Harry Potter Lexicon Makes Statement Regarding Suit

112

Nov 05, 2007

Posted by Melissa Anelli
Uncategorized

Steve Vander Ark of the Harry Potter Lexicon has added a statement about the recent lawsuit, as well as a link to a page on RDR with information on and the ability to order the book, on the Harry Potter Lexicon. Text is below. You can read about the filed lawsuit and J.K. Rowling’s statements here, and statements from WB and RDR here.

The statement is:


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


Again, you can read about the filed lawsuit and J.K. Rowling’s statements here, and statements from WB and RDR here. Also of note: RDR Books has amended its statement several times since TLC first posted it, most recently to add commentary following yesterday’s post about the WB and RDR Q-and-As.

Other new details are as follows: Following yesterday’s post which said there was a possibility that essays would be included in the Lexicon, several Lexicon essay writers have publicly said that they were not asked for permission to have their essay reprinted, and some essay writers have been assured by Lexicon staff that there will be no essays in the book at all. We have asked the publisher which is correct and will amend this post if we get an answer.

Update: RDR books answered our query with a lengthy statement that neither confirmed nor denied. We’ve asked for a more direct answer and have yet to receive one.

Update 2: TLC has received word via a reliable source that the initial email to Steve Vander Ark and RDR Books was phrased as an attempt to appeal to the Lexicon’s status as a site favored by J.K. Rowling. It also, according to the source, clearly named Warner Bros. as at stake and called Vander Ark a friend of the series and someone publishers/lawyers/agents were sure did not want to disrupt Rowling’s rights. RDR has called the email “threatening and abusive” and claimed that Warner Bros. only claimed rights after RDR sent them a letter regarding the timeline on the Harry Potter DVDs.

Also in the time since this issue began the book has risen from ranked lower than 230,000 in Amazon.co.uk books, to 7,034 as of this posting.

Update 3: A reader has commented that they ordered the book in the UK, which was slated to have a Nov. 5, 2007, publication date; the order was pushed back to January, 4, 2008, instead.


The Harry Potter Lexicon is a partner site to The Leaky Cauldron. The opinions and claims argued here do not constitute The Leaky Cauldron’s opinion or claim (of which it has none).





1,186 Responses to Harry Potter Lexicon Makes Statement Regarding Suit

Avatar Image says:

THE FANDOM MADE ME DO IT!!!

NO WAY!

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, do you think he knows how bad of an argument that is?

Avatar Image says:

Er, if all wants to do is make it so people can have a print version of the Lexicon, why not add a freakin print button to the site? Yeesh!

Seriously, the Lexicon and especially RDR books is coming off terribly at this point. It’s pretty obvious that Jo/WB were forced into this situation due to RDR and Steve’s complete lack of cooperation with (not to mention respect for) the people who actually created and own this universe. Shame on Steve, and shame on these horrid publishers.

Avatar Image says:

Very weak. I haven’t explored every page of his site, but the bulk of it does NOT qualify as “critique”. From what I understand what critique that IS there is authored by other people.

I’ll wait for JKR’s version, even if this IS published.

Avatar Image says:

Er, is it actually true that the movies and video games used the Harry Potter Lexicon for information? And saying that the Lexicon was “used frequently by every entity concerned with creating the Harry Potter books” really makes it sound as though the Harry Potter books were created off his website, not the other way around…

Avatar Image says:

Well, I think that J.K. Rowling should read this, because it is very sweet. She should not have tried to suit him in the first place I think. It must have been so freaky for him. I mean, he gets asked to make a print version for his site, and all of a second he’s being suit by his idol, J.K.R.!!!! He thought he was being nice to her and helping people understand the books, not trying to compete with her. For once, I think J.K.R. was wrong. But, hey. I’m just a fan.

Avatar Image says:

Critical analysis? The Lexicon is something like 80% reorganized facts from the books and the only critical analysis is the essays, which it looks like will not be included in the published version. Reorganizing the the information(characters, places, spells, etc.) in list form does not qualify as critical analysis or original content. I think it’s really foolish of Steve and RDR to keep pursuing this. It doesn’t even matter whether Jo decides to make her own encyclopedia or not, she owns the rights to the Harry Potter world and she has the right to approve or disapprove of derivative works that attempt to make a profit. That’s the law.

Avatar Image says:

Sweet??!?

This is a big backpedaling act and an attempt tpass this off as simply what the fandom wanted.

POST A PDF, or SELL IT OR FREE, or DONATE PROCEEDS TO CHARITY, why don’t you…but no, let’s pretend that a $24.95 cover price is simply to appease the fandom.

Avatar Image says:

I just can’t believe hes’ trying to pretend he’s just so IN DEMAND, such a big star, that this is why copyright law is on his side. Wowwww. No.

Avatar Image says:

If Steve was just trying to ‘be nice’ to fans, then he’d be giving the book away for FREE, like the website. That’s why fanfic authors don’t charge people to read their stories or have them published as books and sell them for profit. They know they’ll get their pants sued off if they do. Of course Jo’s been okay with the website all along, it’s not a pay site is it? But now Steve and RDR are trying to profit off what is basically a series of lists of things in the book. So wrong.

Avatar Image says:

lolz that was a perfect statement!! the fandom is NOT responsible for you, steve!!! YOU made the decision, not us!!

this is so stupid. just say you’re not gonna print it and let everyone get on with their lives.

and here’s a question for you: how come – if the site is in such massive demnd – there ISNT a print button? or the ability to copy anything written on it? if you’re claiming to do it for the fandom, then you might wanna check how easily accessible the info on the site is to fans!!!!

Avatar Image says:

Even if every editor on every edition used the Lexicon to check every fact, THAT DOES NOT AWARD HIM COPYRIGHT.

I wasn’t mad before, and I am now. He’s trying to pass this off on the fans. That’s ridiculous.

Avatar Image says:

Steve isn’t calling it a “critique”. JKR’s people are the ones who used that term, saying they didn’t believe the book was a critique, and they got that right, it isn’t. Obviously. I don’t know why they’d even put that out there as a possibility.

Its academic. When you write an academic paper in school, (or in the scientific community for that matter), you’re free to cite, quote, and detail any other factual material you want, as long as you REFERENCE it. You can even have that paper published as long as everything is properly referenced.

And Steve’s lexicon always always always references it sources (which by the way aren’t just the book, they’re also interviews and JRK’s own website).

Steve compiled his lexicon useing the books, interveiw material, and website material, as well as his own workings when given specific dates and infering the dates of other events. He didn’t just sit down with the Potter books and copy out facts. It obviously took a lot of hard work, various sources, attention to detail and observation.

In my mind the lexicon is much more similar to a scientific paper then a work of fiction, a critique, or a ‘rearangement’ of JKR’s books charactors and plot.

Avatar Image says:

If I had to write a paper in school on any book, ANY book EVER published, and handed in something similar to what’s on the Lexicon, I. WOULD. FAIL.

Avatar Image says:

Wait…wait.

Wait.

He put up a statement…

...AND A PRE-ORDER LINK???

Avatar Image says:

lolz, No. You wouldn’t.

Not if your assignment was to compile a comprehensive paper organizing all known information about spells, locations, and people in the Harry Potter universe, using various sources.

Avatar Image says:

$24.95. Hmmmm. I guess those all those underpriviledged kids and impoverished nations RDR Books was going on about are out of luck. How are they possibly going to afford that?

Avatar Image says:

Yeah, of course, which is why that is not ever what a paper is. “Catalog all the facts in the Harry Potter books for me?” That’ snot something that gets you an A, or ever should, unless you’re studying for an MLS, or to be an archivist. Nothing else.

Avatar Image says:

This is so obviously a theft of intellectual property that I’m disgusted a so-called “fan” would even consider such a betrayal. What a huge disappointment to Jo and the rest of us real fans-the ones who understand that what you’ve done is more than cross the line legally and morally. I hope everyone BOYCOTTS YOUR SITE from now on-I know I will. And even The Leaky Cauldron-long one of my favorite sites-is under a caution flag if it is truly associated with you. Shame on you! Obliviate!

Avatar Image says:

I understand what Steve felt and real mistake. I forgive him. Yes, Steve mistake. I see no problem and I forgive them.

Avatar Image says:

Ok, I’m sorry but Steve has NO arguement! The information on his site is NOT HIS! It was all JKR’s from the books. Who cares if she has used the site, I think he should be flattered yes, but she could have just looked in her books to find the exact same things. A book entirely about critical anaalysis of her books is one thing. A book composed almost entirely of facts ripped straight from her books is completely different and wrong. It just isn’t his information to be proffiting off of!

The whole thing about using sueing WB for using ‘his’ timeline was also ridiculous. If JKR herself decided to sit down and make the timeline herself, not only would she probably do a more accurate job seeing as she owns the HP verse, but if Steve’s version was in fact, correct, then they would be exactly the same! To be honest I can’t believe Steve would actually do this to the woman who is supposedly his idol. He is stealing her work to make a profit, nothing more. The website is much easier to navigate and it is free. The website is what a true HP fan would do in thanks to JKR for her amazing books. Attempting to make money off it is just greedy, and I’m pretty sure it is illegal as well.

JKR better win this one, otherwise there is just no justice. He may have more of an arguement if he were doing it for charity, but he isn’t. Also, I think it is kind of sad, almost scary, that he really seems to think of the work on the lexicon as ‘his.’ Poor JKR.. she spends 17 years of her life writing HP to have it taken away from her. Who cares if she is rich, it is still her work, rich or poor should not make a difference. A rich man’s car gets stolen vs. a poorer person’s…. it is still a crime!

Ok, well I think I’ve said enough. I love JKR and I will stand by her no matter what! Screw you HP World Stealing Steve!

Avatar Image says:

It sure could get you an A. I’m studying Marine Environmental Technology, and I’ve had to write similar scientific papers.

Things like “organize all the relevant water quality guidelines for chemical and biolgical components in Canada”.

Well there are a lot of sets of guidelines, from a lot of different sources, so a paper detailing a compleate and comprehensive set would actually be enormously useful. Same deal here.

Avatar Image says:

If Steve truly cared about the fans he wouldn’t go so apesh*t every time someone copies and pastes something from the Lexicon. If Steve truly cared about the fans he wouldn’t be attempting to charge us $25 for something that is available to us for free. If Steve truly cared about the fans he wouldn’t do something that is so blatantly against JKR’s wishes, resulting in Jo most likely not trusting fan sites anymore. Which means, guess what, we all lose. Thanks a lot, Steve.

Avatar Image says:

Ashes, you may call it ‘academic’ but unfortunately copyright law is not concerned with that term, only with whether or not a work is merely derivitive, or if it truly is a critique, something which presents original content. It doesn’t matter if Steve referenced his sources. If all the material he presents is unoriginal then he’s breaking the law.

Check this out:

Augusta “Gran” Longbottom Neville’s grandmother who is raising him in the absence of his parents. She is a forceful, strong woman who wears green robes, a fox-fur scarf, a distinctive hat topped with a stuffed vulture, and carries a large red handbag. Neville loves her, but he’s a bit scared of her as well. She is Frank’s mother and she treats both Neville and his parents very unsentimentally. When Alice gives Neville a bubblegum wrapper, Gran dismisses it and tells Neville to throw it away. The boy pockets it, however.

This is what most of the Lexicon is. A lengthy and admitted time consuming reorganization of facts written in the Harry Potter books. Sure Steve spent a lot of time doing this. But unless he’s including an essay on what he thinks about Augusta Longbottom(i.e, original content) then he’s infringing on Rowlings copyrights. And it looks like there aren’t going to be essays in this book.

Maybe there are essays. But if there are, then why don’t RDR just give Jo a copy of the manuscript to prove that they’re within their rights? IMHO, not supplying a review copy was a very shady move on the part of the publishers, and honestly, most of their responses to the lawsuit make them sound very ignorant and unprofessional.

Avatar Image says:

You guys, this whole “paper” thing is silly because student papers are not written for profit.

Avatar Image says:

You’re right, I’m not familiar with copywrite law.

But I don’t think thats the argument here. I think the argument is that the copywrite law dosen’t apply to this book, given the nature of the book.

Like I said, I at least, consider it much more similar to a scientific paper then a novel.

Avatar Image says:

Thank you Amy.

Avatar Image says:

“Fossil” pointed this out in a previous thread and I think it really deserves to be posted again…

“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.”

As you can see, WB has not only the right but the responsibility to protect themselves and their trademarks.

Avatar Image says:

yeah thanks!

Avatar Image says:

Actually, I think copyRIGHT law IS the argument here. That’s what there’s a lawsuit about, remember?

Avatar Image says:

And Amy, of course they aren’t.

Scientific papers are. I just used the example of a student paper because I know a lot of posters here are likly students.

Also, its late and I have to get to bed, but I’ll happily continue this tomorrow, although by then I’m sure we’ll be a few pages longer.

Avatar Image says:

Steve is on a thin ice here. I think he made a mistake allying himself with a greedy publisher and is now suffering because of it.

No ill wishes for Steve but it’s obvious that JKR and WB are absolutely right here.

Avatar Image says:

If they really try to argue that this is similar to an academic or scientific paper I’ll laugh really hard.

Avatar Image says:

amadis, you’re obviously not following me.

The lawsuit does claim copywrite infringment. I think the argument, by which I mean response (or defense since we’re dealing in legal terms) won’t be that its not copywrite infringemnt, but rather that copywrite law doesn’t apply at all. Okay thats all from me for tonight.

Avatar Image says:

I’m sorry, but Steve’s just plain wrong on this one. I mean come on, saying that essays from his site are going to be used in a book without asking their author’s permission, its just sloppy. The same can be said for rdrbooks.com, the website of the lexicon’s publisher, which displays a large banner reading “WHY DOES WARNER BROTHERS WANT TO STOP YOU FROM READING STEVE VANDER ARK’S HARRY POTTER LEXICON? FIND OUT HERE.” and flashing it in red, pretty much screaming unproffesional. This whole thing is rediculous, this is not an analysis book, but simply a listing of someone else’s ideas, and because of that, can not be legally printed. End of story.

Avatar Image says:

An encyclopedia of a fictional series of novels using someone else’s characters is not the same as a scientific paper. A scientific paper can reorganize established facts that are in the public domain, like Norway is part of Scandinavia, or whatever. But the fact that Draco Malfoy is the son of Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy is not in the public domain. It’s not the same as a scientific paper.

Avatar Image says:

Quote: “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.”

That shows an astounding lack of foresight and consideration on the Lexicon’s part. Aside from the part where saying the Lexicon was “used frequently” by “every entity concerned” is a bit of a stretch, a printed book which you are SELLING is entirely different than a free website, even if it has the same content. And I really think Steve should know that.

The scientific paper discussion is interesting. I’m really not sure that copyright law can be applied in the same way, though. (I don’t know enough about either scientific papers or copyright law.)

Avatar Image says:

If Jo says to cease and desist, just drop it. It’s her world, her choices; the Lexicon wouldn’t be a thought in anyone’s head if it wasn’t for her. Respect the woman who made you (Steve) a household name among Potter fans.

Avatar Image says:

Wouldn’t water quality guidelines be meant to be freely accessed? If not, perhaps you would be so kind as to C/P their copyright statement which says something to the effect of “No portion of this… may be reprinted in whole or in part by any means… without express permission…” and I’d like a link to that set of “guidelines” with a copyright statement that precludes anyone from using them.

Will you be publishing and selling these re-organized guidelines for a profit if they do have a copyright statement?

If there are such copyright statements and your teacher is telling you to ignore them and to copy verbatim without permission, it’s a lousy teacher. Although, as long as you were only using these re-organized guidelines for a school paper and would not be publishing them and selling for a profit, I’d imagine the copyright holder would not care. Much like JKR doesn’t care about the free Lexicon website, but DOES care about profiteering from her copyrighted works.

Avatar Image says:

I love this part. ”...I would never have thought that a print version could be judged differently.”

He’s got to be kidding. Once you charge for something, that makes it a commercial project, which is the essence of copyright infringement.

Avatar Image says:

So a guy comes out and says he really didn’t expect this and he hopes it works out ok, and you all just jump on him. That’s awesome. Good job guys. He’s obviously not a real Harry Potter fan (even though he probably knows more about that world than anyone in this world – 1). So go ahead and bash him in support of your god – I mean favorite author.

Oh, and boycotting the site, that’s hilarious, no one cares. Combined with putting a caution on Leaky for reporting news and remaining steadfastly unbiased in the face of this slam-fest. Classy.

Avatar Image says:

what caution on leaky?

Avatar Image says:

It does seem like Steve made a rather large mistake, but I forgive him- he seems like a truly kind and genuine guy. I hope this situation is solved soon. :)

Avatar Image says:

“never would have imagined” – EXCEPT FOR THE PART WHEN THEY EMAILED YOU IN SEPTEMBER, STEVE. You didn’t have to imagine after that.

This is hilarious.

Avatar Image says:

Oh, Melissa. What an awkward position you must be in right now!

Avatar Image says:

This entire debacle is rather like watching someone with very twitchy fingers dance around a big red button with the words SELF DESTRUCT printed on it…

Avatar Image says:

Interesting. You know, I was pretty much of the camp that it was a bad idea and should be dropped, but everyone probably went into it with okay intentions. But, Steve and the publisher are handling this very poorly. The flashing banners, the pre-order buttons. Soooo classy.

Avatar Image says:

Well, wishy, RDR did compare the lawsuit to the bombing of Hiroshima. So, yes, I’d say it’s been very self-destructive.

Avatar Image says:

Thanks, Leaky, for keeping us informed, and for asking the questions that fans want answered.

Avatar Image says:

On the preorder page:

Harry Potter® and the names of all fictitious people and places are trademarks of Warner Bros. Neither the author, his staff members, www.HP.-Lexicon.org nor the publisher is in any way affiliated with Warner Bros., Scholastic Books, J.K. Rowling or any other person or company claiming an interest in the Harry Potter® novels. The Harry Potter Lexicon respects the intellectual property rights of others and urges users of this book to do the same.

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

Avatar Image says:

headdesk

Two things—

1. Please don’t try and compare what Steve has done at the Lexicon with a scientific paper. The HP books are fiction, and facts about fictional books and fictional worlds are NOT in the public domain. Why? Because those “facts” belong to the author that made them up in the first place. Ergo, all of the “facts” that Steve has organized on his site belong to JKR. Not him.

2. Real classy, Steve. Trying to pass all of this off as poor widdle you catering to the ickle fans who wanted a print version? Try again. You know, I might have had a bit of sympathy for you, thinking you got lousy legal advice or something, but after reading your statement, I realize you’re just trying to pass the buck on to fandom instead of being a man and taking responsibility for your own actions.

Avatar Image says:

I’m sick of the steve bashing. The best post I have seen about this from a non-hp fan was posted by William Patry (a copyright lawyer). There are also some interesting comments.

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

Avatar Image says:

There’s a lot of copyright lawyers who have posted things. Since no one’s seen the book they can’t really know what’s there.

If that’s such a fantastic treatment of the subject, how does it contain this line:

“She doesn’t add, no doubt because it is not the case, that the profits will go to charity, only her royalties. “

Has this guy not had the thorough lawyerly expertise to read through ANY article on this subject at all, all of which make it STUPIDLY CLEAR that JKR is writing these books for charity?

Oh yeah, best post ever.

Avatar Image says:

It’s also really funny that a copyright lawyer is trying to argue that she doesn’t have the right to her copyright simply because of the chance she’d profit off it. What? She’s not allowed to profit but surely her fans, who didn’t create it, are? LOL. OK. This guy was a lawyer for the US govt and Google? Poor them.

Avatar Image says:

“Well, wishy, RDR did compare the lawsuit to the bombing of Hiroshima.”

Umm… are you serious?

Avatar Image says:

Steve should be criticized, because he’s acting like he’s entitled to publish his Lexicon just because JKR and WB have used his site in the past. It doesn’t work that way.

I’m sorry, but when the people who actually own the legal rights to Harry Potter are telling you not to publish, then ignoring them and provoking them into a lawsuit is your own fault. He brought all of this on himself by thinking that he was somehow exempt from copyright/trademark infringement because of who he is.

Avatar Image says:

“not in some sort of attempt to profit off of fans”

If he’s not doing it for personal gain, donate the profit to charity. Simple.

Oh wait… I forgot… HE IS. insert srs face here

Peace, Rotae

Avatar Image says:

Dead serious. They took the comments off today but it read like this, because I saved it, because it was so funny:’


Summarizing Ms. Nelson’s view, one reporter wrote that Warner’s “cease and desist letters constituted an attempt to open a dialogue.” How could that be?

This is obviously a contradiction in terms. It reminds of a statement made by General Leslie Groves when he was asked if the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was leading to lingering deaths of tens of thousands of civilian. He said that fallout radiation was causing no “undue suffering” and characterized it “as a very pleasant way to die.” How does threatening to censor the publication of a reference book, sue someone for millions of dollars and put them out of business “constitute an attempt to open a dialogue?”


HE COMPARED IT TO HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI.

What was I thinking? This is clearly JUST as important. Holy cow.

Avatar Image says:

@ Ashes, who said: The lawsuit does claim copywrite infringment. I think the argument, by which I mean response (or defense since we’re dealing in legal terms) won’t be that its not copywrite infringemnt, but rather that copywrite law doesn’t apply at all.

A crash-course in copyright law and this lawsuit: a verbatim quote from Legal Beagle…

“The difference between opinion and a legal precedent is that the former has no validity in court, however well informed or well intentioned; the latter is what the sitting judge will determine damages and set awards.

This is, from the lawyers’ point of view, a LEGAL matter, not one of fan opinion.

From a legal point of view, the matter at hand is clear-cut: This is a matter of what’s called “derivative use.” It means that the copyright holder – in this case, Joanne Rowling – can mine her own work to construct quiz-books, puzzle books, and encyclopedias.

In the matter of derivative use, the key criterion is whether or not an unofficial/unauthorized book merely REARRANGES the existing text to recast a “new book.”

When viewed in that light, Mr. Vander Ark’s book fares poor legally because it is 100% (judging from the his website) based on what’s in Rowling’s books.

Mr. Vander Ark’s proposed book is not commentary; it’s not opinion; it’s a re-edited edition of what Rowling has carefully chronicled in her book.

The legal precedent for this was when a publisher issued an unauthorized “Seinfeld” quiz book. The court decided that there was nothing original added, that it was all re-purposed, and that everything had been drawn from the television series. Therefore, as all the material was derivative use, the unauthorized book was held legally accountable for damages.

Give Rowling and her lawyers a little credit: They don’t sue capriciously; they sue when they feel they have no other choice in protecting their rights.

This explains why two former encyclopedias – AN UNOFFICIAL MUGGLE’S GUIDE TO THE WIZARDING WORLD: EXPLORING THE HARRY POTTER UNIVERSE (ECW Press) and THE J.K. ROWLING ENCYCLOPEDIA by Connie Ann Kirk – are probably out of print: The amount of derived material exceeded what’s called “fair use,” which is the test as to whether or not a work is considered to be within the legal limits:

“1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

2. the nature of the copyrighted work;

3. amount and sutstantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work [see www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html].

Rowling’s lawyers will likely cite that Vander Ark’s book (point 1) is for profit, (points 2 and 3) is principally or wholly derivative in content, and (point 4) will have a deleterious effect on the sale of Rowling’s own encyclopedia.

Of these points, in my considered opinion, only #4 will materially fail as fans of Rowling may buy an unofficial encyclopedia, but will buy the authorized book no matter what. The publication of an unofficial encyclopedia will not substantially hinder sales of the official one. In other words, some fans will likely by both, but no fan will buy the unofficial one in favor of the official one.

As for the proposed Mugglenet.com book (UNOFFICIAL HARRY POTTER COMPANION: THE ENCYCLOPEDIC GUIDE TO THE BOOKS, MOVIES AND MORE), it depends on how Mr. Spartz and Mr. Schoen handle the material: If it’s straightforward in encyclopedic format and uses the same material as Kirk’s J.K. ROWLING ENCYCLOPEDIA and Fionna Boyle’s UNOFFICIAL MUGGLE’S GUIDE TO THE WIZARDING WORLD, then it too may be on the lawyers’ radar. If, however, the text is not derivative, in terms of encyclopedia entries, and has original material (extensive commentary, contextual information) and stays away from a bare bones misappropriation of Rowling’s original texts, then it may (and I use that word guardedly) escape the hangman’s noose.

Bottom line here, folks, it’s not about whether Mr. Vander Ark is a great asset to the Harry Potter community (legally, that’s a non-issue); doesn’t matter if Rowling uses his website for reference and has praised it (legally, both are non-issues); doesn’t matter if Rowling is a multi-millionaire (legally, a non-issue); and it doesn’t matter that Mr. Vander Ark has spent years researching Rowling’s universe. Doesn’t matter. What DOES matter is whether or not the book is substantially derived from Rowling’s texts.

That’s what the sitting judge will decide after examining the manuscript or finished book, and that judge will cite the aforementioned legal precedent regarding the Seinfeld quiz book.

Class is dismissed!”

* Clear, concise, and to the point. When she turned down his request to co-author an encyclopedia, he should have accepted that. Instead he made a print version of his web site and sold it for profit. Now he’s in a very sticky situation, with a publisher who’s obviously not comprehending that the stuff’s hit the fan and someone’s gonna pay for it.

Sad, really.

Avatar Image says:

Pat, I notice this sentence in the blog article you’ve linked to: “[Jo] doesn’t add, no doubt because it is not the case, that the profits will go to charity, only her royalties.”

Anyone who has such apparent and baseless disdain for Jo Rowling gets no respect in my book, no matter how eloquently they argue.

Also, the comparison to Jose Luis Borges, who’s been dead for over twenty years, is totally fallacious. Dead people have a hard time of filing suits against those who write dictionaries based on their works.


At any rate, although I’ll wait until the last shoe has fallen to make up my mind completely, I’m thinking that not a single person in this comments section finds themselves more convinced of Steve’s party’s innocence in this matter after reading (and digesting) his statement.

Avatar Image says:

http://www.qforquack.com/2007/11/01/the-harry-potter-lexicon/

I find Steve Vander Ark to be a total publicity stunt with his website almost being published for Harry Potter fans to read. I wouldn’t be saying this unless I had proof either, I actually thought publishing an encyclopedia would be an amazing idea too. Here’s basically what happened:

One of my readers, Matthew used to be my co-webmaster when I used to make Harry Potter websites, and just last year I approached this idea to him. He thought it would be cool too and we thought we should approach Steve and Melissa (from The Leaky Cauldron) to see what they would think. Here’s that e-mail: and have been with it for several years. You may know us from a past website, The Potter Prophet. Harry Potter Encyclopedia. We decided to attempt to affiliate with you guys, The Lexicon and The Wizarding World Press to make this possible. would have to fill us in about any fees and requirements we need to have to publish a book. The both of us are not very wealthy, so it would be difficult for us to pay off any required fees.

Thank you both for your time,
Matt * 
Jessica *

Steve took the time to reply to us (and forward his reply to Melissa aswell) telling us it would probably not be a good idea. This was due to the fact that he thought about the copyright infringement lawsuit that could occur. He also stated that many people and publishers had asked him in the past. rights to her intellectual property, which means that she’s the only one who may publish any book that is a guide or encyclopedia to her world. And since we’re fans and supporters of Jo, we wouldn’t do anything that would violate her rights, even if we could get away with it. We wouldn’t get away with it, though, since Neil Blair, her solicitor, is very quick to defend his illustrious client in things like this. series is finished, I plan to petition Jo to allow the Lexicon to work with her to create the ultimate Harry Potter encyclopedia. In the mean time, we’ll have to use the various online resources.

Thanks for the email!
Steve
Steve Vander Ark
The Harry Potter Lexicon

What I hope you get out of this is that Steve indeed knew that this was wrong for him to even do, so I put this all a his fault. He knew that he would end up having to battle Neil Blair in court (just like I have i n the past few years). Mrs. Rowling’s lawyer is the toughest I have ever seen and if he doesn’t see any money being pulled out, he’ll eventually call up their financial company to try and scare you off with sums around a thousand dollars. I’ve been there, I know how it is. I think Steve should have thought better before he left something like this happen.

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The William Patry blog was a good read. I have been of the opinion all along that the content of the Lexicon is the result of serious analysis and as such would have to be viewed as an academic work. I can see an argument that quoting large amounts of text (such as sorting hat songs) might constitute copyright infringement, but one thing of which I am certain … “analysis” does not require the injection of opinion to be legitimate analysis. And if the book is deemed to be analysis, then the cease and desist suit will have no teeth.

What I do find absurd is the notion that ANYTHING will harm the sales of an encyclopedia written by Jo herself. The only thing that could hurt those sales is if she never wrote and/or published it to begin with.

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The Patry blog was uninformed and bent on making JKR evil because she actually makes money. Faulting her for whether or not she gives to charity – and ignoring that she IS giving to charity – is hardly showing you’re familiar enough with the facts of the case to make an accurate assessment. What a putz.

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SVA: providing crises on a nuclear scale.

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In the past year or two, I’d come to regard Steve very highly for his well-thought out opinions of Harry Potter and his work on both the Lexicon and on Pottercast. However, his actions as of late have really contradicted all that good will. It’s selfish, and he’s going against the very person who gave him that world in the first place. Reminds me of a bratty little kid who doesn’t like it when his parents say no. I, for one, hope that after all this is over, Steve isn’t invited back onto Pottercast, except for possibly an interview to discuss what happened (after all, if Laura Mallory can be on Pottercast, so can he). He clearly doesn’t hold Jo in the same regard as the Pottercast trio. And for any who disagree…this is a FAN site. We love JKR and the books. That’s what we do here.

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Amy S, yes, they did. As noted above, RDR has removed that section from their webpage talking about the case.

“SVA: providing crises on a nuclear scale.” L.O.L.!!!!

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lolz writes:

“The Patry blog was uninformed and bent on making JKR evil because she actually makes money.”

Actually, the Patry blog never said anything about Jo making money. His comments about a profit being made would have been directed toward the publisher making a profit as Patry clearly states

“She doesn’t add, no doubt because it is not the case, that the profits will go to charity, only her royalties.”

How will Jo stand to make a dime if all of her royalties go to charity?

What I think is the truly salient point made in the Patry blog is that the contents of the Lexicon are the product of serious analysis. As such, there is significant “value added” and the work can not be considered solely “derivative.”

But regardless of those points, the notion that any third-party companion book will harm the sales of a book written by Jo herself, is insulting to anyone who happened to notice that the Harry Potter fan base made Deathly Hallows one of the best selling books in multiple countries – before it had even been printed. Does anyone honestly think that people wouldn’t buy Jo’s book if they already owned Steve’s?

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RE: that qforquack.com blog.

Wow. Steve Vander Ark is a filthy hypocrite.

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The point, Mr. Blood, is that whether it would detract money or not is irrelevant. It’s JKR’s copyright, not Steve’s. she could be making all the money in teh world, or none, or it could stop ONE person from buying her book, or NO people from buying her book, and it does not change a thing.

And that QforQ blog says it all. WOW. 0.0.0.0.

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If the emails contained on that blog are true and accurate, Steve should be ashamed of himself. The alleged email from Vander Ark to the former owner of ‘The Potter Prophet’:

Hello, Matt and Jessica:
As the editor of the Lexicon, I get email every so often from fans asking me to publish the Lexicon in book form, so I’ve dealt with this question before. Basically, it is illegal to sell a book like that. Jo has reserved all publishing rights to her intellectual property, which means that she’s the only one who may publish any book that is a guide or encyclopedia to her world. And since we’re fans and supporters of Jo, we wouldn’t do anything that would violate her rights, even if we could get away with it. We wouldn’t get away with it, though, since Neil Blair, her solicitor, is very quick to defend his illustrious client in things like this.
So while it’s a smashing idea, it simply isn’t something that’s allowed at the moment. Believe me, when the series is finished, I plan to petition Jo to allow the Lexicon to work with her to create the ultimate Harry Potter encyclopedia. In the mean time, we’ll have to use the various online resources.
Thanks for the email!
Steve
Steve Vander Ark
The Harry Potter Lexicon
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Something that I don’t think has been covered by the comments is this: Steve is essentially trying to make money for himself out of the Lexicon website by publishing it in book form; a lot of the site is organised the way it is because of contributions by us the site users. We have pointed out errors, suggested things that should be included, suggested re-formats of certain layouts and helped with the ‘Britspeak’ parts. So not only is he trying to make a fast buck from Jo’s original stories, but he’s also trying to make money from all our work as well.

In my opinion the only way to show that the whole thing is wrong is to vote with your feet. If you agree that he should not be doing this, do not buy this book, if it ever gets published that is. How dare he have the cheek to put a link to a pre-order section on something that may never be allowed to see the light of day anyway?! What a shame to see someone we’ve always respected act in this way.

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The Patry blog entry is a bit of a ‘false friend’ here – the writer freely admits that he knows little of the Lexicon’s content (either book or site.)

He also neglects the fact that one of the factors used in deciding whether fair use doctorine applies is whether the usage is for commercial purposes or non-profit educational value (the website conforms to the latter, the book clearly the former) Notice that the RDR statement certainly recognises this important facet of fair use law; hence their remarks about how the print version of the Lexicon will “make its information available to underprivileged children and those in impoverished nations, who may have no access to computers or to the World Wide Web.” Others have already pointed out the problems in that statement; I don’t think they need repeating.

Phil.

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If those e-mails from that blog are accurate, then Steve knew that publishing the Lexicon was wrong, but he did it anyways.

Sounds to me like he got mad that JKR told him no, that she could write the encyclopedia on her own, and now he’s just out to publish his book out of spite. It would explain why he deliberately ignored four separate C&D letters, and why he’s trying to pass everything off as if fandom begged him to publish.

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karen writes:

“Steve is essentially trying to make money for himself out of the Lexicon website by publishing it in book form; a lot of the site is organized the way it is because of contributions by us the site users.”

To be honest, I think this is a MUCH bigger issue than publishing an analysis of JKR’s creations within her books. My understanding (which is albeit limited) is that the HP Lexicon is the result a NUMEROUS contributors. If their work is being used for profit without permission, then the author and publisher should be slammed hard for plagiarism. But that is a separate issue from the law suit.

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A couple points that have not yet been addressed to my satisfaction on this thread:

1. I am a historian, and have to say it’s true that some academic work is primarily the ordering and marshalling of all-ready-exisiting facts. That can be legitimate. HOWEVER, one of the key points in this case is not whether or not Steve’s work is good. It is that no one asked/assigned/”hired” him to do this work. I don’t think fans (even though I am one) count here, although many clearly appreciate his work. If JKR (as the creator) or WB (who has power because of owning the rights) didn’t hire him, how does he think that after the fact they will pay him for work they didn’t want to have done anyway?

2. Now to the work itself. I admit I’ve been an infrequent visitor to the Lexicon site. As much as I’ve liked Steve’s commentary on Pottercast, I haven’t liked reading the Lexicon, largely because it seems like boring reading. The example given by a poster earlier in this thread about Augusta Longbottom is a good example. The facts may all be there (in so far as we know them so far), but it’s dry as plain toast. None of the charm and wimsy of JKR’s writing is there. If her books had been like that they wouldn’t have had the appeal they do. It’s no surprise that JKR declined the offer to work together with Steve on the encyclopedia. Her encyclopedia will not only be full of known and previously un-known facts, but will also be written with her own panache, wit, and humor – the qualities we prize in the series and also in the two little reference books about Quiddich and “Fantastic Beasts.”

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Pity Steve has been so very generous in sharing his opinions on publication with various people over the years. A cooking pot has never had its flames fanned so high.

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“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…”

Arrogant much?

Good lord. I can’t believe he’s really delusional enough to think that what he’s doing is legal and ethical. Is this really the sort of webmaster The Leaky Cauldrono affiliates themselves with?

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Small clarification on my preceding post – I make it sound as though Steve is expecting to be paid by JKR or WB – obviously that’s not what it’s about, but what I meant was that they would allow him to make money by selling something which they hadn’t asked for or wanted. And BTW, the Augusta Longbottom post was written by amadis, if you want to check Steve’s writing style.

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I don’t understand the point about Steve being hired for the task. I don’t think JKR was “hired” to write the original books either. She simply wrote them and then solicited them to the publishers. The real “peer review” process in this case takes place at the cash register when people decide to buy the book.

Whether or not someone asked him to do it isn’t particularly relevant – it is whether or not it is legal that is relevant. Someone could ask me to break the law but that would not excuse me of the responsibility for my own actions.

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Mr. Blood – yes, I agree that the legality of the thing is what is most relevant. JKR is an original creator, so even though no one asked her to write, the value of the product made it popular. Steve is not “creating” in that sense, his work is derivitive. If JKR or WB had “hired” him to do published work, his work would not be illegal, since they hold the rights. But you’re correct in a sense that people vote with their wallets by buying the books. Unless the courts forbid them to get that far, because they rule that Steve doesn’t have the right to publish that material.

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In earlier threads, commentators like mars and twoflowers22 wondered how this affair will affect JKR’s interaction with her fans. I’ve been wondering the same.

One of the unique and absolutely wonderful aspects of the entire HP phenomenon has been JKR’s approach to fans. In addition to the books themselves, she has been willing and (thanks to the Internet) able to give more to her readers than any author has ever done.

Then again, for the very same reason you could easily argue that JKR has made her bed and now must lie in it. Can’t you just imagine Stephen King tut-tutting: “I told you so in Misery. You give them a finger, they take an arm. Or a leg.” With her generous interaction, kindly nods like the fansite award and downright flattery like admitting to using the Lexicon, JKR has created some über-fans, and it was only a question of time before one of them was no longer content to be a humble servant of the fandom (like TLC seems to continue being, kudos to them) but sought to become a co-owner of the source material.

Then again, all those things that JKR has done for the fans have been such a rewarding addition to the reading, and she has so far managed the interaction with such grace and style, that we must hope that this affair can be resolved with dignity and that her faith in her fandom survives.

But whatever the outcome, this mess will provide fascinating material for some future scholar of the writer/reader relationship.

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Well, ultimately, the legality will be determined in court or by a mutually agreeable settlement between the parties involved. I’m certainly not a lawyer or an expert on the law, but that doesn’t preclude me from developing an opinion. And my opinion (and hope) is that Steve is allowed to publish his book (provided he has all the required permissions from his contributors!) I don’t think that Jo or WB will suffer any damages monetary or otherwise.

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No damages monetary or otherwise?

Let’s see: Monetary, her lawyers are racking up bills. Sure, she can afford it, but just becuase she can afford it doesn’t mean she should throw money down a legal black hole.

Non-monetary: some (thank god, few, and only those who don’t really seem to get the facts here) are turning against her. That’s a damage. For Steve trying to cash in on HER. This is ridiculous. Horrendous.

Steve should be leaving the fandom in shame, not trying to win the case and be vindicated. It’s gross.

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I’m stuck and confused. And definitely not cut out for being a lawyer of any description ;)

You all make a lot of sense, but so does this ‘Defense’ person.

Mehhh why does everything have to get so ugly, right at the end of a beautiful fandom? :(

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WOW… are they serious? That RDR statement is laughably unprofessional.

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I’m not saying here that I am agreeing with the publication of the Lexicon. But looking at what may happen in court. Yes, we can compare what Steve Vander Ark has done at the Lexicon with a scientific paper. That sort of “lexicon” work is done about any great author in the academical field , when characters and fact are dispersed on many books of the same author (I’m French so I think of Balzac or Proust !) ... And this kind of work are published and sold by university people, every day. The HP books are fiction, OK, but fiction is a “material” for literary studies. Some of these studies are critical studies, but other may be “organizing” work, on which the critics may rely, if this “organizing” work is serious and complete. So I agree with Ashes and Matthew Parry : the lawyers of SVA could argue the academicals work. What I don’t know, about those literary academicals publications is: does the editors need, or not, some form of authorization of the editors of books involved in the study ? The discussion about thesis was interesting, but we should search on the side of laws concerning academical (= university) literary books.

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Mrs. W: I agree. JKR has been, maybe, overly generous. As fans, we’ve enjoyed countless websites, fan fiction and her own site including the Wombats. Many authors would not have interacted with the readers or permitted use of their story that way.

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If JKR hadn’t written Harry Potter would Steve still have been able to make this book? No. If he wants to make money he should try getting creativity of his own.

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Annia: I encourage you to read this blog as well. It gives a more in-depth look at the issue. http://praetorianguard.livejournal.com/271214.html#cutid1 WIlliam Patry, not Matthew Parry, admits he is not familiar with the Lexicon. He cannot truly judge if the Lexicon is within the context of fair use if he has not spent a lot of time going over the site or reading the Lexicon manuscript. While I do not yet have my legal degree, a few issues seem clear (to me, anyway). Comparing the Lexicon to an unpublished work such as a report is erroneous. It is an encyclopedia which will be published to make a profit. Please, read up on fair use before you claim such things. I would also like to point out that comments on the Lexicon have once again been disabled. This seems highly suspicious. I’m so disappointed in SVA. I hoped that SVA was simply caught up in the VERY unscrupulous seeming RDR books, but from his comments, it does not appear this is the case. JKR (or her people, whatever) declined to write an encyclopedia with him and served RDR and SVA with cease and desist orders. JKR (or her people, whatever) declined to write an encyclopedia with him and served RDR and SVA with cease and desist orders. That should have been an indication of their displeasure, at the very least! This is not necessarily about supporting JKR over SVA: JKR is in the right, both legally and ethically, in my opinion. If SVA had complied with fair use, or complied at all, I would not support the action taken by JKR and WB. The truth of the matter is SVA does NOT have license to publish the Lexicon simply because he is “Lexicon Steve.” I find it interesting no one is decrying the fact that a HP encyclopedia written by someone not in the fandom will remain unpublished because of another lawsuit brought on by JKR and WB. I honestly hope that SVA does not become buried in all of this, but JKR deserves to have her copyrights upheld, and it seems highly likely this will happen. It will be a very sad day for copyright holders everywhere if RDR wins this suit.

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I just cant agree with Steve. I love lexicon, and it should remain in cyberspace. If its not for profiting off of Harry Potter information, then it shouldn’t be published. The Lexicon is essentially not a critique of Harry Potter so much as a reference, much like the one planned by Rowling no doubt.

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“So a guy comes out and says he really didn’t expect this and he hopes it works out ok, and you all just jump on him. That’s awesome. Good job guys. ... So go ahead and bash him in support of your god – I mean favorite author.

Oh, and boycotting the site, that’s hilarious, no one cares. Combined with putting a caution on Leaky for reporting news and remaining steadfastly unbiased in the face of this slam-fest. Classy.” Posted by defense on November 05, 2007 @ 12:15 AM

I do agree to some extent with “defense”, in that the amount of slamming of Steve and each other in these comments is pretty extreme. I think JKR has the right of it, legally, but to say that Steve is a horrible person is a bit much. Sure, I don’t like his actions much, but maybe he’s a nice person making stupid choices.

I think that people saying that Steve should still publish the book are being a little idealistic. I sincerely doubt that’s going to happen, now. Yes, the Lexicon book would not have made even a tiny dent in JKR’s encyclopedia revenues. However, I think she had to go after it, legally, to preserve her rights in future. Heck, maybe she would have been okay with the Lexicon being out there – but from what I’ve gathered, she (and WB) has to make sure that no one infringes on her (and WB’s) trademarks. Also, maybe she sees it as a bit of a betrayal that one of her fans would write an encyclopedia without her permission when she was planning on doing one herself. Even though they wouldn’t be the same. And it totally wouldn’t affect her sales. :D

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This Steve Vander Ark sounds like Harry Potters answer to Ian Levine (a famous vocal Doctor Who fan with an overinflated opinion of his own self importance). I hope this sort of attitude doesn’t spread to other websites, it would ultimetly damage the fandom more than any religious book-burner ever could.

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Stop it, Steve. It’s embarassing.

There are enough senseless wars in the world already.

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Steve has ONE easy solution, make the lexicon printable from his website…then that would solve ALL of his so called “reasons” for wanting to charge $25 to have a book version.

At this point the Lexicon book is looking more and more like a way to rip off Jo’s intellectual property. He knows any Potter related book will sell very well and make him a LOT of money. Its that simple.

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::Shakes head::

Steve really needs to learn to think before he creates excuses. Basically it sounds like he’s blaming the fans.

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I would like to know his reasons for throwing the HP fandom under the bus with all of this! How dare he say its for us that hes doing all of this! Why doesnt he just post a print button, or sell it for free to fans, or donate the money to charity? Hes a joke.

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Making profits off her work! That’s what makes me angry. I have no respect for him anymore… His statement says nothing we didn’t expect him to say, and I never thought he would do such a thing. And for all the people who comment that because we take Jo’s side, we are supporting her only because she is our favorite author (how did you put it, defense, that she is our God?), I laugh… cuz if it was your own 17 years worth of writing and creating, you’d be angry as well.

There is a HUGE difference between a free website and a book, Steve! And the fact that you say you did it after many fans asked you to… LOL Wow… We made you do it… It’s our fault, we should never have forced you to go against Jo’s will. We are so sorry!

Just had to vent here guys, sorry about that! ;-)

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Balzac and Proust are both dead, and their works are in the public domain. Heck, you can even download entire books of theirs for free online at sites like Project Gutenberg.

JKR, on the other hand, is still alive and well. Her copyrights and trademarks are still very much her own.

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Steve should not have posted because he’s merely added fuel to the fire. I’m sure he felt a lot of pressure to say something, but trying to defend the book’s publication on the grounds that his initial motivation was not profit but a desire to give fans what they wanted (i.e., a print version of the HP Lexicon) sounds disingenuous, since there are other ways to give the fans what they want without having to publish a separate book. For instance, reformat the entire website in an Adobe PDF file by using Adobe InDesign or Quark for page layout (that’s what you do when you get the files done for a book printer), and then allow fans to print out 400 pages that could be put in a 3-ring loose-leaf binder. But, no, that would mean that Steve gets no money, but the fans would have the work in printed form. Even now, if you wanted you could print out from your browser the entire contents of his site, but that’d be awkward.

The real problem, the smoking gun, is the posting from the fans with an e-mail from Steve specifically addressing his thoughts on a Rowling reference book, like an encyclopedia. Folks, this is damning evidence, if it was actually sent because it establishes that Steve knew he couldn’t proceed without Rowling’s permission. It appears that the e-mail from Steve is genuine and, if so, could be used in court by WB and Rowling against Steve.

My presumption here is that Steve honestly felt that because Rowling hadn’t objected to his website, and in fact is a fan herself of it, and that others who are officially associated with her use the site as a reference, that he felt she’d embrace the idea of (a) letting him publish it in book form, or (b) working with him to create a synthesized encyclopedia, with his derivative entries spiced up with her commentary. I don’t believe he honestly felt she’d say “no.” But she did, and suddenly that changed everything. Steve was now in an uncomfortable position: either accede to her wishes and get nothing off the book (outside of ad revenue on his site), or go ahead and publish it anyway, and take his chances.

Keep this clearly in mind: Steve has CHOSEN to go ahead with publication, as has his publisher, even after he’s been told to stop. In the end, Rowling was FORCED to sue because all the other alternatives had been explored and proved fruitless.

One poster quoted one entry from the HP Lexicon, which is clearly an encyclopedia entry. It’s just the facts from the book rearranged. There’s no psychological analysis, there’s not insights of character motivations, there’s no discussions about the inspirations about the characters’ names or what might have inspired them. In short, there’s no CONTEXT. The rearranged fictional facts is not original writing; there’s no expression here. It’s dry like toast, whereas Rowling’s entry would be suffused with wit and charm and humour, and would clearly be her fictional “voice” that is distinctly recognizable—the entries in her two charity books (one about beasts, the other about Quidditch) demonstrate that clearly, and that’s what fans REALLY want: more from Rowling, and in her own words.

The issue of “derivative use” is the key one here, and to the extent that the HP Lexicon is derived from her fiction without anything original from Steve … that’s the legal crux of this matter.

In the end, it’s what the judge (and/or jury) thinks. It will be based on legal considerations—not opinion, not intent, and not the personal merits (or demerits) of Steve and RDR Books.

Without Rowling’s novel, the HP Lexicon wouldn’t even exist: If you were to delete every entry that refers specifically to the Harry Potter novels, the HP Lexicon would be a blank page—not one with hundreds of pages.

A clearer case of derivative use I cannot imagine: the HP Lexicon is WHOLLY derived from Rowling’s seven novels and 2 charity books. For him and RDR Books to claim otherwise is legally indefensible and for him to continue to publish in the face of specific requests from Rowling to NOT publish it is morally wrong.

Steve has the power to end this right now. All he has to do is tell his publisher, “No, I’ve had a change of heart. I don’t want to proceed.” But I don’t forsee that happening: there’s too much money at stake (foreign editions, US editions); there’s too much press coverage and media attention being paid to RDR Books (its UK Amazon ranking has soared); and RDR Books wants to be the house that it has the right to publish, and (so far) is willing to take that chance.

What Steve has lost is Rowling’s goodwill, and that is of inestimable worth. The simple fact is that she can shut down his website as well, since it exists ONLY because she allows it. And she allowed it because he wasn’t making money on it (outside the ads). But her copyrights in this matter extend to ALL published forms, including the Internet. It’s by her grace that she ALLOWS the HP Lexicon to exist.

One scenario would be that Steve and RDR Books loses in court, and then Rowling decides to permanently shut this down by forcing the corresponding website to shut down, as well, and post her own encyclopedia online for the fans.

My point here-and it’s a BIG one-is that Steve feels he has the right to his HP Lexicon, but a lexicon (according to the AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY) is: a dictionary; a stock of terms used in a particular profession, subject, or style; a vocabulary. And a lexicographer is: one who writes, compiles, or edits a dictionary.

HP Lexicon is a dictionary of fictional entries from Rowling’s work, and as such is substantially derivative and therefore violates Rowling’s copyrights.

Had Steve given this a lot of thought, after Rowling turned him and his HP Lexicon down, he would have been better off to accede and then suggest alternative projects within the guidelines she (and copyright laws) permit, and she would have been a willing advocate and supporter—instead of a plaintiff in court.

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Steve’s statement regarding his lawsuit has taken away all respect I’ve had for him. On a positive note, if he doesn’t get the opportunity to profit from his Lexicon book (which he shouldn’t be able to) he might have a career in politics!

He claims that he is doing this for the fans and not for profit. If that is true, why did he quit his librarian job (as was previously reported)? If he truly has the fans in mind, and not his own profits, why not dedicate all profits to charity?

This is a chance to profit here, plain and simple. Steve has done a lot for the Potter fans but in this case he is taking advantage of the fans sympathy and J.K. Rowling’s property.

Sorry, Steve…go back to your day job and earn your money with dignity and honor.

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“Doing it for the fans” is a really weak excuse. If all the fans jumped off cliffs I guess he’d follow?

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This is funny. First Melissa suddenly flips around on her opinion of Laura Mallory – because she’s writing a book on harry potter fandom…and now Van der Ark thinks his site is a critique on HP and filled with academic insight?!

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Let me get this straight – those of you who are tearing Steve to shreds (despicably) – you NEVER use the lexicon? Ever? I just want to make this point clear. Because if it’s just an easy peasy matter of reorganising material and he doesn’t deserve a penny for the effort – it would have to be worthless, right?

Also, he’s not done any WORK (definition: productive or operative activity, exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor) according to you? He’s just taken excerpts and then printed them under different headings, is that what you’re suggesting? He’s not elaborated, conjectured on any of it? Just lifted parts of the books and then shuffled them around?

I think this is all messed up and JKR doesn’t NEED to sue but she’s suing anyway. That’s my opinion. You guys are entitled to believe Steve is wrong but there’s no need to verbally abuse him or to tear into anyone who says anything supportive of him.

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linden swallow, please, PLEASE give me ONE example of just a successful author who HASN’T allowed fans to have fan websites, fan fiction, fan art? I’m so confused as to why people keep bringing this up as a sign of JKR’s generosity. She’s not exactly set a precedent here.

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Loopy—First off, no. I don’t use the Lexicon. I use the Harry Potter Wiki, which I consider a superior source. Plus, they’re not trying to cash in on JKR’s books by publishing a $25 book “for the fans”, so that’s another point in their favor.

Second of all, yes, Steve’s done a lot of work on his site, but the simple fact is, JKR and WB’s copyrights and trademarks take precedence. He’s not entitled to publish his site in the form it’s in because it’s a massive case of copyright infringement. JKR and WB have to sue in order to protect their interests. It’s just that simple. Jo created the HP world, its characters, and its stories. She’s absolutely within her rights to protect her property from what she considers improper use.

No one asked him to create the Lexicon. And the Lexicon itself wouldn’t exist without JKR’s work in the first place. So no, I don’t think he should be allowed to profit at all from this.

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Loopy-

I agree with you a lot on this when you say that people shouldn’t abuse Steve. But I still have problems with it. Steve worked a lot on the Lexicon, and he put in tons of effort I’m sure. But for him to ignore J.K. Rowling when she (or her lawyers) request that he not publish this book? It means he doesn’t respect J.K. Rowling’s wishes, in my mind. Maybe he’s not even calling the shots anymore, and it’s just his publishing company. But they have made some really terrible moves either way, and I think it’s really idiotic of them to stand up to J.K. Rowling in this manner.

The book itself appears to be a printed verson of the Lexicon. So, why not put a print button on the web site? And as for the children who can’t use the internet for this? Does he really think they can afford a book like that if they don’t have a computer? His whole aruement is weak, I’m sorry to say. If he comes out with some sort of “I’m sorry” thing, and drops the lawsuit against WB, I could quite easily forgive him. But if he continues it, and publishes the book, I know I won’t be buying a copy.

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“please, PLEASE give me ONE example of just a successful author who HASN’T allowed fans to have fan websites, fan fiction, fan art? I’m so confused as to why people keep bringing this up as a sign of JKR’s generosity. She’s not exactly set a precedent here.”

You want an example? That’s easy—Anne Rice. She will immediately shut down any fan fiction, and has done so since 2000. Try finding any fan fiction for her books online. It simply can’t be done.

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Well, as a 61-year-old Harry Potter fan, I have often wished The Lexicon was in book form many times (as my memory isn’t as good as it used to be). A book form of the Lexicon would certainly be handier than always needing to use one of our computers to look up something I had forgotten.

I see this whole issue as unfortunate for everyone involved, especially the fans. Regardless of who is right, who is wrong, who has the copyright law on their side, etc. I for one would love to be able to have copies of BOTH books someday, both JKR’s and Steve’s.

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But then Minnie who actually reads Anne Rice books?

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Have been following the comments and just read the RDR-FAQ…would like to quote just one more statement screaming with inconsistency:

“What is your response to J.K. Rowling’s November 2 allegation that the Harry Potter Lexicon aims to “re-organize their characters and plots?” As the plaintiffs including Ms. Rowling know from their use of the Harry Potter Lexicon for the past seven years, this is a non-fiction critical reference work. Never in its history have the reference librarians and academic scholars at the Harry Potter Lexicon attempted to reorganize fictional plots or characters.”

...and here I thought (re)organizing the plot was the point of an encyclopedia/the lexicon.

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Well… That statement just sounded a tad bit fake to me. I’m not trying to see him as the villain of the piece, but come on Steve, really?

Who the hell would ask to PAY that much money for something that was free on the Internet already? And if they did, I shall consider them utterly insane or stupidly rich! I can’t believe the book moved up in the sales rank. Talk about bad publicity and gaining from it.

Like the many brilliant people in this discussion suggested, just put a print button on the website and be done with it!

Personally, if this were my work, I would not want it to be reformatted and published into an encyclopaedia that I was ALREADY GOING TO PUBLISH, on the subject of MY BOOKS. But that’s just me.

I have no sympathy for the man and I wish JKR all the best.

End Note: It’s not about the winning; it’s not about the money. It’s the principle of it!

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I always visit the HP wiki, too. It’s just as good as the Lexicon and more up to date, on top of it.

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i may not understand all the lawyer stuff. the lexicon is free, great and/but free, but if you try and make money from someone else’s work…not cool. look at the leaky crafts section it explains the morality of copyright perfectly…someone put it great when they said something to the effect of JKR allowing us to play in her “sandbox”. sorry this book is NOT okay, by the very nature of what it is…

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cat fight

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John and Sue, Until she comes back, maybe you could refer to her as “Melvin the Muggle”. As she won’t gain back her wizarding privelages until she returns.

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I’ve just read SVA’s statement, and the one on RDR. Looks like they are finally listening closely to their attorneys (SVA has of course been quiet, very appropriately so, which means his posting almost certainly is at the advice of his legal representative)

Folks, the real key here is the content of the proposed book, which none of us are aware of. Can we stop bashing anyone and everyone? Let’s recognize its a sad situation that might have been avoided, and simply hope that the various parties—all of whom have given us a lot—find a solution that gives us still more to enjoy?

Rule of thumb in publishing and scholarship: two (or twenty) people can write critical or analytical books on the same subject, and no two will be identical. Since JKR has a lot of notes and materials that no one but she is aware of, her Encyclopedia would necessarily be more inclusive than anything SVA or anyone else could do. As long as SVA’s proposed book does not violate any copyright laws (see Mr. Blood’s post at the top of page 3 in this thread), then what’s the big deal…

Everything hinges on the proposed content…and I simply wish the matter had been dealt with earlier and more sensibly.

A final thought, about buying the books. I plan to buy the Mugglenet book, definitely, and Melissa’s (which really touches on something unique, the importance of TLC and its Floonet partners and the HP fans in this wonderful HP journey) when it becomes available. If SVA’s book does appear after all the legal stuff is finished, I’ll buy that too. Why? Each of the major fan sites has given a lot to us, and at a tremendous effort. So, how can I best support those people who gave me what I wanted? I’ll buy their books, each of which will be easier to read than my printoffs from the web!

Melissa’s book really does promise to be the most interesting…there has never before been anything like TLC and FlooNet, and I am eager to learn the details of how everything came about, the early (er um) unplesantness with WB (which everyone seems to have forgotten!), and so on.

Thank you, Leaky, for keeping us informed, and for giving us a space to discuss the news!

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@David But SVA CAN’T go back to his day job.

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“But then Minnie who actually reads Anne Rice books?”

Plenty of people if her book sales are anything to go by. She’s nowhere near as popular as JKR, but she has fans too.

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How come jo didn’t give steve premission to write this book anyways. Pullman give premission to ms. frost to write an encyclopedia. It wouldn’t have hurt anyway. Why is jo so mean.

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She didn’t give permission because she didn’t want to. End of story.

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not: Bad, bad Jo, wanting to write the encyclopedia of her own world & characters and give the profit to charity when Steve knows what she thinks about her characters much better and needs money more that those stupid starved orphaned children… What’s she thinking, really. It’s such a clear cut case.

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Dear Loopy: An example of an artist who doesn’t allow other uses of his images is Bill Waterson, who created the strip Calvin and Hobbes. I copied and pasted the following from Wikipedia: “Because of Watterson’s strong anti-merchandising sentiments4 and his reluctance to return to the spotlight, almost no legitimate Calvin and Hobbes merchandise exists outside of the book collections. Some officially approved items were created for marketing purposes and are now sought by collectors.[5] Two notable exceptions to the licensing embargo were the publication of two 16-month wall calendars and the textbook Teaching with Calvin and Hobbes.[6] However, the strip’s immense popularity has led to the appearance of various “bootleg” items, including T-shirts, keychains, bumper stickers, and window decals, often including obscene language or references wholly uncharacteristic of the whimsical spirit of Watterson’s work.”

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Just a little note here for those that mentioned Steve putting a print button on his site. You can print it out, page by page, from your browser toolbar if you want to do just that. You can do that with any web page or site. Check your browser toolbar for the print button.

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As long as no one knows what exactly the printed Lexicon edition might contain, there is no way of judging this situation with the least degree of certainty. Our personal emotions might be misleading us – this is about law, which follows its own logic and philosophy. All we can judge at the moment are the public statements made by the parties involved – and my personal impression is that RDR’s utterances are far from being professional. Their strange imputations (“international smear campaign”?!) might mirror a guilty conscience – or simply result from other influences unknown to me.

And one last point: To give you an idea what the criteria for “academic” or “critical” publications on Harry Potter might be, take a look at Viola Owlfeather’s Harry Potter Bibliography: http://www.eulenfeder.de/hpliteratur.html

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Max, I agree with you, and without the detailed info any discussion here is just smoke. And yes, RDR does seem the least professional (listen to your lawyers, folks, and just maintain a dignified silence!)

cheers

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A lexicon by SVA = useful information about books written by JKR.

An encyclopedia by JKR = more information from JKR’s notes and imagination -in her own writing-that cannot possibly be in the former book.

The point? The books will not, and cannot, be the same. To claim they compete with each other is false.

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To Minnie and Jasmine :

You are using the the Harry Potter Wiki : How can you tell that “the Harry Potter” Wiki doesn’t use the Lexicon ?

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How can you the that the Lexicon’s timeline doesn’t use one of the other HP timelines availabe on the web (like the popular German http://hpzeittafel.de.vu/ )?

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All you CAN tell is that they all use Harry Potter. Period. End of story.

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The idea that people would individually print out an entire site that’s hundreds or thousands of pages long is ridiculous. There is obvious value in offering it in book form for those who want it. It costs money to publish a physical book. If you want to put one out there, you charge money for it. That’s certainly what Jo has done and she’s become wealthy beyond all imagining by doing so. It’s not like she oh so generously published the HP series on a blog or forum somewhere.

Also, there is no way that publishing the lexicon can be construed as ‘ripping off fans’ – unless you also think Jo’s encyclopedia will be ‘ripping off fans’. So far we’ve gotten info that was left out of the books via her web site and interviews. Why should she put the rest in a book format and charge for it when she could just keep giving it out for free? I’d hope everyone agrees that is a ridiculous argument. It’s ridiculous in regards to the lexicon as well. If you don’t want either or both of the books, don’t buy them. If you do, it’s hardly ‘ripping you off’.

Also, people whining on about SVA starting to feel ‘entitled’ should really look at their own hypocrisy. Anyone getting info from the web is making use of things that don’t ‘belong to’ them (from the corporate point of view), for free or a reduced cost: the news articles, the video clips, the photographs, the music, etc. If you had to go out and BUY all those newspapers and magazines and subscribe to cable tv to see celebrity appearances and go to all the events yourself (some of which are overseas), etc., you’d be broke in a week. All this corporate grabbing of ‘rights’ to information and material and the means of interactive communication would make it illegal for any of you to see, read or listen to anything of value (or to have these kinds of conversations online) without paying through the nose in every individual instance. You’re feeding into a devastating trend. Just recently Jo reminded people to question authority. In this case, she, WB and her team of lawyers are the authority.

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Le’ts not again have the argument that because she’s wealthy she loses her rights. That’s ridiculous.

And question authority, yes. Ignore COMMON SENSE, no.

The Lexicon is claiming they’re donig it for the fans, who oh so badly want him to put it in print format. Seriously. I mean, seriously, that’s what they’re saying. I’ve seen no clamoring for this, and if Steve has gotten some emails about it over the years – to which, check it out, he responded to by saying it’s ILLEGAL to publish that book – then he’s let a couple of requests be mistaken for the demanding masses. Which is sad and arrogant.

If their only reason for publishing is so that the fans have a print copy, then give all proceeds to charity. Put it on a site like Lulu.com, which will only charge for the cost of publishing. Sell it at cost, swear you’re not making any profit.

ONCE YOU MAKE PROFIT ON THIS, GAME IS OVER.

Seriously, “serious.” Get real.

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I think silence would have served Steve better, if this is all he has had to say. With his statement, he has now not only insulted JKR, WB and occasional lurkers of his site, but also his true fans and supporters, and quite possibly all those staffers who have slaved just as hard as he has, to make the Lexicon a moderately comprehensive resource for fans of the Harry Potter books and movies. When I first got wind of this story, I had to shake my head and wonder where in the world anyone would get the idea to do something like this, because it is blatantly a copyright violation. Steve is a fan of the books, and somewhere along the way, he had the drive and ambition to start compiling book facts into a guide for other fans. My feeling is no one asked him to create this website; no one twisted his arm to maintain it, so when did he begin developing this sense of entitlement that he was owed something for all his hard work? What about all the volunteers and contributors to the Lexicon? Have they been promised profits from the book for all their hard work, or do all proceeds to go him? Kudos to Steve for the amount of work he has poured into the Lexicon, but he didn’t do it alone, and he didn’t do it because he was forced to do it. If he was hired by either JKR or WB to create and maintain this site, then yes, I would better understand where he would have got this notion that he was owed something more, but as it stands, he took a work that had been created by someone else, extracted useful, quick-reference information for himself and other fans, and did nothing more or less than that.

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RE: I’m sick of the steve bashing. The best post I have seen about this from a non-hp fan was posted by William Patry (a copyright lawyer). There are also some interesting comments.

The problem with taking that lawyer’s point of view seriously is that he is counsel to corporation (Google) that has been working to weaken copyright law so that the text of copyrighted works can be included in search engine results. Mr. Patry has a vested interest in seeing existing copyright law (and JK Rowlling’s existing rights in Harry Potter) undermined.

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. . . and Patry’s analysis of the applicable copyright law is questionable (I tried to restrain myself from saying it, but I can’t. His analysis is wrong).

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Love this. “JKR” on Craig Ferguson:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91B5_uhPLhM

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“The problem with taking that lawyer’s point of view seriously is that he is counsel to corporation (Google) that has been working to weaken copyright law so that the text of copyrighted works can be included in search engine results. Mr. Patry has a vested interest in seeing existing copyright law (and JK Rowlling’s existing rights in Harry Potter) undermined.”

Well, that makes sense, since everything he said directly opposes all the other lawyer opinions (from people involved in the fandom , not WK/JKR lawyers) that were posted on the matter.

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I would never have thought that a print version could be judged differently.

Although websites cost money, nothing could be compared to the print version of them. So, yeah, she would sue. Anyone would do the same. Unless he prints, says it is not official, and donates EVERY LITTLE PENNY to charity. Even so, people could argue.

I just wish we had an official one soon :)

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Sorry, I forgot to put the end of italic thing on the first quote.

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I’ve been using the Lexicon pretty much ever since I found out about it. It is a very handy online tool—especially when I’m at work (without my books) and me and coworkers are having one of our (frequent) Harry Potter discussions and we need a quick fact check.

However, I am disappointed in Steve, his comments, and the attitude of the publishing company. The publishing company is showing a serious lack of professionalism which is making them look extremely bad. Steve’s comments that he was pressured to do this by the fans is ridiculous especially if that email posted is true. Clearly, he knew and understood in the past that without JK’s permission that attempting to publish a book would be illegal, so I’m not sure why he decided to push ahead (without said permission) at this point in time?

It’s been no secret that JK has had intentions of putting out her own encylopedia - in fact, I think it was known before the 7th book even came out. It was admirable of Steve to ask if she wanted to collaborate on it - however once she said no/rebuffed his request, he should have dropped the issue and the attempt and let it go.

There are some that are blaming JK/WB for beating down the little guy, but as countless others have said—it’s their responsibility to protect the copyrights that they own. If they do not, than they can actually loose those copyrights. I’m not faulting them, and I believe that they’re in the right.

Hope my comment made sense (and if I made spelling and grammatical errors, I apologize) I hate the Daylight Savings time shift—always takes me a couple days to readjust ;)

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I agree with you, Silvermoon. It is not only reasonable and logical for JKR and WB to take every measure to protect what is legally theirs, but they also have a responsibility to do so, IMO. Could you imagine what sort of message it would send, if one of the most popular authors of all time were to allow someone to take a condensed (or whatever it is) compilation of her work and make a profit from it, especially when she’s not even done with the series herself? You would see every sort of opportunist coming out of the woodwork, trying to do the same, not only to her work, but to others’ as well. It’s not about the money; it’s the principle of the matter. I believe she has been more than fair to allow sites like the Lexicon to exist in the first place. She certainly doesn’t need the advertising sites like this will claim they give her works; she hasn’t required this sort of publicity or ‘free’ advertising for a long time—if ever. It doesn’t matter her reasons for declining Steve’s request, when he asked her(?) if he could proceed in publishing his project. It’s her property, no matter what fancy things he’s done with it, and he should have respected her wishes and dropped the matter altogether. How is what Steve is trying to do any different than someone, perhaps a neighbour, borrowing something from your property and then trying to sell it and pocket the money? How is it different? It’s not. You might not object to your neighbour borrowing, for example, your lawnmower (even if he doesn’t ask for permission before doing so), but I think you’d be far from okay if your neighbour then sold your lawnmower, no matter what justifications he had for doing so. This is a simple example, but the principle is still the same. How does anyone feel it’s within Steve’s right to make a profit by selling what is not his to sell?

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This is my palm connecting with my face.

Ok assuming for a minute this is just critical analysis and that is doesn’t contain essays from the lexicon what the ruddy hell is going in that book and why then would it be described as a printed version of the lexicon. And also if it was just critical analysis where does it earn the title of an encyclopaedia. If it is as it’s being described why is the publisher having such a hard time handing it over.

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J. K. Rowling is a bully.

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From the sounds of his email – he is still planning on printing the Lexicon and feels he has the right to do whatever he wants because she used it. Come on – whatever. The 501st gets used by Lucas all the time and we aren’t stupid enough to think that gives us the right to make money off of our costumes.

He should of kept his mouth shut – I for one have lost the last little bit of respect I ever had for him.

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the lexion is a good site.. but im with Jo, I want her version. I want to wait for the REAL version. He is making a profit from someone elses work which is wrong and for his own ends its not fair. and everyone loses out.

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“You are using the the Harry Potter Wiki : How can you tell that “the Harry Potter” Wiki doesn’t use the Lexicon?”

Who cares? They both use J.K. Rowling’s books as their source material. They’re both just really detailed fansites. I just happen to think the Wiki is better because of the Wiki format which makes it all easier to read, and the fact that they’re not out there trying to make a buck off JKR’s work like Steve is.

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What Steve is doing reminds me a lot of the fangirls who steal “private pictures” of the HP actresses from the actresses’ friends, and then claim to own these pictures. Or like when icon makers (on LiveJournal) have a fit when someone “steals” their icons. It’s all ridiculous and hilarious and shows a complete lack of understanding of the current understanding of “ownership”. Steve doesn’t own anything on the Lexicon’s site, and as such has no right to profit off of ANY of it.

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It sounded sincere, but I don’t really buy it. Seeing as according to JKR Steve wasn’t willing to work with her, I’m still on her side.

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Is the shoe on the other foot?? This is from Lexion artcives 2007:

” “Something I had to do…” May 11, 2007 Posted by Steve at 3:10 pm Two days ago I did something I’ve never done before. I sicced my lawyer on someone. Believe me, this is not the way I like to operate. People steal material from the Lexicon all the time. Contributors for Wikipedia are famous for it. Yeah, it bothers me. Stealing is wrong. At least three published books have plagiarized quite shamelessly and never even given credit to the Lexicon. It bothers me a lot. I send emails asking things to be removed and usually that’s the end of the matter. So when I found out about this guy, I just sort of shook my head and figured I’d send my usual gentle insistence that he stop stealing. Except this one’s different. This fellow is basically out to scam fans out of money as fast as he can before book seven comes out. He’s written a book which he wants to sell and in order to sweeten the deal, he offers bonus material. This bonus material is all from the Lexicon, from Accio Quote, and from Jo’s website. I’m sorry, but that’s where I draw the line. I will not stand for someone stealing my material and using it to scam fans out of money. So my lawyer sent him a cease and desist letter two days ago. We’re asking that he stop what he’s doing and that he return money to anyone who bought his book. His response? He sent a jokey email to the people on his email list about being sued. He’s still merrily doing business. Perhaps he thinks we’re bluffing. He’s never met my lawyer. I don’t like to do things like this. But this leech is not a true fan. He’s an opportunist who sees a chance to make some quick money by playing on fans’ enthusiasm leading up to book seven. I won’t mention him or his site by name because I don’t want to send traffic his way. I also don’t want to generate a storm of nasty emails from other fans or anything like that. We’ll let the legal process do what it’s supposed to do.”

NOW Steve is using his “works” for profit. But this is really Jo’s world, her baby. She is the only one who should put out encyclopedia.

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Yes “irritated” I feel the same way. That’s way I’m posting my comments here.

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the lexicon disabled comments? those little $%^@*(#!!!!

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Does anyone know if the UK version of the book was released today as scheduled?

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I don’t think it was, simply because last I heard, the UK publisher was co-operating with JKR and WB. Plus, there’d be more rumblings in the media if it had been released.

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so why is one publisher working with them and not the other? if its both the same book than isn’t it just RDR that’re being idiots, not steve?

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If I had to guess, I’d imagine the UK publisher was under the impression that both Steve and RDR had clearance to publish. Come to find out from JKR and WB that it wasn’t the case at all. They probably backed off from publication immediately so they wouldn’t get sued as well.

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Too little, too late.

And I’m willing to bet that the way Jo’s used the Lexicon was to look up or double-check a fact or tidbit on the road when she did not have her notes with her, wanted to work, and was unsure whether she’d mentioned something or not, for example. I rather doubt she spent much time with the Lexicon’s “critical and academic analysis” (I have a notion she’s even said something along the lines of she does not read fanfic or commentary – but I am not sure). Two specific things I want to say about this:

First, not everything that’s styled “critical and academic” is in fact that. There is a reason why people spend years of study to become real academics, and why few people make it as literary or art critics. While I have not read all of the essays on the Lexicon (or elsewhere) that purport to make such a contribution, I wish people would exercise some judgement and not buy up everything that comes with a “Harry Potter” tag.

Second, the RDR/SVA story becomes less credible and more contradictory every day. There are two basic possibilities of what they are trying to do, and they are doing their best to obscure which it is – for fairly obvious reasons, it would appear:

1) They are looking to publish a Lexicon, that is, an (ordered) accumulation of facts of Jo’s creation in a reference work, which would be mostly a literal copy of most of what’s on the site. THAT aspect, of course, is the only thing that distinguishes the Lexicon from any other fan website (much like their broad and thorough coverage of the news in the potterverse distinguishes Leaky and Mugglenet), that is their special service. It is much appreciated, well done, and definitely worth preserving. Any attempt to profit from it, however, would also create major copyright issues, as this whole situation makes abundantly clear.

2) They are looking to publish a work of critical analysis and commentary about the potter books, created by SVA and staff. That’s not a particularly new idea – as has been pointed out many times by now, those are a dime a dozen, and there’s no reason why theirs should be in any way special, or more special than, for example, Mugglenet’s book(s), or perhaps a collection of scribbulus essays. It would not be a direct copy of what is online now, or at least of just a small part of it, and possibly contain new content. It would probably not create copyright concerns (again, it’s been done before) – but it would also not make a very large splash commercially, as you can bet your behind RDR are very well aware.

So – all in all, this entire episode leaves the bad taste of an encounter between a small publisher eager to get a slice of the HP cake and an ardent fan who appears slightly resentful about not receiving enough reward for his work and whose ego was bruised when Jo did not jump at the occasion of publishing a Lexicon with him. Quite sad.

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I appreciate that SVA spent many hours on his site but does that entitle him to make money from JKR’s creation? Let’s say I spent a lot of time transcribing a band’s lyrics (let’s say the Bare Naked Ladies) and downloading their songs on to discs. No one would argue that I should be permitted to copy cd’s of the songs in the order that I like and sell them, keeping all of the money for myself. Clearly, the songs (and profits) belong to the Bare Naked Ladies.

Steve is doing something similar. He has already made a reputation and some money from Harry Potter. He and RDR are just copying JKR’s songs and repackaging.

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To those who say the rights and wrongs of it are all just a matter of opinion: that’s total rubbish. Everyone who’s ever done any academic publishing (which I have) knows that the rules on quotation of other works, even for academic purposes, are very strict (in UK copyright law at least). You can’t print more than a couple of hundred words in direct quotation (and that means all quotations added together). HPL if published in book form would clearly infringe that.

I’ve always thought HPL is a great site, but copyright law is there for a reason: to protect the livelihood of authors. Anyone with a brain can see why that is important. Steve does not have a leg to stand on.

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It seems to me that the real problem is the combative attitude of RDR. I think Mr. Vander Ark needs a publishing firm with better social skills.

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Not to be nasty, but Steve is definitely in the wrong. I hardly think listing facts from a source as a critical analysis. While I think the Lexicon is fun to scan through, in print it treads on JK’s toes.

Steve, I’m sorry to say I support her lawsuit. It is her work, her call, and she has clearly stated she said no. That sound be the end of the story… It’s her property.

I really think Steve should be off Pottercast.

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He’s not trying to make money off fans… So he wont’ be making huge profits from this little venture then? Eh? Perhaps he’ll funnel those back into the fans too. Why didn’t he just add a print button to his site! He specifically copyrighted every page to prevent anyone printing anything for petes sake; and had all these polite, hypocritical requests not to use Lexicon stuff without permission! I hope he gets properly sued!

And I note he didn’t comment on Rowling asking him not to publish it!

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Well well well, isn’t this interesting. As I am having a slow day watching red-shirted picketers outside my office, I’ll just post a few thoughts.

1. FINALLY we are seeing the true Steve.

2. FINALLY the naysayers are siding back with Joe. ‘Bout time.

3. For the Gold Star Commentator Award today, I’m leaning toward Wow, but the day is not over yet.

MB

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There are new comments on the RDR website. They say the entire Lexicon will not be in the book and that Rowling and company should have waited to file suit.

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Wouldn’t the printed Lexicon be a bit like the Cliff’s Notes, except much longer, and without commentary? I agree that RDR is not looking very honest, which will ruin their case in a court of law. But not only analysis is academic. There are concordances and dictionaries. Reference works are as useful, and Steve did work hard on the Lexicon. However

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This isn’t a book. It’s data entry. It’s cut & paste JK Rowling. How can he copyright what’s not his? Such gall! The man is clearly delusional. He’s worked for years and years on this hobby and, when he petitions Jo to be his partner, he loses it all when she says NO. What was he thinking? And his publisher is now claiming it won’t be a printed version of the online version: that’s an aboutface. I say, “Go it, Jo! Don’t let them walk all over you.”

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NO STEVE, YOU CANNOT HAVE A PONY

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Daniela,

Thing is, at least from what I’ve noticed with other series (Lord of the Rings, etc…) is that the author/publisher still needs to get permission from whoever currently holds the copyright. That’s the main issue (I think) here (though I could be wrong - someone feel free to correct me). Steve asked for permission and it was denied. Even if we just want to talk integrity alone - if he respects JK so much, he should’ve respected her wishes when he was denied. Especially since (as has been mentioned several times in various comments) that in the past he’s recognized that publishing such a book without permission from JK/War