Questions and Answers with WB and RDR; Lexicon Responds

112

Nov 03, 2007

Posted by Melissa Anelli
Uncategorized

Today, TLC spoke to Diane Nelson, President of Warner Premiere, Warner Bros., who takes care of global brand management for HP, and Richard Harris, spokesperson for RDR Books, regarding the recently filed lawsuit against the publication of an unofficial Harry Potter encyclopedia, aiming to answer fan questions and clear up some confusion. A summation of each discussion is below. Please be reminded that no part of these discussions constitutes a legal answer to any of the claims made in the suit, or has legally binding implications. Also, the opinions and claims in each portion are owed to the agency discussed and do not constitute The Leaky Cauldron’s opinion or claim (of which it has none).

Warner Bros.

The original contact came about because the agencies became aware, in early September, that the Harry Potter Lexicon was slated to be published.

WB says they made numerous efforts to work with the publishing house, asking after the manuscript and offering to help make sure the book did not infringe and could be published without complaint, and all efforts were rebuffed.

The letter claiming rights on the DVD timeline was sent to the CEO of WB and seemed to them like an effort to take attention away from the cease and desist claims. The cease and desist letters constituted an attempt to open a dialogue.

The company claims they registered surprise at the letters from RDR, repeating that the Lexicon site is terrific, but that the proposed book fundamentally infringes J.K. Rowling’s rights.

WB claims to spend hundreds of hours vetting dozens of these types of books each year, and only goes to court (as in the case of Tanya Grotter) when the authors are not willing to make the necessary modifications.

It’s incumbent upon WB to act to protect J.K. Rowling’s rights in order to retain the rights; failure to act may in some (or future) situations be seen as giving up of rights. WB feels it has worked with fans in many ways, by providing elements and materials to allow them to continue in a manner that isn’t commercial. It granted Steve Vander Ark and the Lexicon the rights to use some of its art non-commercially, back in 2001.

According to WB, J.K. Rowling doesn’t have a problem with people publishing or commercially gaining from commentary or analysis, but reconfiguration of her work doesn’t apply.

The British publisher of the Lexicon book is cooperating with WB’s requests and engaging in a dialogue, but it isn’t the case in the U.S.

WB doesn’t feel this is an issue of first amendment rights, and that there are unequivocally no rights owed to the Lexicon for a timeline deriving from the rights of others.

There is no intention to have this suit apply to other fan endeavors such as web sites, wizard rock, etc.

RDR Books

All the following information is according to the RDR spokesperson, Richard Harris, and may be amended upon further discussions with the company.

RDR claims that Steve Vander Ark originally contacted J.K. Rowling, they think “via letters…over a period of months,” to ask to work with her to create an encyclopedic resource, and was rebuffed, which is when he sought out a publisher for the Lexicon. He made no further contact to the J.K. Rowling camp.

Roger Rapoport, the president of the company, was not in Germany selling rights to the book when the suit says he ways, says Mr. Harris. He was with his wife and brother-in-law, the latter of whom died of cancer at that time, and was the reason for which Mr. Rapoport asked for a good faith delay in answering the suit. [The suit claims that Mr. Rapoport was working on selling the rights to the book in Germany at this time, not that he was physically there.]

The book, according to RDR, is “a lexicon or reader’s guide. We’re not calling it an encyclopedia. [J.K. Rowling's objection is that specifically we were calling it an encyclopedia.]”

[The suit does not claim that a name change will solve the issue or purport that the book was called an encyclopedia.]

The book contains critical analysis from “Steven Vander Ark and his staff.” When asked what he meant by critical analysis Mr. Harris said, “You can go to the site and read the articles. I’m not going to itemize them for you.” Questioned further he said “the book was typeset directly from the site,” and that it was word-for-word taken from the web site. (The RDR Web site now says “The entire book is drawn verbatim from the material that presently appears on Steve Vander Ark’s website.”)

RDR claims the book is not an infringement because “it’s a critical and educational review,” and, “we are not simply rearranging information.” Mr. Harris said a large portion of the book was “probably” typeset from the lexicon directly, though had “no idea” what proportion of the book is essays as compared to a catalogue of info. (However, there have been statements by Lexicon staff quoting Steve, that state there will be no essays in the book. Some essay authors are stating publicly that they have not been approached for permission.)

RDR claims not to have given JKR‘s people a copy of the book because “we don’t have a copy to give them…because the book hasn’t been published yet.” Asked why they didn’t hand over a manuscript, Mr. Harris said, “how would it benefit us in any way? This is the result of a barrage of letters from their lawyers in the last two months. Late i the game they came forward and wanted to see the manuscript, after they’ve been threatening to sue us and everything. How is it going to help us in any way to show them the manuscript except to provide them with more information. At this stage are they going to say, ‘Oh, we’re sorry?’ and go away? I don’t think so.”

The publisher claims WB has been “threatening and abusive” since the beginning, and claims RDR would have been happy to discuss the book with them at any point.


RH: They received lots of response. We repeatedly told them yeah, give us a call, give Roger a call, and he will talk to you about it.
TLC: That’s not what they put forth in their legal document.
RH: [laughs] I know that’s not what they put forth in their legal document. Well aware of it.
TLC: Then I want to make this clear because it’s serious: You’re saying that they bore false witness in that document.
RH: We’ll answer that in our answer.


RDR Books admits that letters began in early September but claims that the original letters to come did not mention Warner Bros. Warner Bros. has told TLC that all letters clearly stated WB as a party.

RDR claims to have made an attempt to settle the matter quickly, and was rebuffed (WB has yet to respond to this claim).

Further questioned about whether the timeline of communications in the lawsuit is, therefore, correct, Mr. Harris said he did not have an answer.

RDR claims there are many factual errors in the suit but declined to discuss them individually before the case is answered legally.

It’s RDR‘s position that the Lexicon did not need permission to do work on the book.

Disclaimer: These interviews do not constitute legally binding arguments.


The Harry Potter Lexicon has posted a statement on its “What’s New” page:

Dear Friends,

I would like to thank each and every one of you for your support in recent days. Everyone here at the Lexicon, all volunteers, regrets the unpleasantness. We have always been interested in working with the publishers of the novels to satisfy their concerns, interests and needs and we certainly do not plan nor have we ever planned to publish anything which competes with Ms. Rowling’s fine literary capabilities. Our work has nothing to do with fiction writing and is only concerned with legitimate critical analysis and academic considerations. It has been widely approved and employed by Ms. Rowling herself.

My book was started in response to many, many people who talked to me and asked if there could be a print version of the Lexicon, not in some sort of attempt to profit off of fans. Because the material for the book was not only accepted but praised and used frequently by every entity concerned with creating the Harry Potter books, games, and films, I would never have thought that a print version could be judged differently.

I sincerely hope that this matter can be resolved amicably and ask for you patience and understanding during that process.

Steve

Steve Vander Ark
The Harry Potter Lexicon


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





176 Responses to Questions and Answers with WB and RDR; Lexicon Responds

Avatar Image says:

Once again, thanks for working so hard to give us all this information. It’s a huge relief to have (uncolored) facts to read and ponder. Thank you so so much for this article.

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I agree with SarahW. Thanks Leaky for being so non-partisan during this and just presenting the facts! You rock!

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You know, having contributed in the past to the HP Lexicon, as well as being a moderator for the HP Lexicon Forum. I’m very mixed about all of this. I hope people understand, the problem isn’t Joanne or Steve, it’s the lawyers who always manage to muddy up the waters, and it’s sad. Yet, you do not go up against Goliath meaning WB, and not expect to get burned. If the issue had to do with using direct quotes or paraphasing, you paraphrase. Now that I run my own similar about another unrelated bit of pop culture, I now understand you have to tread carefully. Also bear in mind, like Steve, I am very big about my own ‘intellectual property’ as far as the writing, but you also have to respect others ‘intellectual property’ as well. That’s the way it goes.

Avatar Image says:

Really interesting to see how this turns out. I sure hope that they don’t seal the court records or something when this is over so that we as fans can learn what really happened and what the law truly says.

I also agree that a big thanks is in order to Leaky for covering this in a non-partisan way!! You guys rock!!!

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Pardon me for those missed word typos, it’s late here and I’m tired, my bad!

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This is why I love Leaky. You guys never keep us in the dark. I don’t think JKR would’ve objected to Steve doing an encyclopedia if the proceeds of her own weren’t going towards charity. It’s a charity that she founded as well so it’s natural for her to be protective. This is so sad, I’m torn.

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They won’t give WB a manuscript because it “wouldn’t make a difference.” Huh? If they did and the book turned out not to be copyright infringement the suit would be dropped. This to me just shows that it is, they know it is, therefore they are 100% in the wrong. I think RDR is idiotic to pursue this lawsuit. I don’t know what they’re championing (small town publishers have rights to engage in copyright infringement too?), but they’re just going to end up burned and I don’t have much sympathy for people who bring things like this on themselves when they had so many chances to back out. And if it is a verbatim copy of the Lexicon as they claim then there’s no question on that alone. If all the essays on the site were published, that still wouldn’t make it close to 75% original content. Which, speaking of- I’ve come across more than one person who wrote for the site and wasn’t contacted for the book. Are essays written by contributers going to be included without their express consent?

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Raiveyn you don’t think JKR would’ve objected to Steve doing an encyclopedia???..She is doing it!!!! I don’t know wath happened with her!...She should appreciate it..not to reject!..Bad done Jo!

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kdpotter:

Why should she appreciate someone copying work she spent 17 years of her life creating and selling it?

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“If all the essays on the site were published, that still wouldn’t make it close to 75% original content. Which, speaking of- I’ve come across more than one person who wrote for the site and wasn’t contacted for the book. Are essays written by contributers going to be included without their express consent?”

That is an issue, Kelly, that I have started to wonder about in the last couple of days. Those essays are the intellectual property of the fans who wrote them, just as the characters and information from the HP books are Jo’s intellectual property. I’ve written a few essays in my time and if someone took my intellectual property that I had in good faith put on a website which was free for people to view, and the owner of the website then went ahead, without my permission, and published it in a book for his own profit, I would not be at all happy.

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I think anyone with a button that reads “Vander Ark’s Army” should charm it to say “Steve Stinks!”

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Thanks Leaky.

Oh, this is making my head spin. Who would have ever thought a couple of months ago that a this Lexicon legal drama would now be taking place? A shame.

As much as I admire the Lexicon, I am on Jo’s side on this issue. And from what I’ve read over the past couple of days, I am not too pleased with the way RDR Books has been handling themselves.

And Kelly makes a good point about the consent of the essay writers. I have never written a Potter essay for any site….does the Lexicon have some fine print that says once you submit an essay it becomes property of the website?

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Excellent article, Leaky!

If I’m understanding this correctly, it’s not Jo who is the main disgruntled party, but WB because they have to be. WB made a financial agreement with JKR to be her sole/chief distributor of the HP brand and the flip side of that is that they protect that brand – both for their sake and Jo’s.

WB has to pursue this kind of thing because if they don’t it sets a precedent for others to publish and profit by replicating exact facts or quotations from the HP series. If the book were entirely comprised of original essays/commentary then the WB wouldn’t have a valid complaint. Just reiterating facts from the series for a profit is essentially copying Jo Rowling’s work.

I think Steve is wonderful and the Lexicon is fabulous so it’s a shame he and Jo are embroiled in this mess, but he’s smart enough that he should have already known this. And his publishers don’t sound very professional if they couldn’t foresee this happening and cooperate. They did Steve a disservice by not protecting his work better from the start by advising him to alter his book to essays and critical analysis only.

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No, JK Rowling made it very clear it’s her case too, by stating such on her web site. but WB does have an obligation to follow this through it seems.

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i think it’s a bit early to assume steve was going to publish esseys without permission. talk about rumors getting started. to me it sounds like RDR are just screwing over the lexicon for their own agenda.

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Leaky, you continue to rock.

I agree, RDR doesn’t sound very professional. : /

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“RDR claims that Steve Vander Ark originally contacted J.K. Rowling, they think “via letters…over a period of months,” to ask to work with her to create an encyclopedic resource,...” He did? I thought he missed that chance and was torn between the two sides.

”...and was rebuffed” And that’s the point where he should have let go, IMHO. He knew that Jo didn’t approve and wants to publish the book anyway.

Thank you Leaky for giving us the facts!

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Just a question to all of you that say that Steve’s work of compilation doesn’t have anything original in it (Compilation can be copyrighted if the arrangement as a whole constitutes a new work – it is in the law), that he is a thief and a greedy man. If he closed the Lexicon, wouldn’t it make any difference for you, because all that information is in JKR’s books anyway? If you think so, fine. If you don’t, then you are being a hypocrite. I’ve seen people praising the Lexicon one day and calling Steve a thief the other day. That certainly isn’t fair.

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Thanks for getting us the scoop Leaky!

Unless there is something seriously back-handed about all this, I am with Steve Vander Ark all the way.

I couldn’t believe that I could side against Jo in a legal argument, but I’m afraid I am against her in this one . . .

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I’d say the WB spokesmen are making a much more compelling argument than the RDR folks. It’s hard to tell whether this is because they have the facts on their side, or whether they just have better lawyers. Possibly both.

I generally don’t like this sort of aggressive copyright protection. It’s ridiculous to suggest that any fans would pass up the chance to buy the definitive HP encyclopedia written by JKR because they’d already bought a lexicon put together by fans. This type of lawsuit hurts the little guy and does virtually nothing to benefit the people who own the intellectual property.

That said, however, Steve Vander Ark should have known better. For better or worse, this is the way the publishing industry works. If he was really planning to publish the complete lexicon as a book without getting prior approval from JKR, then he’s not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. It’s a blatant copyright infringement. It sounds to me like he’s been listening to some bad advice and working with a truly incompetent publisher.

His decision to shut down comments at the Lexicon and act like nothing has happened just makes him look even worse.

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LilyP: It is not hypocrisy. He is selling the lexicon for money as opposed to running a not for profit site. If lexicon had a subscription fee and I had to pay to see the website, you bet I wouldn’t do it! I’d think it was very wrong of him and I’d just consult my books from then on out without a second thought.

Siyrean: I did not mean to start rumors. I was merely speculating. If there are indeed essays in there as there appears to be, whose are they? It’s a really sticky situation and a lot of people are going to be angry if they belong to casual contributors.

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I’m on team JKR. The Lexicon can just stay free. People can be a little greedy sometimes. I would LOVE a copy of the Lexicon’s work… but if it does regurgitate JKR’s book, then I wouldn’t approve it.

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Kudos to Melissa and TLC for the info. It’s always hard to stay out of the fray when one’s friends have a disagreement among themselves.

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November: I don’t agree at all with HP-Lexicon, I know…It’s Jo’s work..but she said that HP-Lexicon was her home and now she is doing this!. They’re not destroying her work, they’re honouring it!...I’d like to have a copy of the Lexicon’s work and I’d like to have a copy of JK’s encyclopedia too…so I don’t think tath herr sells will come down due to Lexicon’s work.

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Great work, Leaky. I’m so torn over this issue. I get the impression that Jo and Steve’s voices are being obscured in a legal muddle. On the one hand, Warner Bros. are a huge multi-national company, with a multi-million dollar annual proft and the power and clout to bully anyone. On the other, RDR seem to be a small publisher, but a fairly unreasonable and closed-minded one. The book does sound suspiciously like copy-right infringement to me. What confuses me is why Warner Bros. are taking up the issue and throwing their weight … doesn’t this concern JK and her publishers more than it does Warner?

Avatar Image says:

You always wrote Richard Harris claims. Are you sceptically, don´t you believe it? Why didn´t you need a more neutral word like “said”?

Avatar Image says:

Chrissi, “claims” is used liberally, as is “said” on both sides. Probably over-used both, but we want to be clear.

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Thanks Melissa for the info – Great job keeping the fans informed without presenting a biassed opinion :)

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Great thanks to Leaky for giving us a place to learn the facts, and for trying to make some more facts emerge. As a user of the Lexicon myself, and a JKR fan, I am on both sides, and I was in need of some serene discussion like I find here.

Avatar Image says:

you know what? I’m not tied to steve or JKR,so why would I have to take sides?I’ll let the judge decide,he’s way more qualified than me to make the decision.

I’ll just continue to love both JKR and Steve

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“When asked what he meant by critical analysis Mr. Harris said, “You can go to the site and read the articles. I’m not going to itemize them for you.” “

I am finding that kind of funny – most of the Lexicon isn’t what I would consider ‘critical analysis’! Even if it was just the essays (and they had permission to publish them, which is another story) I wouldn’t have thought that they had 400 pages worth of essays relevant post book 7 – unless they’re all Steve’s essays on how he developed the timelines :P David and Goliath or not, WB does appear to be conducting themselves much better to me.

Tara – WB has the rights to the characters and elements of the HP world. I don’t think the publishers have any say as the publishing rights are owned by JKR herself, and I’m assuming there is no contracts for the encyclopedia, so they couldn’t claim that it affects them in the way of lost sales.

I’m now wondering what Steve asked JKR about originally – a collaboration between the two of them could have been wonderful.

Once again, fantastic journalism by Leaky.

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kdpotter that’s not how it works. The Lexicon was considers honouring JK’s work, heck someone taking time out of their day and voluntarily doing all that he did I would consider honouring. It’s a different matter when someone tyres to make money out of it in such a way.

As of now it’s still unclear what would have been in this book and they should have handed over the manuscript for review. I’m still not very convinced by them though it’s a very different tone from the last time on RDR’s part.

Thanks Leaky for posting this it’s nice to be kept up to date and also for taking a neutral stance on this matter.

Avatar Image says:

Richard Harris responses sounded like something nancy stouffer would say.

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I’ve got nothing but Sympathy for Steve. I was in talks for a good five years trying to get my own book published and unfortunatly I picked the wrong company as they were just as underhanded as this place seems to be.

Steve has GOT to stop listing to the houses’ lawyers (they are obviously not on his side) and say “hey hold on, ait a minute” or they will make him out to be the bad guy, scapegoating him when WB and JK bury the house in court.

Avatar Image says:

Team JKR all the way, but I feel sorry for Steve. This can’t be easy for him. He’s gotten tangled up with a shady publisher, and is clearly getting lousy legal advice from somewhere.

Hopefully these RDR creeps don’t just leave and have Steve twisting in the wind.

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Great job Leaky! You guys have been so professional and I think it’s really a great service you do for the readers here.

I’ve got to say, I’ve always been on JKR and WB’s side on this one and this information has done nothing but make my support of the two even firmer.

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Thanks for this Leaky! RDR’s spokesman doesn’t sound very nice =S

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LilyP- It is certainly fair to praise the Lexicon (it’s a great site), but still think that Steve is out of line with this book. It’s not hypocritical. The two things are quite different… one is not making a profit, the other would… and it would be a profit primarily off of someone else’s story.

Avatar Image says:

Thanks for the diligence, Melissa.

Whether or not a for-profit publication of SVA’s Lexicon would in any way diminish the sales of whatever Jo might be writing (I doubt it) and the extent to which the two would be similar (not very, I’d bet) is only relevant in the strictly legal context. They are not the main point.

Much more important, IMHO, is that as a matter of principle you do not go against the wishes of an author whose work you purport to love in handling her material, period. Never mind WB – it is a matter of respect, plain and simple, especially for one, JKR herself, who has never stood in the way of people using her material to be themselves creative in various forms (the crucial bit being the “themselves creative” part).

As for the rest, just because you’re big and successful (like WB) you’re not necessarily evil and wrong. Equally, just because you’re small and unknown (like RDR) you’re not necessarily a trodden-on martyr. (In fact, the various utterances coming from RDR so far are so pathetic that one can’t help thinking there’s a reason why they’re small and unknown.)

SVA & co. had something good going with the web-Lexicon, something with quite a lot of potential still. Here’s hoping he’s busy doing what he can to salvage that.

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Thanks for the great work, Melissa.

I was on nobody’s side on this…but reading the two responses, RDR comes across as highly unprofessional and unclear. I think I might take Jo’s and WB’s side.

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Once again, thank you Leaky for being so professional about all this. You should get an award or something! So, I stand firmly behind Jo here; I mean, honouring Jo’s work on a website is one thing, but making money out of something that’s free is just… wrong.(Didn’t RDR say that the book is a WORD FOR WORD copy of the Lexicon? If that’s the case, we can just print whatever pages of the Lexicon we want, for free!) However, I just as firmly believe that Steve is not the horrible person many of you think he is. Sure, he got a bit greedy, he did a mistake, but that’s what people do. They make mistakes. RDR’s the Voldemort here, I think, not Steve. Anyway, I remain firmly on Jo’s team, and I hope she triumphs, and no lasting damage results from this.

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thanks for the continuing updates!

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Thank you Melissa and Leaky for the great work you do.

I am not taking sides here because it is a legal issue and I think the only winners are the lawyer.

I am sorry Steve got mixed up in a legal battle, I like him on Pottercost, but I do think he became a bit too critical in Canon Conundrums. it took some of the fun out of it.

I am a Jo Rowling fan and what she says and does in her books is fine by me.

The Lexicon never caught my interest. Jo’s site and Leaky’ supply all I need to know, but I do hope it is soon sorted.

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Thanks, Leaky, for more of the direct news.

But I would still like to hear it directly from Steve. He has always seemed a sensible man, and a serious fan, so I would very much like to know HIS (not RDR’s) side of this thorny story.

I love the Lexicon, and I am still not convinced that the rearrangement of material that he intended doing (e.g., listing all the potions, or all the characters, etc.) is any different from the thousands of study guides and reference books that exist on major literary works. They, too, contain lists of characters, geneologies, plot summaries, etc., and nobody sues them for copyright infringement, even though thousands of students read these guides INSTEAD of the original texts – which would certainly not be the case with HP.

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Bravo Leaky for remaining impartial, This is not something I would have thought could have happened a month ago. Oh Steve, please stop listening to these publishers, have you lost sight of what Harry Potter fans are about. its about the books, its about love, its about charity. Its not about profit. I ca understand wanting to have something to show for the work you put into the lexicon, but If jo doesn’t want it to happen, then the best thing to do would be to back off. she’s the author. You gotta respect the writer guys. I can understand how this might be stepping on Jo’s toes, just because her encyclopedia will involve new info, doesn’t mean she won’t be putting in alot of what the Lexicon has, character summaries, floor plans, indexes of spells etc. Besides, a website is alot easier to navigate then a book.

I’m rambling… its midnight, ignore me.

I love you steve, thanks for the lexicon, its amazing, but I’m with Jo on this one.

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Sorry, guys, but it’s “early” for me…. Thank you, Leaky, for keeping us up to date on this matter. I hope this doesn’t end(?) with 300+ posts of arguments for/against either party. The information, you have provided, is clear and “unabridged”. Black and white. I, myself, will not go into “who’s right, and who’s wrong”... Again, thank you, for your being impartial.

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Congratulations for this research.

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The more I hear from RDR, the weaker their case seems to be. Very sad situation.

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I have been following this for a while, and what a horrible situation!

I have to say – I am on JKR’s side here. If Steve had had her permission, that would be one thing, but she, her publishers, and WB said no. So as someone said, Steve really made a bad move by going forth about it.

And as a writer, I understand completely where Jo is coming from. She doesn’t want published facts about her characters written by someone else; speculation is one thing, but actual facts might bug her. I wouldn’t blame her if they did. We writers are protective of the characters we create.

One last thing: Like several others, I applaud TLC for being neutral through all of this. I realize you guys and The Lexicon are partners, and can only imagine how awkward this might be.

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Contact through letters to cooperate on an encyclopia….that is what I would expect from Steve. Over several month…. that brings my timetable back to July 21. If Steve contracted Rowling about that time I can understand he got rebuffed, because so close after the release of book 7 I don’t think Rowling was ready to jump on a new project. She needs to take a distance from HP to analyse and order the facts and events in it.

Steve is already working for years from with a critical distance on HP stuff and could by that time have decided the canon was completed. Or at least completed enough to serve a print while the dish was still hot. No conflict between Steve VanderArk and JK Rowling yet so far, only a different timetable.

Then the Warner Lawsharks come into the field to play. LAwyers!!!! any room at Azkaban or Nurmengard available?

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For the record, I too know someone who has an essay posted on the Lexicon who was never contacted about the possibility of it being re-published in book form. Let’s hope that that is not happening.

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To Jo and Steve, This is breaking my heart. I am hoping and praying this can still be resolved.

To Bel, Lisa, John, and any other Lexicon staff, I don’t know what to say…much love, hugs, prayers, vibes, etc. being sent your way. I can only imagine how horrible this must be. Please know people are thinking of you!

To Melissa, John, Sue, and all of the Leaky People, This has got to be so hard. Hugs to you too.

(I posted this in the old thread before I knew there was a new one, hope this is ok)

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As others have remarked, thank you, Melissa and Leaky, for engaging in the principles of responsible journalism by trying to report fully on this issue. It can’t be easy or comfortable for you to do this, given your relationship with Steve and Lexicon.

I agree with Kelly, Artemesia & others, however, that first and last, Jo has the right to decide what is published for commercial gain regarding the world she alone created. She also has the right to designate who represents her interests. It seems to me in reading all the various articles about this matter so far, that Steve has not perhaps gotten very good advice on how to represent his interests. He and his publishers had ample opportunity to initiate and respond to communication with Jo and to address her concerns. It is interesting to note that it has been reported that Steve’s British publisher has in fact been cooperative and communicative with Jo and WB. The only appropriate attitude to have in such a situation is to bend over backwards to be respectful, responsive and cooperative with Jo. I think that’s all Jo and WB were ever asking for—“Just let us know exactly what you want to do beforehand so we can help you figure out how to do it legally, without infringing on Jo’s copyrights.” What I don’t understand is why RDR has not evidently done this, and instead has adopted the apparent attitude that Jo/WB is a nasty Goliath and they are poor David with a little rock and a slingshot. So, they have chosen to rebuff rather than respectfully communicate. As an American, I’m sorry to say that I’m not surprised it would be Steve’s American publisher engaging in this. We are a very litiginous culture. Probably 90% of the lawsuits in this country could be avoided if the parties involved had endeavored to capitulate and communicate thoroughly in the first place. What’s the harm in that, RDR? So maybe Jo would have asked Steve to do some editing, include a disclaimer with the title, and perhaps write a little more critical analysis so that the book would clearly be the kind of commentary she’s has generously allowed to be published in the past. So, maybe the publication date would have had to be delayed a bit. So what? It’s Jo’s right to ask for a say in those things, guys, because you are launching a commercial product which you plan to sell for a profit. So, if you had been a bit more humble and less uppity about a project that could not have existed in the first place with Jo’s creative work, you’d have been able to publish your book, not dissed Jo, and not gotten into this suit. Or perhaps RDR thinks a lawsuit is great advance publicity. Hmmm…

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It’s interesting that Steve’s British publisher is actually cooperating with WB over this, which would seem to indicate that what RDR is doing has little to do with Steve’s own wishes. It’s a very unfortunate situation, but I would say that the blame is solely on the American publisher.

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Slight correction to the above…Steve’s work could not have have existed in the first place WITHOUT Jo’s creative work! That’s kind of a central point in all this, isn’t it?

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What I really don’t get about this is why Warner Brothers are suing if they don’t own the rights to anything.

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I find it extremely odd that some people feel it is just fine to copy -and rejurgitate—JKR’s work as their own [or “any” author for that matter].

Apparently RDR and SVA knew they are in the wrong or they would have had a diologe with JKR [and WB] over this,before they decided to publish.They knew from the start what would happen . Interesting though that the editors in the UK are actually “talking” to JKR and WB. Why couldn’t those in the US have done that????????

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From what I gathered Nadia, is that WB does have some rights (like making and distributing moves, merchandise, etc). But if they do not work to protect HP, they may lose them back to JKR.

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One thing I have noticed is the book was being kept very secret from the start no one knew it was going to be published so that tells me that RDR was tring to get it on the market before any one knew it was there. That way some of the books would have been sold before the suit was filed!!! Am I wrong or what????

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Without debating the issue (for once, lol!), I have a general question… It is my understanding (by visiting the lexicon site) that the cannon is NOT compleate. Theres a ton of info missing, mostly from book 7. Considering this, isn’t it an odd time to publish such a book? Won’t this book be incompleate? Or do we think the book is compleate and for some reason the website it not? Thoughts and opinions on this matter greatly appreciated!

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Nadia, WB owns the rights to the HP characters. Apparently some of those are used in this book in ways they should not be.At least not be used as a “form ” to earn money from.

JKR not only has my full support on this but I worry about what could happen to the rights of all authors if this isn’t eventually seen in her [or even WB’s] favor.

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Re-reading RDR’s statement about the matter on their website-I wonder if RDR’s issue over censorship and first amendment rights has to do with the fact that the book hasn’t been published yet? If the book came out and was found to be an infringement, that seems like one thing that at least could then be argued on the merits of exactly what appears in the book. But WB/JKR are trying to stop a book they’ve never seen from ever being published in the first place. I don’t think an author has the obligation to show a manuscript to anybody before publishing (including plagiarized material, etc.) They’re wrong to publish something illegal and then have to take the consequences, but don’t they have the right to publish it first? (Maybe not-maybe a lawyer can post and tell us). The right to publish seems like a different matter and is the one RDR is first speaking about. Censorship and First Amendment rights? I don’t know. But I do wonder how you can sue over something that someone intends to write/publish claiming it will take money away from something someone else intends to write/publish (since Rowling has not published her book yet, either, and won’t for years). There’s no there there in either case yet, is there? Kind of like arresting someone who might commit a murder just because you don’t like what he’s saying? The website doesn’t seem to count because the website and the book are 2 different things.

Besides, there is so much material of all kinds and formats on the Lexicon website, it can’t all possibly be going into the book, can it? The entire Lexicon in 400 pages? Doesn’t seem to match up, you know? It must only be certain parts, but we just don’t know which parts the book contains until the book actually appears. There is definitely material on the Lexicon that is critical analysis and would not infringe on copyright. Will WB/JKR finally get their due from their knee-jerking, strong-arm tactics when they see a book that is perfectly legitimate after they have defamed the reputations of SVA and his publisher? What kind of counter-suit would happen then? Hmm…on one level the case seems pretty cut and dried, but on another it could be complicated and interesting.

I’d also like to chime in with other fans here thanking Leaky for their continuing news coverage and updates on this story.

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Leaky, you are wonderful. Cheers!

Ashes: The only way that the Lexicon book would be “complete” (inclusive of all DH canon) is if Steve (and several other people?) had worked on the Lexicon book in the last several months….instead of the website.

So…..since the “bad guys” here appear to be RDR books….should JKR’s Army just boycott them? Or am I getting a little too rebellious there? :P

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i don(t understand some coments which are saying, like Jeannine’s, “I find it extremely odd that some people feel it is just fine to copy -and rejurgitate—JKR’s work as their own [or “any” author for that matter].”

For my pleasure or the pleasure of exchanging ideas with fellows forumers, or for a to-be fan fiction, I have try to organise by myself some of the informations of HP, such as time lines, use of potions, maps,or lately visions and dreams of Harry : thus I cannot let say that this work is just “copy” or “regurgitation”. Why insult the Lexicon and the people who have worked at it, why not use the real words, wich are “organising differently JKR elements” ? To use the rights words doesn’t change the legal aspects of the case, about intellectual property, maybe, but it does change the “accusation”. We are not speaking of a tentative of plagiarism. But of a tentative of making money with a proposition of “organised information” (on a Lexicon form), about JKR’s world.

About the legal and “social” case : I agree that, with the answer “No” by J Rowling, no such book should have be envisaged.

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JKR all the way

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I second that. I support Jo. As a writer myself, I get cold thinking about someone taking my work and gaining from it.

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It seems fairly clear that RDR is unprofessional and that they are merely soldiering on in the hopes of saving their current investment in the book. To pull out now means a big loss for their company. I have a feeling Steve’s opinion matters little at this point.

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Oh, and a big THANKS to Leaky for their coverage :) Love ya!

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I’m on JKR’s side here. I think the main issue is that as a website, the Lexicon is free for all users. As a book, people will have to purchase the book to read the information. That is the main issue. Steve is trying to take money from JKR (who’s money will go to charity). JKR has even stated all money given to her from this will go to charity (besides lawyers lost I’m guessing).

This isn’t the first time Steve has done something against JKR. Personally, I think JKR got fed up with the website when they “revealed” the RAB mystery after HBP was released. It’s embarassing to think that a fellow Michigander is doing this to the author who got me to start reading again.

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Melissa and the TLC, thank you, as always you do your best to provide us with the best information available.

But folks, let’s not get back into the discussion of the past few days? The JKR vs SVA bashing and bashing of other posters got tiresome, and more important there really is insufficient info about the planned contents, despite the statement from RDR that the book would be word-for-word off the Lexicon site. Steve VA is acting appropriately by not saying a word…

So, let’s hope this sad situation resolves itself in a positive fashion shortly.

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To echo others, Thank you Leaky for bringing us information from both sides. I wish that Steve could give his point of view too, but likely he has been told not to say anything by the publishers and lawyers.

I believe that JKR’s camp is in the right on this. I just don’t understand why the publisher couldn’t hand over a copy of the manuscript. This could have been done long ago and avoided all of this, unless of course the publisher knows that the book does infringe on copyright and is trying to “hide” it.

I don’t really “blame” Steve in this at all, it just sounds as if he got bad advice from the publishers, at least I hope that is the case.

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It really is a pity about this. I agree with the JKR supporters. RDR certainly seems to be unprofessional…I wonder why Steve would take his book to them anyways? The site looks like something off of Powerpoint or Publisher (I think it’s what it’s called). I agree, from the sound of it after this bit of news, it sounds more like Steve may have gotten very bad legal advise. But with that, why hasn’t he said anything? Shutting down comments was certtainly a bad idea if he wants anyone to not see him as wrong. If it is legal advice, then certainly he made a mistake, but should have stopped taking the advice. If not, than he is no longer a fan so much as one of the people who publishes the fake books.

Also, how will Leaky’s partnership stand in the wake of him losing the case? Is there a single person in charge of the Floo Network (from what I know, no, but still) who could shut it down?

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I don’t think anyone in this situation meant any harm, which is why the whole thing is unfortunate. I’m assuming that Steve was not trying to steal Jo’s work or prevent her from writing her encyclopedia or replace her encyclopedia, but I’m going to have to side with Jo on this one. It’s her world, her characters, her plots, and the Lexicon is just too intricate and detailed to be published into a book and not have WB get angry. It’s also sad that Steve, among all things a huge Potter fan, has to be punished for trying to make things easier for other fans by compiling all of this Potter information. I think this is an example of just taking things too far – the Lexicon was great as it is, but to publish it as a book would be unfair to Jo and the hard work she has done for seventeen years.

Thanks Leaky for keeping us updated!!

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Helios,

JKR has made it clear, and if I understand the agreement with WB and the Floo Net members made back in 2001 (? unsure of date), materials may be posted on the web for all, since there is no charge. There were numerous advantages to all in that initial agreement, since after all the Lexicon, MuggleNet, Leaky and other sites kept fan interest sparked between books and films. And manufacturers of HP merchandise also realized that the commitment of sites like Leaky to provide us with information simply added to their marketing. Therefore, there is no reason for Lexicon to be closed down, that would be counter-productive.

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Posted by Lilyp:”Just a question to all of you that say that Steve’s work of compilation doesn’t have anything original in it (Compilation can be copyrighted if the arrangement as a whole constitutes a new work – it is in the law),” Uhh! I don’t think you are right. A compilation still has to have permission from the various publishers before they publish or it is plagarism. I have a lot of scene compliations from plays and they have permission. The mere regurgitaion of facts like a study guide or movie listings, etc is something different. The Lexicon is not a mere regurgitation or reorganization of facts it has quotes from books to support most of the facts and lists specific information taken directly from the books. Credit to Steve for this, I love(d) the lexicon. But if it was just a Cliff’s Note of Spells used in HP, or the like I doubt WB would have a problem.

Also, I think a very telling argument on WB’s part is this “WB feels it has worked with fans in many ways, by providing elements and materials to allow them to continue in a manner that isn’t commercial. It granted Steve Vander Ark and the Lexicon the rights to use some of its art non-commercially, back in 2001.” This is true, also the lexicon freely copyrights it’s own artwork(and apparently timelines) based on JKR’s work. That is fine in a free web based medium. You don’t want other sites stealing your stuff, but I have never seen a copyright mark at leaky. Which leads to the question if the Lexicon is published does Steve now get residuals whenever his copyrighted HP artwork is used and will it compete with WB and other authorized HP artwork(a copyright does not equal authorized.)So there is alot of other things involved than just words. WB probably asked for the manuscript to check many things. Steve was probably free to make artwork and call them snithes, and other such things from the HP universe because it wasn’t profiting from it. But try to sell it and you got to change the name.

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Hi, I’m not very good with cpoyright laws so i was just wondering what would and would not be copyright in a book. Like quotes would or wouldn’t?

Sorry if that sounds a bit stupid but law isn’t my strongest subject.

Thanks leaky!

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I agree with Gracie. Until there’s an actual book that’s been published that actually breaks copyright law, how do JKR and WB have a case?

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Don’t try to hind behind the first amendment. Freedom of speech does have stipulations like you can not yell fire in a crowed building, you can not slander someone’s name and you can not take someone’s else’s written word and print it as your own to name a few. Freedom of speech does not mean you can say and do what you like and all of us Americans know this. So stop trying to use the first amendment to say you have a right to rework Jo’s ideas

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Go Team JKR!!!

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Thanks for the info, Leaky! And thanks for not choosing sides publicly. I also want to really thank Jo for speaking out publicly on her own website and explaining her view of the matter. She didn’t have to do that. Clearly, she felt it was important and evoked strong feelings in her. The only one who has remained completely mute is Steve and the Lexicon. They’ve even gone so far as to shut down their comment boards. Why? It really doesn’t look very good for them. I’m trying not to judge Steve because I know what a great guy he is and how much he’s done for the fandom but I’m starting to wonder if the attention has gone to his head a bit. I hope he proves me wrong and there is an amicable solution to this ugly suit.

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This isn’t the first time Steve has done something against JKR. Personally, I think JKR got fed up with the website when they “revealed” the RAB mystery after HBP was released. It’s embarassing to think that a fellow Michigander is doing this to the author who got me to start reading again. Posted by EMUBari83 on November 03, 2007 @ 10:26 AM

What is this about? I’ve never heard of it before…anyone want to explain? ;)

Also want to add my thanks to Leaky for the unbiased reporting. Where would we be without you? RDR seem quite unprofessional. I can’t help thinking Steve must have signed over some sort of rights to the Lexicon.

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I know you’ve written that what’s published here is not “legally binding” but they can indeed be used, for example, in the gathering of evidence and depositions if this made it to a trial. Anything said in public can be used legally – so it’s naive to think that what’s written here at Leaky cannot be used legally. Of course it can! Leaky is now drawn into the legal battle.

What concerns me about publishing these “interviews” is that it’s clear that the interview with WB is biased in their favor. For example, the word “claims” is only used once (in regard to the timeline) in the “interview” with WB while the word is used repeatedly in the interview with RDR. For example, in the WB “interview” Leaky writes: “The company registered surprise” not, the “The company claims to have registered surprise.” Leaky takes that as fact, while it uses the word “claims” over and over again in their “interview” with RDR.

I could go on doing the analysis but it’s clear that Leaky is siding with WB – and who can blame you? They are your pipeline to insider info and if you tick them off – well, we can imagine what affect that will have your relationship with WB.

My advice in all of this is for the Leaky Cauldron to issue a blackout on the story (as you did on HP spoilers”) until it’s settled. I say that as a friend of Leaky for many, many years.

zr

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I also think that it is important to understand that the First Amendment really doesn’t come into play here at all. The First Amendment applies to GOVERNMENT interference with the press and censorship, not whether a corporation wishes to protect it’s interests via copyright and trademark. This claim that the lawsuit is a First Amendment issue is false and shows the shaky stand that RDR has in this issue.

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Wow, thank you SO much, Leaky! Usually I go to gasp! Mugglenet, but in this issue, I’m more likely to find more info with Leaky because it’s partners with the Lexicon. This really does clear up a lot, but I still have confusions! Both sides have their points, and I love Jo AND Steve… UGH. I’m just not sure what to do! As long as I don’t have to choose which side to be on, I think I’ll be fine. Jeez… I’m sure SOMEBODY is pushing the truth, but it’s hard to know which side! Or maybe both… heh…

sigh I guess I’ll just wait for the facts.

I don’t want to know what Steve is going through. =::[

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meera, if you go back to the two previous threads about this sad situation, you will find (along with a lot of bickering) detailed discussions about copyright issues

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Glenn is right, first amendment only applies to government interference, although I can see the angle that RDR is trying to come from. They would be using Near vs. Minnesota as precedent right? The black letter law from that was, according to my constitutional law notes, that “Absent exceptional circumstances (time of war, incitement to anarchy) prior restraint of publication violates the freedom of the press.” I have no idea if this would even come close applying in a copyright case though, because I know nothing about copyright law. Can someone who knows more about law than I do please comment about this?

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I know its already been said, but thanks again for presenting information from both sides. It has been really helpful. Especially because it is like your two best friends are fighting.

Now, the opinion part. Steve shouldn’t be too blame, it is clearly RDR books. WB said in their interview that the British publisher was cooperating with them and that RDR (stateside) wasn’t. Steve and company author the book no matter where it is published, so why would he approve cooperation in one region but not another? Steve is a smart man and if I remember correctly a librarian. Library Science is really difficult and he would have known about all of these publishing laws.

Sorry that ended up much longer than I expected, but I’ve been stewing over this for a few days.

Leaky, thank you again!

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Good work, Melissa, as usual. Thanks.

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Information about copyright law:

http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html

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Why the HELL would Steve think he can write an encyclopedia with JKR? Is his ego seriously that large?!? I am just… wow, blown away by that. I hope that’s a lie from RDR but I can’t imagine why they’d make up THAT.

Anyway, thanks for this TLC, certainly makes it even clearer that JKR & WB are in the right on this one!

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The RAB thing you are blaming him for that now?

Don’t act like you didn’t want to know who RAB was?

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“The RAB thing ” : That accusation is a bit strange…We could guess who RAB was without the Lexicon!

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Amy S – I think I agree with you there. Why did he think he could write a book with Jo?! Maybe he really DOES believe he did all the work for her.

But we have no proof of that, so, i’ll let it be.

Thanks Leaky for the real news!

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PS. What is the RAB thing about??

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Lexicon was the first Harry Potter website that reported who RAB was after Book 6 came out. However all the Harry Potter websites found it and Steve talked about it on Mugglecast.People are acting like that was a bad thing now…ironic but back then you wanted to know. Lexicon did take down the info though when JK Rowling told him to but they were the first basically to figure it out by a trasnlator I think is how they got the info.

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To ROWLING’S GIRL about: ” This isn’t the first time Steve has done something against JKR. Personally, I think JKR got fed up with the website when they “revealed” the RAB mystery after HBP was released” EMUBari83.

I actually rembember that incident after HBP was released. I checked, as is my habit,amongst other HP Fansites, “The Lexicon ” one morning and there – to my astonishment was stated that RAB was in fact REGULUS! I admit, that it was not plain to me at that time, from where the Lexicon could have that bombshell – and simultaneus very disappointed that the “cat was out of the bag” so to say!!! Then I sent instantly a link to my sister, wholly exited. She phoned me back some time later and asked me what all the exitement was about – because she didn’t find any entry about RAB being Regulus Black!!! I went to check – and voilà – it was gone – and without an explanation from Steve!!!! I searched and searched, but could not find the entry anymore! For me it was as plain as day, Regulus was in fact R.A.B…..why else would that entry been canceled!

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I love how RDR can’t even get right what’s actually in the suit.

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NO,R – we did not want to KNOW who RAB was until the last book came out!!!! I always hated SPOILERS

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You hate spoilers but come on people ate that information up. Don’t act like that didn’t happen when that occured.

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No one seemed mad about it and it was even on Mugglecast…so don’t go after him when even Mugglenet talked about it.

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come on, we all knew and speculated that Regulus was R.A.B immediatly after HBP. Are we gonna say the Lexicon came up with that too, I remember reading all of the translation mumbo-jumbo, it was all speculation.

The lexicon is a fansite that does plagarize JKR’s work. That’s it plain and simple. It was all fine and dandy until they wanted to make money off of it and lay claim to JKR’s work by putting it in print. It would not compete monetarily with JKR’s encyclopedia but it would compete on a copyright claim basis, of which Steve Vander Ark has shown he is willing to do with the countersuit pertaining to the timeline.

If JKR does not sue Steve now he could lay claim to many of the things that would be in her encyclopedia. As WB stated in ther interview “It’s incumbent upon WB to act to protect J.K. Rowling’s rights in order to retain the rights; failure to act may in some (or future) situations be seen as giving up of rights.” Get it, if WB does not act it is like Steve has permission to later lay claim to many of the items in JKR’s encyclopedia. Which he just might do, and has already done with his repeated claims to the DVD timeline. This suit is to quiet Steve and his claims to ownership in the HP universe.

Bottom line if the Lexicon is published for profit it is Plagurism plain and simple.

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thanks for all the info, leaky!! its good to know what the facts are without bias getting in the way. :D

im still with Jo and WB on this one… the RDR arguement comes off as very unclear…

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Why can’t you guys get it. WB and Jo has NO CHOICE! No matter how much they like Steve, IF they don’t sue, then it will become a precedent for an even bigger copyright infringement. If you let one go, then you’re opening the door for more.

Why blame Jo when it was Steve who forced her hand?

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Read this paragraph:

“WB claims to spend hundreds of hours vetting dozens of these types of books each year, and only goes to court (as in the case of Tanya Grotter) when the authors are not willing to make the necessary modifications.”

They don’t mind people publishing books, even Steve, as long as the author allows them to edit it in such a way the it doesn’t infringe on their rights.

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Meera said: Hi, I’m not very good with cpoyright laws so i was just wondering what would and would not be copyright in a book. Like quotes would or wouldn’t?

Copyright law basically states who owns the rights to a ‘created work’ [intellectual property], how those ‘created works’ may be distributed, and who may market/distribute them.

The proposed ‘Lexicon’ by SVA is a derivative work; a derivative is a close copy or largely based upon a known work. Generally a derivative work cannot be legally distributed WITHOUT the original author’s permission. SVA does not have permission from Jo, her publishers, or WB/Time Warner to proceed with this book.

Fair Use copyright: 1. Is it for free or will you make money off it? Is it for critical analysis, research, teaching, in essence a different nature to the original publication? 2. Is it an incredibly creative, ingeniously novel idea or is it a relatively unoriginal relisting of known facts. Also, is it restricted to a specific few or marketed to all? 3. How much ‘direct canon’ is being used? Is the absolute minimal amount used? The more ‘direct canon’ used the less likely Fair Use rules apply. 4. Does this proposed work help or hinder the original author’s ability to market/sell its own version? Did the author make a declaration of intent to make their work widely known? Will your work be easy to locate and purchase if someone is interested in doing so?

I especially enjoyed this comment from RDR:

”’If you do not know how to print that material [from the Lexicon Website] please ask one of your people to show you how.’ “

I find that highly amusing, considering the copyright Lexicon has on its site which clearly states: “NO PART OF THIS PAGE MAY BE REPRODUCED IN ANY MANNER WITHOUT PERMISSION.”

It could be legally argued that RDRs little faux pas constitutes giving express permission to the opposing attorneys and allow legal download of everything currently listed on the Lexicon. Pfft, what were they thinking?

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What I don’t understand is why would Steve destroy his good relationship with JK, JK’s fan base and his own fan base just to pursue this? Is he that desperate for money?

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I am quite stunned also that Steve contacted JKR about doing a book together. And then did a book himself when he was turned down. That is astonishing. I hope it turns out not to be true. I find that quite nasty, especially since Jo praised his site up. If it turns out to be true, then I have no choice but to believe Steve is just in it all for the money.

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1. I’d guess that SVA is being quiet on legal advice. Unfortunately, silence is bad for fandom because all the fen start talking, and we know where that goes…

2. There is conflicting information on who contacted who first regarding the print version of the Lexicon. This article was the first to mention Steve contacting JKR post-DH about collaborating on one. As a commenter somewhere above mentioned, I’d think she’d want to take a break after finishing the book! But her permission should have been the #1 priority for the publisher and for Steve. However, we won’t know the truth until there is open talk from JKR and/or Steve. There is no defense for continuing with this book when JKR’s permission was not obtained from the very beginning.

3. Steve’s efforts on the Lexicon are admirable, and the site is excellent: well organized, detailed, and it gives sources. (And I think it would work better than a book anyway, because it can be updated.) The bottom line, though, is that all the information on the Lexicon is JKR’s (aside from critical essays/analyses). No disputing that fact. Summing up the information contained in the books does not make it Steve’s intellectual property. As another commenter said, there are not 400 pages worth of essays on the Lexicon.

4. JKR doesn’t “owe” Steve anything. The Lexicon honors her books. She is very lenient with allowing people to use her world for creative things like fanfiction and fanart. The time and effort spent making the Lexicon are entirely the choice of Steve and all who work on it. It doesn’t buy extra points with JKR, nor does it buy the right to publish the information they have summarized.

5. RDR Books sounds unprofessional and foolish in their comments.

6. Leaky, thank you for being nonpartisan and professional about this. It’s very appreciated in a situation where no one knows the whole truth.

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I have stated my opinions on this before, so at this point I just want to thank Leaky for staying un-biased in this matter. Many other sites would certainly have turned this into an issue of loyalties, which it is not, instead of one of legal rights. I was just wondering if Steve would still be on Pottercast. I ask only because, although Leaky has been careful not to say anything against either party, the creator and author of a site which is currently being sued by the writer of the series it is dedicated to may have other things to do at the moment. Anyway, thanks for keeping us up to date on this thoroughly aggrivating series of events.

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First of all thanks to Leaky for such a non biased report. I can’t express how relieved I am that you guys are being so professional about this. I really do appreciate it.

Now I really do love the Lexicon (I mean I really really really love the lexicon it’s just a wonderful resource when you’re pondering a point and don’t want to pull out your extremely highlighted and annotated copy of the series). A book does present many problems. Especially, when some of the intellectual property is not all Steve’s. I’m not saying he hasn’t taken the necessary procedures. I don’t know that either way. But I just don’t know which way to go on this. Jo’s encyclopedia was supposed to be different with additional information that we do not have. The lexicon is more like a concordance/summary/analysis. I do have somewhat of a problem with the profiting from it. I wasn’t all to pleased when Mugglenet published theirs but i do think that any person that takes a scholarly approach and is not trying to write another fantasy based on the series or publish say some fanfic (for profit i must add). There are loads of books that analyze and take apart some of the greatest classics. Jo’s series is a classic. There will never be another like it. Hogwarts will always hold a special place in my heart and the hearts of all of us that have followed the series. We love it so much we want to know every possible detail and angle and theory; plausible or not. (hey who know the John Noe’s mr. blood theory would turn out to be somewhat on track.) More than wanting to know we want to share what we know, Hence, leaky and the lounge. I think this is just a sad situation and I really hope that it is worked out amicably. I love both JKR and Steve and appreciate their works individually and uniquely. Looking forward to following the story. Thanks again Leaky.

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Potterbud, I have apreciated your saying that the Lexicon is a really wonderful resource. It does me good to read you because I think that is a fact, too. Now the idea of doing a book with it in another fact. Whichbecame an error, from the point where J Rowling said no.

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Am I the only one that finds it amusing that the RDR guy is named “Richard Harris”? (Richard Harris was the first actor to play Dumbledore.)

This is all such a mess, so I guess I’m just looking for even the smallest thing to find amusing. :P

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Sorry, PotterBug, for scorching your name!

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I meant to say: where Jo’s stuff ends and the “original content” of the Lexicon begins. But given their stated views on the matter, I’d expect Steve et al. to err on the side of caution.

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RDR really needs to clam up at this point. Harris is making rather a fool of himself, and not helping his case any.

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“Am I the only one that finds it amusing that the RDR guy is named “Richard Harris”? (Richard Harris was the first actor to play Dumbledore.)”

Nope! :-) I found that pretty funny, too!

On the point of these interviews, though, RDR certainly seems to be living up to WB’s claims that they are very rude. “You can go to the site and read the articles. I’m not going to itemize them for you.” Ugh. Pretty much everything they said just reeks of rudeness, in my opinion.

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From my side of the fence all I’ve concluded is:

1) There’s really no need for me to buy a book I can read in it’s absolute enterity online.

2) There’s plenty of books out there that delve in the Harry Potter subject, but even though they mention JK’s creations left and right and that helps them sell their books, almost everything written in them is their own work. I own one called “The sicence of Harry Potter” where this guy looks at everything in JK’s world and tries to explain it scientifically or how you could have similar effects without magic. HP might be the basis for it, but it’s all the author’s work and research. There are other encyclopedias explaining the animals and terms and mythical creatures JK used and they add to the subject, explaining where JK based her creations from, but it’s all their research.

The lexicon is a rearrangement of HP facts into an organized way. Unless the book was mostly a reader’s opinion and analysis about the JK’s work (with some quotage and such), I do believe it’s still copyright infringement.

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El Caz- I have the science of harry potter too.

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If Steve indeed asked for Jo’s permission and it was denied, then I’m sure she had a pretty good reason for it. Maybe she thought it was premature to publish something resembling an encyclopedia. It all depends on what exactly is being published.

All RDR had to do was to show WB the manuscript. I’m sure others have done so in the past. The fact that they didn’t probably means that they know it’s copyright infringement.

I wonder if Steve got caught in the web because of some contract he had signed unwisely. Otherwise I’m not sure why a big HP fan like him would have done something against Jo’s wishes. Unless, of course, he did it for the money.

Its all going to be nothing but speculation unless we hear something more on this directly from Jo or Steve. But I’m afraid Jo’s not going to make any more updates about this, that’ll be like confirming that this is a big issue. And I’m sure RDR is going to be doing all the talking for Steve. Bloody hell.

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The more I read, the more shady, unprofessional and downright rude RDR seems. Until we get a statement from Steve (just as we got one from Jo linking her with WB) I’m going to keep him as a seperate entity here, and hope he doesn’t get too caught up in the fallout.

I’m also starting to feel really bad for Melissa. Pretty much the day after she leaves Pottercast to work on her book, this happens, and she’s been reporting nonstop ever since. So much for avoiding distractions.

So- thank you TLC for your professionalism and dedication, and an especial thanks to Melissa for being so even to her own detriment.

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RDR said: “RDR claims that Steve Vander Ark originally contacted J.K. Rowling, they think ‘via letters…over a period of months,’ to ask to work with her to create an encyclopedic resource, and was rebuffed, which is when he sought out a publisher for the Lexicon. He made no further contact to the J.K. Rowling camp.”

WB said: “The British publisher of the Lexicon book is cooperating with WB’s requests and engaging in a dialogue, but it isn’t the case in the U.S.”

Don’t these two statements contradict each other?

I read this to mean that WB has seen and approved a version of the Lexicon manuscript: the version which is being published by Methuen in Britain on November 5. That doesn’t sound to me like Steve was rebuffed by WB and JKR in his efforts to publish the Lexicon anywhere, because they approved its publication in Britain by a different publisher than RDR. It sounds like JKR and WB object only to its publication by RDR books, because RDR books has been uncooperative in working together.

I don’t understand! Does anyone know anything more about Methuen’s publication of Steve’s book?

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Are you sure about that, valuereflection? There’s nothing on Methuen’s website…

Mmnnn, I’m not going to pick sides until there’s more information. I don’t much like the sound of the RDR chap, though… xP

(Lol, he’s called Richard Harris! ....sorry…. ^^; )

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Yeah, RDR comes off sounding worse in this article. They sound like they’re the ones who want to go to court more than WB, which is ironic since WB brought the suit.

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I looked up the book on amazon.co.uk: “Harry Potter Lexicon (Hardcover) by Steve Vander Ark.” Methuen will publish it in Britain on November 5. I notice the cover art is different from RDR’s.

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And much praise to The Leaky Cauldron for providing coverage. This can’t be the most fun story they’ve ever had to do, but it’s definitely appreciated.

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Here is some more info from amazon.co.uk website about the British publication of Steve’s book. It is weird that Methuen doesn’t have it listed on their website.

Product details

Hardcover: 340 pages Publisher: Methuen (5 Nov 2007) ISBN-10: 0413776611 ISBN-13: 978-0413776617

On the “Harry Potter Lexicon Forum” website, another poster, Eponine, theorized that perhaps the American publisher, RDR, made a deal with the British publisher prior to this lawsuit, and now that the lawsuit has been filed, perhaps the British publisher probably has no intention to publish this book AT ALL. She said they are likely waiting to hear the results of the lawsuit. That’s an interesting possibility.

I sure wish I knew more.

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Methuen probably doesn’t have it listed on their site because they’re co-operating with WB and JKR. That probably means they’ve opted to not publish the book, at least until all of this is settled.

Either that, or they’re considering their own lawsuit against RDR because they were probably assured that everything was cleared, only to find out from WB and JKR that is was not.

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Somehow I don’t think that a cease and desist letter is a friendly offer to discuss. If RDR books got offended, I don’t blame them, I would be. If you just want to talk, you ask to get together to talk. Lawyer’s letters should come after that fails. I don’t think the Lexicon’s book will compete with Rowling’s book anymore than the other books will. Unless there is no new material and she was swiping thier format.

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Cease & Desist letters are generally a sign that the folks who hold copyright/trademark over something aren’t happy. They’re telling you to stop doing whatever it is you’re doing because they don’t like it and because they feel you’re overstepping your bounds legally. And if you don’t stop, and you don’t reach out to them to try and find a compromise or a solution, then they’ll take you to court.

RDR ignoring the C&D letters was stupid, and really doesn’t help their case. It doesn’t matter how offended they got. A judge isn’t going to care about their feelings. Did they even make an attempt to talk to WB & JKR? So far, signs point to no. That means this lawsuit existing at all is their own damned fault. They had four different chances to reach out to them and talk to them to find out why the C&D letters were sent, and to try and work things out. That it’s gotten this far is only because RDR is trying to play the Righteous Indignation card, and that’s simply not going to fly.

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I now feel much better about this issue. its sad that jo and steve are caught up in this mess. I don’t think either of them are at fault. its the companies.

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I’ve always felt it was rather unfair that Steve has had no recompense for all the hard work he’s done on the Lexicon when other entities (the filmmakers and games companies) have used the Lexicon to support their own profit-making endeavours. Steve’s work has saved them having to pay someone to do that research; to see the timeline lifted and put out on the DVDs with no acknowledgement must have been particularly galling.

To suggest that the Lexicon book would take money from JKR or her charities is ridiculous: any fan keen enough to want a reference tool like the Lexicon is going to be lining up to buy anything that Jo writes. Unless, perhaps, if Jo is just going to present facts that she’s previously published, which I doubt – I thought the whole point of her project was to give us new background that never made it into the books. There’s no point in Jo trying to duplicate the Lexicon as it stands – that sort of methodical detail isn’t her strength, and if she did indeed rebuff Steve’s approach, it’s a crying shame. Heck, I think it’s a crying shame that the publishers didn’t employ the Lexicon years ago to proof-read the books; they might have saved themselves some howlers if they had.

To complain that Steve is making people pay for something that was previously free is also false, UNLESS he plans to take down the website, and I’ve seen no indication that that is the case. If anyone’s planning to so do, it seems to be WB, unless I’m misreading this part of their suit:

”- a permanent injunction against the Defendant and associated entities from selling or distributing works derived or copied from Harry Potter” (my emphasis)

I’m sorry if JKR feels that Steve is stealing from her; I’m sure that’s not the spirit in which he compiled either the website or the book. I hope they can come to an amicable agreement, though with saber-rattling laywers involved it’s not going to be easy. From a personal point of view, I hope they find a way to publish the book – having relied on the web version for years, I’d find a paperback copy of the Lexicon fantastically useful and I’d be more than happy for Steve to get the price of a pint of beer from my copy.

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“I’ve always felt it was rather unfair that Steve has had no recompense for all the hard work he’s done on the Lexicon when other entities (the filmmakers and games companies) have used the Lexicon to support their own profit-making endeavours. Steve’s work has saved them having to pay someone to do that research; to see the timeline lifted and put out on the DVDs with no acknowledgement must have been particularly galling.”

To put it bluntly, that’s his problem. He CHOSE to compile the Lexicon. No one asked him to do it. He decided on his own to create the site and put everything together, but despite all the time and effort that he’s put into it, that doesn’t entitle him to profit off the site. Period.

The film companies and game companies might have used his site, but guess what? They’re officially licensed companies that can legally profit from Harry Potter. The Lexicon, on the other hand, is just a fansite. A really detailed fansite, to be sure, but it’s still just a fansite. He doesn’t get to claim the right to profit from JKR’s work. At the end of the day, the site only exists because of the work that JKR put into writing the books, and into creating the characters and world that got him interested in the first place. That takes precedent, along with her copyrights and trademarks.

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Chthonia said: I’ve always felt it was rather unfair that Steve has had no recompense for all the hard work he’s done on the Lexicon


While I can’t and won’t deny that Steve and his staff have worked very hard in creating and operating an amazing site, the Lexicon, by their own accounts they all ‘volunteered’ their time and effort.

volunteer: a person who performs a service willingly and without pay.

Owning and operating the Lexicon, being on friendly terms with the author/WB does not create ‘entitlement’ to profit on copyrighted material.

Chthonia said: To complain that Steve is making people pay for something that was previously free is also false…

The complaint states that the Lexicon was allowed to use copyrighted material for the fan site [not a book].

1. The fan site was for non-commercial use, i.e. no money was made from it, therefore the fan site itself was deemed to be a ‘fair use’ of copyrighted material.

2. The book is different. It is claimed that the book is a regurgitation of the fan site, that the book is being sold for ‘commercial’ gain, i.e. he’s making money off it. This is not a fair or lawful use of Jo Rowling’s copyrighted material!

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I need to apologize, I’m sincerely not meaning to SHOUT at anyone, as that’s terribly rude. Having issues with my laptop!

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Firstly, I would like to jump on the bandwagon and again thank Leaky for their integrity in reporting on this issue…

I am really quite surprised that there is any argument at all about whether or not the book violates copyright laws. I am certainly no lawyer, but I understand how WB and Jo feel that the precedent needs to be set, however unfortunate the circumstances. From what I have heard (and I’ve only read about this on Leaky), the whole thing sounds rather sketchy. If they had nothing to hide, I don’t understand why they did not send a manuscript.

And about the best I can say for SVA is that I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he got horrible legal advice. (The lawyers must have been worse than the publishers…) Even if that is true, I have a hard time believing that he did not realize that such a book would be a violation of copyright laws. Someone posted that he has a M.L.S.? I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I have a graduate degree in an arts-related discipline and rules about citing, quoting, plagiarizing, etc. were definitely beat into our heads. I was even advised not to quote a source in my thesis (it was an obscure German periodical from the 1820’s) because of an issue with reference information, and no one was going to get upset about copyright laws for that… And, even if this whole thing did stem from naivete on SVA’s part, I think he will still be held partially responsible. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking it, though I am certainly of the opinion that it is the publishers who are the biggest problem in the equation.

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“And about the best I can say for SVA is that I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he got horrible legal advice.”

No kidding. Whoever his lawyers are, they did a terrible job vetting this publisher. And whoever told him that copying the site over into a book wouldn’t infringe on copyrights should have their heads examined. It’s just a lousy situation all around.

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Well said, chiara! I agree with everything you’ve said there!

Again, thanks to Leaky for taking the time to contact the parties involved and report back to us.

My reaction to this article (sorry if it’s very, very long): For all the people who keep saying that they would buy both the books and that JKR is just money-grubbing, even if it is for charity – the article specifically states that if WB does not protect JKR’s rights to these characters, it could be seen as giving up the rights. So whether she would mind having the Lexicon published or not, she can’t legally allow it without there being a chance she would give up the rights to her characters, etc.

To valuereflection: Just because the British publisher is “engaging in a dialogue” with WB, does not mean they have given a copy of the manuscript to WB.

On the timeline suit: Yes, it sucks that WB may have taken the timeline that was effectively a lot of time and work for Steve to make. However, Steve still doesn’t have the right to that timeline, because it is composed of information that is copyrighted to JK Rowling, and it was not endorsed by her when he made it. Fair or not, that’s the law.

I find the first paragraph of RDR’s statement to be somewhat alarming. Steve asked Jo if she wanted to go together on an encyclopedia. She didn’t reply. So he decided to publish his, which is pretty clearly a copyright violation, with “no futher contact” to Jo or her representatives. HOW was that a good idea?

I find it funny that there have to be small interjections of the facts – the bits in square brackets – throughout RDR’s statement. It really doesn’t reflect well on their accuracy.

Then in the next two paragraphs, Mr. Harris says first that the book is typset directly from the site, and then that it is “probably” typeset from the site. Also, it’s totally unacceptable that he doesn’t know how much of the book is essays vs. potential-copyright-violation.

Quote: “How is it going to help us in any way to show them the manuscript except to provide them with more information. At this stage are they going to say, ‘Oh, we’re sorry?’ and go away? I don’t think so.”” Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what they’re saying. Repeatedly.

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Thank you cara for the explnation!

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This whole thing reminds me of the old quote that says there are three sides to every story; yours, mine, and what really happened. We clearly do not have all the facts here, and we certainly will not find out by listening to the lawyers for either side. I strongly suspect that in the end, this will end up being very minor, and we will be saying, “wait, you wanted to go to court for THAT?”

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What concerns me about publishing these “interviews” is that it’s clear that the interview with WB is biased in their favor. For example, the word “claims” is only used once (in regard to the timeline) in the “interview” with WB while the word is used repeatedly in the interview with RDR. For example, in the WB “interview” Leaky writes: “The company registered surprise” not, the “The company claims to have registered surprise.” Leaky takes that as fact, while it uses the word “claims” over and over again in their “interview” with RDR.

I could go on doing the analysis but it’s clear that Leaky is siding with WB – and who can blame you? They are your pipeline to insider info and if you tick them off – well, we can imagine what affect that will have your relationship with WB.

My advice in all of this is for the Leaky Cauldron to issue a blackout on the story (as you did on HP spoilers”) until it’s settled. I say that as a friend of Leaky for many, many years.

zr

Posted by ZoeRose on November 03, 2007 @ 11:42 AM

You are kidding, right? You don’t need to “claim” that you felt something – the company would be the first hand source to say that they were surprised. The WB side of the article is peppered with “According to” and “says” type of language. WB also only stated things that have already been confirmed – Richard Harris (hee, hee!) stated clearly that there were letters from JKR, etc., so Leaky authors don’t need to state that WB claimed to send cease and desist letters.

This is NOT my area of expertise at all, but as a former low-level legal secretary, a cease and desist letter would absolutely be necessary, and responding to it WOULD open up the dialogue that RH claims they wanted. Also, how could they “discuss” the book with WB and JKR if they won’t give either one a copy?

Also, its a critical review??? Yet still named “Lexicon”???? Heavens, perhaps they all need to get something known as a “thesaurus” or a “dictionary” – as a “lexicon” does not mean a written critical review!!!!

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groovyyaya: Thank you. ZoeRose, there are many more disclaimers, “said”s, “according to”s, “claims” and other reminders that these views do not represent Leaky’s (despite the big sentence at the top that says nothing in the article represents Leaky’s view – and the one at the bottom too), than is ever usually necessary in a news article.

Thanks, everyone, for keeping it civil.

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Well, if nothing else, it’s refreshing that no amount of butt-kissing will save you from JKR & her legal team!

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Chthonia : “Heck, I think it’s a crying shame that the publishers didn’t employ the Lexicon years ago to proof-read the books; they might have saved themselves some howlers if they had.” LOL ! How I agree with you, as an “obsessionnal” reader of the books!

Thanks Valuereflexion for the infos about the English to be (or not to be!) publication. More news tomorrow, then. And thanks again to The Leaky. For me, the only good point of these “case” is that, needing (from France) real and “objective” discussion about it, I am discovering the Leaky Comments, and fully appreciating.

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Melissa,

Thanks for the thanks! I’m tickled that you read my comment! :)

I may be a former low-level legal secretary (only worked for the state… earned the title on the job, not through school) but I am also a former English teacher, and I have to say I thought your article was well written. If someone is assuming that one side has a stronger argument than the other, it isn’t because the writing on here is biased towards one side – it may be because the parties involved have a strong or weak argument, not because of poor reporting!

I spoke before as a former legal secretary, but now I’m putting on my former English teacher wizard hat… if it is true that this Steve fellow has a Library Science masters – well, I’m sorry… it is obvious that he did not take classes that covered copyright infringement, etc. As a former English and History teacher and someone who has contemplated getting a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Studies (the new term for Library Science), I was always VERY concerned about students crossing the lines of plagarism or copyright enfringement, and tried to impress the ideas of respecting someone’s work. Free speech is not a cut and dried matter. You may have the freedom to SAY something, but that does not automatically protect you from the consequences of your statements or actions.

Ultimately, my first reaction when reading the article was: Why would Ms. Rowling WANT to write her Encyclopedia with this Steve guy? Sure he was a good reader who remembered details from the books that he wrote down on a website, but ultimately the “canon” is in her head – and she has proven that she is a great, detailed writer who doesn’t need assistance. Now, I could imagine myself in her shoes – finished with the encyclopedia, wanting someone to read and proofread this work – and who better than some of the ultimate fans who have created some wonderful websites, etc.as well as the editors who have worked with her from the beginning? But, would I go to the “Lexicon” if I were her even if I had given them a fansite award? Nope… I’d probably go to Leaky and Muggle.net, as she has before for interviews, etc. Also, editing and proofreading are VERY different than co-writing or collaberation. I’ve edited plenty of legal papers – but I do not expect to have my name on them as one of the authors. In ANYTHING I edit, my role is to help the author be the best she or he can be in terms of clarity anc accuracy.

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As I said the saddest part about RDR’s defense is that it forces Jo to be more careful with regards to praising fans and their website and interacting with them thus allowing them some sort of “celebrity” status. It affects the entire HP fandom.

I mean c’mon, I don’t care how organized Lexicon is, but who does he think he is that he could collaborate with J.K. with canon that is entirely her creation. That’s like saying you are entitled to cooperate with George Lucas just because you’re the biggest Star Wars geek! His head simply got too big.

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well this just gets more and more confusing….

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Here’s an interesting take on the matter from a copyright attorney’s blog:

http://williampatry.blogspot.com/2007/11/harry-potter-lexicon-suit.html

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groovyyaya, I’m sorry if Library Science isn’t correct. It is still called that at my University. I was actually scrolling through ready to write about the use of “claims” and “according tos” in much the same way that you did. So thanks :)

Also, that link to the attorney’s blog was quite interesting. I wish that guy could read more of the site and make further comment…but that is selfish and I know it.

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Thanks Melissa, and Leaky, for getting us so much information. :)

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If anyone wants a full detailed explaination as to why this is an illegal attempt on Ark’s behalf, go check out praetorianguard’s blog on the subject: http://praetorianguard.livejournal.com/270707.html

It’s a very good read and explains the legality issues.

Other than that, I support any artist, film-makers or author’s right to protect their work, REGARDLESS of how much money they have in the bank! Stop being to fickle, people, you just come off envious and shallow.

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To Melissa and the rest of Leaky’s staff: Thank you for bringing us these facts in a professional, objective manner. We’re very lucky to have a source of real journalism from people who know so much about the books, the author, and the fandom.

I was especially pleased to see your statement that the opinions expressed in this piece “do not constitute The Leaky Cauldron’s opinion or claim (of which it has none).”

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Kimberly, no apologies for my calling it what the local university calls it… I just called it the new name out of habit and then wanted to explain it was really the same thing.

Thanks to those who posted the blogs. I have to say, I disagree with the first attorney, or at least if I was a juror listening to his argument, he wouldn’t convince me. Whether or not the profits for Jo’s compendium/encyclopedia goes to charity, or just her royalties, is completely irrelevant. If she was keeping all the money, it would still be a case of possible copyright infringement.

Also, if it is true that it was due to be published on November 28, it is complete BS that they don’t have a copy to give to the attorney’s for WB and JK Rowling.

Those of you who have written essays for the Lexicon need to take some sort of web “snapshot” if possible – to show whether or not there is something that stated if you submit your essay that you give permission for it to be published on paper.

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I agree with those who say that all this sad business might force JKR distance herself from her fans. She used to do these cute things, like comment on fandom, give fansites awards, freely talk to her fans. Well, I suspect now she is getting some sobering legal advice – not to do it anymore. Some other writers, like Terry Pratchett, admit to be very careful as to how they interact with their fans – precisely because of possible copyright issues and lawsuits involving former devoted fans…

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Interesting article and detailed comments in the Wall Street Journal’s Law blog:

http://tinyurl.com/yslawd

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An interesting bit of info – I searched “Harry Potter reference” and other related searches – and this is what I got. I have a sneaking suspiccion that the Lexicon is no different from some of these books – maybe more complete. How are all these books different from SVA’s?

The Unofficial Harry Potter Encyclopedia: Harry Potter A – Z by Kristina Benson (Paperback – Jul 7, 2007)

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the World of Harry Potter (Complete Idiot’s Guide to) by Tere Stouffer (Paperback – Oct 2, 2007)

Ultimate Unofficial Guide to the Mysteries of Harry Potter (Analysis of Book 5) by Galadriel Waters, E. L. Fossa, Astre Mithrandir, and E.L. Fossa (Paperback – Jul 8, 2005)

Fact, Fiction, and Folklore in Harry Potter’s World: An Unofficial Guide by George W. Beahm, Tim Kirk, and Britton McDaniel (Paperback – Jun 30, 2005)

The Sorcerer’s Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter by Allan Zola Kronzek and Elizabeth Kronzek (Paperback – Aug 10, 2004

Muggles and Magic: An Unofficial Guide to J.k. Rowling and the Harry Potter Phenomenon by George W. Beahm and Tim Kirk (Paperback – April 11, 2007)

The Pottersaurus: 1,500 Words Harry Potter Readers Need to Know by Eric D. Randall (Paperback – April 26, 2007)

Mugglenet.Com’s What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Falls in Love and How Will the Adventure Finally End by Ben Schoen, Emerson Spartz, Andy Gordon, and Gretchen Stull (Paperback – Nov 20, 2006)

The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter: A Treasury of Myths, Legends, and Fascinating Facts by David Colbert (Paperback - May 4, 2004)

The Definitive Harry Potter Guide Book Series: The Prisoner of Azkaban by Marie Lesoway (Spiral-bound – 2001)

The Definitive Harry Potter Guide Book Series: The Philosophers Stone by Marie Lesoway (Spiral-bound – 2001)

An Unofficial Muggle’s Guide to the Wizarding World: Exploring the Harry Potter Universe by Fionna Boyle (Paperback – Sep 1, 2004)

A Muggles Guide To The Wizarding World: Exploring The Harry Potter Universe: Fionna Boyle Paperback, 2004

Ultimate Unofficial Guide to the Mysteries of Harry Potter: Astre Mithrandir, Galadriel Waters Paperback, 2003

Mapping the World of Harry Potter: Mercedes Lackey Paperback, 2006

The Plot Thickens… Harry Potter Investigated By Fans For Fans: Galadriel Waters Paperback, 2004

The Harry Potter Companion: Acascias Riphouse Paperback, 2004

A Detective’s Analysis of Harry Potter and the Mysteries Within: Mary C. Baumann Hardcover, 2004

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I wish people would stop assuming that because people have money, they are greedy. We really have no idea what JKR does with her fortune, we are not her accountants. Occasionally we hear about her giving to charities, but this does not neccessarily mean that she does not give money to charity that we do not know about. I mean come on, the woman started her own charitable organization, I find it hard to believe that she does not contribute money to that organization rather frequently.

Some are also claiming that the Lexicon book would not take away proceeds from Rowling’s book. Their evidence: I would buy both. I’m sure most die-hard fans would by both, but the problem is that most fans are not die-hard fans. Most fans have never ventured onto the internet HP world and would not know that there are two encyclopedias: the Lexicon’s and Jo’s future encyclopedia. So let me set up a situation: A standard Harry Potter fan (one who has read at least most of the books at least once, but doesn’t know a thing about online Harry Potter news and fandom) walks into a bookstore and sees “Harry Potter Lexicon.” For whatever reason, they buy it. Two or three years later they walk into the bookstore again and see “Harry Potter Encyclopedia.” Because they don’t go online and get all the good information they probably won’t realize that there is a difference between these two books. They’ll think, why in the world should I buy another encyclopedia, especially since they probably hardly ever even used the first one they bought.

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This is one of the comments in the wall street journal’s blog link that someone posted on page 4. I thought it was an interesting read.

“Ah, the deja vu! Looking over Rowling’s complain to the court, I had a delightful flashback to days not so long ago when, defending myself in Seattle federal court, I took on what must be the second wealthiest literary property in the English-speaking world, that of J. R. R. Tolkien. Now there’s a remarkably similar case coming from what must be the wealthiest literary property on the planet.

There are the same nasty attacks, alleging illicit motivations on the part of defendants that the Rowling’s lawyers have no way of knowing. Consider them lies, because that’s what they were in my case. You should also consider flipping the allegations of greed around. Never, when lawyers are involved, neglect their enormous desire to bill as many hours as possible to a deep-pocketed client. There’s undoubtedly more greed per square inch in the Times Square offices of O’Melveny & Myers than there is at all of Michigan-based RDR Books (a company whose list of titles demonstrates a love of good literature)–much less the original source of the book at the fan website of hp-lexicon.org.

You can also see hints of that billable-hours greed in the rather pitiful attempt one of the Rowling’s lawyer makes to describe her books. A lover of great literature he is not: “Over the course of these seven books, Harry learns many new things, makes new friends, travels, and has many adventures.” That’s how a fifth-grader writes a book report. In this case that fifth-grader, now grown old and cranky, was billing Rowling perhaps $500/hour. That sort of pay will make almost anyone think they’re a literary genius.

Fortunately, in law, money doesn’t always win. The Tolkien estate must have spent close to a quarter of a million dollars trying to stop my book-length Lord of the Rings chronology, Untangling Tolkien. I spent some $4,000 to utterly vanquish them. Just before a judge would have responded to concurrent motions for summary judgment, they bailed out, offering in a letter to settle for a “few changes.” Three months later the judge changed their “little hope” to “no hope” by dismissing their lawsuit “with prejudice.” You can find my book on Amazon and traces of my fair use arguments to the court in the last chapter.

Lawyers can be strange. In the Rowlings complaint, there’s an attempt to put the billionaire Rowlings into the role of a struggling writer for whom every penny counts. Only a lawyer with a large, six-figure income would try to portray her as a victim, particularly since her stated rationale is nothing more than a monopolistic desire prevent any competition to an encyclopedia she wants to write. A good defense lawyer could make mincemeat of her claims there. Numerous copyright disputes have made it clear that no author, fictional or non-fictional, can silence critics. The public interest in that is so great, that in the Beannie Babies case a few years back, it cast aside a visual copyright to any commercial use of pictures of the collectable doll.

The biggest weakness in the RDR Book lawsuit may be that their book is too nice with her corpus. It should take a critical look at where her plot is weak and her characters unconvincing. My Tolkien chronology did that. His time line was remarkably accurate, but I do point out the few places he got it wrong. In the eyes of a court, an author (or in my case, Tolkien’s son Christopher), can’t be trusted to do that. And what matters with something as trite as collectable dolls, certainly matters for one of the bestselling books on the planet.

RDR Books also has one marvelous advantage that I didn’t have, the fact that much of their book has apparently been posted for years on a fan website with Rowlings and her lawyers doing nothing about it. Given the modest profit margins of most small publishers and the little or nothing that the contributors to this book will be getting, the “commercial” portion of copyright fair use will carry little weight before a fair court. By not enforcing her claims with websites, she’s virtually conceded them for a book. The downside of that is when lawyers see that, they’ll get nasty with fan websites. But then intellectual property lawyers are always getting into nasty little snits, all the more so when their cases are weak.

And that brings up Rowling’s primary advantage. The case has been filed in SDNY-the Southern District of New York, because there the court, operating cheek-and-jowl with powerful NYC publishers, is notoriously tilted in favor of rich copyright holders. It’s the intellectual property equivalent of lawsuits filed against giant corporations in obscure Marshall, Texas.

You see that bias in how Manhattan IP lawyers often act before judges. My opponent was so used to differential-to-plaintiffs SDNY judges, he blundered badly before the Ninth Circuit judge in my case. I still smile when I recall his attempt to tell the judge how she ought to rule in one of our disputes. He was on the phone from Manhattan. I was a few feet away from the judge and could sense her growing impatience. Needless to say, I won.

In my case, virtually all the decisions my opponents were citing came from a few 1998 rulings in the SDNY, decisions that have been soundly criticized in law journals and that, fortunately for me, do not bind a Ninth Circuit court. In the almost a decade since those decisions, no other circuit has bought the Second Circuit’s rather extreme claims about the reach of a fictional copyright (i.e. banning unauthorized reader’s guides). One Midwest court even dismissed the Second Court’s argument as “frivolous,” which indeed it was.

The one good thing about this dispute is that it may force the Second Circuit to recant its 1998 blunder. I had the counsel for a university press tell me that, since those rulings, his press has avoid publishing anything about popular, contemporary fiction. That’s precisely the “chilling effect” the fair use provisions of copyright law are intended to prevent.

–Michael W. Perry, author of Untangling Tolkien

P.S. I assert no copyright to these remarks, so Harry Potter websites are free to post what I’ve written here online. And if Steve Vander Ark would contact me through my website, InklingBooks.com, I’d be happy to offer him advice as someone who’s been through what he’s been through.”

Comment by Michael W. Perry – November 3, 2007 at 3:10 pm

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Some more legalese (copyright issues only):

http://www.mayitpleasethecourt.com/ journal.asp?blogid=1667

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Chthonia – if I didn’t know better, I’d think you’re Steve himself … :) Chris – LOL, indeed! Very refreshing …

For the rest – beyond all the Legalese, I simply still do not understand how SVA could do this to Jo – and us – after it had obviously become clear very quickly that she didn’t think it was a good idea.

As has been said before, THAT would have been the point to drop it.

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Ah – it appears the Lexicon troops are out in force. But really – that Michael W. Perry comment backfires badly: what a self-righteous creep!

He’s not arguing the merits of his work at all, only how he won against a big literary estate. His entire rant is completely beside the point: it does not matter how “big” his opponent is, how much money JKR has and SVA does not have, whether or not RDR has a love of literature (!). Copyright is necessary precisely because of people like him, who have no scruples whatsoever to profit from others’ work.

And he may have some experience with such a court case – and hence certainly isn’t exactly unbiased – but he’s doing precisely what he accuses WB of: making “nasty attacks, alleging illicit motivations”. Pathetic. Not enough talent to come up with anything worthwhile of his own and just seeking to cash in on others’.

Finally – his presumption is breathtaking: “I assert no copyright to these remarks, so Harry Potter websites are free to post what I’ve written here online.” LOL. Goodness knows, we wouldn’t want to miss that.

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Just for the records: I am nobody’s “trooper” and I don’t post on behalf of the Lexicon.

Though, I think the Lexicon is impressive. Some years ago, I spent many hours on the site – with the time-lines, later on with the maps, and, above all, with the linguistic references, e.g. to strictly British language use. This is such a help for non-anglophones who read and re-read the original version of the Potter books; it helped me to understand what JKR has written. I abhorred most of the Lexcion’s artwork; anyway, I considered the Lexicon as much more interesting than the fan-sites and forums (sorry, just being honest and just being too old for unbiased fandom).

It takes two to tango, as they say. I do legal work (and I run a writer’s blog under Creative Commons; when referring to others’ work, which I frequently do, I must be constantly aware of copyright issues). The lawsuit upset me because I tend to be partisan in ‘Goliath vs David’ cases. And a small publishing house in Michigan is David, compared to Goliath WB. One of the basic principles of fair trial is: ‘Et altera pars audietur’.

Well, tomorrow is Monday; another working week begins, so I won’t be able to post any more. I say goodbye to you all, best wishes.

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Thank you for continuing to cover this story in detail and giving both sides an opportunity to share. I have always thought Melissa et al. were great and I am even more impressed. It’s great to have a journalist at the helm of a site like this! I am also very impressed since I am imagine this is a difficult situation given your relationship with Steve and Jo.

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You know, I have given this a lot more thought, and I am about to risk alienating many fans who insist on defending WB and the WB Lawyers, who I feel are the real culprits here. Could anyone be deluded enough to really believe that WB is opperating on good faith here? If so, I have a lake in the middle of Arizona I’d like to sell you. Have people forgotten that WB in 2001, prior to the release of the first film, shot out a number of ceast and desist letters to a number of HP fan sites? If I recall, wasn’t their knee-jerk rationalization was that the fan sites might deminish the value of the franchise? I have to admit, if the issue has to do with the book being a ‘reference based book’, plenty of other published books about Potter have reference materials. Why the sudden change? The WB Lawyers are not above stretching the truth and paint a bleak picture fro the personal aims. For instance, Steve’s previous comment that’s quoted in the brief about protecting his own intellectual propperty. I remember that post from the Lexicon’s comment and it was in reference to someone else, who runs another HP fan site, who was copying his writing, claiming it as their own and profiting from it, which triggered legal action by Steve’s lawyers. Do I agree that Steve should have handled this matter differently and distanced himself from RDR? yes I do. Do I trust the WB lawyers? No I don’t. That’s based on their corporate track record. The last point is my concern and I am aware that it might be sacrilegious to many fans to say this. Yet perhaps JK Rowling learn a lesson and take a page out of George Lucas. Lucas used to have the good will of his fan base until he squandered it. Joanne needs to not assume the fan base will not walk away if there’s a continual stream of controversy. All phenomenon’s have their cycles, people drift away and loose interest. While I admit there will always be the loyal fan’s. Joanne should not take for granted this juggernaut will remain this way forever. Based on what I’ve observed concerning pop culture, all phenomenons loose steam sooner or later. That’s just reality folks. Bottom line, I’m not willing to put blind faith in the corporate lawyers.

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Sadly, from RDR’s terrible defense and from it’s own description of the lexicon book, I can see that JKR has every legal right to sue. It is copyright infringement, and it is entirely based off her work.

My question is: Why can’t she just let him publish anyway?

The idea that Steve’s book would take money away from hers is laughable. Nobody HP obsessed enough to buy the lexicon would NOT buy JKR’s own encyclopedia. Likewise, the argument that his book would take away money from charity is unfair. If JKR’s so worried about the charity, why doesn’t she just let Steve publish his book, and donate some extra money herself? After all, she can surely afford it. Steve worked incredibly hard on his lexicon, and, while he has no legal right to sell it, I think he has done enough work as a dedicated fan that JKR should simply let him. She’s got nothing to lose, and suing him for doing something that does not detract from (In fact, I’d certainly say it adds to) her or her work in any way is unnecessarily heartless.

If I was an author, and somebody put that much work into my fictional universe, I’d be thrilled.

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@ Bibliophile1776

Quoted from my earlier post: “Some are also claiming that the Lexicon book would not take away proceeds from Rowling’s book. Their evidence: I would buy both. I’m sure most die-hard fans would by both, but the problem is that most fans are not die-hard fans. Most fans have never ventured onto the internet HP world and would not know that there are two encyclopedias: the Lexicon’s and Jo’s future encyclopedia. So let me set up a situation: A standard Harry Potter fan (one who has read at least most of the books at least once, but doesn’t know a thing about online Harry Potter news and fandom) walks into a bookstore and sees “Harry Potter Lexicon.” For whatever reason, they buy it. Two or three years later they walk into the bookstore again and see “Harry Potter Encyclopedia.” Because they don’t go online and get all the good information they probably won’t realize that there is a difference between these two books. They’ll think, why in the world should I buy another encyclopedia, especially since they probably hardly ever even used the first one they bought.”

Also, if she lets him go ahead and publish Jo and WB could loose trademarks.

Quoted from Biblio’s post: “If I was an author, and somebody put that much work into my fictional universe, I’d be thrilled.”

From what we have seen, she is thrilled. Why else would she create a fan site award, or call the Lexicon “my natural home”? But the facts are that Steve went too far in trying to publish the Lexicon without her permission. Jo and WB had no choice but to sue.

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I see your point.

However, I think your ‘standard HP fan’ scenario is so unlikely that it’s pretty much impossible. For one thing, just because it’s not in the book title or subtitle doesn’t mean that there’s no disclaimer on the lexicon book’s cover. After all, there is no disclaimer in the title or subtitle of Mugglenet’s book, but there is one on the cover. So a fan would be able to tell the difference between the unauthorised version and the one that says ‘by J.K. Rowling’ in big letters. Second of all, when JKR’s encyclopedia comes out, it will be surrounded by publicity. Everyone who has any access to any sort of media will know what it is, particularly if they have read Harry Potter and are interested enough to buy an encyclopedia. With that atmosphere, it will be impossible not to know the difference.

I’m not sure I completely understand what you mean by ‘loose trademarks’... what would they be losing?

I still think that JKR should have let him publish- I don’t think it’s going too far at all.

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Hey Friends,

I just wanted to stop back by to say that Steve has posted a letter to fans on the lexicon in “what’s new.” I thought you all might like to check it out. Of course it doesn’t go into anything specific (because that would really be trouble), but still nice to hear from Steve.

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Thank you Melissa and an awesome staff for keeping us up to date on this news! I must say I am sad to see this happen… I hope it is cleared up and Steve and can publish the book, would love to have it!!! I am dissapointed about the Beatle Bard book, why only 7 copies? With only one being sold at auction for charity??? Maybe if it was sold in mass to the public and the proceeds go to charity, would that not generate a heck of a lot more $$$ that just selling one?

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@ Biblio

From Leaky interview: “It’s incumbent upon WB to act to protect J.K. Rowling’s rights in order to retain the rights; failure to act may in some (or future) situations be seen as giving up of rights.”

From Wikipedia: “Trademarks rights must be maintained through actual use of the trademark. These rights will diminish over time if a mark is not actively used. In the case of a trademark registration, failure to actively use the mark, or to enforce the registration in the event of infringement, may also expose the registration itself to removal from the register after a certain period of time.”

So if Jo and WB allow Steve to use their trademarks, then the courts may see that as abandoning the trademarks. Once a trademark is abandoned, anyone is free to use it for whatever means they want.

From the suit: “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.”“

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@fossil

To the last paragraph: Once again, just because it isn’t in the title or subtitle doesn’t mean a disclaimer isn’t there. I doubt anyone who purchased Mugglenet’s book believed that it contained JKR’s description of what was going to happen in DH.

To the first part: Thank you for that explanation, I definitely understand why they’re suing a lot better now. And I suppose the lexicon is the easiest thing to sue, seeing as it seems to be mostly factual and not analytic. So exactly how much do they have to allow for them to lose their trademark? After all, they did just sue for that model of Hogwarts in India.

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@ Biblio

Actually if you go to the RDR website they have a picture of the cover, and nowhere on the cover is any sort of disclaimer. If they planned on putting a disclaimer on the cover I think they would have said so.

I’m not sure how many times before it is considered abandoment.

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@fossil

Well, for me at least, that’s the crucial point. I would completely understand the lawsuit, though I’d still be sad about it, if to do otherwise would be to lose the HP trademark. If not, though, then it’s irrelevant.

I hadn’t seen the cover before- they should definitely add a disclaimer. If they don’t, though… well, they’re not the first. If the text on the book’s page is the same text that would appear on the back of the book, then there is definitely enough of a disclaimer there. If there is no obvious disclaimer on the front or back, though, then I understand the need for a lawsuit, too.

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Matt said: Have people forgotten that WB in 2001, prior to the release of the first film, shot out a number of ceast and desist letters to a number of HP fan sites? If I recall, wasn’t their knee-jerk rationalization was that the fan sites might deminish the value of the franchise?

No, I don’t believe anyone’s forgotten the fact that WB did this. They did it to protect their copyrights which was entirely within their legal purview. Nor should people forget that WB dropped their legal suits because they deemed the Potter fan sites on the ‘world wide web’ were using their copyrighted material “non-commercially”. That means the web sites did not distribute and make a profit off of copyrighted material. Receiving freely given donations to aid in the continued operation and upkeep of the site is a not-for-profit endeavor.

Matt said: I have to admit, if the issue has to do with the book being a ‘reference based book’, plenty of other published books about Potter have reference materials. Why the sudden change?

There are many ‘unofficial’ guides out there, this is true, however, these sources are true analytical works that properly site copyright/trademarks/indicia of JK Rowling, WB, and various publishers. They use canon, but not slavishly, the vast majority of their books are original thoughts/ideas/essays. They are careful to declare they are ‘unofficial’ or ‘unauthorized’. This is considered ‘fair use’ of copyrighted materials to create a ‘derivative’ work, even without the original author’s consent. Please also note that they have never marketed books with art that approximates any HP book cover. The Harry Potter Lexicon cover [UK version] very closely approximates the adult UK HP book covers with seemingly identical typeset, size & color of title letters, background colors…etc…etc… That type of marketing is deceptive and violates fair trade practices. Put an original Harry Potter adult UK book right next to ‘Harry Potter Lexicon’, and it will be extremely hard for the average customer [not rabid fan, mind] to note differences. You can view any HP adult UK cover art online…then compare it yourself to ‘Harry Potter Lexicon’ at the amazon.co.uk site.

Also, let’s be clear, no one has EVER taken their Harry Potter fan site, copied it into a book format, and sold it for profit. It’s unprecedented and unfortunately, it will probably bite RDR and Steve in the butt.

We are told by RDR “The entire book is drawn verbatim from the material that presently appears on Steve Vander Ark’s website.” Discounting the original, thought provoking essays [which belong to the original authors and not the Lexicon], there is not 400 pages of original thoughts/summaries on that site. It is a simple listing of known facts, derived directly from the novels, regurgitated in another format—-the formatting may be original, the majority of content however, is not.

If, for some obscure reason Jo/WB lose this lawsuit, I’m willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that it will have massive repercussions for all the Potter fan sites/forums. WB will ‘cease and desist’ to shut them all down before they too, think to do the same thing as SVA/RDR and make a profit off of copyrighted material. And you can bet that everyone else will jump on that particular legal band wagon to protect their property rights on the “world wide web” too, which would fundamentally alter the internet.

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@ Biblio

Thanks for the discussion, I really appreciate your willingness to listen. I’ve got to go do Chemistry now.

Bye

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i dunno what to say except thank you so much for all the info, Leaky. this just bums me out… i hope this is resolved leaving no bitterness.

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WB can’t stop this – look how many books are already published that are pretty much doing the exact same thing Steve’s trying to do! On top of that, it’s nothing new – look how many ‘unofficial’ encyclopedias are floating around, on everything from LotR to all the ‘dummy’ books that get published! Also, it’s perfectly all right to use quotes from the original material, as long as that’s not ALL it is, and we all know the Leaky book is going to be more than that. I’m planning on buying a copy, especially because She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is just sitting on her claims for making an encyclopedia. Especially since she pulled that crap about only selling ONE copy of the Tales of Beedle the Bard. Oh yea, she loves her fans, all right! /sarcasm

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