an idiot – if JKR warns you off something, you’d better not go there.”

There is no way it was a “first resort.” They need to be able to say in the lawsuit that they attempted to reach a private and peacable solution, to look like the ones who were upstanding about it. Lawsuits like this don’t totally surprise defendants. He had to have been asked not to do it. And he had to have said no. Which is, yes, stupid.

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This is actually pretty rediculous. Did Steve REALLY think that this would be allowed? I love the Lexicon site, as well as Steve, especially his appearances on Pottercast, but he should have known better than to try and publish something like this, I mean, c’mon. JK and WB seem to have REALLY tightened the reigns on anything pertaining to HP, so why is this shocking and unexpected news?

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Yeah, after reading that article I too think that the ones to blame are the people at RDR Books. It does sound like they really want this book to be released and the lexicon people have little to say about it. It would explain why they are publishing it even though they are asked not to.

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Wow…Jo going against a site she’s awarded? This is scary. It’s kinda like an attack on the fans in general because that’s all the Lexicon is: a collection of fan-gathered information.

I don’t even know who to side on! I hope this doesn’t get rid of the Lexicon all together!

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Oh, MB, it’s true. Most people have no idea how much money the Mugglenet guys make off of their site – I do not know the exact figures anymore, but I used to. Let’s just say it’s a TON of money. They are living it up, and telling fans all of the ads and fundraisers are to cover their costs, only – complete lie, and very sad.

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There have been other “companion books” in the past. The ones by Wizarding World Press for example. You have “The Plot Thickens: Harry Potter Investigated” (which I read before book 6 was released), Ultimate Unofficial Guide to the Mysteries of Harry Potter. Then there are others, like Mugglenet’s book (bleh).

I highly doubt that Steve’s book would “detract” from sales of JKR’s encyclopedia…which DOESN’T EXIST YET anyway. JKR’s book would provide new information, while THPL would just catalog what we already know.

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the lexicon? really? wow. i could never see them doing this…. im so shocked.

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Naria, she’s been talking about the encyclopedia for years! She spoke about it several times this summer. You’ve got to be kidding!

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Over at Lexicon, there are no postings re the suit, just two from today about the changes at JKR’s site. Which is the right way to handle the situation…see the What’s New page http://www.hp-lexicon.org/whats_new.php

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I think JK has every right to go after them because she was going to do the Encyclopedia for charty and I bet Lexion didn’t ask permition to do such a book. All the books say you have to get permition to use anything in the books so I think she has every right to go after them. I mean it takes a way from her donation as well.

It doesn’t matter if JK use’s the site for refernace what matters is if they asked permition to use the stuff in the books first. They could have called it something else other then a Encyclopedia and it may not have been that big of a problem.

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Michelle, it’s not an attack againts fans. Think before you say something like that. It’s a lawsuit against a book that is re-releasing J.K. Rowlings text and ideas for someones own profit. They have been asked not to publish it, but they have decided to ignore that.

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This is probably the fourth comment or so I have made regarding this topic today. I believe in the freedom of speach and everything but come on folks! JK Rowling is Harry Potter! Everyone has heard of Intellectual Property and essentially anything in the form of paper regarding the OFFICIAL World of Harry Potter should only come from JK herself.

There should be no exceptions to this rule. Therefore sites like The Leaky Cauldron (best site ever btw) and The Lexicon are legitimate ass they only report on news or on existing factual information. Steve should NOT be putting out a book on Harry Potter, it is not his responsibility and not his right.

For those people doubting JK Rowling now (you know who you are, you have been writing comments as such), stop doing so as it is very hypocritical.

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I agree with Rowling in this action. Right now if you read The Lexicon, it’s free. But if they sell Jo’s book they are selling her work. That just doesn’t seem right. It’s not like the book of John Granger where the actual work was speculation on the series.

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What the heck!

I totally side with Steve! She even USES HIS SITE!!! Ask him not to publish the book, perhaps, but a freaking lawsuit!!!!

I’m ashamed of Jo.

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She has every right to sue in this case, she can’t not sue because it is one of her favorite fan sites. Once she lets one person do it, all can. And lets not forget WB has a stake in this too. A huge business like that is not going to be concerned with how beloved a fan site is.

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This is the first I’ve heard about this book Steve is writing. However, I can see where Jo and WB is coming from, but I don’t think it will be like the encyclopedia Jo will put out. Knowing that it’s Steve, I just figured it would be a paper version of stuff on the Lexicon with just facts that we already know about characters just as a reference book. Has Jo sued Gladriel Waters or authors of the other companion books that analyze the books chapter by chapter? I’m kinda torn and it seems like it was a situation that spiraled out of control and maybe they could’ve come to a compromise about all this instead of it coming to a law suit.

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Read the posts ( and now the