Trial Date Set for JKR/WB vs. RDR Books


Mar 10, 2008

Posted by Melissa Anelli

A trial date has been set for the WB/JKR vs. RDR Books case, in which WB and JKR are attempting to stop publication of an unauthorized Harry Potter encyclopedia. The trial has been set for March 24, 25 and 26, starting at 9:30 a.m., at the United States Courthouse in Manhattan, a representative for the court said today.

This will take the place of what was to be a March 13 hearing to determine whether to grant a preliminary injunction halting the book from publication while the case moved to trial. The judge on the case, Hon. Robert Patterson, Jr., ordered that the hearing and trial on copyright/trademark infringement be consolidated. Whether the trial will be in front of a jury is yet to be decided. (ETA: Either side has until March 14th to demand a jury trial. Also the date as read by Justia for the start of the trial is incorrect; the trial is still scheduled for the 24th, not the 27th.)

A response to a letter by Dale Cendali, lawyer for WB/JKR, revealed that the judge wanted to have the “trial on the merits” on March 13 in order to save considerable time and costs. JKR/WB brought up several scheduling conflicts, including one involving JKR having to appear in court in England this week, to appeal a ruling regarding paparazzi pictures of her four-year-old son, David Murray. Cendali also mentions that the original schedule allotted time for the defendants to provide an Answer to the last complaint, and the six days’ notice to trial would make that difficult. The parties met with the judge on Friday to resolve the scheduling conflicts and arrive at this trial date.

Related article updates: Fan zine editor David Langford has addressed the inclusion of his book in RDR‘s supporting materials; they cited it as one that was very similar to the proposed book, though Langford says:

“I can’t see the likeness myself, and neither can JKR/WB, whose counter-filing agrees that the Langford epic wasn’t marketed as ‘an encyclopedia or guide’. I also heard from RDR, asking how I got away with it—that is, whether JKR/WB had been horrid to me. In fact, once Gollancz had let the author’s agents see early proofs, all was sweetness and light.”

He also quotes Terry Pratchett from an Independent interview of March 6, opposing JKR/WB: “Terry Pratchett, who has conspicuously failed to sue Andrew M. Butler for editing An Unofficial Companion to the Novels of Terry Pratchett, does not approve of this suit: ‘In fantasy writing, accusations of copying are very difficult to make. [...] You know who invented wizards? Who invented Goblins? If we were going to start paying royalties for nicking one another’s ideas, we’d have all given our life savings to the Tolkien family a long time ago.’ (The original article says the proposed book is “a 400-page reference book of potions, mystical creatures and the like for fans of the child wizard.”)

The Right to Write fund, of which RDR Books owner Roger Rapoport is president and which was launched on Feb. 8 of this year, is also raising money for the RDR Books legal defense; this version of RTW (there are many organizations called “Right to Write” on the Web) is an offshoot of The Women’s Center for Ethics in Action.

ETA: The Guardian has now published a story on the case in which lawyer Anthony Falzone says that the only sure thing in the case is that “whoever loses will try to appeal,” among more quotes and rehashings.

It also has a claim from RDR president Roger Rapoport that the publishing company received one letter from the Christopher Little Agency and the next thing they heard from JKR/WB that they had filed the injunction. Publicly filed documents prove this to be untrue. Neil Blair from CLLA contacted Roger Rapoport in mid-September; between that time and the Oct 31 filing, as court documents show, there were several cease-and-desist letters sent from JKR and WB’s lawyers, as well as correspondence granting Mr. Rapoport time to respond to attend to personal matters.


Since we are now in the fifth month of this case, here is a very brief summary of the actions in this case so far, with links so those who want to read further can do so:

On Oct. 31, JKR and WB filed a suit against RDR Books, which was attempting to publish a print for-profit version of unofficial online encyclopedia, The Harry Potter Lexicon. The book would be an encyclopedia of the Harry Potter universe, which JKR/WB said violated her copyrights and trademarks.

JKR made a statement on her Web site regarding the case. The Lexicon did also.

Deadlines for filings regarding a preliminary injunction on the book were set, and a judge issued a temporary restraining order to prevent publication while the merits of the preliminary injunction request were reviewed. RDR took the book down from pre-ordering on their site; the TRO demanded it be removed from Amazon as well.

Amidst announcements of postponed filing dates, Stanford’s Fair Use Project joined up with RDR Books to provide legal assistance. In late December J.K. Rowling discussed her encyclopedia, jokingly referring to it as “The Scottish Book,” on our podcast, PotterCast.

In January, JKR/WB made their full filing requesting a preliminary injunction (part one, part two).

RDR Books requested copies of JKR‘s notes for her encyclopedia and was denied.

Fan zine Ansible published a letter from the Lexicon author stating his case; the New York Times also published an opinion piece favoring RDR (later rebuffed by a Harvard law blogger and faculty at the U. of Mich).

In early February, RDR filed its response to the complaint.

In late February, JKR and WB responded.

On March 7, the judge on the case consolidated the hearing for a preliminary injunction with a trial on the merits of the case, and set dates of March 24, 25 and 26th at 9:30 a.m. for the trial.

108 Responses to Trial Date Set for JKR/WB vs. RDR Books

Avatar Image says:

Go Jo, hope you win the case and sort this out once and for all.

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Will it be manditory that Jo be at this trial?

And even Tolkien doesn’t own the concept of wizards and! It is the ’’story’’ that is important not the use of any type of beings that are used to tell it. They are just a vehical she happened to use,as she could have told it without the use of magic…...but it would NOT have been near as much fun.:o)

Just ask Mark Twain ,there are no new concepts but a story is still something of a personal nature and belongs to it’s author [or writer]

Avatar Image says:

I have a feeling that this time next year, this case will still be going on. Oh well.

Avatar Image says:

and on and on and on—hope not for Jo’s sake

Avatar Image says:

i have begun to wonder that even id rdr books and steve vanderark winthe case that if the book would even sell that well with all the negative publicity

Avatar Image says:

Melissa: Where exactly is this taking place?

Avatar Image says:

500 Pearl Street, NY, NY, courtroom 24A.

Avatar Image says:

“In fact, once Gollancz had let the author’s agents see early proofs, all was sweetness and light.”

If only RDR/SVA had done the same…

Avatar Image says:

Well, Terry Pratchett… if the Lexicon book was about nameless wizards and goblins, then you would have a point. However, it is about Harry the Wizard and Griphook the Goblin (among others) so indeed, it IS copyright infringement.


Avatar Image says:

I’m on jury duty right now and my last jury selection date for NH is March 17th. I can’t imagine being on a jury for that complex a case. At least no DNA or forensics evidence like my last case.

Avatar Image says:

Melissa, many thanks for keeping us so well informed!

Avatar Image says:

I sincerely hope that Warner/JKR lose this suit. What the Lexicon did is NOT infringement—it is protected under the copyright act of 1989, as amended, under the clause pertaining to scholarly works of literary commentary.

If this suit is successful, it will affect many kinds of writing that have long been permitted—all the “unofficial” guides to TV series, compilations of movies in a particular genre with photos and plot summaries, and a host of other kinds of legitimate published non-fictionw orks will be affected. I respect Ms. Rowling, but her key argument is that publication of THIS book will prevent HER book (if and when she writes it) from selling well because “people won’t need two Harry Potter encyclopedias”.

For me, I’d buy hers, knowing the money was going to charity, even if I already owned Steve Vanderarks, which I plan to do as soon as it is published. And, yes, I did go to law school, and I do sit on the copyright committee of a national writer’s association, and I have testified before several courts and the U.S. Congress on matters of copyright infringement. I think Jo’s suit is without merit, and I’m apalled that more writers haven’t rallied to support Steve in this.

Avatar Image says:

Deb, I’m not saying I know more than you about copyright law, but it seems like the argument about the Lexicon interfering with JKR’s encyclopedia is a secondary argument. I think her key argument is that the Lexicon does not constitute a scholarly work of literary commentary. I’m not passing judgment as to whether or not this is true, I’m just saying the key argument has always been that the Lexicon does not create anything new in the way of analysis or commentary.

Avatar Image says:

Hi Deb

This is a Harry Potter fan site, so what you read herel will mainly be adoring fans who are on JKR’s side no matter the issue.

I also agree that the law is clear that JKR's suit is not covered by the copyright laws.  If I understand the nature of her suit, however, she is trying to claim rights under the trademark laws.  I find this very disturbing.  Even McDonalds who is very protective of their Golden Arch trademark doesn't claim that someone can't use the words "Golden Arch" or "McDonalds."  JKR seems to claim that if someone uses the word "Horcrux" in a future book about wizards that they will have infringed on her trademark rights. Since I disagree that a future author should be prohibited from expanding the use of this and other words invented by JKR in the Harry Potter series, I absolutely defend the right of someone to define the words in an  encyclopedia.  For some reason this bothers me greatly.  Maybe it is because most of the words coined by JKR had their origin from Latin which is one of the oldest written languages used by man or maybe it is because the way the locket horcrux reacted with the trio came directly from Lord of the Rings, or maybe it is because she is using her millions to sue one of her most adament fans that helped  to create these millions.

I don’t if I even know why JKR’s lawsuit offends me so much, but it does;

Avatar Image says:

At last, a trial date. I tend to agree that it will be a long time before any definitive conclusion, because either way I expect appeals. But at least we will get to the point where the cases are presented for cosideration by someone (or a group of someones if there is a jury) has the responsibility to actually make a decision.


I believe that the effects will not be as far reaching as you envision, nor as others envision if in fact RDR loses (I cannot say who will prevail either way). I believe this because there is ample evidence that such works as you think will be affected already exist for a great many different works, not just HP, and continue to be published.

Now, I think the decision in THIS case may eventually require a newer interpretation of the Fair Use principle, but the fact remains that that principle itself was the product of MANY years and MANY legal decisions that preceded it (as stated by the US Copyright Office itself on their own website). I’ve no doubt that in all of THOSE earlier cases, there was concern expressed regarding the impact of the decisions on what would follow. That is the nature of the evolution of Law based on cases as they progress and are completed. It is also the beauty of the system that Law is not permanently fixed in concrete, but is, rather, subject to interpretation. When it is perceived that it is unfair, or to rigid, or, conversely, to lax, it can be interpreted and ultimately changed for the better.

At least that’s my opinion!


Avatar Image says:

Deb, maybe because…. It’s morally wrong?

Avatar Image says:

I don’t know why my post didn’t come out correctly, but I’m not going to retype it. All it said was that Deb was correct on the copyright laws, but if I understand JKR’s suit correctly she is trying to expand the trademark laws to apply to words invented by her. This bothers me because I think future writers should be allowed to use these words in future books. JKR ,herself, used Latin to come up with most of the words. You can’t have a trademark on words unless they are the product. JKR has a trademark on her characters, but not on the words spoken by these character.

Avatar Image says:

“JKR seems to claim that if someone uses the word “Horcrux” in a future book about wizards that they will have infringed on her trademark rights.”

No, what she is objecting to is someone printing a book that is roughly 80% HER work. Not a book that simply contains the word “Horcrux.” Were that the case there are tens, maybe hundreds, of HP-related books that would be sued or pulled from shelves. Note what David Langford said – once they didn’t see infringement in his book, allwas sweetness and light. Your argument only makes sense if he never used a trademarked name once in that book…extremely unlikely.

Deb, what you need to worry about is a clamp down on all fan activities – sites, fan fiction, conferences – that would follow an RDR win. That’s not abstract. If JKR wins they would like things to go on just as they are…if the defendants win you can expect real (and legal) restrictions on fan activites across ALL fandoms. Definitely something any fan – and any author – would want to avoid.

Because we are Harry Potter fans doesn’t make us blind adherents to Jo. If she tried to, for instnace, sue MuggleNet for their predictions book last year, we’d all be against that. But she didn’t, because she knows that’s fair use.

This encyclopedia is not.

And the above poster is right, the idea that it would sell in conflict with hers is not a primary but secondary argument in this case.

Avatar Image says:

I apologize for the poor typing in my previous, never my forte. Also, I’d like to add another point opposite Deb’s comment.

Your premise that JKR’s only basis for the suit is the revenue aspect is not necessarily correct, though it is certainly one basis. There are others. Also, I respect your opinion regarding the premise that RDR’s publication should be allowed because it falls under the class of “Scholarly Works of Literary Commentary”. However, that is your opinion, and may or may not be shared by the Judge (and/or jury if one is present). A lot will depend on what definition is ascribed to “scholarly” and “literary commentary”.

There are those who would argue that to qualify as scholarly, there needs to be some addition to the canon of whatever is being commented on, and/or that there needs to be original commentary that ellucidates or in some other way enhances the understanding of the original material. These people would further argue that the RDR publication does neither. Again, that is for the Judge and/or jury to decide, not me. I merely try and provide clarification when questions arise (which I have done all the way through, I think).

You may well be right that the work qualifies as scholarly if the judge agrees it fits the criteria and is not swayed by anything WB/JKR might say in opposition. Just as anything RDR might say in opposition to a Judge leaning toward an interpretation favouring WB/JKR may not have any influence. Again, the beauty of the system is that now someone will make a decision and we’ll see it, analyze it and either agree or disagree with it, as will both the Plaintiffs and the Defendants in this case.

Finally, thanks for weighing in on this in a non-belligerent way. Always refreshing!


Avatar Image says:

I don’t think the issue is whether someone can use the word “horcrux” or “avada kadavra” in a publication without Jo’s permission. I think its more of “you can’t say ‘this is a horcrux according to Jo’ and then package it and make a dime off of it.” However, I am not an expert on this case so I could be wrong. As others have said, I think the issue is whether or not there is literary criticism in SVA’s work (as opposed to The Magical World of Harry Potter which says ‘this is what fluffy is AND this is my interpretation as to where he comes from (Greek mythology) and why I think JKR used it). Again, this is only my opinion as to what;s going on.

Avatar Image says:

I don’t think the issue is whether someone can use the word “horcrux” or “avada kadavra” in a publication without Jo’s permission. I think its more of “you can’t say ‘this is a horcrux according to Jo’ and then package it and make a dime off of it.” However, I am not an expert on this case so I could be wrong. As others have said, I think the issue is whether or not there is literary criticism in SVA’s work (as opposed to The Magical World of Harry Potter which says ‘this is what fluffy is according to Jo AND this is my interpretation as to where he comes from (Greek mythology) and why I think JKR used it). Again, this is only my opinion as to what;s going on.

Avatar Image says:

Sorry! I didn’t mean to post that twice.

Avatar Image says:

Please don’t I want The best dirctor to do it which is Chris Columbus. he started the harry potter serie and he should end it too.

Avatar Image says:

Does anyone else see the irony of the judge being named Robert Patterson

Avatar Image says:

Oh, my…knowing the super slow court system, this will be going on for years and years…it’s such a freakin’ waste of time. I hope it’s settled as soon as possible. Jo doesn’t deserve all this stress.

Avatar Image says:

Jessica- I didn’t notice that until you pointed it out, but that’s hilarious!

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Regardless of the position one holds on this case, one can’t deny that they’re probably grateful this story is nearing its conclusion. This whole ordeal has been horrendous for the fandom and all parties all involved, and the sooner it is over and all of us can move on, the better.

Avatar Image says:

WOW! What a change from the original “he said, she said” posts, from the beginning of this unfortunate and unnecessary event. Unfortunate, in that it paints every writer, in the modern age, as a self-serving, money-grubbing hypocrite. Unnecessary in that, [as was stated back on page one, of this set of postings ] if RDR/SVA had gone about this in a rational manner, they wouldn’t be here. I agree that, NO, it is not a matter of trying to copyright “wizards and goblins, et al” it IS the matter of using JKR’s material. As is stated, in the Copyright laws [as I interpret them] the book must have some useful text, added by the author of such an “companion” book, not to be in violation of Copyright. There was no useful commentary or other “addition” to JKR’s work., in SVA’s Lexicon. I don’t wish to “rehash” other’s opinions, here. I agree with most, take exception to a few. I also admit some ignorance of Copyright Law and Courts, in general This is just MY opinion. Thank you, again, Melissa, and TLC, for keeping us “up to date” in such an unbiased way. You have always taken the “high road”, in this, and I [for one] appreciate your hard work! Again, thank you.

Avatar Image says:

Deb, you’re missing a vital poing: The lexicon book has no literary commentary. I think even RDR/SVA admit that. NOthing new or original. No commentary. No literary analisys. Just JKRs work put in alphabetical order. So, it is infringement. Not to sound snarky, but I dont think the court is concerned about which book YOU’D buy (or that I’d buy, or that anyone on this list would buy). It would compete for the average book-buying public (tho, I’m not sure why that matters. it’s her material, whether she publishes her book or not, it’s her right to say).

I hope this ends quickly, and in JKR’s favor.

Avatar Image says:

P. S. Forgive my ignorance, but who is the ‘Robert Patterson’ you are referring to? Did I miss something??? Sign me “clueless!

Avatar Image says:

The point about Robert Patterson is that if you change a couple of letters, you get Robert Pattinson, who is the actor who played Cedric Diggory.

Avatar Image says:

What’s at the centre of all, this legally speaking, seems to be whether or not what RDR is doing constitutes legitimately done scholarship. I am currently a graduate student, and have to be aware to some extent what constitutes plagiarism. If I were to take a contemporary’s book condense it into an alphabetic listing of their arguments, I would not be allowed to publish it. In order for something of that nature to be legitimate, I would have to spend a good portion of my work commenting on the merits of their arguments, how they relate to other people’s works, or something similar. Even re-stating their arguments without sufficient commentary wouldn’t be allowed.

So, assuming copyright law works similarly, the issue is if the book to be pubished includes genuine academic commentary. If it really is simply a published form of the A-Z bits of Lexicon, then I don’t think it does. If it were based on the Lexicon’s essays, then it would be a different story.

Avatar Image says:

Robert Patterson is the name of the actor that played Cedric in GoF.

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I guess part of my point is that much as I love JKR and much as it seems that Steve Van Der Ark has been acting in bad faith, those factors don’t really come into play at all for those making the legal decision.

Avatar Image says:

I am at a loss for words with terry pratchett’s somewhat naive statements. He has unjustly attacked Jo’s writing before too, without any provocation. I am actually an avid reader of his Discworld novels they are brilliant in a comic and surreal way and his children books (johnny series, and truckers series) are highly recommended but for crying out aloud is he trying to make Harry Potters fans Hate him?!? His ignorance really contradicts his creative and moral skills through his novels.

Avatar Image says:

Most of the manuscript for the Lexicon book is included in the legal documents online. If you want to read through it and see what all the fuss is about, head over to for the first half. scroll down and click “Attachment 2” on the right for the second half.

Avatar Image says:

Great journalism once again from Melissa and her reporting itself is exemplary as she not only serves up a main dish of a chronological summary of events with hyperlinks to past articles but also delicious side dishes of third party comments and relevant experiences!

Avatar Image says:

Is Jo going to be there.

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Really I have waited for TerryPratchett (Sorry If I spell him wrong, I never get used to his name) to interfere in this business. Somehow he comes across as though he has monopolized “The Behavior” of a fantasy author. If we followed his argument to the end the Tolkien-family would have to pay to some medieval writers. All Mr Tolkien did was to re-arrange some Germanic myths. Okey and invent his own language, but nobody is copying that.

One day “author” won´t be a profession anymore, because you won´t be able to earn money with it. There will only be spare-time writers. And why? Because the successful like pratchett can afford it to ignore copy rigt infringements!

And this it´s- not- about- art -but -money-whining annoys me! On the on hand people expect the artists to dedicate themselves to their task but they don´t want to pay for them. Artists live from love, respect and fresh air?

The same with this Trent Raznor who makes fun about copyright on his record “Year zero” and his newest doodling can be downloaded for free. now that he has cashed in he wants to show how liberal he is.

The argument that Jo is rich doesn´t change anything! Unfortunately the law is the same for the rich and the pennyless author.

Anyway, Pratchett himself spoke about nicking ideas! Steve has not only nicked ideas, he copies the characters and summarizes the plot.

I assume Pratchett loves his generous- down-to-earth-guy-image. But those of this type I met so far were the phoniest men I know.

Avatar Image says:

I seconda that secunda.! Before JK came along. Terry pratchet was the UKs biggest fantasy author by a long mile. I’m wondering if there is some jealousy in his blood? No harm in jealousy really, we can all be jealous of others but that doesnt mean you should knock them which is what he is blatantly doing. Though I suppose everyone is entitled to have their say but Terry sounds like he is talking out of his..ahem. He is still an excellent author though and I will continue reading his books but the man needs to shut up a bit for his good.

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Terry Pratchett has it in for Jo because he is jealous that her success outstripped his. I’ve heard him make snide remarks about her before. What an idiot. Even if you can’t pinpoint the ‘inventor’ of wizards and goblins, it’s the specific world created by JK that RDR is trying to make money from, not the concepts themselves.

“All Mr Tolkien did was to re-arrange some Germanic myths. Okey and invent his own language, but nobody is copying that.” Exactly!

By the way, secunda, I know someone who ran a bookshop and met him and says he is absolutely horrible, not generous or down to earth at all.

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Elly, I guess too it would be a different story if the Lexicon contained significant amount of essays but it will be another different story altogether when the authors of all the essays (none of which I believe is Vander Ark’s) take Steve to court for publishing without their consent! Come to think of it, in a past article, Steve had made deals with RDR in taking a large percentage (was it 55%?) from the Lexicon purchase links thoughout the Floo Network behind without telling others on the Floo Network. Melissa herself confirmed Leaky knew nothing about it. So, how about just for the fun of it, Leaky take Steve to court for cutting them out of the loop! A loop that consisted of just Steve and RDR. You know. I’m feeling stressed out just listening to this case. Imagine how poor Jo is feeling what with also fighting off paparazzis from her daughter.

Avatar Image says:

I noticed in this bit o’ news the part where the owner of RDR books is the president of Right to Write.

Is it possible he’s pushing this lawsuit so hard to prove a point? Maybe he doesn’t care so much about the winning this case as he’s trying to prove a point?

Now, I admit I don’t know much about ‘Right to Write’, and per the article, there are a lot of ‘Right to Write’ organization, but I just found that odd. I mean, I’ve been really surprised that the case hasn’t been settled. How sure are RDR Books that SVA’s encyclopedia is going to sell millions of copies to compensate for this case?

Seems like maybe there were other motives involved here.

Avatar Image says:

Jo has got it wrong, and I predict that she will loose, because: - Publishing on paper or on an electronic support is just the same, there is no difference, if it is allowed on the Web, it is allowed on paper. - Publishing for free or for profit is just the same. WB never said “copyrighted material, except for non-profit organisations”, did they? If they allow people to write lenghty comments and lexicons on their copyritghted material (and eve use these lexicons themselves), they cannot prevent those who want to do it as a job to feed their family to do it too. - You can cite short passages in a review or description of someone else’s book, if it helps your point. This has been so since copyright laws exist. - Librarians and litterary researchers have always done such work on famous books. Some books have been studied and decripted page by page, word by word, by hundreds of researchers, and it the result was good, it was published. This is old news, really WB’s lawyers should know that.. - You can use words or concepts from anyone’s book in published work, and even make lists of those concepts. There are tons of example for the Tolkien books, and they are not approved by the Tolkien family. This is legal as long as you state on the cover “Not approved by the Tolkien society”.

To be honest, I think it is a bit rich from WB to do this. They needed a timeline for their DVD, and instead of asking Jo to give them one, or instead of re-reading the books and make one themselves, they went to the lexicon and picked Steve’s timeline which he copyrighted (in case you didn’t notice, the lexicon is copyrighted, and rightfully so, given the huge number of man-years put into it) and after such obvious copyright enfringement, WB dares to sue him!

Jo is not a lawyer, so she probably does not see that she can only loose, but she should be better advised. Anyway….

Avatar Image says:

Regarding Terry Pratchett, let’s not go to the big ol’ crazy place on him. The writer of the article may have misrepresented what he knew about the case when he made the comments. I’ll include a link to the source (very kindly found by someone on FW) soon.

Thanks all, again, for keeping it civil.

Avatar Image says:

Just a bit about juries, where in the US are they ever going to find someone who hasn’t read her books? Or if you have read them and you are still allowed to serve, how are they going to divide it up fairly, people who liked them versus people who didn’t? Fans versus religious zealots?

Don’t get me wrong, I am on JKR’s side (and not just because I’m a fan of her and the books, but because as a writer and someone who knows a little about law, I agree with her legal standing and don’t just want her to win because she’s her, as has been implied of JKR supporters by some people on this forum), I am just wondering how a Jury could possibly be just in this case. I don’t see hoe they could help, I think they should leave it up to the judge since he’ll know the law and will hopefully be unbiased.

Avatar Image says:

The Jury are advised by the judge on the content of the law, and the exact points that constitute and infringment of the law. Then they are given the evidence and can see if the law is broken or nnot. I think it could work.

Avatar Image says:

Just so we’re clear here, no one “invented” witches and wizards, or goblins for that matter. They have been in folklore (and some would say have existed) for thousands of years. People practiced magic in the iron age, probably further back, and the idea of male and female people who believed or were believed to hold magical powers and use tools such as wands, cauldrons etc. were not created by Tolkein, Jo, or any author. Nor were goblins, fairies or any of the lot, these are all ancient beliefs and folklores which authors have used in their creative storywriting porcesses.

I am a Historian who could identify as I was reading the Potter books ideas, concepts and creatures which have been believed in during the course of time and which Jo did not create but simply used, and many authors research well into history and use what they find. The Da Vinci Code is a very good illustration of this idea. Now I must also make clear that although individual creatures, such as centaurs, basalisks and pixies were believed to be real in the past, ideas such as Hogwarts, or any schools for witchcraft, dementors or the like were plucked completely from the mind of Jo.

So please, let’s not go on thinking anyone could possibly have to pay anyone for creating wizards and goblins, since these are and were creatures that people actually believe(d) in. It is in simply regurgatating how another author has used these creatures and not discussing these origins and how and why she might have researched and included them in her own work that makes a minor issue in this case.

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Lag wrote: Jo has got it wrong, and I predict that she will loose, because: – Publishing on paper or on an electronic support is just the same, there is no difference, if it is allowed on the Web, it is allowed on paper. – Publishing for free or for profit is just the same.

If this is ruled to be true, you can pretty much say goodbye to fandom, because it means that authors like Jo will have to close any websites that use their materials so as not to give away their intellectual property. Even sites like TLC, which can argue fair use may well have to call themselves something different.

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West I still think there are people in the middle.

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Sorry folks I crossed the line with some Terry bashing (called him a name) and have now been put into the corner of the room with my hands on my head repeating the line “I will not call people bad names”. Quite right too, though I am relieved I am not given an Umbridge quill to write lines! As I said, I like Pratchett books and my disapointment got the better of me, so I am sorry to all. And I am sorry Melissa for my bad behaviour. Regards to the fact Pratchet may be mis-quoted, that may be true but that is what is presented to us in this article and it is only human of us to react to and interpret it by impulse. Some of us interpret more negatively which unfortunately I fall into that category but I hope there is no harm in that for the sake of discussion in the comment board as long as our views are of course kept clean and courteous.

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LOL, PP, no worries, no one’s mad at you. Everyone gets heated sometimes. Ees cool.

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As an almost lawyer, I have been following this since day 1 like many of you have. The only contribution I want to make is the LAWSUIT ITSELF IS NOT A BAD THING. Nobody is being put upon, nobody is being mean, either by bring the suit or putting up a defense. This is how disputes are resolved in this society. So I’m not picking sides (they both have decent legal arguments), I’m cheering for the legal system, which in my opinion is doing a fine job. I know I’m in a minority and that the majority considers going to be court an unfortunate circumstance, and my response is think of the alternative, where who ever had the bigger stick won.

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Hey, I’m on jury duty on March 24th. Wrong state, though…

I’d certainly support a change of venue to Arizona! ;-)

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Seriously, Melissa… do you cringe every time you need to post on this topic? I’m sure there is much sighing and comment watching that must ensue!

Poor you- but “yay!” for us that you keep us so well informed. You wrock.

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Melissa (or anyone else who knows), what exactly does “a trial on the merits of the case” mean? Is this the trial that will determine whether or not The Lexicon book can be published? Or is this a trial that decides whether or not it is worth it to go all the way to that final trial? Or what? Sorry for being illiterate in manners of legalese.

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THANKS A MILLION, Melissa! You summed up this tedious case incredibly and provided all the necessary links! Thanks again!

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Thank you so much Melissa for the brief overview. My 14 year old brain really needed that to clear up what was going on.

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“I think Jo’s suit is without merit, and I’m apalled that more writers haven’t rallied to support Steve in this.”

LOL! So who do you work for – the lexicon or RDR?

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Trial on the merits is defined as follows:

on the merits, an adj. referring to a judgment, decision or ruling of a court based upon the facts presented in evidence and the law applied to that evidence. A judge decides a case “on the merits” when he/she bases the decision on the fundamental issues and considers technical and procedural defenses as either inconsequential or overcome. Example: An attorney is two days late in filing a set of legal points and authorities in opposition to a motion to dismiss. Rather than dismiss the case based on this technical procedural deficiency, the judge considers the case “on the merits” as if this mistake had not occurred.

Source: Dictionary (

Also defined thusly:

On the Merits: a decision or ruling that deals with the underlying basis of the case rather than a rule of procedure

Source: Glossary of Legal Terminology, Civil Law (

In essence this means that procedural errors are not necessarily going to be considered, which means that appeals are never expected based “on the merits”. The Judge is basically trying this case on the actual evience presented and the merits (or lack thereof) of that evidence. The ruling is expected to be final, and because procedural error is not a consideration in the decision appeals are not expected. The judge only wants this thing dealt with once.

Does that help?


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to the postr Deb who posted on the first page, please actually review the case before commenting.

Fair use only allows about 10% of the overall work of a book to have copyrighted material. this material is to be used as an jumping off point for scholerly commentary and the like.

the lexicon book has been found to contain 84% of its material taken and copied word for word from jk rowlings books, which is over 8 times the legal allowable under fair use percent.

also, there are passaged that were ripped word for word from other copyrighted sources without any citation of where they came from, which adds to the percent they ripped from jk rowlings creation and copyrighted work.

the lexicon book far exceeds anything permissiable by fair use and international copyright law.

the near entire text of the infringing book are avalible in the justia filings if you would like to review the case, but please, review it before you attack jk rowling.

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Thank you, Morton Kaiserman, who said:

{The Judge is basically trying this case on the actual evidence presented and the merits (or lack thereof) of that evidence.}

So, er, a trial “on the merits” basically means a trial done the way that they’re all supposed to be done? LOL – wow, imagine that, we’re actually going to make a ruling based on the evidence. :-)

And no appeals? So this means that come March 26, this will all be over one way or the other? Hmm, the wheels of justice are turning much faster than I would have expected. Can’t say that I’m complaining.

Thanks for keeping us all posted, Melissa.

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Just saw Melissa’s ETA:

{ETA: The Guardian has now published a story on the case in which lawyer Anthony Falzone says that the only sure thing in the case is that “whoever loses will try to appeal,” among more quotes and rehashings.}

Ah, THAT’S the justice system that I know and love! And all is doubleplus-ungood with the world.

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right to write’s number 1 mission statement according to the one posted on the CIEA website is to solicite donations to pay the legal bills of RDR Books against jk rowling and warner brothers lawsuit.

you would think they would make their number 1 statement be that the only other statement, which is there claim to fight to protect the rights of writers which jk rowling is, and steve vander ark isent

it just seemed funny to me that they created a nonforprofit organization with the main goal of getting money to pay their legal bills.

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Deb and Paintball must not have read the very informative summaries Melissa kindly wrote out for us because if they had, they would know that Steve’s Lexicon is neither a commentary nor a criticism nor a work of literary merit. He is simply repackaging her work. Cleary, JKR understands that fair use is when authors add their opinions and interpretations (the marketis flooded with Unofficial guides) but this man is not adding anything new! Deb and Paintball should have learned that by now! Especially before posting about it.

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Megan, they are likely anti harry potter, or they work for RDR Books. we have had many cases of people from RDR coming on to abuse and defame jk rowling, warner brothers, and harry potter fans.

RDR has been smearing jo for months, saying she is anti fair use. however from day one she has said she is okay with books of commentary and critisems about harry potter. she often okays books sent to her, even if they are highly critical on her books, and those have been published and many still are in print.

the lexicon is neither commentary, paroody, or critiq. it is purely ctrl c ctrl p copy pasting of copyrighted material, 84% of the said book which is ripped from jk rowlings work. under fair use, it those not count as fair use. under copyright, it counts are infringement of privetly held copyright and intellectual property.

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Well, if fan websites make hungreds of thousands of dollars, why shouldn’t a reference book follow their example? And if the book is not legal, then let’s close TLC and Mugglenet – why, if only Rowling is authorized to make money, I don’t see how allowing some people to profit off her work and forbid the others proves her point.

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none of the harry potter fansites make hundreds of thousands of dollars.

many do have ads, the reason being to offset the cost of the servers, meaning many fansites are nearly self supporting. often, fansite ads only pay for part of the cost of keeping the website up and the owners drop money from their own pockets.

it should be noted, lexicon has adds, and yet, according to melissa, it is hosted free of charge on the floo network. however, you dont see mugglenet pushing ahead with their encylopedia after jo requested they not publish the one they were working on. mugglenet pays for their server cost with the ads on their site, but seeing as the lexicon is hosted free apperently, this creates more of a issue against steve.

however, this is different from the real issue, which is steve vander ark after spending years saying it would be illegal to publish the lexicon as, according to him, it would infringe on jo’s copyrights and take money away from her own long time spoken of plans for a encylopedia. he has since gone back on that when he signed on with RDR to publish the lexicon in a smiteful revenge on jk rowling for refusing to give him a job or give him the opertunity to help her write her own encylopedia.

he knew what he was doing was illegal, and RDR Books, a small vanity press created to publish the ceo of the presses books that are so poorly written that it is not shocking he had to create his own publisher to get his books published, is seeking publicity.

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@ Bandersnatch

Yes, that is the intent… to make a decision based on the evidence presented and not to worry about potential procedural issues which neither enhance nor detract from the evidence.

However, having said that, and further that the intent is so that there be no appeals based on procedure, that does not preclude the possibility of either side trying to appeal any decision on the basis of the law and the evidence itself.

In other words, trials on merit generally are not supposed to allow a decision to be appealed because the judge or some other participant made a procedural error. However appeals CAN be made based on the appelant claiming that the judge (or jury) made an error in law. That is, even if the procedures were flawless, the appelant can claim that the decision was wrong because evidence was misinterpreted or because the application of the law was faulty. So, let’s not be too quick to feel ther will be NO appeals. In fact, I fully excpet the “loser” to appeal on the basis of merit or misinterpretation/misapplication of legal principles.

Ah well, as I’ve often said, this is the Law in all its glory and process will be served, as it must. I’ve also said that whether we like it or not, it is the best process we have, and if WE were involved in a lawsuit, we would want theull application of the law and the process to be followed to give us every chance of winning our case. This necesarily includes lawyers and judges and/or juries and seemeingly endless (in some cases) arguments rehashing the same things over and over again, though perhaps with slightly different spins, until all avenues are exhausted.

Hmmmm… sounds a lot like the arguments and process we’ve seen followed in these threads for quite some time now, doesn’t it? At least in my humble opinion.


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I think this publishing company needs a visit from a few ootp members. That will take care of it i should think :)

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I cant believe I am saying this… but damn I wish I had been called for jury duty!!! (Kings County girl here)

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given the high profile of this case, they will not be selecting people who are harry potter fans or are aware of the case for the jury. I have jury duty on the 27th, and if I have any connection to the case, such as I know a person involved, I am legally bound to let the court no. it excludes me from serving on said jury, and put back into the jury pool if other trials are being tried at the courthouse.

ultimately, I doubt a jury will be included, this is not a criminal case. jurys tend not to do copyright infringement cases.

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I hope this comes of well, and hope Jo’s pulling through this legal wrangle fine. Thanks a lot Melissa for the updates!

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i would HATE to be involved in this, it seems like a big mess but jo will win its just annoying and time consuming for somebody that is having a movie made about their book, writing a book, having a theme park made about her books, searching for notebooks on her “scottish book”, and not to mention raise some kids and be doing a bunch of other famous person stuff

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i sincerely hope Jo and WB WIN this case.the alternative will be very bad news for all authors,musicians—anyone who puplishes a personal work in any form to have the work taken from them and used by others for their on monitary gain. it will be a loss for art of all kinds and may make some very creative people think twice about how they share their work.

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Thanks again, Morton Kaiserman. I have found your posts (not just in this thread, but all the related ones) very reasoned and helpful. And you’re right—while I may joke about the slow and somewhat tedious legal process, if I were being sued I would certainly want every legal avenue to be explored. Cheers.

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These wonderful, eloquent opinions above. Well educated people for sure. I am not. Thank you though for the three headed dog thing. I think its name was Cerbus in Mythology, He guards the gates of Hell. When one reads the HP books, do none of you see similarities in many instances? The spiders in the forest.? Also in The Hobbit. Gollum reinvented as Dobby ? I’m recognize similarities from other sources the more I read the books. As one writer above. I am tiring of this court case, and a few others she seems to be involving herself in. It is something I find uncomfortable. I can’t begin to second guess why take the time . Copyright, I’m a writer myself. I should be so lucky to ever become so well known that people would want to expand on my work. As someone said. Tolkein etc… Does anyone remember the first claimant to this idea?The Harry Potter character What happened to that woman who claimed thatt Harry was her concept and Ms Rowling had stolen it from her.?

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Cerberus, actually, but same difference.

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No writer works in a vacuum, and so inevitably their writing will be influenced by what has come before, and there may even be recognizable elements from other works of art. As long as the bulk of what they have written is creative (ie. original thought), then that is not considered plagiarism. In fact, all literature stands on the shoulders of what has come before - there’s no such thing as an entirely original book. The problem with SVA’s lexicon is that it’s entirely unoriginal. It contains no original thought whatsoever, and that’s really the problem here. It may have taken a long time to assemble and “create” - but that doesn’t make it creative.

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Sorry, I don’t know why the last part of my post was crossed out.

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@M Honey,

No one is “expanding” on her work in this case, they are re-organizing it and regurgatating it.

And I am sorry to say that when (as a writer) you have been published and gone through all of their processes of editing and going over your work, devoting not just an afternoon but years of your life to developing a story (writing fiction of a fantasy nature takes years, not only to write but to research, fact check and organize), you wouldn’t want anybody else cashing in on almost 90% your years of hard work just to make some money. It is theft and you wouldn’t be so proud about it if it happened to you.

Now I have only worked on things that have been occupying my thoughts for around 4 years, unrelentlessly, not letting me sleep until I put it to paper, and if you want to tell me that after 17 years (like Jo) of sleepless nights, endless questions, incessant writing and typing, going to the deepest and most horrifying areas of your subconcious and personal memories, after 17 years of creating something, whether you make reference to other historical and literary ideas or not, if you can do that and then tell me that you’d be PROUD if someone stole that and took some of the money you were hoping to use to help other less fortunate people from it, well then I would want to ask you how much you value yourself and your creative mind, because I value mine (and Jo’s) far too much to allow someone to steal it and make a blind profit from it.

And BTW, check my previous post, not even J.R.R Tolkein “created” wizards, goblins (which is essentially the kind of creature Gollum is) or magic. They have historical and folklore roots.


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What is the procedure for entering the gallery at a trial such as this, does one wait in a line or do you have to have some sort of credentials to be able to observe the trial?


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An important trial is not the time to go gawking at Jo, asking for her autograph or trying to get on TV. You can be sure as crazy and screamy as fans get, the gallery (if there is one at all) will be closed.

Sorry to jump in there Melissa but it kind of irks me that people, trying to be supportive or not, are basically trying to “get tickets” for this bloody trial.

You wouldn’t be helping her by showing up people! The press will be hounding her enough as it is! Do you really think she wants a million more people screaming at her and holding up signs? You want to support her? Send her a letter or a card of support, don’t cause more trouble for her by making the NYC police get involved (by hanging out in crouds on the street). Lets make the fandom proud by not acting like complete idiots about it.

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Saille, I have to agree with you. It’s an emotional case as it is without having it turn into a spectator sport. We have absolutely no idea if J.K. Rowling is going to be at the trial and it’s not a question I’m asking anyone for publication. If it becomes public in some other way, fine. But the point of this is not to get to see JKR in a courtroom setting.

If you’re interested in the details, we will put as many of them as are public here. But please, if you’re seeing it as a way to just see Jo, understand that all that will happen is you’ll stare at the back of her head for hours, and any commotion will be swiftly dealt with and potentially get you thrown out of any court of law.

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This is touchy, as touchy can be – what is really at stake here is “HOW OWNS ART?” and “WHAT IS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, and WHO OWNS IT?”

Is Harry now a part of the Potter community? should Jo get to keep her “thought child”? i don’t have an answer – there are arguments on both sides.

maybe the problem is with our obsessive need to establish ownership?....

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Amen to what Melissa & Sallie have said.

Melissa, please correct me if I’m wrong here:

I would guess it will be in a smallish courtroom with next-to-no space for the public and limited in-court space for journalists. There will be news interest in the trial so, probably, a set number of journalists will be allotted rotating space in court through a press agency while a separate room will be set up for journalists to receive a limited audio-visual feed of the trial. No broadcast of the trial itself except for press-conferences that court and both sides may give outside of court. Usually, a few hours after the court-day, a physical transcript is available for reporters and the public to purchase at the courthouse. Sometimes nowadays, when there is a lot of interest in a trial, a PDF of the scanned transcript is downloadable from the court website or even from another site that’s interested in the trial (like Leaky?). Much of this is standard for a particular courthouse or set up by the judge & his/her court officers.

What a mess. I’m surprised it has got this far. OTOH, it’s an interesting case.

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PS – I’ve the feeling much of the transcript will be a very (very) dry read.

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to anwser a few questions. page four, the question about the women who tried to sue jk rowling.

Nancy stouffer, a failed writer who wrote a book in the eights that no publisher would touch and eventually was published by a publisher she created strictly to publish her book. she sued jk rowling claiming the entierty of harry potter was stolen from her book.

in the course of the lawsuit, she was caught forging documents that if they were real, she would be in federal prison as those documents which she claimed proved jk rowling was a american, and thereby explaining how jo could have gotten a hold of her book, even though the book never had circulation because no library or bookseller would touch it. she got fined 50k.

she is still trying to sue jk rowling, most recently to claim that warner brothers, scholastic, and jk rowling have tried to have her assasinated. however every lawsuit that has come through has not be tried in court, but thrown out by the courts because each time she has been found falsifing evidence.

also, let it be plainly clear, fans do not own harry potter. they never will. they didnt create harry potter, therefore they do not own it no matter what they say. the law does not give ownership of something to the fans after a creator who copyrighted it has published the material. steve is dead wrong when he said jk rowling is done for, she those not own harry potter, fans do.

also, on tolkein, the lord of the rings itself is not a 100% original work. it is not even a 25% original work. it is based on a old germanic and norse myth. the same myth led wagner to compose the ring cycle. what tolken did was take that myth, and throw in other elements of folklore. ultimately, the only thing he can truly lay claim to is names and names of races in his world along side the languages he created for them. he should be celebrated because he did some amazing things, but the very core of the story is not his, but a reworking. jk rowling has done the same thing.

on horcruxes, that is a invention of jk rowling. you can not use the word horcrux in a published story because it is a word created and copyrighted by someone else.

as for muggles, in relation to the nancy stouffer case, it was actually a slang word from the 20’s and 30’s for a certian drug.

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@Kulyok None of the fansites are making humndreds of dollars of this. They have ads to support the cost of servers, but how much does that cover I have no idea. No one in the fandom has these sites or profit, and no one comes here for profit. We’re all here for some interesting discussion on stuff related to the HP world. And as for Jo making money, she already said the encyclopedia is going to be for charity, she’s not going to be taking the money from it’s sales. And as someone who’s created this world and these characters, she has every right to protect it and not let anyone use them for their own profitable purposes.

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NotTheHBP- I had no idea about this Nancy Stouffer, I had no clue someone even had the NERVE to claim Jo stole someone’s idea to write Harry Potter!!! I am outraged now!

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@Bandersnatch – thank you for the kind words. I try and maintain a level head (and composure to go with it) – not always successfully.

@NotTheHBP – You are essentially correct regarding the sources and so on that Tolkein used, and it is essentially correct that JKR and, indeed, MANY authors, use existing legend, stories, ideas to fuel their own creative processes.

I would say, however, that Tolkein, JKR, and MANY successful authors have had their success for more than just creating names and languages. In some cases, it is the fact that they tell the story better than others have, in some cases it is they they use the earlier material to create scenarios not seen before, in some cases it is that they take the pre-existing ideas and scenes and so on, and take them to places and eventualities not seen before, or beyond where they have gone.

And in some cases, for the truly successful and honoured authors, it is a combination of all of those things – Tolkein and JKR are amongst those latter.

Please note that I have not said anything about the quality, or the punctuation or any of those aspects of writing. Tolkein is hard to read, not everybody likes or can follow the style and structure of his writing. JKR may not be as technically proficient as many other “classic” authors, and Lord knows that Stephen King is not a giant of compositional structure from a technical perspective (he admits this himself). And yet, they are ALL successful, popular and fascinating authors, whose work is a joy to read for many, or holds the reader’s attention so that the little inadequacies in style or sentence structure (in SOME people’s opinion) are not noticed.

To my mind, if the style or a sentence structure overshadows the content, the plot, the story, then the reader who notices these may never have liked that author’s work in any case. And even then, there are many who see these things and STILL like the work for what it is – a good story told in a way that holds the attention and the imagination, regardless of common elements with other stories or legends.

So there!! (smile) – at least in my humble opinion.


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Jo may very well lose this. Very simply, she is looking to make a law where one does not exisit. Many writers & newspapers have weighed in on this, they are running 2-1 against Jo. Some for some very scholoarly reasons (law etc) others, as they see this as nothing more than Big Corperation (WB/JKR) vs. the little guy RDR, a small time publisher. In the only other case like this, the courts sided with the publisher. If she wins it, it will have a chilling effect on Sci/fi-fantasy writing, fan sights and such.

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I agree. I found tolkein myself to be clunky and overly heavy. one of the reasons I think jk rowling has been far more successful in such a short time is that her books have a natural flow to them. there are a few areas i dislike, but overall, her book is readable and enjoyable without the books being ovverwritten.

the point i wanted to make is that tolkein wasent as much of a innovater as people say he is. most of the book, including the concept of the ring and the fellowship, existed centuries before him. though jk rowling invented the word horcrux, another fantasy writer cant use it even though the concept of a horcrux has mythological references. the concept of a external soul is quite common in some mytholagys.

the lexicon book those not do enough to explore these outlets of insight into jo’s world. instead, it copy pastes it often word for word, then when they want to quote a outside source, such as what they did with the encylopedia britanica, they copy pasted that word for word also. it shows no effort.

many harry potter encylopedias do exist, but 90-95% of those books are lengthly passages written by the encylopedias authors to explore where jo might have been inspired. on topics such as mythical beast, they go into detail about the various myths associated with them, even talking about myths that are different from the harry potter canon. that is why some are still on the market, and why jo has not taken legal action against them.

RDR, a vanity press created to publish roger rapaports books has proven time and time again they are not a legitamate publisher. a legitamate publisher would know copyright laws so they can protect their authors. RDR Books didnt even have a consualtant on call, even if they dont have a lawyer in house like they should anyways.

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Ed, wrong. extremely wrong.

the law exist and has existed for a long time. Fair Use has rules that govern what the law states is allowable under fair use, and what is not.

the lexicon book contains 84% of its text taken directly word for word from jk rowling’s books. more text was taken directly word for word from copyrighted encylopedias and dictonarys.

Ed, fair use only allots about 10% of the text to be copyrighted. you are suposed to ask permission to use more then 10% of the overal text as copyrighted. 84% is not allowed under the law.

jk rowling is not halting companion books, she is just requiring that they remain within the law, which protects her rights and the rights of legitamte companion books writers. she has been vocal about the fact that she is not against legal companion books, including the fact that she and her people often work with writers seeking to write books on harry potter to ensure that the books are legal, and also to help if the writer has a inaccuracy that might be misleading. she isent against companion books that follow the LAW, she is against ones that BREAK the LAW.

also, it should be noted the newspapers articles were written before the near full text of the lexicon book was uploaded to the legal proceddings website at justia. also, one of the articles was found to be written by a friend of the lawyer handling RDR, which is a conflict of interest.

jk rowling owns harry potter and owns its copyright and intellectual property rights along side warner brothers. the law those give the legal owners of copyright to challange any book that they belive to infringe upon their rights. now that the near full text of the manuscript has been posted online, it is clear that it is 74% beyond what the LAW ALLOWS.

also, the fact that RDR Books has done many 180 about face changes in their statements to the courts, they have undermined their legitmacy. only one of their statements on the matter of what the lexicon is can be true, and the other is a lie filed to the courts. first they said the book is not commentary in the early filings, then they say the book is commentary. so, which is it, because anyone who has taken the time to read the manuscript who is not employed by RDR books has found that the manuscript is not commentary, nor is it allowable by the LAW.

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On horcruxes: The word horcrux is invented by Jo, but the idea of having the soul outside the body and hidden somewhere to keep an evil person alive already existed in fairy tales before Jo came along.

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exactly. jk rowling would have the right to sue another writer who was using the word horcrux. in the same way if someone tries to use a character named ronald weasley or albus dumbledore, she would have a right to sue them.

given that the lexicon not only depends solely upon her copyrighted words and characters, but also lifts 84% of its text directly from jk rowling’s copyrighted works.

any judge who sides with RDR Books has to do so against fair use and copyright laws. these laws are not unfair. they protect copyright holders and legitamate reference work writers who stay within the law.

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@NotTheHBP – I wasn’t disagreeing with you on the case itself, I just wanted to point out that there is, in my opinion, more to what Tolkein or JKR or many others have accomplished than simply adding their efforts to existing legend otr ideas. It is the WAY they do it, and the impact that has on the reader.. so I tink we agree.

As to the issue of using, say, “Horcrux”, actually, another writer COULD use the word “Horcrux” in certain ways, even without permission. A lot of how it may be done is based on the US Fair Use principle and similar principles in other jurisdictions.

For example, the word could be used in a novel where one of the protagonists might say that “an evil antagonist hiding in ambush for an unsuspecting victim to pass by reminds her of a Horcrux from the Harry Potter stories”.

In this case, not only can the author use the word Horcrux without permission, but can also use “Harry Potter” the same way. You see, Fair use would say that this is a very small percentage of the total content of the new book, uses the terms in a context that clearly relates it to the original appearance, and is used as a means of enhancing the understanding of a reader that may already be familiar with Harry Potter. And this is in a novel!

And, by the way, even THEN, the US Copyright Office suggests that acknowledging the source (e.g. having a footnote or some other reference to that fact that “Horcrux” and “Harry Potter” are copyright JKR/WB, or something like that) is a good idea, and actually getting permission is even better. It would still be acceptable, in all likelihood, but permission guarantees it.

What the new author CANNOT do is lift the story line, add a smattering of her own work, and claim copyright as original material, AND try and sell it for profit. That is, if it violates the 4 principles of Fair Use. It is alleged (and I say alleged because I will not presume to know how the judge will decide) that this is essentially what RDR has tried to do. Again, the judge will decide whether or not that is the case.

As far as people, either here or in the various print and electronic media, claiming to KNOW, or making statements about how the case will turn out, as I have said before, that is all speculaton and the statements are in the same vein as both sets of lawyers in this case saying that “it is clear the other side is wrong”.

They WANT the other side to be wrong, and engage in making statements that assume that to be the case in the hope that it will be accepted as FACT that the other side is wrong. This is perfectly legitimate and I would expect nothing less.

What do I, personally think will happen? It doesn’t matter, because it is only my opinion, and rather than offer my opinion to add to the volume on one side or the other of this debate here, I prefer to try and clarify and provide explanations that will allow others to better decide for themselves what THEIR opinions are. And I think that is good thing to do.

At least in my humble opinion.


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Fact is, I personally believe that Harry Potter is a stolen story. I can’t remember the title, but I can remember the story line that I read some 15 to 20 years ago. With only a few differences, the stories are identical. Unless, JKR actually obtained the rights via some unknown event, she duplicated someone else’s writings a very large bit of the way.

The differences were so minor that even as I read the Potter books the first time through, I was constantly reminded of the one I read so long ago. It is sad that the difference in all this is the effectiveness of the publicity that gave Harry Potter novels such a strong popularity. Much in the HP novels are NOT JKR inventions.

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Wayne- If Jo really had “stolen” the idea from some other book, do you think that author would’ve kept quiet for so long? There are so many random people trying to cash in on this phenomenon, you really think something so big can be ignored if it were true. I just read up more on that Nancy Stouffer and Jo was immensely hurt by that whole issue where someone questioned her integrity in writing. We all know enough of Jo Rowling to know she would never ever “copy” someone’s work, ever. She is a very very dignified lady with a brilliant imagination which has given her the success she deserves, and we cannot question that integrity, no way.

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@ Wayne:

Proof? Where is your proof? All fantasy stories have some elements of other stories: Here’s a list of books that all share a similar theme:

It doesn’t necessarily mean the stories are stolen.

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Please try to remember the name of the story that was identical to Harry Potter!!! I’m sure there are a lot of us here that would love to delve into another story and look for similarities. If you can’t remember the name of the other story, then your argument looks really bad. But if you can remember the name of the other story, then you would be creating a really interesting discussion at the very least.

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jk rowling actually didnt steal her story from anyone. there are books about wizards, and there are books about boarding school. there have been books about wizards at a boarding school for wizards, many of them. its not exactly a new genre, however no one has ever done a book about wizards in boarding skills that is anywhere like harry potter. the only series i can think of that is similer is the “worst witch” series. however there are many difference between worst witch and harry potter. worst witch was written about a girl who is a failure at magic living in a school for magic. oddly enough, the concept of a failing clumsy student living in a bording school is a well known genre, all the author of the worst which did was throw in magic.

harry potter on the other hand, is more about the story of a boy with a destiny. hogwarts provides at backdrop, but ultimately is just that, a backdrop. what is important is a detialed journey for harry potter as he seeks to understand his destiny while being faced with challanges, some everyone faces, some only he can face.

the worst witch series was basically a book and then sequels written because the author wanted to write more adventures. having read both, i can tell you, there is very little that is similer or the same between the two other then both have a school of magic, which oddly enough, the writer of the worst witch was not the first to write magic school.

fantasy writing is based upon fantasy conventions. what made jk rowling shine was her writing style, and her light humor while dealing with dark and mature topics of good and evil. however, harry potter was not stolen from a existing book, otherwise no one would have published her.

even the writer of the worst witch has joked about how she always get asked if she hates jk rowling. she laughed it off and said she held no ill will towards jo because as a writer, you cant help but unknowinly write something in your books that someone somewhere had written it always.

it all comes back to tolkein, technically, very little of what he wrote was his own invention, including the concept of the one ring, middle earth, elfs, goblins, wizards, and the fellowship of the ring, all take from storys that predate him by 500-600+ years.

writers write about what is familer, and people like tolkein and rowling who like mytholagy and history will use them to add a certian flavor to their stories.

and sorry morton if you thought i was being argumenative, didnt mean to come off that way if i did. infact, I agree with you.

I am a little annoyed, i hope we would know tommarow, but oh well. what people need to remeber, you cant claim ownership of something you didnt create, and seeing how it has been revealed that 84% of the lexicon manuscript was ripped practically word for word from jk rowlings book, along with a unspecified percent that was lifted word for word from other copyrighted works such as reference books and encylopedias, that leaves say 14-15% that steve actually did. that will not stand in any court of law without having to throw the law as it currently stands. having been through most of the manuscript which was posted, 84% is not a conservative estimate on warner brother’s part, its preatty accurate.

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“As to the issue of using, say, “Horcrux”, actually, another writer COULD use the word “Horcrux” in certain ways, even without permission. A lot of how it may be done is based on the US Fair Use principle and similar principles in other jurisdictions.”

I don’t know about Horcrux, but Doctor Who said “expelliarmus” in series/season three, episode one.

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I don’t understand why Steve is pursuing this! Jo says something you’re doing that’s related to HP is not ok, and you stop. It’s that easy. It’s her world. She’s being kind enough to share.

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judi, he is doing it because as shown in the court documents, he pestored jk rowling’s agents asking for jo to give him a job. they declined, then he asked if he could still help her work on her encyclopedia, and they declined.

so, now, because jo wouldnt give him a job and pay him to work with her, even though she didnt solicite a job to him and he simply demanded it of her, now steve is trying to force through a encylopedia to spite her.

before the encylopedia lawsuit started, he spent years saying it would be illegal to publish the lexicon. once jk rowling denied him a job he demanded, he took the first offer to publish the lexicon, and did something extremely odd. he made the publisher sign into his contract that the publisher takes sole legal responcibility for any legal reprecushions. meaning he cant be held responcible because the publisher takes full responcibility.

he knew it was illegal, and he made sure he was protected for when jk rowling and warner brothers became wise to what he was doing.

now, the question is if he set it all up like this also because he wanted to smear jk rowling out of spite further for not giving him a job. act like the little guy going up against a voldemortian woman who gave the world a series that has been popular in getting kids to read. RDR Books has said as much stating that they are david of the biblical lore, and that jk rowling and warner brother IS voldemort.

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How do you know all that stuff, NotTheHBP?

Bottom line is this – this thing will drag out until RDR’s money runs out and the ten ton gorillas of WB/JKR get what they want. I’ve admittedly not followed the minutia of this case (really – I’ve got other things to do) but I would be tickled to see the little guy win this one. If the Lexicon finds its way to bookshelves I will probably buy ten of them, not that I’ll actually read them (really – I’ve got other things to do.)

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Bnickel, most all of that information is freely avalible in the various news posts on the case here at leaky, and also on in the docket filings for the case, which is is full, where as melissa frequently quotes key points and gives links to read the full documents ususally at the beginning or end of the news post.

basically, I am simply repeating information taken from the filings. its hard to use information taken from what RDR files mainly because it constantly changes each time they file, and they do frequent about faces on what they said earlier that its hard to take any of it seriously.

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THANK YOU everyone who pointed out that Tolkien was ‘t exactly orgininal. I enjoyed The Hobbit and the LoTR triology, but I recognized it (and nearly all of the names, for crying out loud) as the Volsung saga.

To everyone saying that if JKR and WB win that it will change fandom:

Yes, it will. But nearly as badly, as negatively, as an RDR win would do.

Quite aside from all legalities, RDR would kill internet fandoms deader than a dead thing that is extremely dead. If you can’t decided who is right, at least side with the lesser of evils!

(My views? The most original and creative parts of this whole Lexicon business have been the depositions and defenses of it.)

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