JKR/WB vs. RDR Books Trial: “Pro Jo” Editorials

114

Apr 20, 2008

Posted by KristinTLC
Uncategorized

In contrast to recent editorials that have slammed J.K. Rowling and WB for pursuing litigation in the case of Steve Vander Ark’s Lexicon book are two editorials in support of the author:

From Natalie Haynes of the Times Online:

“RDR, the publishers of the lexicon, have described it as a “David and Goliath battle”, which would be an accurate metaphor if, instead of smacking Goliath on the kisser with a slingshot, David had rather gone through Goliath’s collected fiction, whacked some choice paragraphs into an order of his choosing, put his own name on the cover, and then tried to make a quick buck off someone else’s work.”

And from Joan Smith of The Independent:

”…the lexicon isn’t an encyclopedia in the normal sense, consisting of facts that are in the public domain, but something parasitic on years of hard work by Rowling. Her present bank balance is irrelevant to the case, except in so far as she is one of the few British authors who can afford to sue when their work is used without permission or payment; in that sense, she is defending the rights of thousands of writers, most of whom don’t earn enough to live on.”





61 Responses to JKR/WB vs. RDR Books Trial: “Pro Jo” Editorials

Avatar Image says:

Thank goodness some people actually get the whole point of the case!! Its not about money but about SVA stealing Jo’s work and calling it his own! Go Jo!! I’ll be so angry if she doesnt win this case!!

Avatar Image says:

Can we just ignore this mess? It has completely taken all the fun out of Harry for me.

Avatar Image says:

I’m glad that Joan Smith pointed out the difference between reference guides to real-world information as opposed to worlds created in the minds of authors. i also am glad she pointed out the far-reaching effects of Stanford and RDR trying to (in my opinion) expand the definition of Fair Use. While I think Fair Use is important so that people can write about and discuss those fictional worlds, I think at some point if you expand Fair Use it becomes detrimental to the original author and robs them of the ability to benefit from their own hard work and creativity.

Avatar Image says:

That David & Goliath comparison, hilarious. :D

Avatar Image says:

THANK YOU! It’s not a real world encyclopedia, it’s a Potter encyclopedia and Jo is in the right. She has every right to defend her creation, as every writer does. Just because she can afford to sue, doesn’t mean she’s wrong. RDR and Vander Ark are trying to make money off of her work. Shame on them.

I love you Jo and I support you COMPLETELY!

Avatar Image says:

my god.. THANK YOU some journalists actually know what they are talking about!!

perez hilton the celebrity “journalist” is writing about the case also, and HE DOES NOT GET IT!

I just wanted to punch him in the face for saying that Jo already has enough money.. the encyclopedia is going towards CHARITY idiots.

Avatar Image says:

I’m with Jo all the way on this. It is her intellectual property and she has the right to say yay or nay to it’s use in books for profit. Other commentary books are scholary works – not this one. If Mugglenet could sease and desist when asked to, why can’t SVA and the Lexicon?

Avatar Image says:

Ooops, sorry – can’t see straight this evening – ‘cease’.

Avatar Image says:

I seriously have a headache after all this nasty mess. Jo is right, SVA is wrong, end of story. Glad some reporters out there can see the forest for the trees.

Avatar Image says:

Re: the FT article

The guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The suit is about the Lexicon BOOK, not the website. The book looks nothing like the website. Why is that so hard to understand? Even one of the Mugglenet guys got it wrong, at this late date.

Avatar Image says:

I can’t believe the judge wants them to settle. i mean that is so rediculous. JO’S WORK IS NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN!!

ots is her hard work, and they are right, she is fighting for other writers who dont have enough money to protect their work.

Live. Love, Harry Potter! and Jo!

Avatar Image says:

I think the reason why we’re not hearing much of pro-Jo, from the media, is because they don’t want to defend her. They like knocking people of their pedestals. It’s rather sad that the media is no longer the persuer of the facts.

Avatar Image says:

I’m glad at least some of Jo’s fellow writers aren’t afraid to see her side of things. :)

Avatar Image says:

In the real world, publishers of scholarly works frequently imploy an indexer [who is NOT the author] to compile an index of a work to make it of more value to the reader. This is normal. SVDA is a librarian and an indexer. The main difference here is the scale of the project, and the fact that the source work is fiction. People who accuse SVDA of “not being creative” and “putting his name to someone else’s work” are simply missing the point: that is what indexers DO. The other difference is that the indexer is generally working for the author – or at any rate the author’s publisher – and frequently it is the author who has to pay the indexer to do the job. JKR is getting a thoroughly professional job done for nothing.

In this case a fan has paid the fiction author the compliment of taking her fictional work seriously.

SVDA – and his team – have put in years of hard, unpaid work into this compilation. He has worked to scrupulous standards of accuracy and has made it crystal clear if any associated item (like the essays) are speculative. I cannot see that that it is unfair if he and his team make a small profit on the venture in return for all their hard work.

My own feeling is that it is Warner Bros – who want to keep the HP “brand” to themselves – who have whipped up this and that it is they who are being dogs in the manger. They probably don’t like the fact that SVDA’s scupulous accuracy extends to pointing out where and when the films contradict the books – and that he regards the films per se as “not canon”, that is, as “factually” unreliable.

Any encyclopaedia that JKR writes in the future (and when will that be, may I ask ?) will be full of creative material because she – not SVDA – is the creative artist, and she has in her imagination all kinds of material that has not appeared in the books but will enhance and expand the published series.

The two books (Lexicon & Encyclopaedia) will not be competitors; they will be complementary - even if the hard copy Lexicon is still in print when the Scottish Encyclopaedia is finally published. In any case I bet the majority of fans will buy both. I would certainly be prepared to!
Avatar Image says:

@barbara,

i think it is rather unfair for sva to try to make a profit. you mention:

“In the real world, publishers of scholarly works frequently imploy an indexer [who is NOT the author] to compile an index of a work to make it of more value to the reader.”

the main difference here is that no one asked sva to create his lexicon; no one employed him. he did it on his own accord, so i feel your main argument is slightly inaccurate.

Avatar Image says:

Finally! Vander Ark is no David that’s for sure. Would anyone even buy the book when the website is free????? GO JO!!!!!!!!

Avatar Image says:

@babymandrake:

right on. i hope that no one will buy it even if it is published!

Avatar Image says:

Good to hear (finally!!!). I hope The Onion does something. Preferably making fun of SVA/RDR by portraying them as heroes.

Avatar Image says:

Go jo, to rdr say no

everybody sing it!!!!!!

Avatar Image says:

I’m glad she talked of the irrelevancy of how much money Jo has. Some people seem to think just because she’s rich she should keep her mouth shut and let people do what they want with the books.

Avatar Image says:

c’mon sing it!!! :-}

Avatar Image says:

The Joan Smith editorial is so spot on! First of all clarifying what is and is not an encyclopedia and…

Secondly … JKR’s bank balance has nothing to do with anything except that it allows her to fight against any smarmy little parasite that is trying to profit from her work. She is not only standing up for herself and her rights as the Creatrix of Harry Potter et al. but she is also championing the cause for all of us struggling writers the world over!

The anti-Jo David vs Goliath analogies that have appeared elsewhere really tick me off ….even though JKR’s (well-earned and very well-deserved) wealth is impressive, she has NEVER forgotten what it is like to have to depend on the kindness of strangers …. and as a result, she has proven time and time again what a generous, compassionate, and truly extraordinary Lady she really is!

BTW…Just a reminder … Jo said if (I say WHEN) she does win this, she has already said that anything that is awarded to her goes to charity.

WoW! What a Lady! :-)

Avatar Image says:

no matter who wins this case, i think it’s funny SVA considers the whole mess a ‘misunderstanding’ and that he hopes ‘ jo and him will remain friends after this”.

uh yeah, at this point, that’s probablly a no..

Avatar Image says:

Its people like this SVA who tick me off. Some no-talent hack, who is desperate to make a buck decides to leech off of someone else’s hard work. It is disgusting to say the least. This has nothing to do with money, but defending the rights of authors and creative works of everyone.

Avatar Image says:

This whole mess is such a fascinating saga. I’m really surprised there hasn’t been a good and thorough newspaper feature story on it. Come on New York Times! Pick up the ball.

All the backstory: Jo & Harry Potter & fandom in general & The Lexicon website & SVA & Lexicon (the Book) & RDR & JKR/WB & copyright law & Stanford Fair Use & the lawsuit & media reaction to the courtcase. On and on. Maybe someone is writing it up but waiting for the judge’s decision to tell the full story?

I guess we’ll have to wait a few months for a magazine like the New Yorker to publish the whole story. Or, Melissa?

Avatar Image says:

yea jo!

I think it’s important to distinguish between RDR Books and Steve. Although I do think Steve is in the wrong, I think that RDR Books handled the situation very poorly- and i’m talking about pre-law suit.

@desertwind: I think it would be hard to summarize it all in a brief manner; some of this stuff goes back to July 07. But leaky does have some fantastic posts/summaries about the trial from all the way back in November. I personally and impressed with the extensive coverage about a not-so-pleasant topic.

Avatar Image says:

Rking, I’ve been following most of the Leaky coverage and various other outlets. Leaky has done a wonderful job under difficult circumstances.

But, what I’m looking for is a piece that puts the whole story together. (including SVA’s personal story. He obviously needed some fast money or he’d have shopped his manuscript around to bigger more reputable publishers. The backstory on RDR, etc. You know. All the dirt that’s fit to print….)

I’m just kidding about the “dirt”, but there really is an epic saga here. A good magazine piece.

Avatar Image says:

Jeez, thank goodness there are some sane people out there. I was starting to get very annoyed at the media for misrepresenting Jo but this makes me feel better about the whole thing. Go Jo! PSL Who will honestly buy the Lexicon in the unholy occurrence that it gets published? I’m curious kinda…lol

Avatar Image says:

That comparison of David to Goliath was hilarious. I’m so sick of seeing the titles of news articles about this that are so pro-RDR. It’s nice to see someone actually gets the point. All I’ve got to say is SVA & RDR won’t get a buck out of me, even if I have to wait 10 years for the REAL encyclopedia by Jo to come out. My best wishes to you Jo; you have the support of the true fandom behind you.

Avatar Image says:

Just wanted to jump this in. A lot seem to be confused as to why the judge would like them to settle. It’s not because of money or anything like that. It’s because this case is so hard to make a fair ruling on.

There isn’t much precedent for a case like this, where the information was originally on a website and then placed in a book. It’s hard. Judges usually are able to call upon past cases as their basis for helping them decide the verdict. They use existing laws, yes, but they also use cases from the past to help them decide. When a case comes in involving the first amendment right for a student to express themselves wearing a black arm band in protest of the Iraq war they go to Tinker vs. Des Moines in which a student protested against the Vietnam War. These cases help the judges (and lawyers who use them in their arguments) decide what is the most just way to settle a case.

In a case like this, there isn’t any precedent. And because of that, the judge is urging them to settle to save both sides from sitting through appeal after appeal until it reaches the United States Supreme Court. Right now it’s only in district court in Manhattan. It would have to go through the entire New York State system before going through the United States federal system (trust me it’s a lot of courts, District, Appeals, State Supreme, US Appeals, US Supreme and that’s only if they get chosen for US Supreme). Jo would undoubtedly lose her drive to write the Scottish Book. She’d lose her love for HP. No one wants that. You think waiting for DH movies is going to be long? This would be longer.

The judge urging the sides to settle is both for trying to be fair to both sides (a settlement would be a way to make them both at least marginally happy) and to save them both from the hassle of going through all those courts.

Avatar Image says:

Thank you for posting this article. It’s a relief to hear there are two sides of the story being published.

Avatar Image says:

It is nice to read articles that vary in opinion with this case. As much as I support Jo, it is amusing to read how some completely miss the whole picture. For articles that bash Jo, I wonder how they would feel if I quoted their articles and did not give any credit to them and sold them. Funny how they don’t see how the tables could turn.

I just want this case to be done with and let Jo focus on the SB.

Avatar Image says:

desertwind: What somebody should do is take all of the articles others have written about the lawsuit and print them off. Then alphabetize them and staple them together and sell them as original work for profit. It could be called “The JKR/WB vs RDR Lexicon.”

but why do I get the feeling like this had been done before…

Avatar Image says:

Thanks so much for posting this, Kristin!

The David vs. Goliath comaprison made my day…maybe even my week! It’s good to know that at some places the press actually knows what they are talking about!

Avatar Image says:

I think on the most recent PotterCast they mentioned that it’s standard for a judge to urge settlement at certain stages in trials, so it doesn’t sound like his suggestion is specific to this case.

Avatar Image says:

This lawsuit is ridiculous. Rowling is entitled to her work, despite the millions she’s made off the HP franchise. She imagined a whole wizarding world full of lexicon and new vocabulary. It’s her right to publish any encyclopedia. No one else’s.

Avatar Image says:

Renee, absolutely agree with you. Even if she wanted to make more money and forbid anybody else from earning a penny, its HER work, it’s HER creation. May I just say… I love the Harry Potter Lexicon, I’ve followed it since I started reading the books… If I was Steve, I would put a stop to it… I mean, didn’t one article say he didn’t intend to sell what he’s done, until RDR offered him to do so? So what’s going on now? He could easily say “Ok, I don’t want to sell it anymore, since I didn’t want to sell it in the first place… RDR, I’m out.” I don’t know the guy, I can’t say he’s greedy now, I WON’T say he’s greedy now, but I think he could and should put a stop to this dispute.

Avatar Image says:

Jo’s encyclpedia will be to the lexicon’s version, what my child’s painting is to the Mona Lisa…one is a pleasant work that I enjoy because I love the subject and the other an true work of art. Anyone who copies another person’s soul, is little better than a leech. Steve should be ashamed of himself for doing this, it is pure greed. A counterfeit of the true work, which is the SOUL proprietorship of JKR. Jo, you fight all the way, this is your baby and no one else has the right to take that baby from you. We are behind you all the way~~!!!!!!!!

Avatar Image says:

I can’t believe this even went to court. Duh its plagerizing if he wrote next to nothing of his own words

Avatar Image says:

@Barbara (from page 1)

I don’t undertstand your argument. You’re saying that because copyright holders hire people to create indexes, anyone should be able to publish an index regardless of copyrights? And what’s more, the copyright holder should thank them for it?

Um, yeah, copyright holders also hire editors to help them with their work, but that doesn't mean that anyone off the street can edit the copyrighed work and publish it as their own.
Avatar Image says:

@Barbara (from page 1)

I don’t undertstand your argument. You’re saying that because copyright holders hire people to create indexes, anyone should be able to publish an index regardless of copyrights? And what’s more, the copyright holder should thank them for it?

Um, yeah, copyright holders also hire editors to help them with their work, but that doesn’t mean that anyone off the street can edit the copyrighed work and publish it as their own.

Avatar Image says:

Re: the FT article

The guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The suit is about the Lexicon BOOK, not the website. The book looks nothing like the website. Why is that so hard to understand? Even one of the Mugglenet guys got it wrong, at this late date.

Posted by Averyfan on April 20, 2008 @ 06:40 PM

What does the book look like? Or what is in the book? Do you know that??

Avatar Image says:

Natalie Haynes wrote:

RDR, the publishers of the lexicon, have described it as a “David and Goliath battle”, which would be an accurate metaphor if, instead of smacking Goliath on the kisser with a slingshot, David had rather gone through Goliath’s collected fiction, whacked some choice paragraphs into an order of his choosing, put his own name on the cover, and then tried to make a quick buck off someone else’s work.

A journalist who finally gets it! Whoo-hoo!!

Avatar Image says:

The media has probably been trying to find an excuse for years to knock JKR down and now they have found their excuse with this buisness. But I’m glad some journos can use common sense and not join in. The Joan Smith article was particulary good.

Avatar Image says:

the comment i was referring to has vanished. the commentator wanted us all to sing “go jo go” or something like that.

Avatar Image says:

So there are people who’re speaking out in support of her, I was genuinely sick of the Jo-bashing articles! Thankfully some people get the point of the whole case! That David-Goliath comparison is hilarious! Go Jo!

Avatar Image says:

several people have commented that the real problem here is no one is sure what the law is, whether the book is legitimate or not. In such a situation, if no one tries to write such a book, no one will ever settle the matter of exactly what is allowed. Sorting out the law is almost always a good thing.

I agree with someone above who suggested Warner are probably much more likely to be concerned about this than Rowling. I doubt they could issue such a challenge themselves, but would have to get her to make a case. The absolutely simplest way for Rowling to benefit charities from an encyclopedia would have been to allow VA to publish it on condition her charity gets half the proceeds. This would also mean they got the money now, instead of in 10 years time when she says she will publish. Ten years is enough time for lots of people to have lost interest in this series. Will I really still be interested in anything new Jo has to say about the books in 10 years time?

The moral principle of people benefiting from HP is not much different whether it is this book, past books which were allowed, or websites. Including this one, which in recent times seems to have been over run with adverts. Someone is making money from this right now. I’m not saying this website should be closed, far from it. I think Rowling, Warner and readers have all benefitted immensely from the websites and the interest they have encouraged in the series. Also from past books. The publishers just could not have bought such priceless publicity helping their own sales. It is therefore somewhat unfair of them to decide that now the story is complete, they are suddenly against people writing about it.

Should people be allowed to write about other people’s fiction? Law is supposed to exist to help everyone, not just authors. We give engineers a limited time to enjoy a new invention, before anyone gets to use it. There is a balance made between the benefit to the inventor, and the benefit to society from everyone being able to freely use that idea. With literature, music, etc, current laws pretty much head towards giving the author rights over a work untill it is completely valueless because it is so dated. Is this really what is best for society? If HP had been just modestly successfull, like most books, then no one woul ever bother creating an encyclopedia. It is only because it is such a success, which automatically means the author has already benefited hugely financially, that people are writing books about these books. If Rowling had her own book ready to go, then again this might be avoided. Instead, she is preventing readers getting more informed about her characters (come on, who here never looked up something on the lexicon?), when she herself isn’t willing to fill them in. Does she really have a moral right to prevent people learning about the books she already sold them?

Avatar Image says:

Wow, I was beginning to think that no one other than Jo’s fans really understood what this whole thing is about! I’m glad to see some positive editorials!

Avatar Image says:

At least some journalists haven’t retreated to the Rita Skeeter style ‘Greed’ articles. Thank heavens there’s hope for the press yet!

Avatar Image says:

Finally – some well described thoughts about the case. Personally, I think SVA and his publishers should do a settlement – one that requires them to not only cover the court and legal costs, but funds that were wasted by this legal case be paid in kind to a Charity of Jo’s choice and a ban to this useless tree shredder of a lexi- gone!. That sounds like a good settlement!

Avatar Image says:

get a grip

Avatar Image says:

As a reader and an author, I find it reprehensible that someone (SVA) could just rearrange an author’s work and call it “fan fiction.” There are laws about copyright infringement, and this is very clear – only 20% may be copied outright, and his goes way beyond that 20%. In addition, fan fiction, in my experience, may use the characters and settings, but usually creates whole new experiences for those characters and settings. The only new thing SVA did was to pretend he is legitimate.

Avatar Image says:

For anyone interested, here’s a write-up about the basics of “fair-use” from Findlaw.

http://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/copyright/copyright-using/fair-use.html

Avatar Image says:

Oh Gosh I LOVE them:D:D:Dfinally someone that agrees with me and that is on Jo’s side. I hope she will win. I think exactly like Natalie. GO JO!!!

Avatar Image says:

It’s so refreshing to read editorials that actually have it right!

Avatar Image says:

It is only about 15 minutes’ fame that bloke wants! How can anyone in this world think he or she knows more about Harry than “his mother” ?

Avatar Image says:

Go Jo! Hope sanity prevails and the parasite goes down. Wanna be an author? Use your OWN ideas!

Avatar Image says:

Finally some people with some sense!

BARBARA M G ILOT are you by any chance employed by RDR boooks or SVA or their legal teams? I will not by the lexicon if it ever comes to print ( which it shouldn’t) nor will i ever use the lexicon website again!

boycot the lexicon in all forms! buy only the “scottish book”

Avatar Image says:

Oh for pity’s sake! Just because someone doesn’t take Jo’s side in this case does not mean they are employed by RDR Books or SVA’s legal team! Every time someone expresses an opposing opinion, posters here on Leaky say that! Why is it so unbelievable that people actually exist who do not believe the sun shines out of JKR’s every orifice? (Hers and Aberforth’s words, not mine…)

Interesting that most so-called “mainstream media” seem to be on the side of SVA. You really have to search to find a pro-Jo article. Wonder why that is?

For my part, I agree with Barbara from page 1, and sandpiper from whatever later page it was. I used the Lexicon extensively over the years in trying to understand the HP books, because let’s face it, while JKR is an outstanding storyteller, her story is quite convoluted and her details sometimes are not the best. For whoever it was that asked, I for one would love to have a hard copy of the Lexicon on my bookshelves. I hope Steve wins because I would like to have that choice and that opportunity - as far as I’m concerned, book banning is bad and the more books the merrier. I have not read the book in question (I wonder how many “Go Jo!” people here have actually seen or read Steve’s book?) but if it is like the information on the online Lexicon, (which reports say it is) then I cannot see how it is a “regurgitation” of JKR’s work, as so many are fond of putting it. The online Lexicon is just as Barbara described it - an index. It is not remotely like reading a fictional novel, which is what JKR’s books are.

I also see no point in the “Steve hate” which has been so prevalent from posters here on Leaky. Steve clearly has one opinion - JKR/WB clearly has another. That is why we have courts - to arbitrate those disagreements. So many people say “Steve should’ve quit” or “If Steve had any morals he’d drop it” or whatever. Steve obviously feels his book is fair use, or he would’ve done those things, and he has as much right as anyone else to pursue his case in a court of law if he has to, without being vilified for it. The judge will decide.

I read a lot of posts earlier from people saying “All he did was copy - any one of us could’ve done that.” I respectfully disagree - his online work is stellar, and NOT everyone could’ve done it. It is detailed, accurate, and well-organized, and it had to have been an extraordinary amount of work. Further, (though this has nothing technically to do with the case) as far as I can tell he has been nothing but complimentary and polite when speaking about JKR, which has not been reciprocated. Apparently some people can have disagreements and still remain civil while others cannot. To me it says a lot about the individual. Personally, I will be at the bookstore the first day it’s available if the Lexicon book gets published.

And no, I am not a “plant.” (Although I do sometimes have gray roots, but I hardly think that counts.)

Avatar Image says:

Sorry about the strike-outs, I forgot about the peculiarity with dashes on this site…

Avatar Image says:

I’m with the folks who say Jo has a right to say “yea” or “nay” to what’s done with her intellectual property. Most media outlets seem to be more interested in sensationalism than reporting facts.

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