JKR/WB vs RDR Books Trial: Public Statement by Warner Brothers

115

Apr 16, 2008

Posted by KristinTLC
Uncategorized

A spokesperson for Warner Brothers and J.K. Rowling issued the following statement following Tuesday’s legal proceedings in the trial over whether the publication of a print version of The Harry Potter Lexicon should be blocked:

“A fan’s affectionate enthusiasm should not obscure acts of plagiarism. The publishers knew what they were doing. The problem remains that the Lexicon takes an enormous amount of Ms. Rowling’s work and adds virtually no original commentary of its own. As we’ve said in court, it takes too much and adds too little. Authors have a duty to prevent the exploitation of their works by people who contribute nothing original, creative or interpretive.”

Leaky will have additional information on the case as the day progresses.





71 Responses to JKR/WB vs RDR Books Trial: Public Statement by Warner Brothers

Avatar Image says:

so true, so true!

I hope this works out for Jo/WB!

Avatar Image says:

From what I’ve read from afar, JKR and WB have the right of it. I do hope they win.

Avatar Image says:

I so desperately want Jo to win because as an aspiring writer, I can’t imagine being in that position. But part of me still can’t help but feel a bit sorry for Steve. But I do stand one hundred percent behind Jo. I’ve been trying not to think about what effects the outcomes could have on the fandom. Though I am still a bit confused on the legality of this versus previous Potter sidekick type of books. Is it just the lack of commentary?

Avatar Image says:

I do hope she wins and if she doesn’t I hope that nobody that calls themself a true fan buys that book, I will explain to anybody that picks up that book that Jo never wanted for it to be published. And I wish she knew that she has her fans with her on this one, so DON’T WORRY JO WE WOULD NEVER BETRAY YOU!!!!!!!

Avatar Image says:

you got that right WB! ofcourse id RDR wins we wont buy that lexicon. Who can A-Z Harry Potter better than Jo?! we’re all with you!

Avatar Image says:

I think that this lawsuit has become sort of like a slapping contest – Jo/Warner Bros slaps RDR/Steve, Steve/RDR slaps warner Bros/Jo.

Settle out of court guys, don’t publish your book and just be happy. Geez, is it that hard?

Avatar Image says:

I think they are(JK/WB) right coz RDR/SVA have gone too far in plagiarism. I wish SVA would wake up… But, a bit too late, isn’t it? Unfortunately, there are now a lot of other interests than moral issues in this affair…

Avatar Image says:

So WB and JKR are going to repeat this BS over and over again. How about saing something that is actually legaly relevant to the case?

Avatar Image says:

I think its difficult to day the lexicon doesn’t “contribute anything interpretive”. In certianly interprets a lot (by developing the timeline for example).

Avatar Image says:

When Steve VDA went on the stand yesterday, he confirmed what I thought had transpired when he decided to publish the Lexicon as a book. For years, Steve had refrained from doing so because he believed, and rightly, that to do so would be a copyright infringement.

But once RDR Publishing realized what a gold mine they could have by publishing a Harry Potter-related book, they advised VDA, and wrongly, that there would be no copyright violation, and that Steve could make a lot more than his librarian’s salary by publishing his once-free website. Greed and self-interest seem to be the motivating factors here, with some very bad and self-serving legal advice by RDR to an impressionable VDA.

At least Steve had the presence of mind to include in his RDR contract that the publishers would have to bear the cost of any litigation arising from publishing his Lexicon.

I’m also sorry to read that Steve has only reportedly earned $6,000 from 2000 to date from Lexicon-site advertising, but I’m trying to imagine what, if anything, other sites like TLC and Mugglenet have earned in profits for their podcasters over the same period.

Those podcast sites are run primarily by college students and 20-somethings (except for our beloved Sue!) who are not motivated by profit, but by love of this book/film series. I’m trying to imagine how profits from Mugglenet’s book on Chapter 7 were divided among its six authors after paying all of their bills for website/podcast operations. Gee, maybe enough to pay for their textbooks this semester?

The contrast between SVA’s and other sites’ HP motives for publishing is sad. Legal issues aside, the motivations for publishing a Lexicon are so obviously based upon a 50-something’s last stab at making both a profit and a mark in life (I’m a 50-something myself, so I understand the feeling) that it ultimately comes off as somewhat pathetic.

I feel sorry for Steve Van Der Ark, because he is obviously a huge fan of Jo’s and of Harry Potter, but it seems he was tempted and misguided by others who sought to get their own piece of the HP profit pie before it turns cold.

Avatar Image says:

I think it is so unfair of what they are doing to Jo. She created Harry Potter. We owe so much to her. And Steve still calls himself a fan when he drags the author of the books half way across the world to fight with him. It’s just wrong.

Avatar Image says:

seconded (to jess324). I can’t wait for ‘The Scottish Book’ (Jo’s encyclopedia).

Avatar Image says:

I am very weary of all this mess honestly. The fact is Steve knew it was wrong from the outset and went along with it anyway to make money. No one put a gun to his head and made him sign a contract with RDR. He did it simply because of greed and made sure that RDR would bear the brunt of WB and JKR when they found out what he was going to do. Don’t let Steve’s crocodile tears fool you. I don’t feel bad for him at all. He got caught and now he’s being slapped for it. Serves him right. No one has the right to steal from someone else and say it’s their work.

Avatar Image says:

I don’t feel sorry for SVA. The fact that he could think enough to have the idemnification clause put in his contract shows me that he was not misled at all. If he had truly been misled, he would not see the need to have it at all and he’d be getting sued as well. The reason he has been so shunned by a good percentage of the fandom is not because he signed the contract, but because of the things he’s said. If he had just stayed quiet, his testimony would seem more sincere.

He knew exactly what he was getting himself into. No one forced him to sign that contract. He’s not a naive twenty-something; he’s a fifty year old father.

Avatar Image says:

Agreed Wizengamut! His testimony said it all. He knew it was wrong but did it anyway knowing RDR would have to pay for his defense/damages. Very sad indeed. SVA was one of those people I viewed as a true fan up until this. Greed can touch even the best of people.

Avatar Image says:

of course i agree with everything you just said. SVA is just trying to make money off Jo’s work. If he wins, I hope his book does terribly. No one should (or anyone that calls themselves a fan, would) buy his book. I don’t feel sorry for hime. He got himself into this mess.

Avatar Image says:

Judy, it’s exactly what I was thinking regarding the money earned by the sites through ads. I’m pretty schocked at how less it is, and it just makes me respect sites like TLC and Mugglenet for running so wonderfully well despite these financial constraints. This shows that the site is actual run due to a lot of passion and love for anything HP. Hats off to all you guys!

Considering that he knew all this, it’s still shocking that SVA did what he did. I for one was completely shocked when all this came out, since SVA has been such a major part of the HP fandom. It just makes me feel sad to think it all had to fall apart like this. I stand behind Jo 100%. If only SVA had realised what he’s doing is wrong, all this would have been avoided.

And I agree with WB in that statement. No one has the right to try and make profits off another persons creative work. Being someone who plans to be a writer in the future, I know how Jo must have felt when such a thing happened. It feels terrible when your work is exploited in such a way, and Jo has been more than generous to allow the fansites to operate for so long, which I’m sure quite a few writers would not have allowed.

Avatar Image says:

Mollywobbles23, you’re a lot more perceptive than I am. Putting that clause in his contract really does betray the fact that Steve knew what he was doing could have legal implications. He probably is no fool, but couldn’t resist the siren call of money.

Avatar Image says:

For Prenz: I can assure you that Mugglenet or TLC make much more money than HP Lexicon. Emmerson somewhere said that Mugglenet earned him over 100 000 $.

Avatar Image says:

Knowing that Jo’s intentions were to write an encyclopedia, this gentleman being a fan should have left well alone and left it to the expert herself. I’m not interested in any future book about harry potter unless it’s written by Jo herself because lets face it only she can do it justice. Shame on himf or his greed in money and the fame that would go along with the publication of this book. I support Jo and hope that all goes in her favor.

Avatar Image says:

As a writer myself, I understand where Jo would be a bit uncomfortable. BUT: 1. The fair use doctrine applies—her work can be quoted without permission for books such as this. 2. Her work HAS been quoted in several books like this. 3. Jo Rowling even admitted herself that relied on the site for quick checks when writing latter books (which calls into question her recent court statement about it being sloppy and incorrect). 4. Jo encouraged SVA, gave the site awards, etc. 5. MOST IMPORTANTLY: J. K. Rowling is STILL J.K. Rowling. For her to demonstrate this much fear and emotion over this information being published shows a tremendous lack of belief in her own work and name.

How on earth could anything that anyone else publishes outshine the work she intends to release? She has information and background on characters and concepts in her head that NO ONE ELSE HAS. There is no way the publishing of this book represents so significant a threat to her. From the standpoint of the Law of Attraction, she’s drawing to her exactly what she’s fixated on. I would encourage Jo to focus on what she wants to attract-a tremendous readership for her upcoming book, which she shall surely have-and step away from this court case.

For those of you who have never been involved in a court case before, trust me, it’s a scary thing and something to be avoided if possible. Given the judge’s suggestion that both parties settle out of court, it’s a bit disappointing to me that this case went so far in the first place. There is a happy medium to be found!!!

Avatar Image says:

I have to say I don’t think it’s wrong to be motivated by making money. It was at least part of Jo’s initial motivation, when she wrote the first book. People need money to live. Steve, it seems to me, wanted a change in career and felt this would be a way to get into publishing/writing. While he may have been mislead, the fact that this trial is happening, that lawyers are arguing on both sides, means at least some people don’t agree that it’s a cut and dry case of copyright infringment. I still believe that there are 1 or 2 books out there that were published a while back that just list information about the Harry Potter world, though in a less engaging way than the Lexicon. The Lexicon is a target because it’s famous enough to make some real money and get some real attention.

I believe the Lexicon could have made much more money on advertising, but they hardly had any ads till recently. Compare with Mugglepop-upNet and you’ll see a big difference.

After this WB statement, it’s clear that the only way out of a court decision is for RDR to decide to stop publication and for JKR/WB to accept that and not seek further damages, which I kind of think they would do. But I’m not sure what RDR will do.

Does anyone get the feeling that Steve and Jo are being dragged along by their corporate partners and that they are not the ones making the final decisions here? I hope no one’s putting words in Jo’s mouth, but I heard her say the same language yesterday as what’s in the WB statement this morning, how it takes too much and adds too little. Talking points. I’m not surprised this is causing Jo not to be able to write. . .

Avatar Image says:

Again, I believe JKR has a right to prevent publication but I still don’t believe that something she claims to be so atrocious could sell enough to even be noticed. I’m a huge HP fan but whilst I most likely wouldn’t buy SVA’s book, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy JKR’s. I also think it’s a bit far fetched to call it plagiarism. He’s not trying to pass her work off as his own. An encyclopaedia isn’t a book of essays, it doesn’t provide comment, it gives you information on subjects usually in alphabetical order, and given that the information being offered HAS to come from the books… well, you can see where I’m going with this.

I also think it’s a little unfair of her to suggest that no effort went into what he did, if that’s the case why DIDN’T warner brothers just make their own timeline? Because it’s easier not to, because it wastes times, this suggests that creating a timeline TAKES time… Let’s put it another way, if they had made their own, the person doing it would have been paid for his time, NOT the extortionate amount SVA was demanding, but /something/. $50 maybe :) I mean, this was before deathly hallows which is when we discovered Lily and James’ death dates etc. which made it all so much easier to figure out.

Anyway, I’m only saying all that because this debate is soooo one sided it’s silly. Don’t kill me just coz I beg to differ. I personally think she’s right to prevent publication. Mostly because it’s her work, she should get a say on what happens to it, his encyclopaedia is superfluous and I think she’s absolutely right to think it might open the floodgates and saturate the market and lead some people to feel slightly sick of HP etc etc. But those are the only arguments with which I agree.

Avatar Image says:

Anonymoose: “underscore: That clause is NOT unusual and suspicious, you silly people. I’m a freelance Illustrator and I deal with this every week.

Silly people? Please do not try to pass of blatant untruths and then insult people for actually getting it right.

The firm I work at deals in Intellectual Property Law and 5% or less of the publishing contracts that are signed have that clause; in fact, the topic is rarely even broached by either parties as a likely scenario. It is a rare occasion indeed to have a publisher agree to something like that. The reason being is that publishers have a vested interest in protecting themselves from lawsuits. They rely upon the author’s word and ensure the author bears the brunt of legal challenges.”

Anonymoose, please. What you’re doing is WRONG. There may be posters reading and contributing to these pages who may be in a position to get their own writing material or freelance artwork published in the near future and you are miseducating them about THEIR RIGHTS by leading them to believe that contracts with one-sided IDEMNIFICATION CLAUSES should simply be accepted and signed without question—WHEN THEY SHOULD NOT. That is wrong and you should be ashamed of yourself.

An Idemnification Clause should always protect BOTH parties. Contracts always have them solely in the company’s favour, like you said, so that those who are ignorant and naive enough not to know better sign it without question. However this clause SHOULD always be altered at the request of the artist(s)/writer(s) so that said Idemnification Clause protects them instead, or both parties in some fari and balanced way.

From my experience as an illustrator, an IDEMNIFICATION CLAUSE is set in place to protect the client/company from work that violates someone else’s copyright.

BUT:

It can also be arranged differently in order to protect an artist, like myself, from prosecution resulting from use of client/company-supplied reference materials that violate someone else’s copyright (such as photographs, paintings, etc.).

I just thought I’d clear that up because a lot of fans seem to assume that this was suspicious on behalf of Vander Ark, when in fact this kind of protection should be practiced by all hopeful aspiring future writers and artists. Thank you.

Avatar Image says:

Can you imagine?

If RDR/SVA win and they publish the book, can they sue JKR for copyright infringement when (and if) the Scottish Book comes out? Whose copyright takes precedent?

Jo Rowling is standing up for authors everywhere.

Avatar Image says:

the saddest part is how ugly this all is. And I have a nasty feeling that it’ll get worse before it gets better.

I just wanted to say thank you, Leaky Staff, for keeping us updated on both sides of the story throughout this whole thing. Really, Thank you so much for all of your hard work

Avatar Image says:

But again, the fact that SVA was smart enough to get a lawyer’s opinion on having an idemnification clause included (which is the only explanation other than RDR possibly having it already) does not mean anything. Rowling had Idemnification as well. Any trials from the past that involved phonies claiming Rowling stole THEIR work (Larry Plotter, whas it?) were covered by Bloomsbury’s lawyers, if I remember correctly, and did not require poor J.K. to put herself in debt just to afford using her wol lawyers when she still wasn’t quite so wealthy yet. We KNOW he FIRMLY BELIEVED that publishing something like his Lexicon in the state it was in would be illegal copyright infringement, but it may be that he went through with it anyways after RDR convinced him that it was not based on comparison with other prepublished HP reference guides and WB, EA, and Rowling’s use of it.

I mean, it may be that he IS swine, but, Jesus, you can’t really conclude that by what’s been said in trial so far.

Avatar Image says:

Actually there are a few problems with the indemnity clause. praetorianguard, a contract lawyer, has a great blog on livejournal. According to the blog written yesterday, the clause was written in a way that will allow RDR to sue SVA if they do lose this case. Yes RDR will bear the cost of this lawsuit, but If WB proves the Lexicon violates copyright laws, SVA can be sued by RDR for breach of contract. You’ll have to read the blog to understand it, but it sounds like a dirty lawyer trick on RDR’s part.

Avatar Image says:

Mizzy and Ericka- There is a huge difference between fair use and plagiarism. As it has been stated time and time again, you cannot simply publish a book of re-organized information. That is plagiarism. From all of the court documents and statements that I have read, there is nothing to suggest that SVA has contributed any original work to the book at all. It is simply a cut and paste of the 7 HP books. While this may be ok online, where it is free to everyone and there are several other sites with similar information, the same does not necessarily apply to a published book. SVA is trying to make money off work that is not his own. Other HP companion books contain enough scholarly information, additional commentary, criticism, etc that they DO fall under fair use. But these books are very different from what RDR is trying to publish. Even if Jo and others have used the Lexicon as a reference, the only thing SVA has done is make the information convenient to find; he has NOT added any value to the work. However, if RDR wins, there could be a backlash against sites like the Lexicon and others in the future for copyright infringement. So instead of having handy internet references, all sites will be stopped immediately so that problems like this don’t arise in the future.

Avatar Image says:

Sorry, Indemnification clause, not indemnity clause.

Erika, it is plagiarism if 90% of your work is uncited, direct quotes. Correct, this is not an academic paper, nor do I believe Steve was trying to pass this off as his own. But even if you take direct quotes, and cite them correctly, you can still plagiarize if you don’t add your own commentary regardless what your intentions were. You cannot create a companion book for a work of fiction without adding outside commentary. Steve didn’t create an encyclopedia for WWII.

Avatar Image says:

As I suspected. Can you post the url to this blog? Thanks.

Avatar Image says:

If Mrs Rowling had been dead for a 100 years and someone had decided to create an encyclopedia to accompany the works of the author it would be a different story. But knowing perfectly the intention of the author to do such a thing and decide to beat her to the wire is srticly dishonest, period.

Keep up the good fight, JK. Kick them in the ass.

Avatar Image says:

Does anyone else think that, if RDR had provided Steve Vander Ark with a good editor none of this would have happened? RDR just wanted to go to the website and hit print 10,000 copies. There might have been a good book in the Lexicon somewhere, but no one seemed willing to find it.

It seems like SVA intended to create a book similar to one I used while studying art history called “The Abacus to Zeus”. That book basically provided definitions of technical terms and basic information on mythology, religious themes and common imagery. While ready the HP books I used the Lexicon in the same way I had used my Abacus to Zeus, to jog my memory about characters I recognized from previous books.

I agree with JKR & WB, the Lexicon is poorly written and relies too heavily on previously published material. However, I agree with RDR and SVA that their book would have limited impact on the market for the Scottish Book. I would have never considered actually buying a HP book written by a third party, but I’d want to be first in line to purchase JKR’s encyclopedia. I’m sure the general public would feel the same

Avatar Image says:

What about books like Fionna Boyle’s that’s an inferior version of the Lexicon? It’s nothing but a reference guide to the material, with NO sources cited or no critical essays.It’s full of potion and spell lists, and that sort of thing. If that’s okay to print, then why not the Lexicon? Rowling must be deeply insecure to feel threatened by the Lexicon. If she feels that it would eliminate the need for her own encyclopedia, then feel must feel that she has nothing more to contribute to the Harry Potter universe, which is ridiculous. I love the Harry Potter books, but I’m not going to pretend that Rowling is a saint…she’s not. In fact, she’s incredibly two-faced, at one time praising the Lexicon and now being incredibly dismissive of it (which is incredibly unprofessional and downright rude), by calling it sloppy work. I’ve done bibliographic work. Making catalogs and indexes are hard work. Rowling is most definitely not standing up for authors everywhere, only the ones who want complete and total control over their work. Most authors aren’t that delusional. When authors write creative works, most of them realize that those works will turn into something else in the readers’ heads and that will come forth in fan fiction, films, etc. A great example is George Lucas and the creation of Star Wars fan films. People are free to work in the playground, because in part, no one’s going to mistake Darth Vader for being property of anyone but Lucas. Granted, these people aren’t doing it for profit. Speaking of profit, SVA or RDR books don’t stand to make much profit from the book anyway. Publishing is a notoriously hard business to break even in and those relatively few huge best sellers every year make up for the rest of the books publishers publish. I don’t want to bash Rowling unfairly, but her words and her actions are making her look like the jerk kid on the playground who likes to burn ants with a magnifying glass, simply because she can. Authors can be notoriously cranky when it comes to research…a recent example would be the case of the Estate of James Joyce…they tried to stop a scholar from using his materials in her research. It’s not a coincidence that Standford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society represented the scholar then and is representing the RDR books now.

Avatar Image says:

Actually, the way he/she is describing it, RDR can’t really bother suing him because based on how she’s describing it’s been worded, RDR might just technically have to cover Vander Ark’s costs for getting sued by ANYONE, including by RDR themselves. But since she knows best, I’m assuming she’s right in that they CAN later sue him if a court rules his Lexicon as plagiarism.

Avatar Image says:

I pretty much expecting WB coming out with this statement. There’s no way they will allow themselfs to be scared into a settlement. They believe that they are in the right, which I think they are. This is nothing but plagiarism.

Avatar Image says:

....the blog, I mean. I found it:

http://praetorianguard.livejournal.com/279321.html#cutid3

Avatar Image says:

6000 dollars in 8 years averages out to 750 dollars a year. Thats enough to cover web hosting costs and onsidering the former floo network started paying for hosting the site, I would say 6000 dollars isn’t bad. There might have also been a form of revenue sharing when the floo network was in existence. I’m sure leaky makes substantially more than 750 dollars a year. Also, lets not forget the pseudo fame the site brought him. Steve was a sought after speaker at HP convnetions, and added commentary on HP DVD’s. So while 6000 dollars seems like a pittance for 8 years of work he should have more than made up for it in speaking engagements at conferences, DVD’s and television promos(I think he has been on one of those morning shows before an HP release, not sure).

Don’t know how much someone gets paid for an HP conference they might do it out love for the books for nothing or less than nothing. But there is still costs for the plane trip and food while at the conference so he would be stupid to do it for nothing, or get less than his expenses on the trip. As for DVD commentary and T.V. he does get paid. He might even get residuals from DVD sales each time they are re-released in some special format if his commentary is included, special editions, blu-ray, HD-DVD.

So lets not assume that Steve’s passion for HP (of which I do not doubt) has been only a labor of love and sacrafice because the website has only generated 6000 dollars. He fails to mention any other HP related endeavor that he has made money from because of his dedication to his website. I am not saying Steve made substantial sums of money, but I am sure he could of nicely supplemented his regular librarian income with HP related endeavors.

Avatar Image says:

I really hope Jo wins, she must

Avatar Image says:

Steve Van Der Ark should have listened to that little voice inside him that said ‘this is wrong’. Those little voices that niggle away at us have proved over the centuries that they are NEVER wrong. We should all follow our instincts, that’s what they’re there for.

Avatar Image says:

Dumbledweeb, the reason for claiming he made personal profit off of ad revenue from his site was to show that Rowling and WB, knowing so, did not choose to take action in shutting the site down. Therefore, if Rowling and WB allowed him to profit off of the Lexicon from the web, then what’s the difference if he continues to profit from the Lexicon both for being on the web and in print? This was not about Vander Ark crying about making ONLY that much money.

Avatar Image says:

I totally agree that it should never have gone this far. I so feel sorry for Jo having to go through all this. She is protecting HER creation … just like any mother would protect her offspring from any threat. (Lily/Harry, Molly/Ginny, etc)

The WB statement is quite succinct and correct.

If SVA just said “No” to RDR (and honoring his promise to Jo) .... but he has shown that he is not worthy of the trust that Jo afforded him. Early on she told him that she did not grant permission for publication.

Then RDR and SVA acted like spoiled children by doing what they were asked not to. RDR and SVA are the ones that forced JKR and WB to take the more forceful actions they did.

SVA is showing his true colors … a disreputable weakling (is HE looking for sympathy crying on the stand???) .... greed got the better of him.

We ARE the choices we make …... and it is clear that SVA is a unscupulous, treacherous con man.

Avatar Image says:

Hmm….after all this talk about how the book “adds nothing” and only tells the reader (paraphrasing) “on which pages things were said and done”, maybe they could call it the HP INDEX…...?

Avatar Image says:

If you look at filing 83 exhibit A (scroll to the end of the filing) there is a pie chart that alleges, based on WB count, that over 91% of the SVA book uses reformatted JKR text. This leaves virtually NO ROOM for commentary and makes the possibility of calling it ‘scholarly work’ rather dim. In addition – in SVA’s own testimony – what little he has contributed contains at least one inaccurate definition. My library director (my boss) commented that RDR’s best solution would have been to settle quickly and walk away. HMMMM

Avatar Image says:

Thank to whomever posted that BLOG. Its amazing how I’ve spent the last couple of days reading news articles about the case only to have a non-journalist (I’m assuming) clear up the whole issue for me in a few paragraphs about derivative versus transformational.

The point of my previous post was that the online Lexicon seems derivative, like the raw data you collect at the outset of a project. Steve Vander Ark needed a good editor and a great deal more work to create something transformational.

I’m glad that smarter people than me are handling this case.

Avatar Image says:

Sorry – forgot to cite my source – how embarrassing:

http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/new-york/nysdce/1:2007cv09667/315790/83/

Avatar Image says:

Well said, WB…... and well said mollywobbles23.

Avatar Image says:

I wish this would be over.It’s so sad because as someone said above it’s really not the good way to thank Jo the whole series…

Avatar Image says:

Before judging SVA and his inclusion of an indemnity clause, I would check whether that might be a standard clause in most author-publisher contracts—my wife contunies to work for a publisher and I worked for their used book store for 18 years and I know that most of their contracts use a standard template with some items negotiated or modified so it seems this might be one of those standard clauses.

Being a big fan of Star Trek (my children are the HP fans while my wife and I enjoyed reading the books along with them) I have seen a lot of “unofficial” Star Trek publications that would be very similar to the HP Lexicon so I don’t think it crosses the line. Although profit is certainly a motivation in the publication of the Lexicon I don’t believe SVA was purely interested in the money (although that is a nice plus for him) but was attempting to put into a print format (versus Web only which JKR didn’t seem to have a problem with) the lexicon for a wider audience of HP fans.

Now, if the material in question is indeed mostly a verbatim lifting of JKR text then there is certainly a question of whether SVA and his publisher should have sought copyright permission and/or made some sort of compensation offer to JKR. However, sometimes you have to let the free market decide the case as well-people here have already stated they would not purchase the lexicon because they would much prefer JKR’s version so why not live and let live? JKR can certainly make disclaimers about the lexicon (as well as critics-professionals and fans alike) and let the fans make their own decisions on whether SVA crossed the line and deserves to make a profit from his work in compiling the lexicon or not. The court of public opinion and the free market can sometimes solve things a lot quicker than costly and painful litigation.

Avatar Image says:

I REALLY HOPE J.K.ROWLING WINS!!!!!!!! GO JO AND WARNER BROS.! X

Avatar Image says:

@ Schiefy

The Star Trek publications fall under Fair Use. I have tried six ways from Sunday based on as many court filings as I’ve been able to wade through (still in the 40’s) to make the ‘infringing book’ fall under Fair Use without ANY luck. You might also check out the blog mentioned earlier. I did and it clears up a bunch of side questions I had. I’d love to know what the director of our Law Library thinks – she’s a JD as well as a librarian.

Avatar Image says:

When is this going to be over?

Avatar Image says:

3-5 years depending on the number of appeals.

Avatar Image says:

Sorry, I’m being a little pessimistic today. WB will take this as far as they think they can and Stanford will take it as far as they think they can. RDR is a pretty small operation. I wonder if they’ll exist after all is said and done. Even if they win (and I don’t see how) they won’t see a dime until WB exhausts all their options.

Avatar Image says:

@i-sk8r-O my God-NO of course! How on the Earth could RDR sue Jo and Scotish book?lol.

Avatar Image says:

@Shelli

Thanks, I will check out the blog.

Obviously, I am not a lawyer and was not trying to pretend I was one but merely making my personal observations on the “fair use” issue in Star Trek and compare it to the lexicon. I have not really examined the lexicon so my comments were intentionally broad in details.

My main point is that in our over litigated world (especially with the advent of the Web) copyright issues might be better solved in the free market. Baen Books actually allows you to download free eBook copies of their publications because Jim Baen, the founder, thought if people really liked the book they would eventually buy a hard copy rather than spend time reading a book online. To extend this principle, I think people will more likely support the purchase of an “original” lexicon (JKR) than the “imitation” lexicon (SVA)—thus, JKR will be vindicated, SVA gets the satisfaction of seeing his book published, and RDR will either not make money or more likely lose money. Even if the book is a success, another reader has pointed out that JKR is not really hurt by that but will, rather, have continued success with her “official” version.

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@Schiefy

I would agree with you wholeheartedly if the book actually contained SVA’s original work (as does the Star Trek works). Unfortunately, if the documentation provided by BOTH SIDES of the argument are to be believed -these words are 91.4% JKR’s words. If I submitted a paper to a professor containing 91.4% of someone else’s work product I would be expelled (and rightly so). Why should SVA be paid for them?

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Sorry – clumsy wording above. I meant to say that the Star Trek books contain an original storyline based on established characters. That’s basically what makes them Fair Use. This is horribly oversimplified I might add. SVA’s work has little commentary (which the handful of accepted HP handbooks are full of). There is little or no academic discussion. It is not a parody. It is not transformative. It is not Fair Use.

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The difference between this and Baen books (which are AWESOME) is that the author given permission. SVA and RDR didn’t even ASK permission.

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underscore, I didn’t mean to comment on the revenue made from advertising on the site as it pertains in the case. I was commenting on the assumption that ad revenue from the site was his only means of profiting. In earlier posts some posts had expressed that the sum was a pittance. I was pointing out that ad revenue from the Lexicon was not Steves only source of HP related income. Also, if RDR is claiming that 6000 dollars in 8 years constitutes it being ok for Steve to make more profit just because WB/JKR did not stop them, then RDR has a very poor case indeed. While 6000 dollars in 8 yrs seems to me suffecient to run a website,although I have never run one, it doesn’t seem like that would constitute profit.

Again, Steve has taken advantage of numerous other HP endeavors that fame from his website has brought him. I have never seen any poster here on DVD extras, or interviewed on tv, or a featured speaker at HP conventions. Some of you could be anonymous super fans, but I hope you get the point. I don’t mean to paint Steve as a bad person profiting from HP. I can’t say I have agreed with him as a public figure associated with HP fandom, but I don’t know him as a person.

We can’t deny however that the big three HP fansites, Leaky, Mugglenet, and also the Lexicon haven’t had their hard work rewarded in terms of fan respect and monetary gain. I don’t know if any of them make enough to quit their day jobs, but it would make a nice supplemental income. Even if they don’t make enough money to justify supplemental income it still pays for the overhead costs of running the site and keeping it constantly updated. In the case of Leaky and Mugglenet it is updated to the minute. None of my other fan interests have such constant updates.

I think Steve deserves all the fan recognition and respect he got in the past, I don’t think he has a right to publish the Lexicon, and I agree with Leaky’s resoning for severing ties with him. RDR winning could mean an end to it all or a horrible new fair use definition where any author’s work is fair game to blatantly copy and profit from.

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Theres a big difference bettween;

1.”Obtaining an urgent story from spirit to write as quick as you can for the people to enjoy and succeed in doing so”

and

2.”Copy-Catting what someone has already published.”

Kids are tought in school not to copy published work for projects so how is the Lexicon book any different???!!! I knew this would happen, it was just a matter of time, but we know that the publication can not be permitted quick simply because That is JK Rowling’s task!

Friend Jo…. Stand your ground….. HP was passed your way for a reason. and thanks.

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and it should not be permitted quite simply because that is not only JK Rowling’s task but she is the only one who has the rite to do so.

Thank-You.

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OMG, How awful. How could someone do this. JK Rowling had nothing, and these books were her salvation. It is her idea, her world. Her escape from her own world which wasn’t at it’s best. I think she is an inspiration. She was a single mother, living off benefits. I’m 13 and I sometimes find it hard to find the time to write, yet she had a baby and the worry of everything else in her life, and still managed to write the greatest series of books ever! And now, some guy has decided his own encyclopedia, which started off as a harmless fan site, some one giving their views and interpretations of a genius’s work, could earn him a good bit of cash, and he wants to publish it. This is not only plagiarism but it’s cruel. And definately not the work of a true fan. He is using her work, just reordered. And doesn’t JK Rowling want to write her own encyclopedia anyway? I’m sure that would be 1,000,000 times better than his! She deserves to win, and if she doesn’t, I hope his rubbish little book sells hardly anything!

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P.S. I am a novelist as well, but I would never in a million years copy someone else’s work weather it was pubslished or not. Go figure! I must have class and I know many of you out there have just as much class to do the right thing.

:)

Keep well.

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I couldn’t agree more with WB

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@Shelli

Okay, I did read through the blog which seems to be a good legal summary on the specifics and merits of the case.

Without spending a lot of time trying to track down info on the exact content of SVAs lexicon, I am just commenting on generalities and the broader issues brought up by this case.

In referencing the Star Trek books I was thinking about the “non-fiction” works not fan fiction or the novel series based on ST characters and background. Right now I have the “Star Trek Concordance” in front of me—it lists all of the episodes with synopsis and cast/crew with the latter half of the book including a glossary referencing nearly everything from the episodes. Now, I don’t see any copyright acknowledgments to the original sources (i.e., episodes, writer’s bible, etc.) although there is an acknowledgment that everything in the book comes from those sources. How much of it is, then, “original” or “transformative” and covered by fair use versus being “derivative” and questionable under fair use? In comparison, SVAs lexicon seems similar except that it is based on mostly written material rather than visual media such as the ST Concordance.

Although there are other exhibits related to the case, I find it interesting that the pie chart which purports to demonstrate that 91% of JKRs material is duplicated in the lexicon only states that it is the “word count” but I am not clear on whether they are meaning that it is verbatim quotes from JKR or duplication of vocabulary. If the latter, then I don’t think the ST Concordance would be much different since much of the source material is going to contain unique vocabulary (i.e., character names, places, etc.) but if the former then I would agree that SVA/RDR should have sought copyright permission and/or offered appropriate compensation for reproducing so much of JKRs material—and this is what they should seek to do per the judge’s comments of an out-of-court settlement.

On the other hand, I believe the Baen philosophy toward derivative media (ebooks or unofficial books) is helpful in taking this entirely out of the litigation realm. Ignoring the author permission issue in distributing the free ebooks, my point is that the public square and free market could often solve these types of “free use” disputes in a more effective manner than the courts because people will comment on and/or choose not to purchase the derivative media when given the alternatives (i.e., ebooks v printed books or unofficial book v official book). Even if the derivative media is “successful” then I would think it would still boost more interest in the “original” media and everyone wins.

Obviously, this case would not have gotten as far if SVA/RDR had made some wiser decisions: SVA should have trusted his instinct as others have noted and RDR should have done more to insure the lexicon met “fair use” guidelines if it indeed makes use of too much JKR material in its original state. And, as noted, RDR should have gone further in securing permission and/or financial arrangements with JKR and company.

Again, I am making comment more on the principles of the case rather than merits which I do not have the time nor expertise to get into. I merely wanted to offer a different perspective on how “fair use” in the free market might resolve itself in a more congenial manner than constant litigation except for clear copyright infringements (i.e., publishing a pirated copy of a work). :)

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Schiefy, The “Star Trek Concordance” (I have not read it) but I have read simialar books. The character sketches and episode plot lines of any Star Trek book differs greatly from what the lexicon is. The lexicon takes whole passages and descriptions from the books changing them slightly or not at all, where as a typical Star Trek book lists characters based on snippets of info garnered from various episodes and movies. For example, a typical reference might be, Captain Kirk- became a Starship captain at a very young age. At the federation academy Kirk beat the “Forgot from Khan” by rewriting the program. He is also skilled at hand to hand combat and tactical maneuvers. Kirk is purported to be the only human to beat a vulcan at chess. I am pretty sure that above passage constitutes fair use. It does not blatantly copy from any source or overtly quote anything from an episode. It is simply taken from my observations watching Star Trek. I could also reference specific episodes in which Kirk showed he is skilled at tactical manuevers and hand to hand combat. The Lexicon on the other hand uses complete passages from the books in thier character descriptions, like Dumbledore said of Harry ” ............................” and then continues to do this throughout the entry without any comment or analysis of the broader implication of those words on the supposed character of the literary figures and that is why it is not fair use.

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dumbledweeb:

I’m pretty sure the “Forgot From Khan” is called the Kobayashi Maru. I wouldn’t stake my life on it, but that’s what I remember. :)

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Thank you Elizabeth, I could not remember so “Forgot from Khan” was my sad attempt to reference it, in a quick manner. Because all Kirk references include it.

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lol…why are people posting that JKR is insecure about her “Scottish Book” and that’s why WB’s filing suit against RDR?

I thought, correct me if I am wrong, that Fair Use has a component in which the book in question will compete with the original author’s book in the general market. Since JKR’s “Scottish Book” is meant to be a reference for the HP series, as well as adding information on the characters and plots that weren’t previously known, the HPL book would directly conflict with her information. Therefore, in court, it was relevant for JKR to bring up this possible conflict.

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I can’t help but wonder why WB and Rowling would need to make this statement. Surely, her supposed writer’s block and anguish are equally irrelevant, so why did we need to hear about this. And, if anyone is really concerned about the effect upon “fandom,” then you really ought to be rooting for Steve as hard as you can. It should not be down to Rowling or authors—who have the most financial incentive to prohibit use of their work—to determine whether or not the commentary included in a reference manual is “enough.”

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