Lexicon Article Updates

114

Feb 09, 2008

Posted by Melissa Anelli
Uncategorized

A couple of quick updates in the Lexicon case, in which J.K. Rowling and WB are trying to stop publication of an unofficial encyclopedia based on the Harry Potter Lexicon web site:

First, Steve Vander Ark, editor of the Lexicon, wrote Ansible, a prominent British fan zine, in defense of RDR Books’ case, saying, among other things, that “Part of the problem all along has been the automatic assumption on the part of many that Rowling has the right to completely control anything written about the Harry Potter world. That’s quite a huge power grab on her part and from everything I can tell, not legal.”

The letter also says: “[Dave Langford, editor of Ansible] and I are part of a subculture that lives off the creative work of others. We always try to do that in a legal and respectful way. However, if Rowling manages to extend her reach that far into our subculture, she will choke us off very quickly. And if she doesn’t, what’s to stop the next person from taking this legal precedent to even more dangerous places?”

In addition, a new opinion piece in the NYT Business section also calls the case a “power grab” and attempt to “choke” creativity by J.K. Rowling, and calls her a “copyright hog,” before going on to extensively profile Attorney Falzone and the Stanford U. Fair Use Project, which is arguing for the RDR Books’ side of the case. There is very little talk in this editorial of the merits of the actual Lexicon case or whether the book falls into fair use (in fact the article assumes that it does), only a wide and generic look at the history of copyright law and how this case may or may not fit into it.

As for the expected filings on the case: Some will come tomorrow afternoon (they will be filed overnight and take some time to process), and one exhibit, over 15MB in size, can only be filed in hard copy. That file is of some companion books already on the market, so there may not be any need to have it available for download.

We’d like to remind everyone to please be civil in the comments.





170 Responses to Lexicon Article Updates

Avatar Image says:

The final word on this case was said by WB at the very beginning: “Steve Vanderark has no rights in Harry Potter”.

Avatar Image says:

Hm, this comes across as a feint. The lexicon book isn’t as much a creative writing piece as it is a structured reference work about an existing ethos.

This is sad, it appears that Steve has shown his true colors :(

Avatar Image says:

It’s Stanford University Fair Use Project.

Avatar Image says:

Wow I cannot even believe the gall of him to say that. If not for JKR there would be no Harry Potter so of course she has the rights to it. I hope he realizes that everyone this book would be marketed to, obviously HP fans, will not even be buying his book now. At least none of the true HP fans will. I am definitely behind JKR 100%.

Avatar Image says:

Folks, if you are ever unfortunate to be involved in legal action, please remember the first rule: keep your mouth shut, let the lawyer do the talking, that’s why you them!

Melissa, again I salute your bravery in serving as the moderator of these threads!

Avatar Image says:

wow.

Thats all I can say about steve.

What a jerk.

JO, all of us here at leaky support you, not Stupid Steve..!

Avatar Image says:

Lindsay, please, refrain from the name calling. I get the emotion, just not the rest. :)

Avatar Image says:

Steve, you’re not writing ABOUT the harry potter world! You’re writing THE harry potter world!!! She doens’t have the right to control everything written ABOUT it - she can’t control editiorials or anything, nor would I think she would want to - but she can prevent people who are copying and pasting her work to profit off of it from being successful! Come on, Steve, I know you’re smarter than this!!!

Avatar Image says:

I agree with Steve’s point that Jo shouldn’t have complete control over everything written about Harry Potter. The only trouble with his argument is that Jo does not have, and is not really attempting to get complete control. She is perfectly supportive of other literature about harry, the fandom, essay.. etc.

I guess it really all comes down to what exactly is in Steve’s encyclopedia.

Did anybody else notice that before this whole fiasco, Mugglenet had an encyclopedia due to be published? The stopped that pretty quick though, ha.

Avatar Image says:

As someone who is 100% supportive of creative freedom as well as an artist’s right ot their own work, it is difficult for me to place my feelings. WB is a massive company, and I’m not entirely sure I like that JKR is working with them. Refusing to publish a book is comparable to banning a book (very loosely, I know. Please don’t rip me apart!) On the other hand, Jo has worked incredibly hard on the Potter series, and backed by a giant company or not, it is common sense and basic human courtesy that she should maintain the final word on anything HP.

sigh

I have no idea.

I guess I’ll just say good luck to both sides, I hope neither of them is bitter and that they find some sort of resolution in this mess. Not hard feelings, guys.

It’s a tough decision.

Peace, Susie.

Avatar Image says:

Steve’s arguments are NONSENSE!

When I read comments like “That’s quite a huge power grab on her part …”, I have to wonder who, in heaven’s name, is advising him?

WOW.

Avatar Image says:

Steve has some audacity to say that JK is a “copyright hog” considering that this is the world that she has invented. While i’m also a creative artist, i sympathise with JK more because this protecting her rights as a writer and creator. I’m sorry that this is happening, and i’m very sad that this seems to be turning nastier and nastier as it progresses. I agree with KB Prez; i totally reacted the same way. Ugh. shakes head what a miserable situation. sigh

Avatar Image says:

Well, any attempt to “choke creativity” should indeed be condemned. But, as we all can tell, there’s nothing creative about the Lexicon, just a recanting of Rowling’s content.

It’s pretty obvious that Mr. Nocera from The New York Times didn’t do his reseach.

Avatar Image says:

Lauren, Steve didn’t call her a copyright hog,t he author of the NYT article did. I’m sorry if that’s not clear enough in the post and I’ll try and clarify. Steve said her attempts at the suit were a power grab, and constituted an attempt to choke those who attempt to “live off the creative work of others” (that might be a paraphrase.)

Avatar Image says:

Susie, it’s not even loosely comparable to banning a book though, because the content of the book is not being banned at all. There would be no problem at all if Steve wanted to release the contents of the book somewhere like the internet where he could do so free of charge… oh, that’s right, it already IS available on the internet free of charge! And WB isn’t trying to shut down the website. It’s not that WB is trying to prevent the people of the world from reading the content of the book – we can already do so simply by logging onto the Lexicon. It’s the part where Steve makes money off of what isn’t his that WB/JKR has the problem with. Ahh, I’m sorry and I hope I dont’ sound at all like I’m biting your head off, but I just don’t understand the “freedom of speech” argument one bit because everything Steve’s saying in the book is already available. And yes, his publishers admit that the book is exactly like the website without any new (or creative) content.

Avatar Image says:

Hahahahaha. ‘She invented Harry Potter and is, to all extents and purposes, Harry Potter and the universe itself! But how DARE she try to control it??? How DARE she? It’s mine, too! Because I’m a special snowflake~” Hahahaha. This is more than slightly reminiscent of those people who sue because the coffee is hot. If it didn’t involve or inconvenience someone I have a lot of respect for, I’d almost find it entertaining.

Avatar Image says:

Aren’t there already tons of “Lord of the Rings” and “Chronicles of Narnia” encyclopedias? Aren’t they legal? What’s the difference?

I wonder what JKR would say if Steve offered to give all proceeds to charity…

Avatar Image says:

Well, any attempt to “choke creativity” should indeed be condemned. But, as we all can tell, there’s nothing creative about the Lexicon, just a recanting re-telling of Rowling’s content in a different structure.

It’s pretty obvious that Mr. Nocera from The New York Times didn’t do his reseach.

(Sorry about my bad english, you can tell it’s not my primary language…)

Avatar Image says:

“A Tight Grip Can Choke Creativity”

laughs Too bad JK Rowling doesn’t have a tight grip and that this book isn’t creative! I don’t even know why anyone is defending Steve, other than they see a big corporation versus a little publisher and assume that the little guy is the victim. I mean really, I think defending free speech is a wonderful thing but people writing editorials for such respectable papers as the New York Times should at least do their research first. Sigh.

Avatar Image says:

This is all very, very frustrating to me. Sigh. I just…there are so many things I want to say…but I want to respect Melissa’s wishes since she does such a wonderful and admirable job herself of remaining civil and professional throughout this whole ordeal.

But I will say this...I do not think this is a "power grab" or Jo trying to "choke" creativity. Creativity?? What creativity? Uh, the creative ability to put scenes in sequential order and the ability to put someone ELSE'S story on your own lap top Sigh. This is not just directed at Steve...but at any person who has wanted to do this with another author's work. Jo has worked so very, very hard to get where she is now. She has, I'm sure, been through hell and back in her life. She deserves to have a say in her own CREATION. What Steve is attempting to do, in my opinion, is NOT creative freedom. It is just making his website that is FREE already, portable for what is it again....$25!

This is (the harry potter books), as she would put it, like one of her children. She has done so much for this world with her novels…as far as improving literacy among children and her unwavering generosity. She deserves to keep her work sacred as she sees fits. We stand by you Jo!!!!!!

Avatar Image says:

This statement from Steve in Ansible is, if you will forgive the phrase, a magician’s trick. It’s misdirection so the audience will only see what he wants them to see. The idea that Jo wants to control anything written about Harry Potter is false to start with – and then he builds his case from there.

Jo has been, and I have to believe will continue to be, supportive of commentary, analysis and fan related endeavours. Fanfic, podcasts, websites and the like will be completely safe whatever the outcome. The argument from the WB/JKR side is that the Lexicon book contains her copyrighted work: Timelines, characters, locations and plot details. Not an analysis of the story line or themes involved. Her work, repackaged, for profit. That is copyright infringement and not fair use.

Susie – Stopping the publication of a book that infringes on an author’s creative works is not at all like banning a book…any more than putting a lock on your house infringes on a thief’s right to express himself by taking your stuff.

And Steve, if you are reading this, listen to budb and let your lawyers do the talking. You just dig yourself deeper by giving quotes about the case in the media.

Avatar Image says:

something happened to my post. I swear my computer is so funky sometimes- now watch once I post this the other will show up- strange. What I basically said was that he has alot of nerve to call this his idea and try and take her work away from her- like I said he is trying to take credit for something he didnt do.

Avatar Image says:

Chris,

I may be speculating, but I think with regard to LOTR….

I believe Tolkien sold the rights to LOTR. That’s why the Tolkien estate did not benefit from subsequent publishing and the movies.

Avatar Image says:

Everytime Vander Ark opens his mouth, he only manages to make a bigger and bigger idiot out of himself.

Avatar Image says:

In my opinion, Rowling is in every way right in controlling others using her work. I wouldn’t be happy if someone was making money over my back with something I created which took me years to create. Of course it is flattering that people really get into your work, discuss it, fantasize about it and have this massive fandom. But that doesn’t give them the right tot use it for personal gain.

And as far as I can read, Rowling doesn’t interfere very quickly into HP-related stuff. There’s a lot she could take legal action against, but doesn’t.

However, my opinion doesn’t mean much in law of course. :P

Avatar Image says:

No woder RDR/SVA haven’t dropped this, they have bloody Standford to back them!!! And what upsets me is that am pretty sure that for Standford it’s just a chance apply all their conniving knowledge to do obtain some kind of legal precedent. Let’s hope WB/JRK outsmart them. This is appalling really. My support goes to JK

Avatar Image says:

did I say something wrong- if I did I am really really sorry. I just love Jo and I dont like it when others feed off someone. You guys probably are wondering what Im talking about- but my first post is gone. Im so sorry if I was to mean, I didnt mean to be, I was just sticking up for her. But this is bothering me – I dont know where it went.

Avatar Image says:

There is a name for people who “live off” other people’s work… I won’t mention it (no worries, Melissa!!) but we all know what it is. He is labeling himself that way, I find that interesting. I just do not understand any of their arguments. Its Jo’s world, Jo’s work, Jo’s everything, in what alternate universe should she not have complete control over it?

Just think if she’d had a real crystal ball way back when and seen this mess coming at her, she could have decided just to make personal copies for her special family and friends, like the Beedle book, and none of us would ever have known Harry at all. I can only imagine how frustrated and hurt Jo must be by all of this, especially coming from Steve who she thought she knew.

And “free speech…” Seriously? As an argument, that is just disingenuous. Free speech does not mean that anyone has a legal right to make money off that “free (copied) speech.”

Avatar Image says:

What is it with the New York Times? Aren’t they the ones who printed a review of Deathly Hallows before it was released? Maybe it’s just my imagination, but this paper seems to have an anti-JK Rowling bias. Whatever happened to fair and balanced journalism?

Avatar Image says:

Wow. We’re supposed to refrain from name-calling on here, but the New York Times hit piece had no problem with name calling. But by calling something an “Opinion Piece” you can seem like an actual journalist while completely ignoring journalistic principles.

Nocera says: “But the law absolutely allows anyone to create something new based on someone else’s art.”

Then he completely ignores the fact that the whole crux of this case is whether or not the Lexicon consists of anything new. He just implies that it does. In the examples he gives of other cases, the works probably WOULD be covered under fair use, and he cleverly implies (by omitting any details about the Lexicon) that the Lexicon is exactly the same as these other examples (i.e., consists of mostly new material or analysis).

But all that aside, it sounds like Mr. Nocera never met a use he didn’t find fair anyway, and that is probably more important to him than things like adding vital details to his story. Man, it’s amazing how convincing one can sound by only giving half the story.

Avatar Image says:

so I did say something wrong? didnt I what I didnt swear, I dont know what I did, help me please, I worry about everything, I dont want to hurt or offend anyone.

Avatar Image says:

Well, he can kiss off his so-called BNF status. No Harry Potter fan who even remotely cares about the well-being of the material presented in the series or J.K. Rowling herself would touch him with a ten foot pole now. And if any Harry Potter convention decides to hire him as a speaker, I certainly hope the fans have sense enough to boycott that convention.

It’s a shame how ugly his true colours really are. I can’t believe any self-respecting fan, especially one as ‘devoted’ to the series as he has claimed to be, would ever so blatantly disrespect Rowling and the fans by doing this.

Greedy seems to be a very appropriate word for what he’s doing. He was a librarian before this – perhaps he ought to take what dignity he has left and return to that job, instead of attempting to make his living riding on the coat tails of others.

Avatar Image says:

Bella, your comment was just deleted because it stepped a little too far over our TOU. Don’t worry, no offense taken. :)

Avatar Image says:

I wonder what ‘creative’ writing Steve has included in the book? There is nothing ‘creative’ about his work on his web site lexicon. It’s all JKR’s work. Yes, he’s done a nice job compiling all that stuff, but it’s still all Jo’s. Not his.

And now the answer to my query elsewhere as to how he feels about this is revealed. He’s into RDR’s suit up to his ears.

I’ve removed all trace of the Lexicon from my pc. Nor will I purchase the book if it’s ever published. He seems like such a nice person too. (sigh)

OMT

Avatar Image says:

what does TOU mean I am still learning computer talk- I am kind of a newbe at posting, I dont know much.

Avatar Image says:

Yes Tyler, the NYT is extremely good at telling half truths in it’s editorial pages.

OMT.

Avatar Image says:

TOU=Terms of Use, Bella. Did you, I don’t know, use a naughty word in your first post?

Avatar Image says:

Bella,

TOU Terms Of Use

OMT

Avatar Image says:

“That’s quite a huge power grab on her part and from everything I can tell, not legal.”

Any last shred of sympathy I might have had for Mr. Vander Ark’s case has just disappeared. His lawyers must be banging their heads against the wall.

Avatar Image says:

sort of Mountain Violet, didnt mean to – my mind kind of took hold of my fingers but it wasnt complete, I had a star in place of something- but I wont do it again, like I said I learn something new all the time- I would never do anything like that on purpose. I just curse alittle when I get mad sometimes. I ‘ll control myself though- first and last time it will happen. Thanks for informing me though it helped alot your so nice!

Avatar Image says:

Honestly, I was hoping that RDR Books was manipulating Steve or that he was under contract so he couldn’t get out of the lawsuit. I was hoping… Now everyone can clearly see that Steve Vander Ark is either an UNINTELLIGENT person that does not understand that the HP Lexicon is not creative work and he is obviously infringing Copyright, or he is just plainly a big GOLD DIGGING HOG and a CROOK. (Melissa you better be happy with my language because honestly if it wasn’t out of respect for you and the Leaky’s very reputable web site and staff, I would’ve just called him an a*ole, which he most definitely seems to be…)

Jo and WB’s Lawyers: CRUSH HIM and RDR BOOKS! They disgust me. Then join me for a round of drinks at the Steve Vander Ark’s Head pub in Hogsmeade.

Avatar Image says:

OK, is it just me who thinks everytime Steve opens his mouth things start getting uglier for him? is so going to make herself a T-shirt saying “Down with Standford”

Avatar Image says:

No worries, Bella. I swear like a sailor myself; just not in front of my children or here on TLC (which is nearly the same thing).

Avatar Image says:

That is what I did – the same thing Felipe did in her/ his post , not trying to point you out but you did the same little star thing I did, in your curse.

Avatar Image says:

oh man, this just gets nastier and nastier! that’s really unfortunate…

Avatar Image says:

Your hilarious Mountain Violet, that really cracked me up – you really would make a good counsler for someone, you certainly make a good one for me.

Avatar Image says:

Melissa, THANK YOU verry much for reporting all of this (even though I think it must be hard for you for the moment) and staying so objective in your updates and posts!

I am (like most posters above) really angry and disappointed in SVA. It seems getting worse every time we hear something extra. When will he get it? We don’t want his book when we can read it for free online (which I don’t do anymore, and don’t intend doing anymore!) and above all, I don’t want the book because I want the Scottish book from Jo! I’m affraid that because of the trial, Jo will be pushed to write the book in a way that is not hers..

I hope that RDR and SVA will finally drop the case, but I think that’s a fools hope..

Avatar Image says:

Really I dont think it at all is a power trip. I think that was a really unnessacery thing to say about someone…this is her book and if she doesn’t want anyone to make money off of it good for her…this guy just sounds like a jerk…i still love joe…and he can just go jump in a ditch!!!

Avatar Image says:

I, myself, have tried to keep an open mind about this whole case. However, I have to finally admit to myself that these intentions of Steve’s (though not Steve himself) seem very parasitic to me. Yes, I suppose we all live off of the creativity that stems from J.K. Rowling, but we shouldn’t try to Profit from something that isn’t ours. That’s another lesson we learned from the books. Point in case, the engraving on the doors of Gringotts. I do hope, for the sake of everyone involved, this matter is resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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I must say I am extremely disappointed in Steve. After listening to his thoughts on PotterCast and relying on the Lexicon for ages, I’m very upset that he said something like this. I thought he was much smarter than this, but apparently I was wrong. All of those respectful things he’s said about Jo and Harry Potter have just flown out the window. I think that Jo’s the one who got the short end of the stick because Steve has insulted all of the appreciation she had for him. I hope she knows that we don’t at all appreciate what he is doing and hope that that dang book gets what it deserves: nothing!

Avatar Image says:

I’m an author myself and I think JKR has every right to sue and get this project shut down. Steve has his website and personally, he should deal with that. If JKR wants to have an encycolpedia, that’s up to her. The website is not copyright infringement, but when you go and they to make money off someone elses work, I’m sorry but you have crossed the line entirely. She’s trying to control it??! Of course she is! It’s her world, her books and Steve and RDR need to accept that and step off. He has no respect for JKR and her work and I’m rooting for JKR to win. I STAND BEHIND JO 100%!!!

Avatar Image says:

All I can say is I hope this is resolved soon, and if JK does happen to glance over Leaky see will see the love and support we fans have for her and what she has done for us and the world. After this post, I will be taking a little “stroll” over to the NYT website and putting in my two cents.

We LOVE you Jo and will wait ten years for the Scottish book to come out the way you want it.

Avatar Image says:

EDIT: (Melissa you can delete my previous post if you want. I don’t mean to break the TOU.)

Honestly, I was hoping that RDR Books was manipulating Steve or that he was under contract so he couldn’t get out of the lawsuit. I was hoping… Now everyone can clearly see that Steve Vander Ark is either an UNINTELLIGENT person that does not understand that the HP Lexicon is not creative work and he is obviously infringing Copyright, or he is just plainly a big GOLD DIGGING HOG and a CROOK. (Melissa you better be happy with my language because honestly if it wasn’t out of respect for you and the Leaky’s very reputable web site and staff, I would’ve just called him a [Much Worse Thing] instead, which he most definitely seems to be…)

Jo and WB’s Lawyers: CRUSH HIM and RDR BOOKS! They disgust me. Then join me for a round of drinks at the “Steve Vander Ark”’s Head pub in Hogsmeade. (“Hog”s Head pub get it? lol… I’m dumb…)

P.S: Bellasnape I’m a him. Felipe is just Spanish for Philip. :-P

Avatar Image says:

I find it odd to see this at the bottom of every page at The Harry Potter Lexicon: “NO PART OF THIS PAGE MAY BE REPRODUCED IN ANY MANNER WITHOUT PERMISSION” I think Steve may need to take a moment and remember this.

Avatar Image says:

Before this little outbreak on Steve’s part, I was kind of taking a nonpartisan stance on this whole issue. But this is taking it just a bit too far. I have lost a tremendous amount of respect for Steve. How dare he and that NYT writer attack Jo like that? She absolutely does not deserve this. Why should Jo be portrayed as the bad guy here, when she’s trying to protect charity proceeds generated by her encyclopedia. Whoever said that Jo & WB should crush RDR, I wholeheartedly agree now. RDR Books is a scar on the face of Michigan. (Sorry, but I do love my state…)

Of course I’ll still use the online Lexicon, but this crusade for “1st amendment rights” has gone too far and gotten out of hand. Let’s get some courtroom drama going, I want some action.

Avatar Image says:

It makes me sick and angry the way the mainstream media is trying to make this about big mean corporation vs poor little fan. Why won’t they do any research into what Kloves and RDR are really like?

Avatar Image says:

It’s obvious by the fact that so many HP companion books (theory/prediction/books on symbolism) exist that JKR has no qualms with peoples creative endeavors into her world. The problem is, Steve, nothing about your work is creative. Nothing comes from your head. It’s all out of JKR’s. Imagine, her wanting to control that.

I think many of us have wondered where SVA really stood while the lawyers were doing all the talking. Well, now we know. Not good, Steve.

Avatar Image says:

Just a hypothetical question, and feel free to answer, but let’s just say that Steve and RDR books were to win this case and be allowed to publish this book. Then (hypothetically speaking here) could, let’s say, an average Joe publish pretty much the same book, calling it another companion book, and publish that as well? I mean, wouldn’t that just be one viscious never-ending snow ball effect? Copy after copy after copy and so on and so forth?

Avatar Image says:

I just went to see the Ansible link, apparantly Steve is claiming that the new book is different to the online lexicon. I think that rather than support Steve/RDR’s case this just makes them look more stupid and immature considering that they were rather rude early on in the case when they suggested JKR/WB could just print the lexicon if they wish to have an advanced copy of the manuscript for the new book. Steve/RDR just continue to lose any credibility in my mind and I am quite sure in the mind of anyone who takes the time to understand the case (in other words excluding the NYT) the longer this dispute goes on. I am confident that good and sense will prevail and that Steve/RDR will suffer the consequences in the short and long term.

Avatar Image says:

I just want to echo nearly everyone else and say…”WHAT WERE YOU THINKING STEVE

I used to feel kind of bad for him, and have said it in previous posts, but now I am just dismayed and sickened by this swelling ego. I can’t believe his lawyers even let him make a statement, especially that one! What a weird choice of words and venue. If I wasn’t personally boycotting the lexicon right now, I’d stroll over to see what he has posted there. If someone else goes, I won’t judge you—but I’d like an update.

ps. @ BellaSnape. I’m new at this too and probably have made similar mistakes. Have a great day :)

Avatar Image says:

In this whole case I have always been on Steve’s side. I think most of the people backing Jo have used the Lexicon only once in a while, because if they had really used it they’d know what a formidable it is.

Even if Jo had the law with her, I would support Steve, because Jo is simply forbidding her fans to have a decent encyclopedia until she writes her own and as she doesn’t seem to be much interested in doing it for a while, that would be at least something like five years until we have that.

Because writing an encyclopedia is not creative writing, is not something like writing the books she wrote until now. It is much more work, and of a different nature. Steve has compiled all of his work for years and years. I don’t suppose she will be able to write anything that can be a rival to Steve’s book in less than three years.

I doubt Jo has really anything comparable. If she had she wouldn’t commit so many repeated mistakes as she does, for instance in the case of the years of Dumbledore’s and Fred’s death, both written wrongly in her website, incompatible with what is written in the books (Dumbledore died in 1997 and Fred in 1998, if Nick’s 500th anniversary of death was in October of second year and he died in 1492.

She messed up years and dates about Charlie playing Quidditch and makes a lot of other mistakes re: the time-line. That means that she hasn’t really worked very hard on the time-line. Steve went much farther.

The same can be said about some spells and Ministry organisms that appear with slightly different names.

That means that she will really need to work very hard on getting her facts together and revising them if she wants to do anything nearly as reliable as what Steve gave us.

Some of you may think it isn’t important. If so that only means you can’t really appreciate Steve’s work and then your opinion about the issue is biased. You are just supporting an author you admire without really understanding what is Steve’s work, and if you don’t understand it, you can’t judge if it is or it isn’t competing with hers.

Rowling herself has said it: The Lexicon is a tool for the obsessive mind. For those people this book would be very important, and would be very importantant NOW. I doubt she will ever write something equivalent in terms of obsessiveness, and if she does, it will be too late.

But additionally I think this compilation is a different work, creative work, but creative in a totally different way than hers. Its creativity lies in the ways of organizing the material. So I have always had doubts if the copyrights should be extended that much.

I’ve always had an idea that his work was a different kind of work and that her copyright couldn’t be so extended, otherwise a lot of the things I read they after day wouldn’t be possible to write. But as I’m not a lawyer and not an American, I was not very sure. But now it seems that my point of view has some firm basis, if it’s shared by a Stanford professor and a man that writes his opinion in The New York Times.

Yes, she created the world, but she created it with a lot of inconsistencies and Steve spent years organizing all the information in such a way that these inconsistencies now are completely clear to those familiar with his work.

I also think it is completely hypocritical to give an award to the site and then say its contents can’t be published. If the book is competition for her own, the site would also be even more, because we can access it for free.

And it’s even more hypocritical to say that she wants to preserve her charities. If she was really concerned about charity, why didn’t she even begin to work on the book? don’t the charities need the money now? She has millions and millions of dollars and everything she touches can be transformed in money, why don’t she give other things to those charities now? I can only think that she is using the charities to manipulate the fans and the judge and that she doesn’t want Steve to publish his book (after allowing a lot of other encyclopedias be published), because his work is really serious and exposes her mistakes.

Avatar Image says:

Having not read the legal documentation rather than the synopsis of it, I chose not to have an opinion of this case. The legal system will do it’s job.

However, anyone who has read the pensive section of the HP-Lexicon will know that their is a significant amount of intrepretation on the part of the page editor to produce an adequate synopsis or interpretation of HP series topics. The development of the Elder Wand page would certainly be an example that analysis of Deathly Hallows was indeed necessary rather than being a demonstration of straight information regurgitation.

This whole issue saddens me. I really enjoy all of the works I’ve read that have been in some way inspired by the Harry Potter series. But, perhaps not as much as I’ve enjoyed the original works.

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This whole case is just getting sicker and sicker. My heart goes out to Jo. I’ll be quite upset if the judge does not rule in favor of WB/JKR not only because I think that she has every right to the series and the intellectual property thereof, but because I myself am working on a fantasy series and the precedent that would be set by a RDR/Vanderark victory does not set well with me. That’s going to have to entail an entire new clause in contracts, new stipulations in copyright law—in short a massive legal headache for a lot of people.

Furthermore, I think it’s an incredibly pig-headed move for RDR to attempt to subpeona the notes that Scholastic/Bloomsbury/Jo still have that would be included in her encyclopedia. What is there to be gained by that? Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if that was just an attempt to gain information that wasn’t already in the book to be included.

I don’t know if anyone’s heard of it, but a while back there was a book called The Sorcerer’s Companion that was a perfect example of a perfectly legal companion book. It was an encyclopedia of magical objects that appear in Harry Potter and gave the folklore roots for them. That’s the kind of perfectly legal scholarly commentary that WB/Jo allow. If anyone hasn’t read the exhibits in the documents, find the articles Melissa posted (and Melissa, you absolutely rock) and read the PDFs that show contents from the Lexicon book—there’s no synthesis of data there, just rehashing.

The fact of the matter is you can’t take copyrighted material that you’ve posted on the internet and attempt to sell it if the copyright is not in your name. Look at anything related to Harry Potter that’s officially liscensed you’ll find something along the lines of “Harry Potter and all names…etc. Copyright WB. HP Publishing Rights: JKR.” It’s the same as if someone self published a novel over the internet, another party cannot print out hat information freely available and attempt to profit from it for charity or gain because it is not theirs, they have no ownership over it and the Lexicon book adds nothing.

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Well seems Steve Vander Ark is his own worst enemy. After that statement does he really expect he has any kind of place in the fandom? If he could draw a crowd at a convention now it would be for all the wrong reasons.

But in this whole thing, every time he has opened mouth it has been to insert foot!

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@ Felipe – so sorry didnt know I’ve only ever took French-LOL, and thank you KimberlyAnn that is very thoughtful of you and nice, it makes me happy to know that Im not alone on here and that there are others that care about me, you Mountain Voilet and other as well – Thanks!

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Lilyp, just look at the definition of plagiarism (what Steve and RDR Books are doing). Even if you take something and reorganize it for 5 years working 7 days a week and 12 a day in a 2 foot by 2 foot room and with no ventilation… no matter what, you are still stealing, regardless of how much work you put into it. If you plan on robbing a bank for 5 years, when you go rob it you can’t just say “well, I planned this heist and worked very hard for 5 years to do it, so now I can’t be punnished! I worked for the money I’m stealing!” It just doesn’t work that way.

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Have to agree with Steve on this one. The books are finished. What happens from now on belongs to the public. True, no one can write stories using these characters and situations without Ms. Rowling’s permisssion. In that, she will always have control. But anything written about the Potterverse from here on out should be permitted.

Think about it. How is what Steve doing different than what has been done for other great works of art. How many encyclopedias are there about Shakespeare, The Bronte Sisters, Hemingway, Twain, Tolkein…

Were they alive, I’m certain those authors would be royally p.o.’d about some of the books written about their works too. But once the work was done – discussion and catalouging belong to the world.

Personally, if the lexicon book, comes out, I won’t buy it – I like the internet one that can be updated right away without publishing a new edition. But I think if he wants to put out a hard copy of the book, let him do it. DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO BUY IT.

But I was going to buy Rowling’s book.

Do we have to wait until she’s dead like the others before people can write what they want about her books? That’s just not right.

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LilyP I think you may have overlooked the small amount of 2 million pounds (I think thats what it was) Jo raised for charity for a book that she HAND WROTE and had absolutely no obligation to create, ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’. I also think that you are overlooking the fact that she has most likely donated some of her personal “millions and millions of dollars” in recent times anonymously as she has done in the past. I would also suggest you stop worshiping SVA for his “creative work” where he used his so-called skills to rip off JKR’s work and claim it as his own. Steve, whose only skill is free time, is obviously in the wrong and should stop trying to seek the centre stage and profits from the reflected success of JKR that he thoroughly does not deserve.

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Maven, other encyclopedias offer opinions, explanations, or investigative work about the works of art they are writing about; they don’t just copy and paste inormaiton and re-print it in alphabetical order and call it their own work… that’s what Steve VA and RDR Books are doing.

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If Steve thinks it is ok to reproduce JKR book in a different format and make it more like his website then why can’t I just copy his website rework it into yet another format a publish that? Then he would sue me and I could tell him he is trying to completely control his website and “That’s quite a huge power grab on his part” . I am being sarcastic here but really does Steve not see how crazy his statement is. This is Jo’s world and her right to control it should not be in question. If these were my stories I would come after everyone who wants to use them illegally. Books can be written about Harry Potter that is not illegal like Melissa’s book like Mugglenet’s book. The difference is Melissa book is not a Harry potter story or encyclopedia it seems to be a take on the fandom and her role in it and Mugglenet’s book that was published was a book 7 prediction book both books are examples of books that would be allowed but there are certain books that can not be published and it seems that Steve’s falls into that category or Jo would not be so adamant about stopping it.

Sure down the road many many years from now the copy right will expire and others will be able to write books with these characters, like all the Jane Austen sequels that are out there, but that is a long way off and many of us won’t be around to see it (thank goodness).
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What it boils down to is this: Jo Rowling knows exactly how much work there is in the Lexicon. That’s why she has said she would postpone her own book for 10 years. Does anyone really think she wants to sit down and analyze every character after writing seven books about them? Or every spell, place, and creature? If she started working on that now, she would have to spend years getting it all together, and couldn’t work on anything else. She’s just not going to do that right now, but she doesn’t want anyone else to write anything either. That’s what she basically says – don’t write anymore encyclopedias.

I don’t see her books as “sacred” except in the hearts of people who love to read them. For everything else, she and the WB have to follow the law of the land like everyone else. If they don’t like the ruling, they will tie this up in appeals anyway, which is their legal right.

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Joe Nocera is the new Rita Skeeter.

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SVA has a lot of nerve. I enjoyed listening to him on Canon Canundrums, because he was so knowledgeable and article. But now I feel strangely duped, because the public personality on Pottercasts just doesn’t jive with this whole lawsuit and his galling letter to the fanzine. I am also annoyed at the editorial in the NYTimes. It sounds like it completely misrepresents the facts. Thanks to Leaky, WE the fans know the full story, but it bugs that the wider public might get the wrong idea.

I feel disgruntled. I’m totally on Jo’s side, for the record.

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Can I please correct those who believe that the Scottish Book will DEFINITELY be written or published in 10 years time. Jo was just giving an example, saying it might take her 2 or maybe 10 or maybe even 50 years… Her point being she’s not writing it right now and she doesn’t have a deadline. This means she can publish it in a year and a half if she wants or maybe even never! She did not certify it will be published in 10 years. Don’t speculate based on that.

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Rogers-“Steve, whose only skill is free time”-brilliant. That definitely put a smile on my face. Michele—also brilliant. Kudos to you both. :D

I just read the NYT article and it kind of makes me sick. I agree with him to an extent when he says that copyright protection is going a bit to far these days, but then he continues to show Jo, our beloved Jo, as a person who’s power hungry, demanding, and controlling. I wonder how he would feel if I took his article, changed a few things around, replaced his name with mine, and then published it to profit. How would he feel about intellectual property and copyrights after that, I wonder… hmm…

All other companion books (Mugglenet’s book, etc.) are ok in Jo’s mind because they offer analysis and discussion. They bring their own creative content to the table. Steve doesn’t. There’s the problem. To those who call Jo a hypocrit, are you actually a Harry Potter fan? Shouldn’t we support our beloved philanthropic author who wouldn’t hurt a fly? She’s suing to help suffering children, not to restrict people’s rights.

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My only coment is that i love the last sentence of the article. Its shows the obvious assumptions to the reaction of something like this.

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Felipe, ever heard of the “in everyday english” series. It takes classic works of lit, and re-writes them in modern english. The publishers make money off of this. Have you heard of cliff notes, or coles notes or whatever other version your local college uses as ‘study aids’, which do indeed paste examples word for word of these works and then analyses them. And yes, encyclopedias do reprint sections of the original text. You’ll note however in my original post, I never mentioned the word encylopedia. I’m tallking about any kind of analysis or summary of the books. In a couple of hundred years when these books are re-witten in future ‘everyday english’, is that stealing? Or would it be helping create a greater understanding.

I was at Profecy this summer, and I heard Steve’s speaches. They were brilliant. And as many times as I’ve read and listened to the books, there was so much he pointed out that I hadn’t looked at before. I felt like I was back in uni again. I appreciated that. That’s what is going to be in his book and on the lexicon. JK’s book, which I’ll buy, will be full of information we haven’t seen yet. I’m not seeing a conflict here.

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I think A. Lincoln said it best: “It is better to be silent, and thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt” Mr Vander Ark, I for one, am glad you didn’t “keep silent”...now I don’t have to wonder, anymore! Thank you TLC for staying objective and being helpful in guiding the postings on this very sad situation.

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“[Dave Langford, editor of Ansible] and I are part of a subculture that lives off the creative work of others. “

Can you say “parasite”??

Sorry, but I stand by Ms. Rowling on this issue.

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“It is much more work, and of a different nature. Steve has compiled all of his work for years and years.” quote from Lilyp

Really? Much more work? As in more than the 17 years that JKR put into creating the HP series? SVA’s work was volunteer. He has no right to make any money from those hours, other than from ads on his website. And he did not create anything. Organizational skills are not creativity. I can spend hours and hours organizing my closet by color/style/whatever, but that does not make me creative, it just makes me a bit obsessive-compulsive. If you want to admire the hours he put in, fine, but that still does not make the material his. Anyone could have created the Lexicon. Anyone could make lists like the ones in the proposed Lexicon book. Anyone. That is why it is not a creative work. Any inconsistencies in the HP series are simply immaterial to the case.

It is not hypocritical of JKR to give the website an award, and then not allow it to be published; as everyone has already pointed out, there is a difference between a free website and a $25 book. It is a bit hypocritical of SVA, however, to send an email a few years ago saying that it would be illegal and disrespectful of JKR’s wishes to publish the Lexicon, then release another email statement like this one.

“The books are finished. What happens from now on belongs to the public.” quote from Maven

Um, no. Sorry, but that is just plain wrong. The content of the HP series belongs to JKR and her heirs until 70 years after her death. End of story.

“How many encyclopedias are there about Shakespeare, The Bronte Sisters, Hemingway, Twain, Tolkein” quote from Maven

They are dead. Other people have written more information about the Tolkein estate; I don’t know a lot about that, but others have already touched on it.

“Do we have to wait until she’s dead like the others before people can write what they want about her books? That’s just not right.” quote from Maven

Yes. You do. It is right, because it is HER creation. It does not belong to anyone but her.

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well. i dont know what to say. its seems like its sorta turning political (not that any of us in the US need more of that)...... neither side seems to be considering the other side’s point of view… this could have been worked out with a lot less fuss.

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um, I have no idea why that posted twice. Sorry….

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Ok, I just don’t get how retelling Jo’s work is creative? Anyone could do that if that had a ton of time on their hands. I think fan fiction is creative, and Jo completely supports all that but the authors of HP fan fiction can’t make any money off it. Remember awhile back when leaky said there was a guy who wrote the “unofficial” 8th book? “James Potter and the Hall of Elders’ Crossing”

It was amazing to read it, in my opinion it held its own against JKRs (just my opinion, don’t get me wrong, I love HP and Jo!) But it was amazingly good and I will probably read it again, and I think anyone who took the time will agree with me on this one.

But here’s the thing, he is not allowed to publish or make money from his 400 page fan fiction, no matter how many characters he created himself, and no matter how incredibly original the plot is. He is still basing his story off JKR’s, so no matter how much time and effort he put into his story, he won’t profit, and he is fine with that because his story would not exist if it weren’t for JKR.

So my question here is, how is this any different than an encyclopedia? It’s more creative, and it does stand on its own, so how does Steve have a case against JKR to publish his book, and this fanfiction writer cannot?

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Basically, I’m thinking anything that increases the love and understanding of the Potter series cannot be a bad thing. The more Potter things out there, the more people find out about the series, the more people read the series. It’s all good. (I got into LotR after reading The Encylopedia of Arda). Again, no matter how many companion or other type of books are out there, people are always going to buy the author’s work first. Peace.

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Maven, you said: ...”Think about it. How is what Steve doing different than what has been done for other great works of art. How many encyclopedias are there about Shakespeare, The Bronte Sisters, Hemingway, Twain, Tolkein”... Also, cliff notes and re-writes analyze, explain, re-interpret the works they are discussing. The HP Lexicon book is just a cut and paste job with no personal creative work! Also, if Steve VA is a great charismatic and eloquent speaker and a great analyst, well wonderful for him and those like you who got a chance to appreciate that analytical work of his. Why, then, didn’t he publish something like that? Then he wouldn’t have infringed any copyright…

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I think the fans should leave this up to the courts. None of us have read the book. None of us is in a position to correctly gauge whether or not it is plagarism. If the book violates JKR’s copyright, then it should be stopped. If it does not, then it should be published. However, the legal system, not fans, is in the best position to determine the legality of the book. You are all ASSUMING and arguing that the book has no independent content and that the NYT article is ASSUMING that it does. Kinda like the pot calling the kettle black, don’tcha think?

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melissa, Is there just the opp. of Steve saying he wont write the book? Oe does Jo’s layers want to get some money? ( I am very confused) But do they want him to shut down the site?

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The book has been posted publicly. Most people following closely HAVE read the book. Before then few claimed to know what was in it. Now we do.

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I’m not speaking ownership in a legally in the strict sence.

People have been writing about Potter since she first published. She’s not dead. We all know of the numerous reference guides out there. Not to mention the newspaper articles, magazines and blogs. (Hey, what do we do here?) Legally yes, she owns them, but we can talk about them and write about them as much as we want to. About anyone’s work, as much as we want to. That’s what I meant about it belonging to the public. If not, no more blogs, no more web sites, no more papers, no more magazines, no more art, no more of any of the millions and millions of ways people choose to express their thoughts and opinions of these books without Ms Rowling putting her personal stamp on each and every one. Personally, I think her time could be better served elsewhere.

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During my conversation with her representative, Mr. Blair, he pointed me to Ms. Rowling’s Web site, suggesting that would be the best place to find her response to the RDR Books case and the Harry Potter Lexicon. “You have our permission to quote from her Web site,” he said. I already have that right, Mr. Blair. But thanks anyway

I just read the NY Times article and the statement above jumped out at me. I was wondering if any one who knows more about laws can answer this. I understand the case is in a US court because Steve and his publishers are from the US. We have our “rights” here in the US butI assume that our “rights” are not the same as other countries. Since the HP books were originally published in the UK wouldn’t UK laws apply not US law? I wonder how much US Copyright laws differ from UK copyright laws. Were they trying to publish this book in different countries and how does different copyright laws apply? Lastly, The attitude in the last line of the article-“I already have that right, Mr. Blair But thanks Anyway” is why people around the world think all of us Americans feel entitled to everything. People like Joe Nocera give the rest of us Americans a bad rap.

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If this suit is successful, I think it also spells the end of Wizard Rock, or at least “borrowing” the character identities for the band’s names. Jo Rowling is fighting for control over the intellectual property of Harry Potter. I’m still not sure all of us fans completely grasp what’s at stake here. I hope we wake up – the “charity” thing is an attempt by the marketing department to salvage Jo’s reputation. I know we’re young here, but I hope we haven’t forgotten our democratic principles – we’re talking about relinquishing complete control of the intellectual property by the corporation that is now J.K. Rowling. She’s become a corporation – no wonder she can write so effectively about the Ministry of Magic. She’s turning into it. I wonder if she completely grasps the American First Amendment. Warner Brothers is facing serious financial challenges right now (they are in the process of selling off AOL as well as tightening up New Line) – they need to win this case fast. We should think very carefully about the cost of freedom. I am a fan of the Remus Lupins – I think he should be very concerned as well.

zr

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I do hope someone responds to my post who knows what they are talking about, although opinions are fine too, because this is really bugging me! It just seems unfair, you know?

Also, Hyprocrite point #1: on the lexicon, there is a copyright… they don’t want people copying “steve’s” work, even though all of “Steve’s” work is just copied from JKR and the HP books and movies. They don’t even allow for highlighting/ copy and pasting.

Hypocrite point # 2: Steve wanted to sue WB for using “his” timeline in the 3rd movie, but essentially “his” timeline, if it was in fact correct (which Steve claims it to be) would have been written the exact same if it was by JKR, or any obsessive HP for that matter. Since he did not decide who was born when, JKR did, his timeline is just another example of him borrowing things that never belonged to him. Which is fine, as long as you don’t go and claim ownership.

I wouldn’t borrow my mom’s shoes, then when she wore them again, yell at her for wearing “my” shoes, and I hope everyone else can see how wrong that would be.

In conclusion… I don’t think I like Steve very much…

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Zach, you shouldn’t worry about your fantasy series, unless you are intending to write an encyclopedia about it too. The lexicon has never been a hindrance to Jo’s work, on the contrary it was a powerful tool for the fandom, and for the translators, I might add, and it probably helped to enhance the hype about the series.

I’ve seen many people that are on Jo’s side (not here from this board, but from the fandom) that continued to use the Lexicon, because it is still the quickest and easiest way to remember the name of a spell, or if some Death Eater was in a specific battle or when some event occurred. It helps fanfics, it helps essays, it is a huge help in translation (and I strongly suspect a lot of the official translator sactually used it, because there was a whole group of them very buddy-buddy with Steve in that episode in which Steve published , in 2005, that RAB was Regulus Arcturus Black), it helps everyone that tries to think about the meaning of the series. So, Zach, if someone has the patience to give their work for free for such a long time to all your fandom, you should rejoice, because it will certainly help your books to sell.

TrustSnape, see my previous remarks. Steve will always have a place in this fandom because there is no substitute. Unless you want to try and do something along similar lines (but different, something with a different way of accessing data – that’s where his creative work lies and where his copyright comes from).

Felipe, I know what plagiarism is and what Steve does has nothing to do with it. Even Jo and her lawyers would admit it. Perhaps you should read it.

Rogers, I haven’t overlooked that. On the contrary, that was part of my argumentation. As I said, what Jo touches becomes gold. She has zillions of ways and of money to give to her charities, so the argument that Steve is “stealing” from her charities is just laughably ridiculous. I’d say more, I’d say even that Steve helped the hype and is probably responsible for a much bigger amount of the money she has than all of the money he can get with his book., which, I suppose, won’t sell very much, because not many people are really interested in so much detail. Most of the fans will simply use the Lexicon in the internet or don’t use it at all.

One of the things that irritates me the most in all this discussion is the argument that Steve can’t have any money for all the work he had. 1st because it is preposterous to think that he can work for all the fandom for free, but can’t have money. Why those people that make fanart on commission can be paid and he, that makes a much more useful thing can’t? Why must he work for free? 2nd. because I doubt he will earn much money with this. He is only publishing something that he has given for free for years. Who will buy it? People that buy everything Harry Potter and people that are obsessed and don’t like to read in the internet or that don’t have a reliable internet connection (which happens a lot when you leave North America and Western Europe).

Finally I have to agree with Maven. Steve’s work is not copy and paste, it is a powerful organization of material that has a lot of creative work in it, as all encyclopedias, dictionaries and pages of Google have. that’s called a reference work. It has nothing to do with copying Jo’s work, but referencing it, two completely different things.

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st_mel, We are NOT assuming. If you research a little bit back you will see that posted on one of Leaky’s previous posts on this topic, there are copies from the pages of the HP Lexicon (book version) which were used as evidence in court. These clearly show the lack of creative work from SVA’s part. The book is just a reorganization of the facts of the HP world that is up for sale. Can you say COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT. Jo and WB have the sole rights to any money made from the sale of any HP encyclopedia that doesn’t include any sort of personal analysis or creative work from that piece’s author.

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Michelle, I think WB owns the rights to the story. All merchandizing seems to be going through them as well. So I think that’s how it’s being done in the US courts. No idea how an international suit would work. Anyone?

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“Anyone could have created the Lexicon. Anyone could make lists like the ones in the proposed Lexicon book. Anyone. That is why it is not a creative work.”

Exactly,chiara,exactly!! I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m sure there are many of us out there who are die-hard HP fans,who have read each book countless times,made notes,read every quote from JKR that they could get their hands on,etc. If I didn’t have a husband,2 kids,3 dogs,1 cat,and a house to run,I might also have the time to do something similar.

Of course,this is just my humble opinion,I mean no disrespect to anyone.

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Oh, Lilyp, you really dont understand. It’s not about how much work is involved. What did Steve do that was so creative? You said his way of organizing the work. Um… hate to be the one to break the news, but Steve didnt create the alphabet. I think the Greeks did (at least the one he uses). A really long time ago. He organized someone elses work in a way that ALL encyclopedias do. Not so much with the creativity there.

Also, as for Jo (or any of us) using the site, there’s no issue there. Jo has no issue with copyright as long as the info is FREE on the internet. Once he crosses the line and begins to charge and make a profit, that’s where his problem is. There’s nothing hypocritical of her giving the SITE (which is free) an award. She’s never given permission to publish for a charge.

What is hypocritical is that Steve has a notice on every page of his site saying reproducing his website in any format is copyright infringement. Maybe he should learn that lesson himself??? (I lol at Michele’s idea: I say we all try to publish Steves work and see how he likes it! Just kidding, Melissa! :-> )

You have no idea what she’s done to date on her encyclopedia, and frankly it doesnt matter. It’s her work, it’s her world, it’s her decision.

And to Alison aka NobleBirth, the problem with the essays/pensive (I have no idea where the pensive area is) is twofold: 1. it was reported at one point that they wouldnt be in the book. So… they dont help his case. 2. If they are in the book HE DIDNT WRITE THEM. So, he’s now taking credit for more peoples work. There’s nothing in the book that’s actually his creativity!

And lastly to Miss L Lanius. You’re right about following the law of the land. Good for JKR/WB that they are the ones in the right, and SVA/RDR are the ones breaking the law.

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SVA HAS given insightful analysis before, and I used to enjoy his discussions on Pottercasts. I thought he had a good opinion of it, and he seemed to really love the series and respect JKR. However, things seemed to change after the last book came out. When I heard him criticize the epilogue, among many other things (I think he called it the “crapilogue” or something similar), I lost some respect for him. He turned out like some other people who are disappointed with the way something was written or ended, and therefore seem to intimate that JKR’s writing is terrible because of that. I had never heard him do that before, and wondered what was going on.

Now I think we know. The real issue here is that if Steve wins, we all lose. There are numerous other discussion on the web (including in the Leaky forum) that detail that if RDR were to win this case, then it would become much more difficult for fan web sites and even fan fiction to exist. Very few sites like Lexicon (well, in reality, RDR books) would have the legal/financial backup to be able defend themselves. SVA is just showing how incredibly selfish he is. What I wonder is if he’s getting advice that it’s quite possible that he could win this, because his comments (together with the case in general and what we know about it), make him look really bad. He won’t have a place in the HP world now outside of the Lexicon. That’s just sad.

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Maven and Lilyp: Steve Vander Ark is not writing ABOUT Harry Potter, he is re-writing it in an alphabetically organized fashion and re-selling it for personal profit, whereas that profit of a legal book could go to charities benefiting people in real need of money, not greedy Mr. vander Ark and his publishing company.

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This case will be decided on the basis of fair use. As Melissa in her fine article, “There is very little talk in this editorial of the merits of the actual Lexicon case or whether the book falls into fair use.” None of rules of Fair Use are how hard the work was. What matters is how much of Jo’s work Steve used, and how much new material he came up with. That is what this case will be decided on.

One of the great things about the Lexicon is that it has almost all of the facts you want in the HP world with no extra comment or criticism. So what makes it a great resource is also what makes it infringing.

Steve used to understand this. In 2005 he wrote “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 a encyclopedia to her world.” I think he had it right in 2005 and is wrong now!

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I can’t believe HP Lexicon, and Steve Vander Ark would take this route. I can see if they worked with JKR to put out an online Encyclopedia. For one, it IS under her control. She dreamed it, created it, wrote it, and worked very hard to bring it to us. She has cared very much about the many thousands of people who read HP, she has I believe stated that she finds it flattering that so many people would take the time to create web sites, conventions, fanfiction base on her story. But she has also made clear, it is her story. Many roads have been made as far as WB realizing that if they work with fan web sites, rather than hammering them with legal moves, they [WB] can extend the following for the product. HP Lexicon can’t believe that they have information that has not already been written by JKR, they can only surmise, assume, etc. The HP Lexicon, and Steve Vander Ark, are “Biting the hand that feeds them”, as it were. I suggest they cease and desist, just chill.

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I’m with Jo.

That’s all I’m going to say.

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Jo Rowling is a person, not a corporation, and she is fighting for nothing less than the right to keep ownership of her work. The question here is ownership, not labour; you can work at something, like a website, for fifty years and still not own anything in it. Cliff’s notes and study guides are almost wholly prepared on works that are out of copyright. Harry Potter happens to be copyrighted.

JKR is up against people who are, unbelievably, attempting to sue her for breaching their “rights”(!) in Harry Potter, which exist only in their own minds. But nothing is a sure thing in law, and her opponents are counting on an upset to deliver them hitherto undreamt-of riches. If Jo Rowling loses ownership to these guys, it won’t just mean the end of her freedom to continue extending her world as she sees fit. Much worse than that: if the world’s best-selling author can’t secure her own copyright in a case like this, nobody will be able to. This has implications far beyond Potter.

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For as much as Steve claims he “loves” this fandom, it’s amazing how he keeps pushing himself further and further out of it. I’m pretty sure no one but his most insane groupies would want to have anything to do with him anymore.

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Actually, if anyone has ANY questions about what this case is about, or interested in reading some really cool and technical legal opinion, you should all check out the forum discussion. It’s in the Diagon Alley > Floo Grate > Pottercast ==>Lexicon Steve Case. It’s on its fourth thread now. These guys know what they’re talking about. Start at the beginning of the thread and read through the 19+ pages and see how much legal mumbo jumbo there is to sort through. And if you have any more questions, then just read through the first 3 threads. It’s quite illuminating. Fascinating discussions on the basis of RDR’s argument and WB/JKR’s rights. Makes me almost wanna be a lawyer.

Almost.

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For as much as Steve claims he “loves” this fandom, it’s amazing how he keeps pushing himself further and further out of it. I’m pretty sure no one but his most insane groupies would want to have anything to do with him anymore.

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Waits for ears to stop steaming

Okay, that’s it, all respect I had left for SVA just flew right out the window. She has allowed numerous companion books to be published because they followed the rules. He should not be talking about “creativity” when all he has done is basically alphabetized the books. An encyclopedia the way he is going to do it is not creative in one iota. She does own Harry Potter, Steve, it’s this little thing called copyright law. I am so mad at him right now, I can’t really say much more right now without cursing.

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Beth, it’s not a very creative work, but it creative, nevertheless. And it is reliable. Everybody can do something similar? Perhaps, but that takes time and WORK, as even the people criticizing Steve admit. It doesn’t appear from thin air and it certainly won’t appear from Jo’s confused and scattered notes. she herself admitted using the Lexicon eventually.

What people seem to misunderstand is the difference between the Lexicon and fanfic. Fanfic can be much more creative, but fanfic is protected by copyright, because it is more or less the same kind of thing that her books – it is literary work that uses her universe. And her universe is copyrighted. The Lexicon is not literary work it is a reference work. Steve is a librarian, organizing information is his area of expertise and that’s what he made in the Lexicon: he organized information – and that means not only using alphabetical order, but organizing the cross references, thinking of the most useful ways of organizing it , in his case: spells, places, characters, families, creatures, places, british expressions, and so on and so forth. Other fansites tried to do something similar and failed, because it is not an easy thing to do.

Jo certainly hasn’t done anything similar (or else she wouldn’t make so many mistakes) and she herself admits her disorganization. I really think her encyclopedia will be interesting for the new information – and that Steve’s work won’t have – but I doubt she can do anything as god and reliable as the Lexicon (even if it eventually also commits mistakes) in terms of compiling information.

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I was looking beyond Steve’s book. Yes, I know it’s a print copy of the Lexicon. And despite what some people have said here, the level of organization for such a work is not easy. The creative aspect come in with how it is presented.

Incidently, there are ‘encyclopedia’s published that do the very same thing that is being done here. Two examples: “The Complete Encyclopedia of Stephen King” – a repasting of facts from all his books, and “The Complete Stephen King Universe: A Guide To The Worlds Of Steven King.” I mention King as we know him to be a huge JKR fan and he’s still alive, and he was not the writer of either of these books, nor were they set out by his publishing companies.

And now I feel I’ve reached the choked mare. I expressed my opinion. And I’ve read everyone else’s. (Great thing, free speech, ain’t it?) I doubt any opinions are going to be changed here, so I’m moving on to my beconing bed. No point in beating said dead horse. Leave it to the courts.

Nite all.

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Steve Vander Ark says: “[Dave Langford, editor of Ansible] and I are part of a subculture that lives off the creative work of others.”

I can’t beleive anyone would say such a thing! It displays a greed that’s unbeleivable. These guys are nothing but vultures! I finally got the last proof I needed to make up my mind about this case.

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I agree Maven, and I will follow suit. I too am going to bed and getting some rest from all this crazy, frustrating stuff thats going on. Nighty night y’all.

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LilyP, you know nothing about the condition of JKR’s notes, and calling them “confused and scattered” doesnt help your argument, it just makes it look like you’re grasping. It also doesnt really matter. She has her notes, and she also has information that was compiled by her OWN publishers.

As for these mistakes, I dont think I get it. What mistakes are there in the books? I’m afraid I’ve missed them. If it’s just the case of Hermione’s middle name changing from Jane to Jean, that’s kind of a thin argument.

Again, read most of these responses. The amount of work that SVA put into his lexicon has absolutely NOTHING to do with whether he holds any rights to publish! He created that site as a fan, with full knowledge that he cant publish (if you dont believe that, go into the previous news posts about this here on leaky, and find that email he sent out in, IIRC, 2005 where he TELLS someone that he cant publish because JKR retains the rights). He knows it himself, but seems to have changed his mind somewhere around the time that JKR’s representation said that JKR would not need his help to create /her/ encyclopedia.

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It’s rather a no-brainer if you stand back and look at it. Do people want some encyclopedia from SVA or would they much rather have it from the source herself? Personally I would rather have it from JK, she created the world, only she can really fill in the details.

SVA is rather offensive in his idea that JK should not have complete control over her own intellectual property. She made up the world. Free speech does not mean someone can profit from someone else’s work, and indeed I think that JK is quite generous with her world with all the sites and fanfic and such. Not only does she allow them to be, but she visits them and answers questions and actually interacts with her fans. How many other authors can you name who do that?

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I agree with Izzy:

All I’m saying is I’m on Jo’s side….

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I’m completely with Jo on this issue.

For those who still need a HP resource, but are boycotting the HP Lexicon, use the Harry Potter Wiki: http://harrpotter.wikia.com

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http://www.harrypotter.wikia.com *

Sorry about the typo.

Anyhow, the HPL is definitely copyright infringement.

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Lilyp, did you read the court documents with the attached portions of the proposed Lexicon book? I would give you the link, but I don’t have it saved anymore. I’m sure someone else could post it for you. The website is useful, yes, and has cross-references and all kinds of links, but that is not what is going to be published. The proposed book was not something that I would ever want to read, or even use as a reference guide. There were no cross-references, no organization by subject/characters/spells, whatever, just alphabetical. And it was not done in the most logical and user-friendly manner, in my opinion.

As for his “WORK”, as I and others have said, it does not matter how many hours he put into it. He has NO right to have monetary compensation. You cannot go and mow your neighbor’s lawn or weed their garden unsolicited, and then ask them to pay you. That is not the way life works.

I am not a librarian, but I think that librarians would tell you that there is a lot more to being a librarian than organizing information. There was some discussion of reference books in the Lexicon thread in the Pottercast forum. DaisyRenee has been the librarian-in-residence there, and I’m sure she would be happy to answer any of your questions. Reference books require permissions (which SVA did not obtain), and I believe sometimes fees to publish their information. They are also not commercial books: ordinary people do not buy reference books; libraries, universities, schools, etc. do. They are not money-makers. And, they deal with real facts; facts which are public domain. HP is NOT public domain, so a reference book on copyrighted subject matter would be a copyright infringement.

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And to think, Hermione goes into Magical Law. Wonder if she has to deal with wizarding copyrights? I think this debate could be never-ending. But let’s hope and pray this lawsuit ends quickly. Right now, I need a butterbeer and a hufflepuff to cheer me up.

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Wow thats a pretty arrogant statement from Steve…i’m very surprised

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As I’m not the most computer literate person in the world I was wondering if anyone else had the same problem I did with the links in Melissa’s article? I tried a few different ways to click on the links, but the articles never came up. I even tried turning off the popup blocker. I ended up having to write the whole address down and retype them into another browser.

Having finally got to the NYT artilce, I am now regretting all the effort. I felt quite sick to the stomache by the time I finished the article.

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Man! I hate when things go all political!

That’s what Stanford is doing: Using this case to advance a political agenda. Stanford, this behavior is not worthy!

BTW Sorry Lilyp, but the precise activities you describe are addressed in the copyright law.

The law says that those activities are not creative enough to justify infringing on someone else’s work. It’s hard work, called “sweat of the brow” in the law.

But the law doesn’t protect hard work (shoot, it’s hard work to re-key someone’s work, word for word). Hard work isn’t enough to get you rights.

The law protects creativity, because the law sees creativity as something special.

That’s what fair use is: A recognition that some copying, some infringement is necessary and good. Rearranging someone else’s work for profit is not necessary or good.

I happen to think the law has it right. Anyone who thinks the law has it wrong should take it up with legislators rather than play bandit and try to illicitly profit from the ingenuity of others.

And Maven, re Stephen King: Were the books licensed by King? Do they include original material as well as copied excerpts? Stephen King From A To Z definitely does.

Without this info, it is like comparing apples to an unknown fruit to be described later.

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Has anyone tried to correlate this with the current writer’s strike? With the increase in digital media available on the internet, consumers tend to overlook the fact that writers are not getting much of a percentage from online advertising. Studios are ignoring this issue and have the impression that these writers are not entitled to these residuals. Obviously, without these writers, there are no TV shows that keeps fans tuning in and thus, generating the bucks!

Now, obviously we wouldn’t have been fans of HP without JK Rowling. She has been more than lenient about fan sites! The simple fact is that they don’t bother her as long as they are FREE! What SVA is doing is no different than any of us taking one of the movies on DVD, re-editing them, and selling it without any copyright permission. Sure I may have the skills, technology, and the extra time to rearrange scenes and such but it doesn’t entitle me to publish copyrighted content for my own profit.

As an avid reader of the HP books, I have done my own research and took notes while reading and that helps me more than the Lexicon can. As an anal web designer with reading problems, the Lexicon is not a very user friendly design to me. I can’t imagine how anyone will be able to even read it in published form. My point, if you worship the Lexicon, more power to you but believe me, it is more rewarding to find answers to the HP world simply by rereading the books and doing a little extra research yourself. I am looking forward to JK Rowling’s encyclopedia with added backstories and facts. If you criticize her for not working on it now and getting it published tomorrow, think about how much time she has already dedicated to writing all 7 books! Give her a break! She deserves it! It is sad that it has to be delayed even more because of this issue which could have been easily avoided if RDR and SVA respected her wishes from the beginning.

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I just wanted to say thanks to Melissa for keeping everything updated regarding this current case and keeping as unbiased as possible when reporting the events.

I hope this won’t be one of many attempts of people to publish Harry Potter works without consent from JKR/WB and their respected associates. I hope it works out Jo, what a hassle.

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@ annabelle, who said: So my question here is, how is this any different than an encyclopedia? It’s more creative, and it does stand on its own, so how does Steve have a case against JKR to publish his book, and this fanfiction writer cannot?

Items that appear in a typical dictionary or encylcopedia are things which are already in ‘the public domain’. This means that no one really owns the topic/item and therefore it can be freely written about. For those things that ARE copyrighted works there is a ‘fair use’ of material applied. Fair use of copyrighted material is approximately 90% originally thought, analysis, commentary and 10% or less of copyrighted materials with all materials appropriately crediting the source/author.

Jo’s work IS copyrighted, therefore she has the right to declare the medium her works appear in. If she says that for free websites cannot publish her copyrighted material in book format, then that’s her legal right!

@ Lilyp who said: One of the things that irritates me the most in all this discussion is the argument that Steve can’t have any money for all the work he had. 1st because it is preposterous to think that he can work for all the fandom for free, but can’t have money.

Well, oddly enough, Steve seemed to think that he wasn’t entitled to make money off of Jo’s work. In fact, he stated, and I quote:

“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.” From an email he sent Pre-Deathly Hallows release, fall of 2006.

~Also, a public post by SVA on a Yahoo usergroup from 2000, and I quote:

“Amanda asked him: “In all seriousness, why not publish the Lexicon? Donate the proceeds to JKR’s favorite charity or something, but people would love it. Thoughts?”

Steve Vander Ark, still December 14, 2000:

Well, technically speaking, the Lexicon IS published.
JKR herself said that she was going to do her own encyclopedia when
the series is done and that fans should "accept no substitutes." The
publishers of the Beacham book were sued by Scholastic etc but it
failed to stop the book going to press. I don't want to offend anyone
or cause problems, especially with Jo. I would love to have her give
her blessing to such a project (I have these fond little daydreams of
getting email from her one day saying she liked the Lexicon and
offering suggestions). But without her permission, I won't publish it
in any form except online. She's entitled to that market, not me and
not the Beacham author. I'm just filling in until she gets time to do
it (or wants to hire me to do it for her! Now THERE'S a thought!!!)."
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I agree with Maven and Lilyp. Steve’s book is not copyright infringement. There is a difference in the literary world between a original book and a reference book based on the material. JKR has copyrighted the rights to the original books. No one care write a book that continues the books story line without her permission or reproduce her work in it entirety and claim it as their own work, but you can compile the information in the books and organize that information in their own way. The compiling of the information and the organization of it make it a reference book that that does not infringe on her copyright. He states that the original work is hers and he is merely reference her work. His work lies in the compiling and organization of the information.

What the website has copyrighted is the way that the information is organized. If JKR organized her book in the same way as the website or the book she would be in violation of copyright law.

I agree with Steve that JKR has really made a power grab if she think that she has complete control about what is written about the Harry Potter world. Ans YES she did create it and the world is she brain child, but she is trying to over step her copyright and that is a dangerous thing. Just because she wrote it doesn’t mean that other can’t reference it if they give her credit for the original work. She doesn’t own the references to the books.

JKR saying that she is trying to stop it for charity is just low. Any book written by her about the Harry Potter book will sell as well as if Steve’s book hadn’t been published. She is just trying to rile up the fans.

Steve has the right to publish his reference book of compiled information. He has a copyright to the way that he reference the books that does not violate her copyright or they would never have give him the copyright to the organization in the first place. So I say go Steve fight for your rights and I hope that you win.

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Oh, man. Those quotes sadden me even more. I can not have any respect for someone who goes so totally back on their word just to make a little money.

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Sorry for the double post, but to those who are in support of Steve, have you missed the idea that they not only are breaking copyright law, but they refused to follow the rules of fair use? They have no case and I am shocked that a judge has not simply thrown it out yet. I frankly think that SVA doesn’t much care whether or not the book gets published now. Maybe he’s just hoping for a nice fat settlement from WB to make him go away. Look at what he’s said in the past: he’s not doing this for some underdog reason. He’s doing it for money. He’s greedy. Whether or not you agree if it would hurt The Scottish Book or not, it’s still breaking copyright law. It doesn’t matter how much money someone has, they still have the right to protect their work. RDR winning this case will not help fandom, it will only hurt it.

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@ Steelhart, who said: There is a difference in the literary world between a original book and a reference book based on the material.

Steve in no way invented cataloging or referencing. He has a right to copyright the layout of his website, yes. However, legally he CANNOT copyright works that are already owned/copyrighted by others, such as fan editorials, fanart, fanfiction on the Lexicon OR any Harry Potter materials owned by JK Rowling, Bloomsbury, Scholastic, WB.

Referencing in and of itself is not ‘transformative’, which is one of the tests for copyright infringement cases.

There is legal precedent in the following case regarding fair use of copyrighted material in a published reference guide: Castle Rock Entertainment, Inc. vs. Carol Publishing Group, Inc. and Golub aka “The Seinfeld case”. Carol Publishing lost because according to the court the work was non-transformative and therefore not a fair use of copyrighted materials :

“Any transformative purpose possessed by The SAT is slight to non-existent. We reject the argument that The SAT was created to educate Seinfeld viewers or to criticize, “expose,” or otherwise comment upon Seinfeld . The SAT’s purpose, as evidenced definitively by the statements of the book’s creators and by the book itself, is to repackage Seinfeld to entertain Seinfeld viewers. The SAT’s back cover makes no mention of exposing Seinfeld to its readers, for example, as a pitiably vacuous reflection of a puerile and pervasive television culture, but rather urges SAT readers to “open this book to satisfy [their] between-episode [ Seinfeld ] cravings.” Golub, The SAT’s author, described the trivia quiz book not as a commentary or a Seinfeld research tool, but as an effort to “capture Seinfeld’s flavor in quiz book fashion.” Finally, even viewing The SAT in the light most favorable to defendants, we find scant reason to conclude that this trivia quiz book seeks to educate, criticize, parody, comment, report upon, or research Seinfeld , or otherwise serve a transformative purpose. The book does not contain commentary or analysis about Seinfeld , nor does it suggest how The SAT can be used to research Seinfeld ; rather, the book simply poses trivia questions. The SAT’s plain purpose, therefore, is not to expose Seinfeld’s “nothingness,” but to satiate Seinfeld fans’ passion for the “nothingness” that Seinfeld has elevated into the realm of protectable creative expression.”

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“Power grab”???? SVA, she CREATED this world, the ENTIRE thing, everything that’s in your book and on your site has come from HER MIND!! She has worked hard for 17 years to make sure we have this wonderful place to escape into whenever we feel like doing so. Neither that book, nor the Lexicon would come into being if she hadn’t made this universe. At least she has the right to claim it’s hers. She has never ever come hard onto fansites,fan theories or fan art. The only reason she doesn’t want the book to be published is because it’s not right. It’s morally wrong to say you’re the biggest fan or HP and then do something like this. Do you get ANY of this SVA??

Whatever little sympahy I had for him has completely vanished. I can’t believe he wrote this. And what is it with NYT? I agree here with whoever said they seem to have some anti-Jo thing going on, what with publishing an early review of DH to now this. Please RDR and SVA, drop it now and give Jo some peace of mind!!!

PS: thanks a ton Melissa for all the unbiased reporting and keeping us up with the case.

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Thank you Cara for answering my question, I was only curious as to why it was different. I’m not for either fan fiction or an encyclopedia being published for money, I just honestly don’t see how Steve has a case in this at all.

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Because I have way too much time on my hands and can’t sleep….

Ok, if today I decided to quit my job, and build a washing machine from scratch, using my own washing machine as a guide, could I then claim rights to the mangled blob that I would call a washing machine? I mean, it would take a lot of WORK, and I would maybe alphabatize the washing cycles… like Cotton- Delicates- Silk- Towels- etc. etc. The washing machine I used to copy from didn’t do that! It had Towels before Cotton!!! Now, any washing machine maker that decides to put Towels before Cotton on the wash cycles, is going to break my copyright, even though in no way did anything to invent the thing in the first place, I put a lot of work into making my own so therefore, why shouldn’t I get credit for my hard work?

And for that matter, I borrowed my friend’s pants the other day. I rolled them up so they could fit in my boots, which she never did, and I think they looked much better on me, so in my opinion they should be mine now. I mean, she hardly wears them anymore and she has so much money she could just buy new ones, it’s not like I stole them from a poor person or something.

Does this make any sense? No… it doesn’t…. neither does Steve’s argument in this matter.

And incase this isn’t obvious, this IS all a joke, I didn’t make my own washing machine… I made a dryer!

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Didn’t Steve ask Jo if he could move to the UK and work with her on the encyclopedia? To me it sounds like after being turned down, he completely turned away from his respect for her, took back the remark “without her permission, I won’t publish it in any form except online” and decided if she won’t let him work with her so he might as well just publish my his encyclopedia and make money off it. I don’t know, but he sounds like he took it a bit too far with suggesting he move to the UK assuming he will work with JK Rowling on the encyclopedia. Honestly, I think it may have freaked her out a bit.

I don’t think she needs him really. I have no doubt that JK Rowling is capable of looking back at her notes and organizing it the way she wants it now that she’s finished with the last book. Some people don’t realize how many different ways artists approach their creative work. We know that she has notes on a range of things from napkins to massive notebooks. She has a brilliant mind and usually brilliant minds can work in odd ways. Some say she is unorganized because she didn’t recompile her notes the way Steve was able to but she was writing an entire series for crying out loud! I’m sure she wasn’t worried about compiling her notes from A-Z while her mind was creating the stories. So what if Hermione’s birthday wasn’t clear in the books but the important example is at least we all comprehended that Hermione was the same year as Harry and Ron.

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And it’s even more hypocritical to say that she wants to preserve her charities. If she was really concerned about charity, why didn’t she even begin to work on the book? don’t the charities need the money now? She has millions and millions of dollars and everything she touches can be transformed in money, why don’t she give other things to those charities now? I can only think that she is using the charities to manipulate the fans and the judge and that she doesn’t want Steve to publish his book (after allowing a lot of other encyclopedias be published), because his work is really serious and exposes her mistakes.

Posted by Lilyp on February 08, 2008 @ 10:29 PM

Ummm..Lilyp, Jo already gives a lot of money to charity, she has a seperate unit set up for that. And about her starting on the encyclopedia right now, she worked for 17 years, the least she deserves is a break. And now,with this case on her head, do you really think she can have the heart to start that encyclopedia? And how can Steve’s book expose her mistakes? It started from her, and she knows that world MUCH better than ANYONE including SVA. As fans,we know what we read and speculate, but she’s the one who has it all in her head.

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Wow. This guy does realize that he is not the author of the Harry Potter books? The true rights belong to the author, which is J. K. Rowling, and she should have a say in what book, in relation to HER work, is or is not published. She told fans ages ago of her plans on writing a Harry Potter encyclopedia, and now Vander Ark thinks it is his duty to step up and take over her project just because she is taking a break? Let’s also not forget that she is writing the Scottish Book for charity! Who would have the nerve to try to compete against that? I cannot believe that someone who considers himself a fan of Harry Potter would have such disrespect for its creator. I hope Jo wins this case, and we can look forward to the real Harry Potter encyclopedia.

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There are really only two opinions on this matter. From the look of the comments here, it would seem that the score is JKR – 10,000 vs. SVA – 3. We will never, through thoughtful argument, change the opinions of the people on the other side. Those who side with Ms. Rowling will always side with her. Those in Steve Vander Ark’s camp will most likely stay there.

The courts have done a great disservice to the Harry Potter fandom, by allowing this mess to become so protracted. This unsavory legal fiasco has proven to be the only truly divisive event to plague this uniquely unifying phenomenon, which we all care so very much about.

Interestingly, this is a case about ownership. I doubt there’s a single person reading this who doesn’t feel at least a little ownership of the Harry Potter series. We, the fans, have had an unprecedented amount of say in the franchise. Ultimately, the decisions weren’t ours, but our collective voice has been heard by filmmakers, video game programmers, theme park designers, toy builders, and even the author. For the first time, this community’s collective voice does not matter. Judges and lawyers are the only people who matter now.

The final ruling in regard to this ugly battle will be the result of a trained legal professional’s interpretation of long-standing laws, scripted arguments and piles of documentation. It could go either way. If the final ruling is in favor of WB and J.K. Rowling’s motion to quell the publication of The HP Lexicon in book form, then the vast majority of Harry Potter fans will begin their countdown to the publication of the official HP encyclopedia. If the ruling favors RDR/SVA, then a different countdown may begin. I’m speaking, of course, of the countdown to the time when our collective voice can once again be heard.

Should Mr. Vander Ark and his publisher enjoy victory in the courtroom, we, as a community, can assure that their victory is not so sweet. The enormous legal costs they have and will, no doubt, continue to incur can only be justified and offset by huge sales of the book they’re fighting so hard to publish. We can make our voice heard by not buying it.

I’m a devoted fan of the Harry Potter series and I appreciate the work that J.K. Rowling put into creating it. I’ve had a blast at the book release parties and enjoyed talking with other devoted fans. I make no secret of the fact that I fully support the author’s case. I would be happy to wait ten years for her to publish her official book.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that somewhere, deep inside, I’m half-hoping that SVA/RDR wins their case. As fun as those book release parties were, I think it would be just as much fun to stand outside my local bookstore picketing the release of the HP Lexicon!

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First, Melissa, thank you for your professionalism, integrity, objectivity, and impartiality. You and the staff at the-leaky-cauldron.org are what the editorial staff at the NYT should be. God bless you.

Second, without reading the entire HPL as it was set to be published, we fans can not determine if “fair use” requirements are met or not, which as has been so rightly posted numerous times previous to this is what the suit all hinges on.

True, SVA’s public commets sound damaging to his credibility and show him in unfavorable light to us fans. It is true, too, that the NYT piece is biased and drips with half-truths, misdirection, and antagonizing sarcasm. All of which, I suppose, is designed to drive up web traffic to the NYT from the controversy it stirs, enabling them to justify their advertising rates. For however bungling RDR/SVA and their attorneys appear to us, all the facts are not yet public and the courts have not yet ruled. Well, at least the US District Court hasn’t even if the public opinion one has based on the side the majority of these posts are coming down on.

JKR/WB have the right to defend her intelectual property and I think will do so successfully. I just wonder how many rings the circus will have before it’s over.

Melissa, you rock.

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I’ve said it once and I will say it again. Steve has NO rights to the content of the Harry Potter series, no matter how much work he has put into the Lexicon. We are grateful towards Jo for the freedom she allows the fandom, but Steven is taking the biscuit. It’s disappointing that a person who seemed so genuine is trying so hard to make a quick buck from this.

I was even more sickened when he tried to use Jo to get a work visa for the UK. Pathetic.

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“I was even more sickened when he tried to use Jo to get a work visa for the UK.”

Seriously?! Wow, this guy has NO shame. Unbelievable.

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I really feel angry that SVA and some opinion in NYT calling WB/JK’s side a power grab. JK has allowed so much discussion and reference to her work on the web all these years. She’s allowed people to write fanfiction, speculative essays and to speculate on the future story in forums, to quote her interviews etc etc. She’s not power crazy or a copyright hog. If she were she’d have sued all these websites over and over again.

JK has the right to defend her rights to her creative work when it is being used in a non-creative way.

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Yeah, it was in a previous post on this subject. He said he was looking to move to the UK soon and was in need of a work permit and thought he could work with Jo to compile her encyclopaedia.

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will orwont ; I really liked your post and it also alarmed me a lot! I think you are right. If RDR win it will have implications beyond the HP books.

As an ex-librarian, I will confirm that there is nothing creative about the organization of information into A to Z lists, even with cross-referencing. It’s a quite standard and natural way of enabling access to a range of knowledge, something which reference librarians have to do a lot and at speed as well as enabling access for other people. It’s true that it’s difficult to get a really good index (anyone else get frustrated with the Yellow Pages like me??), but that doesn’t mean it’s a creative job.

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Until now I didn’t know how involved Steve had been with the case, whether RDR had taken it out of his hands or not. But now I see that he’s 100% behind it, that last tiny bit of respect I had has gone out of the window. I hope with every fibre of my being that he loses.

Melissa, thank you for reporting all of this in such a civilised way, but I’m sorry- I can’t be civil about it. This man is an idiot.

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By nature, I have always been somewhat of a devils advocate. This whole case has been most unfavourable to Steve Van Ark image. But nevertheless I always gave him some benefit of the doubt. Now I feel there is hardly any doubt from me for Steve to benefit from! I dont think Steve is a “bad guy” but he is certainly coming across as very shifty. I am still aghast from a previous article that with RDR, he arranged profit percentage from the Floo Network behind all his partners’ back. Melissa herself said she was unaware.

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While the comments by Steve Vander Ark have been unsavory at best, I cannot help but be disturbed by the behavior of both sides in this case. Mr. Vander Ark hides behind a defense of free speech and fair use, and J.K. Rowling and WB claim copyright infringement. However, the bottom line for everyone involved seems to be MONEY.

Vander Ark would not be fighting if the publication of the new book would not bring him much more money than he possibly makes with the website. Why not just post the new material for the book on the site? Because book sales inevitably bring more money than the google ads on his site. Why are Rowling and the WB figting so hard? Money. Rowling states that she wants that money to go to her charities, but, it still comes down to the cash.

One last caveat. Everyone involved in this case should really think about what’s at stake here. The NYTimes article may not have been informed about the Lexicon’s book, but it was accurate about the reprucussions should the RDR/Vander Ark lose. If because of the lexicon’s encyclopedia, and Rowling/the WB’s suit, others lose just a little more freedom in their creativity (which may be more than just an encyclopedia/commentary), that would be sad indeed.

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Joy, I fail to follow your point. In my opinion if RDR/SVA win then things will get much more difficult for fans to join in the fandom. Copyright holders will see it as a loss of control of their intilectual property and fight ever so much harder to restrict anyone from borrowing or building on their work. You’ll see authors and publishers and studios trolling the market for any sign or unauthorized use and spending time and money to protect their rights. Fanfic, wizard rock, and reference sites will feel as though a vice is tightening on them from the constant pressure of the everpresent monitoring lawyers. Big Brother will be watching and fighting to restrict the fandom. All that will result in higher costs for us to buy books and see the movies.

If JKR/WB will I think the status quo would be maintained regarding the fandom.

IMHO

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Reposted after editing typos – sorry.

Joy, I fail to follow your point. In my opinion if RDR/SVA win then things will get much more difficult for fans to join in the fandom. Copyright holders will see it as a loss of control of their intilectual property and fight ever so much harder to restrict anyone from borrowing or building on their work. You’ll see authors and publishers and studios trolling the market for any sign of unauthorized use and spending time and money to protect their rights. Fanfic, wizard rock, and reference sites will feel as though a vice is tightening on them from the constant pressure of the everpresent monitoring lawyers. Big Brother will be watching and fighting to restrict the fandom. All that will result in higher costs for us to buy books and see the movies.

If JKR/WB win I think the status quo would be maintained regarding the fandom.

IMHO

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Still didn’t get them all… sorry

intellectual

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how stupid can you get !!!! i mean JKR wrote the damn books and copyrighted them under her name therefore they are leagaly hers!!! but people seem to think that just because she want’s a say in what happens to them she a copyright hog!!!!! i mean come on !!! use some common semse k

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I really hope Jo wins this case. That stupid Steve’s (I’m sorry Melissa) fame has gone to his head.

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Urrgh…I thought from reading comments on the Lexicon site that it was mostly RDR doing all the (I’ll refrain from posting my particular thought here), and that Steve was sort of arguing against them, but after that, his credibility just dropped. Jo wrote it, and all this book is is copying it into an orderly alphabetical encyclopedia….That sure as heck isn’t under Fair Use laws….

On a completey unrelated, but amusing, note, I didn’t realise that Melissa was the Melissa posting. I honestly thought that it was someone named Melissa who was posting her picture, by chance with red hair as well, doing that. I snort at myseld with the derision I usually reserve for people who argue about things they know nothing about or won’t back it up. Did I just describe myself?

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lizabeth – Your pants analogy is fantastic.

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choke CREATIVITY, they say? What they’re doing is taking her CREATIVE works and publishing it for their own profit. I’m sure that is very CREATIVE of them.

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Man, I gotta stop reading these updates. It’s just giving me an acid stomach. Of course, SVA’s lawyer must have an even worse acid stomach, trying to figure out a way to muzzle his client. How unbelievably ugly.

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I won’t pretend to have even the slightest understanding of the legalities of this issue. But despite what the law says, I’m wondering whatever happened to good old-fashioned decency? No matter what the law says, as adults we should all understand the basic difference between right and wrong. Profiting off of someone else’s work just strikes me as clearly wrong, while plans to create something to benefit charity is obviously right, nice, and just plain decent. The money being spent on this case could be put to so much better use than solving what we all learned on the playground as children: you don’t take something that’s not yours, period.

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I agree with Joy’s post that this entire situation for both sides has boiled down to money. It’s gone beyond the claims of intellectual property and the creative process. Both parties are throwing mud at the other (whether personally or through lawyers) and I fear that the damage has hurt both sides. Before all this started how many of you trashed talked the Lexicon for what it was doing? Accused them of copyright infringement? Very little if any from what I can remember. The Lexicon was heralded as a great source of HP knowledge. That, I fear, will no longer be the case. Before anyone flames me for my views on the “money” aspect of the case I understand that there is a difference between the web version (which is free to the public) and a book (which must be bought). And as an artist I understand intellectual property/copyright infringement aspect of the case as well. I find it hard to believe that this case is still about copyright laws anymore. It is about money and that may be hard for a lot of people to figure out.

Which side is wrong and right in this situation is now in the hands of the legal system. Should it have gotten to this point? No. Both sides should have sat down and come up with some type of compromise. Unfortunately the damage that has come from this case is done. JKR’s legions of fans will stick by her side and defend her even if her argument is found to be at fault. SVA has ruined his reputation with his behavior. I personally am no longer a fan of JKR and SVA/Lexicon. It appears that both sides have lost sight of what is most important, not themselves but the millions of people who love Harry Potter. I found the Lexicon entertaining and informative and the HP series was a fantastic trip. JKR’s journey of HP helped me through the loss of both my parents. It was the greatest escape for me. Sadly that’s been ruined by this entire situation. I hope that both sides come to some agreement for the sake of themselves and most importantly the fans. I hope that those who read this will at least think about my view and those of others even if you are opposed to them. We are a society that has become quick to judge and condemn those who are of differing opinions.

Of course, I could be totally of my rocker on this entire case. This is just how it appears to me. Be groovy!

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“[Dave Langford, editor of Ansible] and I are part of a subculture that lives off the creative work of others.” Isn’t that called a literary parasite?

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JKR is the exact opposite of being “power crazy”.

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Jo – I am on your side 100%.

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Come on!!! He’s just reached an all new low! Saying that J.K.’s ‘extending her reach into our subculture?’ Who is he joking? His book is just a copy of the Lexicon! He is just using her work to create a profit for himself! If Steve’s reading this, heed this warning: what goes around comes around!

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I have had a lot of respect for Steve in the past, but that all just went out the window. I can understand wanting to write the book in the first place, but enough is enough. He’s risen above his place, it seems. Sigh.

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Grrrrr.. this is IMMENSELY frustrating!

Since Jo created this fantastic world it should be hers to decide how it’s used- and she’s very generous with that as it is.

My hope that Steve was overshadowed by RDR in this case is unfortunately shattered. :(

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I am unhappy that two people I admire and would like to support unconditionally are at odds with each other. Initially, I assumed that Jo was being over-aggressively protected by her publishers and lawyers, as the Lexicon doesn’t actually re-present her work but adds critical and entertainment value in essentially a separate genre. But the NY Times piece makes it fairly clear that Jo really does not intend that anyone be able to make or do anything with her characters for money—and that really IS a reach for power not previously established in law. The Lexicon seemed a clear case (and a great use) of Fair Use as a website; it should be no different as a book. Heaven knows I love Jo Rowling, but I really hope Steve wins this one for everybody’s sake.

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@ Loren in NYC:

1. The article in the Times was an OPINION piece slanted towards RDR and SVA and against JKR/WB. It stated things as fact, when in fact those statements were only OPINION and then goes on to glowingly praise RDRs attorney.

2. Fair use means 90% original thought, analysis, commentary and 10% or less of copyrighted materials. This is what makes a derivative work “transformative”. The Lexicon does not meet that criteria. Part of analyzing whether an item meets this criteria is to do a word count. Now, try going to the A-Z part in Lexicon, cross out all but 10% of words/info that are solely derived from Harry Potter and see what you have left. The truthful answer is ‘Not much is left’ and certainly not enough to stand alone in a book format. You can review most of the Lexicon and will find that all of the original content--fan essays, fan art, and fanfiction—is EXCLUDED from SVAs book.

Also, please remember that the original cover art for SVA’s book was very misleading. It appeared in the same size and typeset as the Harry Potter books, making it appear that it was connected to JKR, 30-50% of the general public would pick it up and buy it thinking they were getting a JKR original and only getting a very poor substitute. It had no disclaimers, no ‘unauthorized’ tag line, nothing. That type of deceptive advertising is illegal and it also fails one of the tests for ‘Fair Use’ of copyrighted materials.

3. Copyrights give the OWNER the right to say in which medium thier creative works may appear in and who has the right to sell their intellectual property, among other things. This means that it is entirely within JKRs purview to allow a free, not for profit fansite to exist on the web. It also means it is entirely withing JKRs legal rights to challenge the publication of that fansite in another medium, and in this case, that means a book format.

My advice is to please read carefully both sides of the issue, find out all pertinent information, and read up on copyright laws. That’s the best way to make an informed decision on this case.

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Cara, many thanks. I will take your advice. Clearly the ‘original’ cover was deceptive, and is now referred to as ‘original’ because it is no longer the cover. SVA/RDR are doing what they can to address the legitimate claims by Jo and her side, which admittedly leaves them with a much less salable product. The exclusion of the original essay content of the Lexicon is puzzling to me, but the reference work represents something rather more than merely the words involved—the collection and organization are not ‘material’ by your ‘cross-out’ method.

I agree 10% to 20% quoted or paraphrased material is a good rule of thumb for fair use, but it’s always going to depend on some other factors and be a matter of opinion (and the judge’s opinion is the one that counts). I have read that when The Nation quoted 300-400 words from Gerald Ford’s memoirs, the Supreme Court held this was NOTa fair use, but In another case, the court held that it could be fair use for individuals to record ENTIRE television programs for later viewing. Sometimes less than 1% is NOT fair use, but 100% IS fair use.

Of the ‘other factors’ likely to hold sway here, material (financial) damage to JKR and her partners seems to be the most likely, and again, I just can’t imagine who would NOT buy the Scottish Book (or any other JKR creation!) because the Lexicon is in print and published.

Thanks again.

Cause market harm.

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sigh I am getting tired of all this. It really is disheartening to see how lawyers do what they do. I know they are necessary – more and more as the world becomes more and more litigious – but it is a shame that this happens.

If I were going to try and sum all this up, in my own words, and from my own perspective, which, after all, is all I CAN do, I would say the following:

I think the whole issue could have been easily avoided if permission were asked directly and up-front. That way, JKR could have told SVA what the issues were and a compromise could have been reached. I firmly believe that a compromise was possible that would have alowed SVA to publish his book and JKR to be happy with the outcome. Not necessarily of the book, but of the whole resolution.

Instead, we have lawyers having to step in to make representations, we have what has essentially become (and it is ALWAYS like this) a “he said, she said” situation, and we have an unwanted and distasteful bit of unpleasantry that at least JKR, and maybe even SVA, would rather have avoided (though I have the distinct impression that RDR and Co. are not unhappy).

It is, however, interesting to note that JKR is not uttering a single word, preferring to let her and WB’s attorneys do what they do (and maybe following their advice to remain silent). If the other side would do the same, and let THEIR legal beagles do what they do, perhaps there would be a cleaner resolution.

At this rate, unfortunately, there is already so much hype, and the fact that JKR is so well-known that this is going to be messy until the end, and it will be difficult to conclude with any certainty whether the ultimate decision, whatever it is, is the right decision. The one thing that I DO think will happen here is that an otherwise unknown publishing house is getting more free air-time than it could have otherwise EVER have hoped for (and, as such, might benefit from the notoriety alone). Whether anyone emerges unscathed is, I think, an open question.

Melissa, thanks again, for remaining outside the commentary on this matter, for providing, to the extent it is available, BOTH sides of what is out there, and for trying to manage us, an unruly mob of Potter fanatics (please everyone, tongue FIRMLY in cheek) to keep us on the high road.

M.

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Just wanted to make a comment on a posting from the first page of this thread about the NY Times, and how a respectable paper like that should be doing their research. Please everyone remember, the NY Times was the paper that published the review of DH before the publication date, despite JKR’s general request for a litle self-control, and was soundly villified by almost everyone who was aware of it. Why would they bother to do any research that might support JKR/WB’s claims? And before anyone says, how come JKR didn’t sue them, remember they published a review, clearly within the fair use doctrine. JKR never threatened to sue, she only expressed disappointment that the Times did not honour her request.

M.

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“In another case, the court held that it could be fair use for individuals to record ENTIRE television programs for later viewing. Sometimes less than 1% is NOT fair use, but 100% IS fair use.”

Posted by Loren in NYC on February 11, 2008 @ 12:10 PM

Yes Loren, anyone can record a TV Program for later viewing. It’’s perfectly legal. But, it wouldn’t be legal if the person made DVDs out of the recording and sold them for profit, would it?

In the same way, Steve is allowed to catalog and re-organize the HP Series, but not allowed to profit from it. Because he wasn’t asked to do it, he did it voluntarily knowing that he wouldn’t be allowed to profit from it.

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For those supporting RDR, I guess it would be okay for me to remix the HP songs from the soundtrack, burn them on a CD, and sell them. I spent hours working on them so I might as well sell them to the fans who want them. It’s not copyright infringement as long as I added my own sounds to it and rearranged the score right? John Williams wouldn’t mind I’m sure.

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What a pity of a case. As I said some time ago, it gets nastier by the minute. My humble opinion in the facts alone is as it was at first: the intended book is most likely fair use of the copyrighted material, but JKR/WB know that this book in particular, unlike other companion books, could actually make important profit. It’s the only companion book who could actually pose a threat to a future official encyclopedia, and therefore they complain. In this scenario, the book should be published. And yet RDR/SVA have indeed, from the first objection JKR/WB raised to the publication of the book, behaved in a most nasty way. They’re destroying their own defense with their stubbornness. Pity.

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