JKR/WB vs RDR Books Trial: Testimony

113

Apr 16, 2008

Posted by KristinTLC
Uncategorized

As a follow up to yesterday’s post regarding Steve Vander Ark’s testimony in the case of J.K. Rowling and Warner Brothers vs. RDR Books, we have the following details. Please note that Leaky was in attendance, and as on Monday, all notes were handwritten as recorders were banned.

General facts

During Steve Vander Ark’s [SVA] testimony, he was asked if, in July of 2007, he was in a position where he needed extra money. He responded “I’m always in a position where I need extra money.”

During questioning, it was established that SVA does not have a degree in Library Science, and that he was asked for his resignation from his job as a librarian in October.

He contacted the Christopher Little Literary Agency in May of 2007 and again in July via e-mail.

Concerning copyright problems

SVA told RDR that he was concerned about copyright issues with a print version of the Lexicon.

In response to a question about sales of MuggleNet’s book “What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7”, SVA said “I heard [that they had sold over 300K copies]; I really wasn’t aware of that until later, but yes.”

Roger Rapoport of RDR Books used to work at Ulysses, which published the MuggleNet book. When asked if he and RDR had had a conversation about the potential Lexicon book making as much money as the MuggleNet book, he responded: “I don’t remember a conversation like that….I only knew it was on the New York Times bestseller list.” He also said he “only brought up as a joke” the possibility of the book making the New York Tmes bestseller list.

Regarding beating MuggleNet to publication:

WB: “you wanted to beat MuggleNet to the punch?”
SVA: “Right…the two books coming out at the same time, they would be seen as equal.”
It was noted the Lexicon book would be rushed to stores for two reasons: because of the publication of the MuggleNet book, and because of the Christmas season.
Warner Brothers asked if a third reason was because interest in Harry Potter was at a high. SVA responded with “I don’t remember thinking that, no.”

Steve Vander Ark’s knowledge of copyright rules

WB asked SVA if he was knowledgeable about copyright issues, to which he responded: “I’m no expert.” When asked if he was knowledgeable about copyright infringement, he said: “I’m not sure how to answer that.”

WB asked if as a media specialist, one of his areas of expertise was copyright.

SVA: “Yes.”

WB asked if he had read a lot of books about copyright or attended conferences on copyright. SVA responded: “I don’t think I’ve read a lot of books copyright. I’ve attended conference as relates to children using copyright…” The judge asked for clarification on this statement, and SVA explained that part of his job was to instruct children on what is allowed and what isn’t.

WB showed postings from a forum regarding the old Newton device, in which Mr. SVA had posted in 2000 that he reads “ridiculously large numbers” of books on copyright; in the post, he also stated that he attended conferences. SVA said: “I don’t doubt that I made the comments, I just don’t remember making this particular post.”

WB asked if he used electronic versions of the books for creating the manuscript: “Yes, we do. We scanned them in from our copies. We have multiple copies of the book.”

WB then showed an e-mail between SVA and the co-authors requesting text files of the JKR schoolbooks for the production of the manuscript: “If anyone has the text files of QA [Quidditch Through the Ages] and FB [Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them], that would be enormously helpful.”

SVA stated that he did not believe it wrong to scan his own copies because they were not distributed, and that, “it’s a lot easier to search electronic copies” than the paper ones, “of which we have many.”

WB then asked whether it is easier to cut and paste from a text file of an HP book: “I don’t know because I’ve never done that.” He was asked again if he’d ever cut/pasted from the books: “I don’t recall doing that, no.”

The defense objected to the line of questioning, stating that there was no clam of infringement in the use of electronic copies in the filings. The judge overruled the objection, but said he’d take the note into consideration.

WB asked SVA if knew he couldn’t make electronic copies of the book: “Actually there are instances where this is allowed…but I don’t know how it relates to [the case].” WB then showed a post SVA had made on the previously mentioned Newton message board that read: “You can’t legally make copies of copyrighted books just because you own them.”

When asked to confirm that he had written the post, SVA responded: “I don’t have that document in front of me but I’m not disputing it.” He went on to explain that the comments were in references to the short-lived Newton electronic device and the small resultant community’s desire to share what they had relating to it and the legality of that.

Authorship of the material on the Lexicon/in the Lexicon book

SVA was shown his declaration where he said he and his staff composed the text of the manuscript. “We wrote the Lexicon manuscript,” he said. WB asked “Do you think that the book copies J.K. Rowling’s work?” He answered, “The Lexicon book is a reference book to a piece of literature. That’s the kind of book it is.” WB repeated the question, and a defense lawyer objected, saying the word “copy” is large and ambiguous. SVA stated: “There are places where we use phrases that are identical or similar. In the process of creating a book of that kind that would be expected…It’s a standard type of reference guide.”

WB asked whether it was true the book was 90 percent JKR‘s work. SVA said, “I don’t think that’s the case.” He was asked to give a percentage as to how much of the Lexicon book was JKR‘s work; the defense objected to this question, but it was overruled. SVA responded: “I’m really not sure how to answer the question. I have not analyzed the text in that way.”

He said it was “not the Lexicon’s aim to be exhaustive.”

The part of his declaration where he says the text uses JKR‘s words “in a few places” was highlighted. WB asked, “Only in a few places?…is that what you believe?”

SVA responded: “That’s what I wrote.”
WB followed up: “Is that what you believe?”
SVA responded: “That is what I believe.”

The Lexicon entry on the Brain Room, which was discussed during day one of the trial was brought up again, in which the same words to describe the unspooling brains as resembling filmstrips were used in both OOTP and the Lexicon book. SVA was asked if he considered that copying: “I wouldn’t call that copying. That’s similar. The only way I can make a book about this is from the source text.” He was asked if he thought it was a paraphrase. “I suppose you could use that term. I did cite it, however.”

Regarding an entry about Goblins imbibing metal, SVA said the words used were said by a character (“According to Phineas Nigellus, goblin-made armour does not require cleaning, because goblins’ silver repels mundane dirt, imbibing only that which strengthens it”), “So yes, we had to use those words.” He was asked why he didn’t use quotes around the portion of text that came from the character’s mouth. “That not the form of the sentence,” he responded.

WB asked SVA to describe “clankers”.
SVA asked: “Do you want me to read from the description [in the HPL]?”
WB: “Can you answer [without doing so]?”
SVA: “They are metal objects used to frighten a dragon.”
WB asked why he could describe the clankers without using the same words as JKR, but that he did not do so in the manuscript: “You asked me to describe it, you didn’t ask me what I would put in a reference book, there’s a difference. When you create a reference work you have to create a balance between the two.”

The David Colbert book was again referenced as “another HP encyclopedia,” and SVA said, “I wouldn’t call this an encyclopedia. There are similarities between the two but it doesn’t aim to be exhaustive or complete. Mr. Colbert’s purpose is to talk about other things than the Harry Potter books,” while the purpose of the Lexicon book is to be a “ready reference” so that people can look things up quickly.

SVA said repeatedly that while all the entries on the Lexicon site were represented in the book, each was shorter, with the aim of not including everything in the book so that it would drive people back to the novels. “The Lexicon book would be pretty much useless without the novels.”

Regarding Other Harry Potter material and works and permission to use them

Regarding Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quiddich Through the Ages and the Wizard Cards, SVA said they were presented with “quite a challenge” but that they [the Lexicon authors] left out a lot of information. Regarding the Wizard Cards, he said, “I had permission to use that material.”

WB asked if he had permission to use those cards in a book version of the Lexicon; SVA said, “I had permission on the Web site.”
WB asked him to confirm that he had not talked to anyone about using that information in a book.

SVA mentioned whom he had spoken to about the website permissions [the name of person is unclear]. WB then asked if in 2002, when he got that permission, if it could have been for anything but the Lexicon website. SVA said no.

Regarding other books referenced in the Lexicon, the portion of the book that says all information came from JKR was highlighted. WB asked if it was true that he only sourced a specific outside reference four times.

SVA: “I haven’t counted it up.”
WB: Does it sound right?”
SVA: “I have no idea.”

More on etymology

WB asked if about one percent of entries contained etymology. SVA responded that if she had counted up he’d be happy to agree.

The term “Flints” was referenced, which SVA defined as a fan term for continuity errors. He said there are “remarkably few” because JKR is “very good at continuity.”

He was asked if he counted JKR among one of the contributors to his book. SVA responded: “The Lexicon is a reference book to an original source. If I was writing [about] Shakespeare, I wouldn’t quote Shakespeare…In that kind of book you would not do it that way.”

When asked about fan contributions to the site, SVA said it would be “difficult for me to show where” other fans had contributed information to the eventual HPL manuscript. WB asked if he ever advised fans that their work might be included in a for-profit book; this question was objected to and sustained.

When asked if he ever told JKR‘s representatives about his plan for the book, SVA responded: “No, I didn’t think I needed to.”

The FAQ page of the HP Lexicon website, in which SVA says that it’s not right for others to copy his work, was mentioned. WB said: “You don’t like people to infringe your work”. SVA responded, “I’m not sure how to answer that question.”

WB referenced the exhibit in which SVA said he had “sicced” his lawyer onto someone for copying the Lexicon; SVA said that was an instance in which someone had taken pages from the Lexicon and JKR‘s site and was selling them on the Web site. He said he wrote to the CLLA at the time to tell them.

In the same note he mentioned that three books had “plagiarized quite extensively” from the Lexicon When asked which books he was referring to, SVA responded: “I don’t remember exactly which books these were. I knew at the time.”

George Beahm’s book mentioned and WB asked if that was one of the three books mentioned above. SVA said “What Beahm did is not plagiarism; he used the Lexicon for structure…however what he did was not wrong.”

WB then showed an e-mail in which SVA said Beahm “copies a lot of the material for his book, directly from the Lexicon.”

SVA clarified: “He lists material in the same order, he includes things he would not have except for the Lexicon. What he did was not wrong, it just bothered me.”

The e-mail to Cheryl Klein in which SVA said he understood that J.K. Rowling had reserved rights to an encyclopedia was mentioned; in the same email, he said he had advised George Beahm from doing an encyclopedia. SVA said: “I wrote that note because I was hoping for a response. I was hoping that she would say, ‘Yes, I’m glad you did that, or something that would have verified it. I was testing the water, I wanted to get a response. No, she did not respond.”

A video in which SVA said that “Jo has quit, she’s done, we’re taking over now” to a room full of fans was played. The judge asked “Is that the whole clip?” and WB said yes; SVA interrupted that it was a small portion of what was available at YouTube.

SVA said he made the comments because “There was a lot of worry at that time that the Harry Potter fandom would die [and the people who ran the conference said] “We’d like you to say something [to encourage fans to] stay fans, keep writing.”

Steve Vander Ark’s statements on the last book’s epilogue

He was asked if he told fans to disregard the Epilogue from DH and said he’d like to explain the greater context of his comments to that effect (but did not).

WB: “Is it true that you told fans you did not accept that Ms. Rowling has the right to decide for herself the fates of her characters?”
SVA responded: “I really don’t remember exactly what was said. It sounds like something I would not say.”
WB: “You don’t like the epilogue?”
SVA: “I’m neither here nor there on it, actually.”

The Book Timeline and Vander Ark’s attorney

The timeline was mentioned again. SVA said “There are two timelines…[the one in question is one which] a large portion of it invented…some of the dates are given in a book. I have made guesses, figured out.” Some discussion occurs about discussing the timeline with two people at WB, and having a deal with RDR in which RDR got 15 percent (not half as reported earlier) commission from money paid by WB, in exchange for RDR taking up his cause. He accepted the deal. He was asked if he talked about it with people at WB. SVA responded: “Confidential and without prejudice so any content of that discussion is not something we can talk about here.”

The lawyers debated whether the question should be allowed to continue:

WB: “While RDR and plaintiffs have resolved the [issue] you have refused to resolve your claim…Mr. Harris is not your lawyer?”
SVA: “No, he is not.”
WB: [You have recently retained a lawyer?]
SVA: ”…it was considered to be a good idea to have an attorney of my own.”
WB: [statement unclear; they appear to have asked whether the process was still ongoing regarding the timeline]
SVA: “I guess the answer to that would be yes.”
WB: “You hope to receive money?”
SVA: “I was more interested in receiving recognition.”
WB: “But you always want to receive money.”
SVA: “I wouldn’t object to it.”

Steve Vander Ark on J.K. Rowling’s testimony

SVA said that he not only hadn’t seen the testimonies from the day before, but hadn’t read any articles and didn’t know anything about what Jo said on the stand.

In conclusion, a note from Melissa:

In the remainder of this proceeding an e-mail of mine was brought into question; therefore, for many reasons, I will recuse myself and longer post news about this case. Kristin will do so from now on. She has been provided raw transcription notes from the this testimony in order to give it equal time as JKR‘s had; this is only the examination, and not cross-examination, as I stopped taking notes as soon as the e-mail was brought in. The rest of the information will be culled from other sources and posted here; thanks, everyone!





107 Responses to JKR/WB vs RDR Books Trial: Testimony

Avatar Image says:

Thanks Kristin for the work you have done!

Avatar Image says:

Thanks Melissa and Kristin both for keeping us up to date on this mess!

Avatar Image says:

I’m just sad that it has all come to this, whatever anyone’s point of view is.

Avatar Image says:

Thanks Melissa and Kristin.

Some the questions asked were odd. Why do they need to know his opinion of the epilogue, to examine his character? It just didn’t seem relevant to me.

Avatar Image says:

Thanks Leaky, you guys are awesome!!

Avatar Image says:

Gosh, it’s so sad. I really appreciate Leaky’s professionalism. Are your wrists okay ?

Avatar Image says:

Just an FYI, the WSJ updated their Law Blog, and some of the parts of the case have been settled. However, the core of the issue, Copyright Infringment, has not.

http://blogs.wsj.com/law/

Avatar Image says:

Everything is perfectly clear here. That guy only wants public exposure and money of course! He doesn’t understand Jo or her feelings or HP. “I don’t know how to answer this question:”-OMG-really? You’re going down Mister!

Thank you Leaky for everything-it means a lot to us : )

Avatar Image says:

Am I to understand that Steve was fired because he lied about having studied Library Science? Now I understand why he wanted to publish this book, something he wouldn’t have done if he wasn’t in need for a quick buck.

Avatar Image says:

Thank you Melissa and everyone else at leaky for being so thorough. It’s really great to know what’s going on. Keep up the good work!

Avatar Image says:

From this testimony I’m starting to think that it’s not that Steve’s a bad guy, it’s just that he’s a very bad librarian; he doesn’t seem to know his stuff about copyright, etc.

Avatar Image says:

You can see a small clip about Stevieeee here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8euDRahEn4

and you can see some other clips about the trial just search:J.K.Rowling and uploaded today or this week.

GO JO!

Avatar Image says:

Oh dear…. chomp.... I’m afraid the WB lawyer chewed him up. His answers showed uncertainty and a lot of back-tracking.

” WB: You hope to receive money? SVA: I was more interested in receiving recognition. WB: But you always want to receive money. SVA: “I wouldn’t object to it. “

Hmm… very shifty. It’s pure plagiarism. There’s also the hypocrisy of advising another person not to do an encyclopedia, when he has gone on to do the same.

I feel very disheartened by this lawsuit.

Avatar Image says:

YIKES! Too much question dodging from Vander Ark: not good. Also not good for Rowling: Most of the lawyer’s questions were irrelevant and personal. But this is probably just a warm up for them.

Avatar Image says:

of course also thank you to Melissa! (Forgot to read the note from you)

Avatar Image says:

thanks for the update. Too bad Melissa seems to be getting dragged into this.

I do have to say though—-it sounded like SVA was burying himself on the stand.

If he knew about copyright law, and had reservations, he knew better….

GO Jo!!!!!!

Avatar Image says:

This is just sad. Steve really dug a deep hole for himself, God love him. It’s a shame, really; an adult should know better.

But Leaky? You have definitely risen to the occasion and turned into a crack team of court reporters! Carpal tunnel, much?

Avatar Image says:

QUIRREL HAS VOLDEMORT COMING OUT OF THE BACK OF HIS HEAD! Spoiler time, I ruined the book for you, hahaha… I mean… Hmm… I don’t know what to think about this… It seems WB’s and Rowlings’s only complaint is that he doesn’t offer any legitimate new information, and that’s true… He should just write commentary on everything, and he’d be able to sell the commentary legally, a la Connie Neal. But just collecting facts about the books and putting them into a new book? Not so much.

Avatar Image says:

You all side with Rowling, but the sad fact is that under all the emo tears, she has no case. Unauthorized fan writings exist since the beginning of time. It’s a way of flattery. And yet, only Rowling’s sued.

Could this be because she’s being sued for copying “Troll”, the movie?

It’s funny how badly she bashes the Lexicon book, after praising the website (WHICH IS THE BASIS OF THE BOOK) and saying how she referred to it while writing. Such a “poorly written” site must explain by Book 7 was two steps short of 2nd grade writing, eh?

Avatar Image says:

Pity we don’t have more to chew on but there is enough to indicate SVA dissembled, was manipulative, evasive, is motivated by monetary gain, and most of all, seeks recognition.

An example of his dissembling:

“You don’t like people to infringe your work”. SVA responded, “I’m not sure how to answer that question.”

Manipulation:

On objections “I was testing the water, I wanted to get a response. No, she did not respond .”

Money and recognition:

“You hope to receive money?” SVA: “I was more interested in receiving recognition.” WB: “But you always want to receive money.” SVA: “I wouldn’t object to it.”

Dissembling on a mega level:

WB asked whether it was true the book was 90 percent JKR’s work. SVA said, “I don’t think that’s the case.” He was asked to give a percentage as to how much of the Lexicon book was JKR’s work; the defense objected to this question, but it was overruled. SVA responded: “I’m really not sure how to answer the question. I have not analyzed the text in that way.”

No one who has followed this case and read Justia.com, or SVA’s correspondence, can take this testimony seriously. In England we’d call someone like SVA a “con artist”. It is no coincidence he performed in, and likes, amateur dramatics; acting is an essential part of a con artist’s armoury. But, having said that, he won over the media with his performance and that’s all that matters when it comes to marketing and selling. I have to applaud his nerve and cynicism; he really is quite the Jack the Lad. He’ll fit in really well over here with our Brit second-hand-car salesman types. Good luck to him.

Avatar Image says:

Pity there won’t be any lengthy reports on the case now. They’re incredibly interesting, and even though I understand that Melissa’s been mentioned in the case, I wish she’d continue making the notes. What harm can it do??

Avatar Image says:

“I’m not sure how to answer that question.” – I think I’ll answer everyone today with that repsonse (and notice I used quotation marks. :P )

Thanks Melissa, Kristin and Leaky. And I echo nicci’s sentiments, I feel bad that Melissa and Leaky are getting dragged into this mess. I hate to say it but I am almost of the opinion that SVA simply created the site to eventually capitalize on an encyclopedia-type book once Book 7 was completed and released.

Avatar Image says:

@a former fan: People aren’t paying for the site. They’re paying for the book, and he doesn’t offer any new info for the book, just collected facts that he’s selling… If he was offering real commentary, he wouldn’t be in trouble. She has a case. If you were ever a fan, by the way, you wouldn’t call book 7 2nd grade writing… That’s the new trend among trolls. Claim to be part of the fandom / religion / political party / country / race that they’re bashing.

Avatar Image says:

@ Eric

Of course SVA didn’t create the site in order to sell the book 8 years later. I think he’s a genuine fan, wanting to make that lexicon for everyone. Only this last year he’s started seeing money or fame or whatever into it. I don’t think he’s that bad a guy that he’d spend so many years on the site for free, thinking, I’ll make them pay for my book… One day!

Avatar Image says:

I’m a bit confused. Just for my own clarification, an email Melissa sent to someone, got entered into the case as evidence? And since its not ethical practice for a journalist to cover a case they are involved in, she is relinquishing the role of reporter for the case. We will continue to receive notes on the case from Kristin, but will no longer get the typed up version of the hearing? Also, Im assuming we probably wont find out what Melissa’s email was in reference to.

Thanks Leaky, this is some really good journalism.

Avatar Image says:

there is no doubt that SVA is in the wrong, although he blames his publishers, he started this. the whole lexicon is based on jo’s work..

i do hope the judge rules in jos favour

and well done guys for putting all this into easy to understand information

Avatar Image says:

@ Nico

The email is mentioned in one of Leaky’s previous reports. It was used to catch SVA on a lie.

Avatar Image says:

If you ask me Rowling is losing this case. They didn`t really manage to establish that HP Lexicon isn`t a companion book. Good answers from Steve actually.

Avatar Image says:

@ abi68

I guess I’m just naive… Why would they accuse Melissa?? Bless me…

Avatar Image says:

Thanks so much Leaky, I hope this whole thing turns out to be worth your hard work… Boy, Vander Ark sure is making himself look stupid, isn’t he? It is a shame… I support Jo, though, she’s got it where it counts. :)

Avatar Image says:

“WB then asked whether it is easier to cut and paste from a text file of an HP book: “I don’t know because I’ve never done that.” He was asked again if he’d ever cut/pasted from the books: “I don’t recall doing that, no.”

I know for a fact that he DID c&p from the books and find it hard to believe he doesn’t recall doing that. How do I know? Because he told me so himself in an email. I wrote to him a few years ago about an error in the description of one of the characters in the Lexicon. He thanked me for pointing it out and explained the error by saying he had “cut and pasted” that portion of the lexicon from the books description of another character and had neglected to modify it for the character in question. I remember being slightly surprised that the text of the lexicon hadn’t all been hand typed by someone, but didn’t give it much further thought until now.

This really brings home to me how fundamentally dishonest he is in a way nothing else has. I KNOW what he said because he said it to me. It’s a good thing he isn’t personally on trial.

Thanks to Melissa and TLC staff for bringing us such thorough and professional coverage. I really wish Melissa hadn’t had to recuse herself because Leaky’s coverage is by far the most balanced and comprehensive I’ve seen.

Avatar Image says:

@ slavicdica

Is “Jo” a quote? ;-)

Avatar Image says:

@bobtheduck Your comment about how people who didn’t like DH aren’t real fans and behave like trolls is out of line, off-topic, and extremely uneducated (to remain above the beltline here). All it really shows is that YOU would still brainlessly worship JK if she copied and pasted the phonebook and sold it to you as “the new HP novel”. Never mind the undoubtedly severe copyright infringement.

Avatar Image says:

@ slavicdiva 2

Have you read those ‘Lotr’ companion books? Because Jo isn’t agains’t all companion books. It’s more than that. Someone recently said it like this: it’s like copying someone’s essay and shortening it, and then putting your name under it. He puts no contribution of himself in it, nothing. He made no research at all, he only based his book entirely on the Harry Potter books and doesn’t make any thoughts or any research on HP elements himself.

Avatar Image says:

Interestingly, an IP expert quoted on the Wall Street Journal blog has said the case is too close for him to make any kind of prediction, and the judge apparently said this morning that he expects the case to be appealed regardless of who wins, possibly up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Avatar Image says:

Thank you so much Leaky for your work because the so-called ” great ” media say what they want to say. They too often forget to talk about details and to be objective. For exampe, I went to see on Monday, after reading leaky’s report of JK’s testimony, what and specifically how the BBC would deal with it. And the result was they only reported that she said she really didn’t want to cry, imo making fool of her because her sentence didn’t end there and what followed was once again the proof of her great sense of humor, showing her as a poor little crying women. Another point: “The author said she is not sure if she now has “the will or the heart” to write her own definitive encyclopaedia, the proceeds of which she had intended to donate to charity. ”. That’s completely false! She just said so IF the HPL WAS to be published.You know what, that’s disgusting. And not only because this is about Mrs Rowling and i’m a huge fan. These blokes are manipulated people’s mind. Either way : they are not journalists,or… well, they are not journalists ;) Anyway, as for mister VA’ s testimony, I see the reason why he wanted to get money and it’s understandable if he really needed it, but still, he should have seen long ago that this was plagiarism and work instead on his other two books. Or he’s just a guy who was persuaded to do the right thing when common sense would dictate to do the other way round and respect Mrs rowling’s work. Anyway, it’s very sad. I wish their argument hadn’t been brought in court. But fortunately, before sleeping ( Yes, it’s starting to be late in France! ), i’ m going to read ( again ) one of my favorite books: ” Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows… and in english please!;) Right, bye guys and again thanks a lot Leaky! PS: And sorry if my english is not correct!

Avatar Image says:

Thank you very much TLC for your hard work!

I hope that TLC or Mugglenet wont get pulled into this to much. (espitally if SVA tries to say that their doing exactly the same thing as him in a way…and then we lose these two amazing sites forever _)

Avatar Image says:

@ slavicdiva,

As you, we are all entitled to our own opinions. Here is mine. Do not let the door hit you in the arse on your way out!

Avatar Image says:

I agree with tomshone on the BBC quote of Jo, shortening it so that it seems she’s just basically been saying she wants to cry. I was surprised that the BBC isn’t more accurate.

Avatar Image says:

What email is melissa referring to that came up during the trial?

Avatar Image says:

In any case, club-bearers aside, I can’t wait until this stuff is over and we can focus on the Scottish book and movies 6, 7, and… 8.

Avatar Image says:

heh, having been at that con where SVA was talking about the epiloge… talk about WB twisting things around. what BS, WB should know better then to assume the context of a few minutes of presentation. Epiloge what epiloge was a constant running joke through out the whole con, this was just after the book release, everyone hated it. they were refering to fanfiction, fanficcers don’t need to be stuck workign around the epiloge, the books are done, we can just ignore it. and the thing about Jo being done, was saying that fandom has always and will always exist without Jo’s involvment. we, as fans made the fandom based on her work, her being done means nothing because we’re still here.

i don’t think that the lexicon should be published, but i really don’t like the way JKR and WB have presented themselves… since apparently all this time JKR thought teh lexicon was sloppy and very poor.. apparently. tell us what you really think, why don’t you. thought the case was on whether or not the book fell under fair use, not on it’s merits.

Avatar Image says:

I liked the way Jo defends her case, but I don’t like how, indeed, as Siyrean says, WB tries to bend the truth – they DO know better, they just try to get away with it

Avatar Image says:

@ slavicdiva

“But Rowling lost me completely with her snivelling about how the trial is interfering with her creativity – hello, she is the one who instituted the suit!”

Don’t WB own the rights now, and only they can initiate a suit? Or was that only for the India case? Please clarify, because Jo said that WB held rights and I’m not sure if that was only for the films or HP in general because they bought the rights.

On another note, this case is getting ugly between the SVA supporters and Jo supporters. I would like everyone to take the time to remember why we’re all here in the first place: because we love the books and we care about the fandom!! If you don’t, then please stop trolling around and adding comments that offer nothing to the discussion.

Avatar Image says:

Jay, sadly, I didn’t keep it since it didn’t seem important after he made the correction on the Lexicon (apparently I just wasn’t enough of a SVA fangirl to cherish every bit of communication. LOL!) I can figure out exactly when it was sent though because I was having a discussion on a message board with someone who used the Lexicon to back up their position. I clearly remember going to check the Lexi and sure enough, it was incorrect. I immediately sent Steve a note about it and received a reply within the day and by the next day, the reference was corrected. At the time, I was pleased that he gave the matter such speedy attention.

I really doubt that JKR’s attorneys would find it all that valuable, though since he’s just a witness in this case rather than a defendant and also because he was slippery enough to say “I don’t recall doing that, no.” therefore avoiding a direct denial.

No one can convince me that he has been doing anything other than covering his ass with his evasive testimony.

Avatar Image says:

The entire dispute is unfortunate. I would have thought that JKR’s “people” could have seen SVA’s desire to publish coming years ago. He has published an “encyclopedia” (Star Trek, I believe) in the past. This suggests that he would definately be poised to do it again. I do appreciate the daily trial information, thank you…and hope to see it continue. Personally, I have never purchased any volume other than the novels themselves. I would purchase JKR’s own encyclopedia as I can’t see how someone else’s could be more useful/accurate/interesting than one created by the author herself.

Avatar Image says:

I understand Melissa’s position to quit taking notes. It seems that this post is only based off of Melissa’s notes – from what I’ve been able to gather in other news postings on the web, more happened in the trial than is reported here. John Noe is also in attendance, will he be taking notes from now on? I hope so, as these detailed postings provide MUCH more information than any other news item I’ve found.

Great job, Leaky!

Avatar Image says:

I Love it here at The Leaky Cauldron!!!

I am a seeker, I find what I need To be updated In the HP scene.

I am a novelist, When I look from one article to the next, It inspires me to write, What comes up in my head.

I am a mother, Who passes great wisdom on, So that children of my children, Some day will be strong.

I am origional, To all who can see, We can all do our best, If we are willing to be.

You are all magic, In my eyes you are, Let us all sing a good song, To bring fourth our stars.

Be the seeker, The Novelist, The Moms and the Dads, The kids of our kids, That we are glad that we had.

You’re origional.. be the magic, Stand strong to your truth, Believe in yourself, And the whole world will too!

May peace be with you!

Avatar Image says:

Steve Vander Ark’s credibility has to be zero at this point. He served as a librarian while lying about his qualification to do so. Obviously, he is an intelligent person, but he has proven to be dishonest. He has been coached by his (and RDR Books’) legal team to avoid questions that will hurt their case.

This case should NOT be settled. JKR and WB need to win this case and Steve needs to be taught a serious lesson in life. He should NEVER be allowed near a school library again, he should never be allowed to attend a Potter convention again, and my ultimate wish is for his voice to be striken from every PotterCast he took part in. There are many of us, including myself, that would have loved to have honestly participated in many of the Harry Potter events that Steve lied and manipulated his way into doing.

Avatar Image says:

I’ve known SVA for more years than I care to think about. I knew long before there was a Harry Potter. I’m intimately familiar with his work around Hogan’s Heroes and Star Trek as well as Star Trek: The Next Generation where I served as his editor.

During his research on these projects he spent long hours in front of television set ranscribing notes, making drawing and generally working out ever detail that was shown on screen or mentioned. He pours himself into these works and is relentless in getting it right.

I can’t make any comment as to his process as far the HP books and films goes. I haven’t spoken with him much lately due to my moving around the country from one job to another. But SVA is not a theif or a liar. He’s one of the most honest and truthworth people I’ve had the pleasure of becoming friends with.

It must be nice to sit on the other side of your computer screen spitting venom and hate towards someone you hardly know other then perhaps through a e-mail or a short visit at a convention.

SVA is my friend and regardless of how this case comes out, he will remain a friend no matter where in the world he may be.

Avatar Image says:

Melissa, I’m sorry you got dragged into this mess. Thank you for being so professional and recusing yourself. I know this must be difficult for you. Hang in there!

Thanks, TLC, for doing outstanding coverage on this. We fans appreciate it!

Avatar Image says:

I didn’t really have time to read all of this, but I think it’s a massive pity it’s come to this.

Avatar Image says:

some of you thought Steve was a bad person before this?

geeze.

Avatar Image says:

I’m a huge fan of JKR, but I do think it’s critical to note (as others have) that the Judge, who is more of an expert in copyright than those of us in fandom, has already called it a close case. It really is not a slamdunk for JKR and it is not at all clear that SVA is in the wrong here. If it were so clearcut, the case wouldn’t have gone to trial—it would have been dismissed or settled long ago. SVA may be a less compelling witness than JKR, and honestly, he comes around as a sad sack, but whether or not he lied about a library science degree has nothing to do w/ whether the Lexicon qualifies under the fair use exception or not.

Avatar Image says:

@ biodredd

SVA was already proven a liar and given due process to prove himself. He’s failed! The guy was asked to leave his job because he lied about his degree!! Also…If I spend hours and hours working on something doesn’t make it right! Just because he slaves over bits of information doesn’t mean it becomes his! If he spends hours and hours on original content THEN AND ONLY THEN WILL HE HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO WHAT HE WANTS WITH IT!

Avatar Image says:

@ Adelle

Lying hurts creditability and his character with judge and jury. It does matter.

Avatar Image says:

Jeeze.. oh my. This thing is all so yucky… SVA is just looking more and more shady when I read up on all of this.. and I honestly hope the best for JKR.

Avatar Image says:

Based on what i have read about the third day of testimony (such as from the WSJ Law Blog) the pending question is clear. Does the Lexicon full under the protections of fair use despite the fact that it provides little in the form of analysis? I tend to believe it does, but i don’t expect for a minute that this case won’t be appealed regardless of the findings and end up carried on for years through the legal system. It could even make its way to the Supreme court where the final decision could set some major precedent for future decisions on fair use doctrine. No wonder the fine boy and girls at Stanford are involved. Bloody ‘ell.

Avatar Image says:

@Frits

You said “Am I to understand that Steve was fired because he lied about having studied Library Science?” There’s nothing in the transcipt that says SVA lied. What is more likely is that the school district that SVA worked for increased the job requirements for his position. According to the Wayne State University School of Library and Information Science “Students completing the MLIS degree and wishing to obtain endorsement as a School Library Media (SLM) specialist in the State of Michigan, must meet requirements for both the MLIS degree and SLM endorsement.” (URL: Thttp://www.lisp.wayne.edu/degree/school.htm)

This was not always the case. What probably happened to SVA is that he had the position of librarian without the degree, and then the law changed, and he was no longer qualified for a position that he had held for years.

Avatar Image says:

Melissa, I’m sorry that you have been dragged into this! It’ll be sad not to have your articles on this, but its understandable, and it’s great that you are being so professional about it! Hang in there.

And I think that a lot of people should calm down…

@ Biodredd,

I know it must seem horrible with what people are saying about SVA, but you’ve got to remember that we don’t know him, like you said, and all we know him on is what has been said in the articles surrounding this, and from that point of view, he does seem to be slightly dishonest. He may not be in person, but we don’t know either way, and, though you do, that is unlikely to convince some people.

Unfortunatly, the world is also filled with people who seem honest and fair, but in some aspects, are not. They may act honestly and justly to their friends or aquaintances, but they may not feel the same need for people they do not know. It is the ‘bane’ (for lack of a better word) of the media. People become dehumanised. It feels like we are talking to a machine when on a computer, reading a book doesn’t feel like you’re reading someones words, so things that may seem immoral to us in ‘real-life’ may not seem as so on the computer. Take ‘Trolls’, surely they are not all horrible people who put others down, but it is so much simpler to do over the internet than in ‘real-life’ situations.

Sorry about the long rant…

Avatar Image says:

honestly, i don’t know how to feel about this. on one hand, the lexicon is amazing. but i feel like it would be just as fine remaining an internet source. which boils down to one conclusion. SVA wants the money. which, of course, if bad. BAD STEVIE. but it’s not “stealing”, because he does recognize it all as JKR’s work.

then again, i feel like maybe he and JKR could have settled this out of court before she brought the full force of the law smashing down on him. did she inform him she was going to take him to court if he continued with publication of the lexicon? or did she just spring the lawsuit on him?

if she gave him warning, than SVA…you are an idiot. JKR is powerful, smart, and you just…have really no chance of winning the argument that you shouldn’t be recieving money for an encyclopedia about another authors works, especially as she is still alive and writing her OWN ENCYCLOPEDIA.

and really, who knows harry potter better than JKR?

Avatar Image says:

@former fan Actually, Warner Bros. sued. JKR was merely a witness called by the prosecution.

OMT

Avatar Image says:

If it is true then I expect SVA to file a lawsuit against his employer for unlawfully letting him go.

Avatar Image says:

As Elizabeth said, an IP expert gave his views where both parties are neck and neck with the validity of their argument. its funny how the law can be so independent of honourable actions. Most of us seem so absolutely sure that JK/WB will win this case (me too) from what we have read so far since this begun in October and not from any lack of information by any means thanks to the exhaustive journalism of Melissa and now Kristin. So why do we think WB/JK will easily win, yet the Judge and an IP expert wouldnt bet a penny on the outcome? I find pondering over this question a fascinating one. There are a few lawyers here on the boards (bless them for sharing their knowledge of legal proceedings with us naive folks!) and they also appear to be less sure of outcome. The law appears too mechanic for my liking. For example, in UK, a middleaged man wrestled a burglar in his home injuring him in the process. The law saw the burglar as the victim and sentenced the middleaged man. Surely a robotic judgement? I know that the judge can use his discretion but he obviously have to strictly adhere to the law.

So Steve Vander Ark may well have his book published legally but his honor would have diminished and to most fans, he will, I am sure, be seen as a traitor to JK and every authors’ rights. Others will think good on him for opening a door for others to make money by creating a glossary of other people’s fictional work. Woohoo, now I can start one on Narnia, and I wont stop there, I’ll do one for Star trek (oh, I forgot, Steve Vander Ark already did one for star Trek! Did you know?). and then I’ll do LOST! WOOHOO, I cant wait, lots of money money, and..and I’ll do speeches at LOST conventions…and…I’m getting carried away here. Sorry, I lost the plot of my argument due to sudden moneymaking brainwaves…Excuse me while I dust off my Narnia books, I must finish my book before Prince Caspian movie is released for maximum profits…

Avatar Image says:

his answers are so vague. all he seems to say is “i dont remember” or “im not sure how to answer that.” does he know anything? it seems to me that he knows he’s in the wrong an that he is gonna have to pay for it.

Avatar Image says:

@ Anthony

The sad thing about the situation is that it’s not unlawful. The state made a decision that all school librarians need to have both a teaching degree and a library degree. The school systems had no choice but to remove non-degreed individuals from their positions. If SVA did not have a teaching certificate either, the school would have no choice but to let him go.

Avatar Image says:

Oh, brother - let’s not make this worse than it is and speculate about how/why SVA lost his job. He may not have library science degree, but he has 20 years of experience. (I’ll speculate on something I’ve got experience at (Catholic schoolteacher) and that’s that religious based private schools often hire people without proper accredidation - and they pay them accordingly! That is - bupkas.))

Back to the topic… The judge’s comments today about “Bleak House” as he, once again, urged them to settle. He said they’ve got the imagination to resolve this.

No matter who wins at this stage, it will drag on for years because it benefits both RDR/Stanford Fair Use Project (publicity & case law) and WB (constant reminder to keep away from “their property”).

Jo may end up feeling vindicated by a win, but does she really want this albatross around her neck for years? I think she should be represented by her own attorney and separate from WB. I wonder who advised her this was a good idea?

Strictly my opinion: I still think a good, obsessive dictionary type encylcopedia done by someone besides Jo (not necessarily The Lexicon) would really free her up on the Scottish Book.

SVA is left twisting in the wind. I wonder what it would cost for him (or someone on his behalf) to buy out his contract with RDR? Hey—going by the lowball figure their expert argued that Lexicon would sell (1,500!) it shouldn’t be much.

Avatar Image says:

I`d just like to point out to everybody who says that Steve is a liar that JKR lied too. She lied to her fans on her website about her very own fanaward.

Avatar Image says:

Oh Melissa! I bet that was a shocker! Im guessing you didnt know and email between and Steve was going to come up…. I know its hard to not want to give us every detail but I understand ….you dont need anymore pressure. I mean how could you not know how many times your referenced JKR? Hello! in school if you copy something word for word…you could get expelled! He worked in copyright! and hes trying to say he doesnt know the policy? Give me a break!

Well I hope it get resolved soon!

Avatar Image says:

very well done Leaky! and both michele and kristen as well, I had read another hp site that a lawyer had said this case could end up going all the way to the US Supreme court, I hope it does not but i admit is possible

Avatar Image says:

i’ve yet to finish reading, but this quote just made me livid:

SVA responded: “The Lexicon is a reference book to an original source. If I was writing [about] Shakespeare, I wouldn’t quote Shakespeare…In that kind of book you would not do it that way.”

are you kidding me?! this man makes me embarrassed to even be from the same state as him!

Avatar Image says:

Since your email was part of the case, and you have been quoted in the NY Times regarding this case, I think TLC should not be posting anything about this case what so ever. I think it is unethical , since no matter who posts, your positon is quite clear and on some level, you are involved and hardly an unbiased party. The case is all over the news, fans can read it elsewhere if they chose to. The case will be decided in a court of law, not on this website.

Avatar Image says:

Thanks Kristin and Melissa for your fine stenography! Don’t worry Melissa – you do have us supporting you.

As for Jo, know that we back you, respect your work, and want this embarrassment of a case to go away.

A video in which SVA said that “Jo has quit, she’s done, we’re taking over now” to a room full of fans was played. The judge asked “Is that the whole clip?” and WB said yes; SVA interrupted that it was a small portion of what was available at YouTube.

What? ? Run that by me again? How big is his ego?

WB: “But you always want to receive money.” SVA: “I wouldn’t object to it.”

That says it all for me. Jo, oh, this is so not right.

Avatar Image says:

@ Marie

unfortunatly, it doesn’t seem that many other places in the media are giving such in-detail coverage. I mean, look at the BBC article, they severly shortened a quote by JKR meaning it took a different context the way they presented it.

Avatar Image says:

Regarding Steve being asked to resign from his librarian position, if he was hired truthfully without a degree/certification and the law changed that required degree/certification, he would be “grandfathered” and would need a degree/certificate, but any new candidates would. So his being asked to resign is likely an indication of some sort of violation.

Also, Steve’s past shows his passion for Hogan’s Heroes, Star Trek and Harry Potter. There’s no problem with being a fan, everyone reading this probably is. However, there is a pattern of obsessive behavior. He seems to believe that he is owed something for his work on the Lexicon. No one asked him to do this. I have no doubt that his friends and family love him and think that he is a good person, and that should not change. But Steve needs to do honest work if he is to get the success he desires.

Avatar Image says:

There is one thing I do not understand : If I am not mistaken the Lexicon website is already some years active. If the Lexicon Book is just a paper version of the Lexicon Website, then why did J.K.Rowling never complain about the Lexicon Website and its contents? Is there a difference between copyrights on a paper contents and the same contents on a website ?

Avatar Image says:

@David:

You said “Regarding Steve being asked to resign from his librarian position, if he was hired truthfully without a degree/certification and the law changed that required degree/certification, he would be “grandfathered” and would need a degree/certificate, but any new candidates would. So his being asked to resign is likely an indication of some sort of violation.”

I suppose it’s possible he was asked to leave for a violation, but people who don’t meet changed job qualifications don’t always get “grandfathered in. In Michigan, many school librarians were 1) transferred to other teaching positions if they held a teaching certificate, but not a library degree, or 2) simply let go by the school system. I know, because this happened to several school librarians that I know personally. They were not “grandfathered” in, unfortunately.

Avatar Image says:

Anthony, first it isn’t clear from what transpired here whether he lied about having a degree. Second, it is true that if a witness appears not credible, the trier of fact (judge or jury) can discount his testimony. It may be the trier of fact does not find SVA entirely credible. In this case, however, the case does not turn on his credibility, not by a longshot. He is not actually a party to the case; he is a witness. The four factors for determining fair use turn more on the nature of the work and its impact on the market NOT on the credibiity of the author of the work. I’m not a copyright lawyer, but I am a lawyer in the federal courts, and IMO his testimony was mostly geared towards prong 1 (purpose and character of the use of the copyrighted work).

When a judge says in open court that a case seems pretty balanced for both sides, that is significant. Also, there are likely exhibits and other evidence we haven’t seen - apart from the testimony - that might be quite probative. The Fair Use Project at Stanford is co-counsel for the publisher, and they are pretty much on the cutting edge of copyright law—they wouldn’t have taken on this case if there was not a very serious fair use issue here.

My point was mainly that although SVA really comes off as pretty desperate and maybe not that honest, that is not the critical question here when the court is determining whether the WORK falls under the fair use exception to the copyright laws. I think for those of us in fandom, who have read the Lexicon and of course are huge fans of JKR, the personalities matter a lot, and clearly JKR wins in that regard. But, IMO, the fact that SVA came off on bad on the stand or was forced to resign from a job—not really critical in determining the key issues of the case.

Avatar Image says:

I really though SVA was just going to publish a companion book- why wouldn’t he? everyone has! I understand why WB/JKR are right, but I can’t help but pity the guy. He was grilled on his favorite books of all time, in front of his favorite author. He must be humiliated.

Avatar Image says:

The MuggleNet book was an original group of thoughts about Jo’s work, with quotes to back up theories. And that is what it centered on, theories. The introduction clearly states that the book was meant to whet appetities until the real thing came. It is a very different ballgame.

Avatar Image says:

I should add - even though I think there is no clear-cut winner in this case, I do wish the lawsuit never happened. I think JKR has been really generous with fan writing, and probably overlooked some pretty significant copyright violations. To that end, as a gesture of good will, I wish that SVA and the publisher had agreed to her non-publication request, as the MuggleNet staff did w/ their encyclopedia. Probably SVA could have then done some other book with no problem, but now there is acrimony there that wasn’t there before. I think RDR could win the battle - ie win this case—but lose the war in that JKR and other writers will then be much harsher in terms of copyright infringement.

Avatar Image says:

Sorry about the strikethroughs. I didn’t realize that dashes did that. Trying again…

I should add that even though I think there is no clear cut winner in this case, I do wish the lawsuit never happened. I think JKR has been really generous with fan writing, and probably overlooked some pretty significant copyright violations. To that end, as a gesture of good will, I wish that SVA and the publisher had agreed to her non-publication request, as the MuggleNet staff did w/ their encyclopedia. Probably SVA could have then done some other book with no problem, but now there is acrimony there that wasn’t there before. I think RDR could win the battle, ie win this case, but lose the war in that JKR and other writers will then be much harsher in terms of copyright infringement.

Avatar Image says:

Professor Potter,

If it’s any consolation, the judge does have a fair bit of discretion in this case. The law is written specifically so that judges have the power to consider the facts and circumstances of each individual case – so at least the judge won’t have to apply some rote, mechanical rule, regardless of whether it’s just.

His problem with the case, and I think many lawyers’ problem with the case, is that a victory on either side might have some pretty harrowing legal consequences. Regardless of who wins, the case will be appealed. Since it’s an area of the law that can be pretty murky, it might very well end up in front of the Supreme Court. There will be pressure on the Supreme Court to make some kind of broad, sweeping rule to try to clean up the mess that is the Fair Use Doctrine – including what to me is the most interesting issue in the case, which is whether courts can even consider the author’s intended future works.

Should the Supreme Court rule that they can, I don’t like the consequences for free speech or innovation. That would be much too close to being able to copyright an idea or a fact for my comfort, and there are limitless ways it could be abused. That’s why, though I sympathize whole-heartedly with JKR, I really, really wish her lawyers would leave the Scottish Book out of this case. I don’t think the Supreme Court is foolish enough to say that future works can be copyrighted in advance – but I can see why that would make anyone interested in writing or publication nervous. Can you imagine the litigation morass that would result if authors could copyright nonexistent works and then sue each other over who had the idea first? It’s no surprise to me that Stanford’s gotten involved in this case. If you can take out a copyright just by saying “I intend to do this,” that is extremely dangerous ground.

As I said, I sympathize with JKR. But the argument her lawyers are promoting – that the Lexicon, if published, would damage her own anticipated book, not just the already-existing ones – is troubling. The parties have made it an issue in the case, and the court will have to resolve it. I don’t think any judge would take future works into consideration when doing a fair use analysis. I certainly hope not. That would be the legal equivalent of opening Pandora’s Box.

Avatar Image says:

Thanks Kristen and to Melissa for this.

I think WB question held back too much. They could have gone for the throat, but seemed to held back from doing that. SVA answers weren’t very convincing. I saw a lot of “don’t know..” I agree with others who have said it, the media’s reporting on the case has been pretty awful. I guess after all these years of praising Jo, they want to try and bring her down now, now her series has finished. They can’t stand to have someone at the top of the world for very long.

Avatar Image says:

I love going to a search engine … searching news for this topic and “LEAKY.org” is usually the first one to pop up with a news story.

Avatar Image says:

Thanks Melissa and Kristen for posting this information and keeping all of us here updated on these events.

Avatar Image says:

Well this sure is an interesting case. From my perspective, neither side comes out looking entirely good. Many of SVA’s answer seem evasive, and whatever the legalities, JKR’s abrupt comments that the Lexicon is “sloppy” work of “poor quality” sound to me like panicked backtracking after she’s already given the same work an award and admitted to utilizing it for her own reference!!! Now she says she was just trying to be nice? I don’t buy that for a second. (btw, does this mean when she says The Leaky Cauldron is a great website that she’s just trying to be nice and make the creators feel good? Does she mean what she says or not?) Neither do I buy that all of SVAs movitvations were out of “love” or that he was looking for recognition first and money as an afterthought. Give me a break.

There’s a whole lot of parsing of words and backtracking going on here. None of it is very admirable. As others have said, it is really a shame it has come to this. I think both sides will suffer in the end, and probably fans will suffer the most. Too bad.

Avatar Image says:

Bowlfreak,

JKR has been extremely generous to fans in not pursuing copyright complaints where the potential infringement was basically fans just having a good time. Obviously I’m not JKR and I can’t enter her mind, but I’d venture the difference to her between a fan site published for fun, and a book published for profit, are as follows:

1. Since the fan site is free, it’s not leeching on her ability as an author to gain profit from her own creation. A for-profit book – at least in theory – might.

2. The fan site is a tribute to her work as an author; a for-profit book is an unfair attempt to gain a quick buck by yoking the book to her creation.

3. Harry Potter is hers. This is not a legal argument, or a practical one, or anything but a deep-seated passion from the gut. I do not like people taking what is mine. Heck, being an extremely territorial person, I don’t like it when they even touch something of mine without permission. (It drives me absolute crazy when someone will pick up my iPod or my BlackBerry and start scrolling through. It’s irrational, it’s even a bit stupid – but I feel that way nonetheless.)

JKR has been exceptionally generous in sharing her world with us. But it’s hers. She created it. Harry Potter was her anchor in an extremely dark period of her life. Harry Potter pulled her out of that dark period and gave her the prosperity she enjoys today but that, even after all these years, probably strikes her as a bit unreal. Poverty left such a deep impression on her that it still feels, to her, like the norm, and her current prosperity likely still at times feels like a dream that she’ll wake up from.

It is absolutely no surprise to me that she’s territorial about it – she’s a lot more generous than many people in her place would be, I think. But only to a point. Treat it like a passionate hobby, and she’ll take it for the admiration and sincere tribute that it is. Treat it like your own ticket to bigger and better things, and she has problem with it. Not because she’s mean, not because she’s selfish, but because the rest of us can’t possibly understand how much of her heart, how much of her soul, how much of her time and energy and love and joy and despair, went into that work. It’s not fair for someone else to appropriate that for a fraction of the cost – even for something that strikes other people as relatively minor.

Why a problem with the Lexicon, and not, say, the sort of book that Melissa’s writing, or that MuggleNet put out? Because those books are really only about Harry Potter in an incidental way. What they’re really about is the authors’ experiences or thoughts or theories or predictions or things that are their own. The books relate to a reaction to Harry Potter more than Harry Potter itself. And fans own their reaction to Harry Potter. Fans own their experience with Harry Potter. What they don’t own is Harry Potter itself.

The Lexicon isn’t about thoughts or theories or experiences or anything like that – it’s about Harry Potter. Are there other reference guides out there? Yes. Maybe ones similar to the Lexicon; I don’t know. (The only Harry Potter merchandise I own are the Harry Potter books themselves.) Perhaps – and this is only a theory – the reason JKR is fighting against the Lexicon in particular is because it sounds, to me, like SVA was trying to present himself as a god among fans – not quite the god that JKR is, but still a member of the pantheon, something more than those of us who merely like to read the stories, comment on them, analyze them. I can completely understand a visceral reaction to that, especially when, it seems, SVA looked for that kind of recognition from JKR herself, in the letter where he basically told her agent or assistant or whoever it was he wrote to that he was more than just the average fan.

Bottom line, I don’t think the other people who have published books related to Harry Potter, or who plan to publish books related to Harry Potter, have claimed the kind of ownership over the Harry Potter world that SVA asserted when he told people “it’s our world now.” Were I an author, that would deeply offend me. It’s basically like – well, say you build a house. It’s a beautiful house, your dream house, your labor of love. One day, some stranger drives by the house, decides he likes it, and informs you that he’s going to move in because he treasures the house as much as you do. I don’t know about anyone else, but I would be deeply offended by that, and not solely for reasons of physical safety.

JKR let us peak into her imagination. She invited us into a world, but it’s her world to invite us into. A lot of people in the media are making her sound like a bit of a monster for going after the poor little fan and the poor little publisher – but I think JKR feels a deep, instinctive repulsion over this, and I completely understand why.

But as I said, that’s only my theory. :)

Avatar Image says:

I find it interesting that the expert witness for JKR’s side was not talked about in this at all, particularly since she was called right after Steve, or the final witness for that matter (though admittedly his testimony was not complete and was to be continued today). Nor is there any mention in here about the judge asking them to settle.

Incidentally, the email provided by Melissa was not entered into evidence, as I seem to recall.

While I’m currently in the middle on this case; I think the law could go either way on it, I find it repugnant the way people are dragging SVA through the mud. As one who as been on the receiving side of a verbal attack, it isn’t pleasant, let me assure you. And while I do appreciate that people want to support JKR, and I support that, name calling and verbal attacks are unnecessary, and kind of sad, really. It takes away from the real issue – which are the laws – fair use and copyright. Where JKR is going to have a hard time, IMO, is showing that she will lose profits if the Lexicon is published – after this suit, even if SVA were to win, few people in fandom would by the book thanks in large part by the acts of fandom itself.

Avatar Image says:

Well reported guys! Leaky, you guys have been absolutely fantastic! Thank you tons!

Avatar Image says:

I do not think his resigning or being asked for his resignation from his job should hold much weight. He had worked for a private Christian school, private schools don’t have to, but usually do require specific degrees or certifications to work there.

Maybe this from a news article explains why he was asked to resign? Maybe his work on the lexicon was at odds with their “values”.

“Many folks in Byron Center knew nothing of his alter ego as creator of the Harry Potter Lexicon, a Web site familiar to millions of Internet-surfing muggles as an authoritative guide to the best-selling children’s book series ever.

They certainly know now.”

http://www.wzzm13.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=84787

That said, I think he knows more about copyrights than he let on while on the stand.

Also, I would think he would stop working on any HP related book untill this whole fiasco is over. Again from the same article mentioned above-

“In the meantime, he said he is in the process of moving to England, where he is researching a new tome – a guide to real places in the British Isles that remind him of settings in the Harry Potter books. He said he thinks he has found the remote spot in the Scottish Highlands that inspired Rowling’s writing about the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”

Avatar Image says:

Guys there is NO reason to say that Steve was asked to resign from his job over his degree. Please don’t do that.

Thanks. :) And thanks all for the kind comments.

Melissa

Avatar Image says:

After reading this I feel like Steve just kept contradicting actual fact. He would say one thing and documents would prove otherwise. It was either that or he would just say he didn’t remember which seems really weak to me. GO JO!

Avatar Image says:

Anyone else curious about the contents of Melissa’s email and how it was used in the trial? Sorry, so nosey.

Avatar Image says:

Seems to me like whenever Steve wants to avoid telling the truth, he says” i don’t really know how to answer that question.” His answers are getting vaguer and vaguer, and if you ask me, he’s wishing he never even got into this. thanks leaky for keeping us all up to date!

Avatar Image says:

I’ve read some posts saying that JKR “backtracked” or “lied” because she said in her website that “The Lexicon Website” was good and then calling it in trial “sloppy”. As I understood it in the trial she is refering to the book, not to the website so I don’t think she has lied or backtracked on anything. Many are complaining that those of us who who support JKR are being “mean” or “insulting: to Steve; and some have been, but not all and I think that the same can be said about those who support Steve; you can’t complain about something for one side when the same it’s being done for the other that’s how i see it.

Regarding the case I’ve read lot’s of posts here and on the Lounge and never made any commen because first english is my second language so reading it’s easyer than writing something and second beacuse I don’t know much (or anything at all for that matter) about law. But I have to say for what I’ve read i have to agree with JKR/WB. I DO see a difference between the Lexibook and The Lexicon Website. The parts i’ve seen of the book on Justia.com are really most of them verbatim copies of paragraphs and frases in the books. While the website has much more than just that. Going back to the first part of this post about JKR calling the book “sloppy”, Steve himself was quoted as saying that website is better than the book. And for those who say that JKR allowed the website so she should allow the book, I believe the main difference is that the book has no or little comment while the website not only has commen but also analysis in every entry if I’m not mistaken you can add “your thoughts in the pensieve” that’s how they call it in the lexicon website right? so there’s much more than lists and etymologies.

I’m sorry that this post is so long but i guess I’ve kept quite for too long, and i also apologize for any spelling mistakes (blame the keyboard not me jeje). No actually like I said before english is my second language so it’d a bit more difficult for me to express my feelings and thoughts.

JMc

Avatar Image says:

@ anthony

I understand you point in so far as this situation. I have to admit it doesn’t look good. But in defense of SVA, his work on the other personal projects that I mentioned earlier were truly his words. We didn’t have huge lexicons or encyclopedias of Trek lore or Hogan’s Heroes books when he was working on his. They were his own works.

I cannot speak as to the legitimacy of his degree. The only knowledge I have on that is that he had completed courses towards it and had planned to follow through on completing it.

As what his specific rights are in relation to JKR books and his usage, other then what we can read at the Lexicon website, no one here has seen his final manuscript, so none of us are in a position to say whether he did what WB and JKR have accused him of, or if its a case of a big company getting into a snit over ligitation originally filed against them.

There are many valid viewpoints here, but without us looking at the original manuscript our opinions don’t really count at all. Mine included.

@ Samantha

The world is filled with good people and bad. SVA may have made a simple mistake in his communications with the HP fan community. I made a great mistake at one time in my life too. My family and friends all gave me a second chance to rise above that serious mistake and I’m a better person for it.

On the Internet, a lot of people get terribly brave and manage to find a voice they would never dare use if meeting individuals in person. Its easy for folks to denounce this person and that one when they are protected by their monitors and million miles of cable. We can all say the mist vile, hate filled things and then when finished turn off the screen and pretend that nothing has happened. Meanwhile half a word away someone reads those words and either composes a nasty reply, or they remove themselves from a part of the online community they really meant something to them.

The Internet has been good in opening up the lines of communications in fandom and at the same time has made it very easy for a large number of people to just be mean and spiteful. 95% of the postings on aintitcoolnews.com are a perfect example of that.

Thank for you kind and reassuring words. Thankfully not everyone on the Internet is overly self important and opinionated.

Avatar Image says:

Melissa, you are such a champion.

Avatar Image says:

To formerfan:

Not everyone allows for fandoms to start like JKR did…see Anne Rice with her vampire novels she stomped out every internet site and book publication regarding companions to her novels. What JKR’s doing it not wrong it’s her work.

Avatar Image says:

Yelenairis at LJ explained why Steve was fired and it had nothing to do with his qualificiations but rather with some of his personal circumstances who came in conflict with harsh clauses of his hiring contract. Nothing to do woth The Lexicon (at least not directly).

Avatar Image says:

He’s totally been chewed by WB lawyers. He sounded so unclear and unsure, I nearly felt sorry for him.

Melissa, thank you so much for the wonderful transcripts you provided and Kristin, you’re doing a brilliant job! Thanks a lot Leaky for reporting everything with such professionalism, you guys seriousely rock!

Avatar Image says:

@bobtheduck,

Call me what you will, but I am entitled to my opinions on the quality of the literature that I’ve purchased. And as a consumer, I was unimpressed by the patchwork writing throughout in book 7.

But the matter at hand: Almost any scifi/fantasy series that has a fanbase always has works published that are unofficial done by a fan. Some of them truly are a wreck, some are not. The point is, no one’s ever sued anyone for unofficial works… until now.

And for her to appear before a court of law and drop emotion, rather than facts… that’s her attempt at playing dirty. She has no facts that will legally aid her. I’m not being insensitive to her as a person. Rather, she came unprepared, and try to play a dirty card rather than have her legal team prep her with legal statements that support her lawsuit.

Oh, and any real author wouldn’t moan and whine about the drying up of creative juices due to a trial. The desert was there long before the sandstorm. :P

Avatar Image says:

@ Former Fan

It is true that you have your opinion on the matter of how you percieved book 7, and you should be allowed to voice it.

However, I would like to point out that you cannot be truely sure that no one has sued a companion work, as, because the media tended not to be as broad when these were made, they wouldn’t have had as much coverage as this case has.

Also, the main argument of JKR (I think, I’m not sure) is that most of the LexiBook has been simply copied, and occasionally paraphrased. This is a problem as it is taking from JKR’s work specifically. It is not simply because SVA took the idea of an encyclopedia which JKR wishes to release.

However, it does annoy me that you have used the term ‘a real author’ in such a derogitory way. JKR is a real author. I don’t believe you can have an ‘unreal’ author. And you must remember that this case is taking a lot of time and effort. This time must be stressfull for JKR, which will hamper her spirits for writing, meaning, yes, this trial probably will have dried up her creativity for the time being. But please, remember that your opinion on the final book is exactly that. Your opinion. Others (myself included) do not share the same view as you and as a result some of the commets given may seem offensive, which would probably explain the defensive stance some commenters have taken to your own comments.

Try not to let all this get out of hand, and remember, we are all intitled to our opinion, and are intitled to being able to voice that opinion without meeting horrid comments that may hurt feelings.

Avatar Image says:

@ a former fan:

I think it’s fine that you support SVA, but you seem too determined on making JKR look like the bad guy in the case. You condemn her for “playing dirty” and “dropping emotion”. Did SVA NOT do any of that? Did he not cry and did he not point the finger at RDR for pushing him to do the publication? Did he also not mention how devoted he’s been to Harry Potter for the last 8 (or is it 9?) years? He did just as JKR did, didn’t he?

Also, you sound so certain in everything: “no one’s ever sued anyone for unofficial works… until now.” You do not know that for sure.

“Oh, and any real author wouldn’t moan and whine about the drying up of creative juices due to a trial. The desert was there long before the sandstorm.” You do not know that, either…Unless you are JKR herself (I highly doubt that), or a mind-reader. Why do you sound so bitter? What has Jo ever done to you? I don’t know where your feelings towards her derived from…is it jealousy? Many people dislike her and misinterpret her just because of her high position. Just because Jo is wealthy and powerful does not make her more inhuman than RDR. They are all people, can’t we put aside how much money they have for a moment?

Avatar Image says:

SVA disgusts me. My jaw literally dropped while I was reading this article and his testimonies. It is the largest load of trash I have ever had the misfortune of reading. It is just dispicable.

Avatar Image says:

oh God!!! I have no idea who he is but obviously he is such a pig. I will send only this because if I say my opinion I am sure that I will be really really bad!!!

Avatar Image says:

This is a very late comment, and I’ve tried to keep my voice entirely out of this discussion because I am legally ill-informed and inexperienced and nearly all I have to say is based upon emotion rather than logic. However, after reading through these pages, I am compelled to say this much: Please keep from lashing out with personal attacks. It is often offensive and has a negative impact on the discussion.

I do not think either JKR or SVA are in the wrong, nor do I think either of them are disgusting or weak. I still find very much to like and respect in both of them. Court cases and issues with legality always leave me with a bad taste in the mouth because of the amount of mudslinging and split-second judgments cast by all involved parties, including those on the sidelines. It is often too easy to be riled up by a snippet of information without considering the broader perspective. WB’s use of SVA’s “Epilogue” comment may act as an example, apparent to many of us in the fandom who are familiar with the post-DH joking around. Without the context of that familiarity, the comment is another point to WB’s case. I am not asking you not to decide what is right and wrong or what ending you would prefer; I am asking you to keep in mind that we simply do not have all the information before angrily taking over the soapbox.

Write a Reply or Comment

Finding Hogwarts

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