NY Judge Issues Restraining Order to Prevent Publication of Lexicon; JK Rowling Updates

Nov 09, 2007

Posted by: Melissa Anelli


As stated in a public document and now on JK Rowling’s Web site a judge has issued a restraining order against publication of The Harry Potter Lexicon.

This document, signed by Judge Robert Patterson in NY, denies RDR Books’ claim to delay the matter until January and grants a restraining order for JKR/WB to prevent the book from being published or licensed anywhere worldwide until February 6 2008, when the case for a preliminary injunction may be made. J.K. Rowling says in her “news” updates section, in an entry titled “Lexicon continued,” that this mean the book “cannot be completed, published or marketed until the court has had time to decide whether it would break the law if published in its present form.”

She goes on:

I take no pleasure in the fact that publication has been prevented for the present. On the contrary, I feel massively disappointed that this matter had to come to court at all. Despite repeated requests, the publishers have refused to even countenance making any changes to the book to ensure that it does not infringe my rights.

Unless their position changes, we will all return to court next year. Given my past good relations with the Lexicon fansite, I can only feel sad and disillusioned that this is where we have ended up.

Earlier today, RDR Books issued a press release that claimed that a judge “accepted an order proposed by RDR Books, agreeing to temporarily withhold publication of Steve Vander Ark’s Harry Potter Lexicon.” The release did not mention the restraining order. A motion to delay proceedings owing to RDR Books’ need to retain and familiarize a copyright lawyer with the case was denied.

RDR Books claims on its site that the delay was voluntary and perhaps even their idea, but that contradicts what has been put forth in legal documents as well as what JK Rowling has said has occurred. Also, a source has told TLC that it was Judge Patterson’s preference to restrain the case (and therefore publication) until February, not RDR‘s.

The RDR statement says:

“It is our wish that Ms. Rowling join Mr. Vander Ark in his campaign for literary freedom and free expression by dropping her complaint against a book we are confident she would enjoy reading.”

Update: We have a copy of the judge’s letter (you can download it here, which will be available for download shortly. It says that the book has not been fully typeset for printing, that RDR has instructed its typesetters to cease operations, and that the book “cannot be printed and distributed to the public at this time.” The court orders that the book and all those associated with its publication cannot complete the book, typeset it, print it, distribute it, advertise it, promote it, sell it, license it, accept orders for it – not in the US or anywhere abroad. It also ordered RDR to take the book off Amazon, their own Web site, and any other means of “advertising, soliciting orders for, and distributing the book.” Also any money that RDR gets from activities related to the lawsuit shall be placed in escrow (holding, supposedly pending outcome of the suit). The order will remain until the court has ruled on JKR/WB’s filing for a preliminary injunction.

The preliminary injunction will be filed on January 7, 2008; RDR‘s opposition will be due on January 22, 2008. The reply by JKR/WB is due on January 29. The preliminary injunction hearing will take place on Feb. 6, 2008 or “on such other date as the court directs.

Update 2: You can now download here JKR/WB’s lawyers’ response to RDR lawyers’ attempt to delay the case (a delay attempt that was denied by Judge Patterson after this letter was filed). The letter notes that although RDR is a small company with limited resources, “RDR faced no such obstacles in garnering significant and international attention for itself and its book. Indeed, upon information…RDR continues to trumpet its intention to publish its book.”

The letter also says “RDR has used this lawsuit as an opportunity to publicize the book and disparage my clients in the press,” and said the plaintiffs (JKR/WB) are eager for a ruling because it would only “perpetuate the cloud…and would most likely be perceived as some sort of vindication for RDR—which had been given every conceivable chance to resolve this matter amicably.”

JKR/WB also referred to the request for adjournment as 11th-hour, claiming RDR had since last week to request it, and claiming that if the schedule were delayed new facts would develop or facts would change JKR/WB’s briefs, which had been prepared for submission today.

You can download this letter here.

Update 3: WB has made a statement: “Although sad that this had to go to court, the judgement granting an order against RDR books is an important step in helping us to protect our intellectual property and at the same time, protect JK Rowling’s right to produce her own companion book to the Harry Potter series she created. Both Warner Bros. and JK Rowling are clear that this claim is a matter of infringement of copyright, not a matter of literary freedom.”

Update 4: There is another update on the Harry Potter Lexicon by Steve Vander Ark: “t’s very hard to know what to write. For one thing, everything I write these days ” everything I’ve ever written or said, in fact ” is being dissected and analyzed to make me sound like a fool or a liar or an arrogant jerk (as I’m sure this will be as well). People who know me and have talked with me know that this isn’t the case….To read some of what I’ve seen online, fans have decided that I am just trying to make huge amounts of money or that I have no respect for Jo. Some fans, along with WB, have speculated that I took the material they graciously allowed the Lexicon to use and slapped it into a book without permission. Some have jumped to the conclusion that I blatantly ignored demands that I not create a book from material on the Lexicon. That just isn’t who I am. I would never, never do something like that….One question that gets asked of me over and over is if I have ever met Jo or talked to her. The answer is no, I haven’t. I have always wished for that chance, but it’s never happened. There is a crazy part of me that believes that if she and I could just sit down and chat about this, we could get it all sorted out and put this miserable incident behind us….Maybe then all of us could put it behind us and just get back to enjoying Harry Potter together.”

You can read the full details of the suit here, along with JKR‘s statements (or download the suit for yourself ) or read statements from TLC interviews WB and RDR here. A previous update is also here, and another one here.

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).

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.