JKR/WB vs. RDR Books Trial: U.K. Publisher Not Counting on Scheduled April Release of Lexicon Book


Apr 25, 2008

Posted by KristinTLC

U.K. Publisher Methuen does not expect to meet the scheduled April release of Steve Vander Ark’s Lexicon book, as it has been postponed pending the court’s decision.

Peter Tummons or Methuen says he is “very confident” in RDR Book’s position, but says that he does expect Warner Brothers to appeal if RDR wins. Says Tummons:

“You can never quite tell about the US appeal system, but I think we are talking about a matter of some months. Eventually, I think we will be able to publish this autumn, which might turn out to be quite good timing for us.”

Tummons would not comment on what his company might do should RD lose the case.

69 Responses to JKR/WB vs. RDR Books Trial: U.K. Publisher Not Counting on Scheduled April Release of Lexicon Book

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“Eventually, I think we will be able to publish this autumn, which might turn out to be quite good timing for us.” Peter Tummons Methuen.

Yep, that about sums this whole SVA/RDR project up. Good timing = Good Profits.

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I continue to be amazed by the shallowness RDR.

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if they really fight for it, appeals can take years…

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The Bleak House perspective would say that we should expect a lot more of these pronouncements in the coming years:

“Yes, we should be able to publish in Summer 2010, which was exactly what we secretly planned from the beginning. Perfect timing!”

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That’s them, even in the face of metaphorical danger they are looking for profits.

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OMG IM 6TH!!!!!!!!! sorry, my goal in life is to be first to comment. sorry :P i love the website, but i dont want the book to be published. call me cold hearted but sorry…wishing for HBP pictures…

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I know the trial is important, but honestly, at this point, I just want some official HBP pictures. Why are we having to wait so long, I wonder?

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Mr. Tummons should wipe off his chin… He’s drooling mad!

“Bleak House” Indeed should RDR prevail.


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yeah, where are the HBP pictures?! oh, and RDR has to lose.

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Sorry, just wanted to clarify that my complaint about the lack of HBP pictures was not directed at Leaky. It was just an expression of general impatience that nothing official has been released yet from the Powers That Be. I’m sure Leaky will have the pictures posted as soon as WB releases them. :)

So, about that trial…. I’m definitely pulling for Jo/WB.

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Every night I go to bed and I tick off a day on my calendar until November 21st, only a few more days till the HBP trailer!

Wow he sure is cocky. I’m so confused because there’s so many opinions on different sides. I just want to know what’s what and who seems to be in the favor of the judge.

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if they are hoping to publish, better hope that someone would buy it.

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That publishing company is stuck up. They are way too confident in the results of this case. RDR will lose.

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Wow. this is so stupid. I hope they do appeal, because appeals can take years and tons of money, so Jo would be well set against RDR if she really wanted to. Here’s to hoping that an appeal won’t be needed in the first place. ;)

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I know the trial is important, but honestly, at this point, I just want some official HBP pictures. Why are we having to wait so long, I wonder? Posted by English Ivy on April 24, 2008 @ 08:42 PM

Look on the bright side – when all this trial business is over, we can get the HBP pictures, and the news will be evenly spaced out!

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I was just listening to the pod cast about the trial and wanted to make a couple of comments. First, I believe that the mispronunciation of characters names was intentional. This would make JK and her books seem less important. He was attempting to convey that her work has not infiltrated the collective conscious of the world much less the US or the UK. Basically to bring her down a few pegs. Second, I agree with John that if you are a true fan that you do not steal from an author and/or a body of work that you claim to love so much. His law suit will be a moot point in the essence that his book will not sell nor gain true notoriety, The broader implication for authors is what is of ultimate importantance in this case.

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tonya – i’m pretty sure ‘mr. hammer’ misprounonced the names unintentionally. along with being delusional, appearantly he doesn’t read much. but, i see your point. it would be hard to make all the mistakes he did. i mean, draco? easiest name ever.

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Is there a reason as to why none of the trial updates appear on the RSS Feed???

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I certainly hope the court allows The Lexicon to be published as planned. I am losing respect for JKR going ahead with this lawsuit. I expect WB to be low-lifes who are only interested in making a buck, but thought JKR was better than that. Printing The HP Lexicon does her no harm and actually promotes her intrests.

The Lexicon is is a tribute to her and her accomplishments, will make absolutely zero impact on the encyclopedia she plans on creating, and is available NOW (it’s called marketing and cheap advertising to keep the intrest high in HP). It doesn’t infringe on her copyrights, and I have no problem for Steve to make a little money from all the work he’s put into it collecting and categorizing the details from JKR’s books.

Another thing to think about – if RDR/Steve loses, then any of us who like to write fan fiction, ot make comments in forums (like here), about anything HP will also no longer be allowed to do that. If they can force one fan to not express their delight in Potter, thgey can do it to all of us.

It is a short-sighted and mean-spirited lawsuit. Vander Ark should be allowed to print his lexicon. All the lexicons built around other books and authors are perfectly legal, and this one should be, too.


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McGonagall’s Cat: the issue is not whether it is a tribute to Jo or if it promotes her interests or whether it makes money or anything else. It is a work of plagiarism and Jo and WB have not only a right but a duty to protect that copyrighted work. A win for Jo is a win for all creative people who seek to protect their own work, the work they have slaved over. Why should anyone be allowed to make money off of Jo’s hard work just because they are capable of copy and pasting her work into a new format?

Additionally, a win for Jo will NOT affect fanfic, wizard rock or other web sites. She has been an amazing supporter of creative endeavors based on HP online, which are free to access. Copyright prohibits people from making money from plagiarizing other people’s work. That is all.

If you had spent more than 17 years of your life on a project of the magnitude of Harry Potter, (or, what the heck, six months of your life on one smallish novel) would you want some “fan” to come along, paste it into an alphabetical format and be allowed to sell it as his own? I think not. If Steve and RDR win this case there could come a time when they will be able to sue JO for publishing her own encyclopedia, as they could make the case that she plagiarized from them for some of the content… which was all based on her own work! If you have been to the Lexicon online, I am sure you have seen the page after page of warnings from Steve not to copy anything from his site because it is “copyrighted.” It staggers the mind.

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@younger granger: I understand yours( and many others) desire to see RDR suffer through a long trial and lose lots of money and whatnot, but I don’t want to see Jo go through that.

She’s already saying that the trial is destroying her creative mind, whether that’s a sort of threat or not, I’m not sure. But I am sure I wouldn’t want to lose the Scottish Book over the loss of some money from RDR.

Like most I just wish this had never started, I still have some respect for SVA, and wouldn’t hold a grudge for him no matter how the case ended.

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Ugh, i am hoping Jo will win and from what it sounds like she will, but you never know… I want to feel sorry for Steve, but i can’t…

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No matter who wins I will only buy the one writen by JKR. It is her books, characters, and world….. Only she deserves my hard earned money when it comes to Harry Potter!!!

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Wthout here RDR would be nothing!!!

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I meant to say without HER…RDR would be nothing!!!

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It he rewrote it and used cited his sources properly it wouldn’t be such a big deal… (which i think he should do right away and i would tell any of my students that. yes page numbers are to be used not only when using quotes but paraphrasing as well….either that or my English professors will have have a ballistic fit) I think she is perfectly in the right to do what she’s doing… Content of the book aside. Not citing sources properly is setting a bad example to the students who would be reading his book as a reference. I say, call it a rough draft and go back… add some new work…perhaps some pictures of wolves and flora and fauna that is mentioned in the books… add some extra resources for credibility and a polite nod to show that others have gone before you. a few apoligies in the form of a gentle limrick would be lovely as well. anything to make Jo smile.

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I agree with the Leaky crew when they said that you are not a true HP fan if you insist on doing something that your “Idol” has already asked nicely not to do. I do not feel a bit sorry for SVA, no matter what the outcome of the trial will be. This issue will have a HUGE impact on his credibility as an “HP Fan” but now, he’s basically banished from the fandom. I wouldn’t spend a single hard-earned penny on his book. I will save that money and buy the REAL scottish book, may it be 1 or 100, I wouldn’t mind spending that much.. because I know the proceeds will go to charity, and not someone’s stinky pocket.

Go Gryffindors!

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I work in a bookstore….. if it does get published…. it will be lovingly placed in my collage of dvds and random book diplay. covered in bunnies of bears never to be heard from again. No one dares mess with my displays and mess up the integrity of my design (or steal my quill) well that is my game plan. (just had a random vision of librarians and teachers shaking their fingers and randomly dancing in the streets West Side Story style. snap snap…finger wave…finger wave.)

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it sickens me that SVA used to claim to be a ravenclaw… I always felt ravenclaw was the house i was most akin to. he has turned into a stereotypical slytherin , though no offence ment to john noe, he is a cool slyty.

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McGonagall’s Cat: Not meaning to be rude, but have you been following the trial at all? I mean, I have nothing personal against Steve, but anyone who claims to have written a ‘comprehensive guide’ that is only 9% of original work shouldn’t be able to call themselves a writer. Or a potter fan. If Jo says its sloppy lazy and incorrect, I believe her. Its not as if this is for money. She’s trying to make it so that Comic Relief won’t make less money from her book. I’d rather people’s money towards a good cause that Steve pocket.

If this does go to print, I’ll be going to all the bookstores in my area and hide the Lexicon behind the wonderful displays of ‘Rainbow Party’ and ‘Gossip Girl’. Where it belongs.

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“I have no problem for Steve to make a little money from all the work he’s put into it collecting and categorizing the details from JKR’s books.”

Posted by McGonagall’s Cat on April 24, 2008 @ 11:14 PM

McGonagall’s Cat

I understand your sympathy for SVA’s hard work, but unfortunately this case is about more than SVA or JKR. What RDR’s attornies are trying to do is broadly expand the definition of legal “reference books” to include works that are almost wholly copying and include a tiny percentage of original commentary or analysis.

I know you are sympathetic to SVA for his work, but if he wins, other people who you might consider less deserving will be able to take most of the work of authors who have far less money and popularity than JKR. Let’s say instead of SVA who has worked on his website for 9 years, we have someone who spends a few months cutting, pasting, and lightly re-organizing content from a book by a part-time author who can hardly pay the bills. You probably wouldn’t feel the same way about the legal issues if these were the players instead of SVA and JKR, but this would be exactly the same legal situation that we are seeing now, and if RDR wins this case, the re-organizer will be able to take the work of the struggling author every time. What would be the incentive in struggling to be a successful author if anyone can take your work like this at any time?

You shouldn’t think less of JKR for this. You should think more of her. She desperately doesn’t WANT this lawsuit, but she feels responsible to other authors, so she is putting aside things she’d rather be doing to fulfill her responsibilities. That’s not greed, that’s character.

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@ McGon’s Cat if you want more information about what the above posters are responding to you I suggest that you look at what Elizabeth posted in the second day of the RDR/WB trial. She explained, with great detail, the idea of Fair Use and copyright infringement. I don’t have her legal mind, but she did state that there were 4 components to which the judge would rule. The judge, however, warned that if they didn’t reach a settlement he was sure it would go to appeals process. Our legal system hasn’t caught up with the internet, which is of course why SVA/RDR are claiming they had a right to publish the book, so it seems something that one of the higher courts will have to decide. Elizabeth did state out of the 4 components RDR had a strong argument for 3 out of the 4, the one they were weakest in was that the majority of the book was completely lifted from JKR’s novels. As you see this is an infringement upon the law. As well as, your own personal opinions about plagarism versus copyright infringement. Elizabeth stated it was copyright infringement and I state it’s plagarism, because if you publish something without adding the correct citations—regardless if in the title it specifies companion to HP—you are considering fabricating previous authors’ information as your own, plagarism. However technically it is copyright infringement.

Additionally, prior to JKR’s willingness to allow fandom to continue on the web, many authors squashed out any type of fandom, because it was their material to regulate. So, in accordance with precedence and copyright infringement, unless the book is dramatically altered it’s against the law.

Unfortunately, this all could have been avoided if SVA heeded the cease and desist letters he received, not to mention the accounted documentation of JKR/WB contacting SVA requesting to see the alleged book. Since SVA responded with go to the Lexicon and hit print, it seems he isn’t just ripping off JKR, but all of the fans that participated to build that site and who originally could use it freely.

If I can’t skate my way through research papers by plagarizing than why the ** should an adult figure be able to rip off creative fiction novels? There is no intuitive sense to me here. Even though, as I said Elizabeth stated that because the website was allowed originally there maybe wiggle room for RDR to assert they had consent to publish a book. But it’s just not logical to me. If you have a legitimate legal argument for your case, I would really like to hear it, because although you may have strong feelings about the issue it doesn’t mean it’s infallible or in the best interests of justice.

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this autumn? LMAO he has no clue about the american legal system if he thinks it will be all clear by then this has a fair chance of being in court for years to come.

McGonagall's Cat  your a fool and i have to wonder if your on RDR's book payroll  SVA is trying to get away with  theft plain and simple  and he should not be allowed to do so.  as for confident  about rdr's case from all i have seen it could go either way I want Jo and wb to win and they should win
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i hope it never gets published! i think this tummons guys, rdr and mr hammer are kidding themselves if they think that they’re going to win.

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This weekend I shall give away my GOF and OP (1st edition) hardcover copies away to my neighbours for free, so it is kind of charity. I still have the paperback copies, though ;-)

And the more I think of it, yes, I want to have the RDR book. When reading and re-reading the Potter series I spent enough time on the lexicon site,

1. studying the lists with the British Use; 2. studying the time lines; 3. studying the lists with the differences between the US- and the British editions; 4. reading some essays; 5. reading other entries mostly of the locations; 6. checking names e.g. ‘Dumbledore’; 6. and yes, checking about how to open the doors on Jo’s site.

I would not have been able to find any of this in the HP-Books themselves. More, they lexicon has been a key to Harry’s world which of course is Jo’s world as well. 1 – 5 have been a tremendous help to me to understand the books; you know, not all people in the big wide world have been raised as english native speakers. And I did not find any other resource in the web that would have compiled so much organised information. The Lexicon was very helpful when I wrote an article about the marketing hype and about being fascinated by the Rowling-Potter-World; I wrote the article shortly after the GOF-Film was released. It is still on the net; no, I did not get any money for the article as this was in a kind of experimental web-magazine, I do hope no one will prosecute me about the three pictures I put into the article (they rights are not Warners’, by the way).


So the book would be something to remember me of the time I spent with the Potter-Books. Well of course I would be able to print out everything in the lexicon. But in a way that’s not an option. First it would take too much time, and it would be expensive. Secondly that’s not the thing to do for someone who likes so much the feeling of holding a book in her hand. At last I want to be in a position to decide myself if I want to have the RDR-Book or not, and not let anybody else decide in my place if I can have it or not – not Warner Brothers, not Joanne K. Rowling and not a Judge.

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Having only just finished reading the court documents, I must say that I am more convinced than ever that RDR should never be allowed to publish this so-called Lexicon. Jo gave numerous examples where SVA’s entries have misrepresented the HP world, which is actually quite an achievement since he copied so much. I had the impression that whenever Steve had actually added some kind of comment (no samples of true analysis were given), he very often was in the wrong. I mean, honestly, how can anyone assume that “Alohomora” is derived from the Hawaian “Aloha”? There’s no relation whatsoever between these two terms! I didn’t know either that Alohomora is a term used in West African geomancy, but JKR is absolutely right in suggesting that somebody (= a responsible author) who intended to create a useful and comprehensive research book or reference book would have taken the trouble to actually do some research. And Mr Hammer implying that the entry “death” in the lexicon was actually about the character meeting the three brothers in the Tales of the Beedle the Bard and not about ‘death’ in general, this is way beyond being completely ridiculous. Steve should be ashamed of himself.

I absolutely understand why JKR is so angry about this sloppy work. I read some of the reference books on HP which were allowed to get published, and I could name quite a few which did little more than paraphrasing the plots. Still, most of them at least added some background info on mythological origins, linguistic allusions etc. Still, I would not consider them scholarly works, but obviously Warner and JKR have been really generous in the past. Steve and RDR really must have been going way too far when JKR decided to stop their “work”.

Did somebody else get the feeling that the judge is, ahm, a little slow??? And I agree with some of the previous comments on Mr Hammer: It certainly would have helped his case if he were familiar with the books he is discussing …. But since I am on Jo’s side, I do not really mind that he’s obviously not a very good lawyer …

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I didn’t really understand what was this all about but if it was about SVA’s lexicon publication then I will say : GO TO HELL!!!

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no, zhiyal, the judge is rather sharp. after all he got all of the books for free :-)

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Does anyone know when RDR made the manuscript available to Jo/WB? (Only after it was submitted in evidence early February?)

I can’t help wondering if the manuscript changed between what RDR received Sept 1st and what is in evidence?

I just finished reading the Jeri Johnson testimony. Woof! If SVA ever does publish this—he could find her remarks quite helpful for improvements.

I wonder if they’ll settle. And under what terms.

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Cocky fellas, these Methuens arent they? I think WB/JKR will appeal to end of time, if they lose. They’ll want to show others like Steve, to prepare for a long drawn out bloodied battle which effectively would put anyone off the thought of publishing a Lexicon type book even if it is legal.

For me, I dont really care for either Lexicon or (to some extent), the Scottish book. I love to have a Scottish book purely because it is JK’s work but I wont be upset if she doesnt do it. I am a deeply heartfelt Harry Potter book fan but I come to a realisation that I am also a JK Rowling fan. I want to read everything she writes. And listen to everything she says! So i rather she writes more fiction than do a Scottish book, if that was a choice given. I want to read her crime novel, her children’s political fairytale. If she writes a horror book, I want to read it. Why, because I love her language, her narrative and most of all her depth of moral teachings. I hope this case do not seriously harm her creative output.

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I have a question. I know this case is going on in the US federal courts. Now say somehow RDR wins, could it be possible Jo and WB could sue a British publisher wanting to publish this? I know fair use is rather different here in the UK. Would a ruling in the States, pretty much make the Lexicon book legal in the other countries RDR has sold to?

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The Only Thing I have to say is…the ONLY people who would have bought the Lexicon book would’ve been the fans of Harry Potter…and seeing as the majority of the HP fans are on JK’s side…expect sales to be very slow. ASSUMING RDR wins. I hope they lose money on this book.

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dddddddddddddd…they won’t publish!

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If it is published I’m not buying it.

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Seems like either side has a good chance of winning, and of course, there will be a long appeal.

Deep down, I don’t think JKR would have sued had it not been for WB influence over her. As my mom commented, “the lawyers got to her.”

Regardless of what happens in this case, I am not likely to buy the lexicon book, and it’s not because I have anything particular against SVA or that I think he’s totally wrong in what he’s doing. It’s just because I’m not all that interested in an encyclopedia of things I more or less already know from reading the series. I’m honestly not all that curious about the latin derivation of every name or the folklore behind every spell. Jo’s encyclopedia is a totally different story because it will offer new information and backstory on the characters, so that I would be interested in purchasing. Intimating that SVA’s book will hurt sales of Jo’s eventual encyclopedia is almost laughable. That won’t happen, and I think everyone knows it.

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I disagree, Jo has been very vocal on this. So to suggest that WB has forced her into lawsuit, is not accurate. She see’s it as the highest betrayal of a fan, and so she is fighting to protect her work.

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Cripes! First, Ascatal, posts like your’s are part of the reason I hate reading comments to stories I am interested in. I get it, you disagree with McGonagall’s Cat and that’s fine. However, calling another person names is childish and does not help your argument at all. It saddens me that the anonymity of the internet allows people to forget manners and decency. So you don’t think I’m hiding behind the same veil of anonymity my website is thenalls.com if you send an email to admin at that address I’ll get it. Ginny, great post. I must admit that when i first started reading the comments I agreed more with McGonagall’s cat. However, after reading your post and doing some research I’ve discovered the assumptions I made were incorrect. I had heard of the case but had not researched it. If there is only 9% original content and citation has not been done properly then I think the book should be blocked from publication until the problems are fixed. Your post was insightful and persuasive. Thank you.

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Neil, I was wondering the same thing. Methuen is a publisher, so how does the RDR decision relate to Methuen’s publishing date? Is it simply a case of Methuen not wanting to publish something that was barred in another country and will most likely drag Methuen into court too, or is there some kind of complication/ownership issue with RDR? Doesn’t the author usually own foreign rights, not the initial publisher?

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Good grief – Jo’s critics might as well tell her to put her kids on the streetcorner because some pervert will probably take a liking to them. They don’t seem to feel that she has the right to protect anything else she labored to create.

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BlackCat40, you can read the actual Lexicon book yourself if you wish. Go to justia.com and search for RDR Warner Brothers and when you get the list of all the documents, look at Steve Vander Ark’s first declaration. The attachments to it are the book. Just because someone stated in court that it is only 9% original content, you may want to read and decide for yourself because that figure is only one side’s opinion. The judge will be deciding for himself, hopefully, and not taking either side’s “declarations” as gospel.

I spent time reading it yesterday, and my reactions are completely the opposite of some other people who see it as “only 9% original content.” In my opinion, I thought the whole thing was original content, with the exception of a few direct quotes (which were so indicated) such as the Sorting Hat’s song, and the Potions riddle from the first book. It’s a reference book, not a novel. The Lexicon’s entries were about Harry Potter, true, (as are all the other books on the market about HP such as the Mugglenet one, etc.) and as such use words that are unique to the HP world because JKR made them up, such as “muggle” or “Quidditch” or whatever. There would be no way to write ANY book about the HP world without using those special words. But the entries were written in Steve’s words and style, not just “cut-and-paste” direct quotes from the novels or “regurgitation,” to use a phrase so many are fond of saying. And he DOES add commentary and etymology and Latin derivations (whether they’re correct or not is irrelevant; they seemed to be his best effort at research), so there IS “original” content (although one so-called expert seemed to try to say that was plagiarizing the dictionary, so apparently she feels the entire English language is copyrighted by Warner Brothers…).

Point being, there is a danger in just reading the reports of the case, or what other posters have stated that they’ve read somewhere, and assuming it’s fact. Fact and opinion are very different. Just because someone says “It’s plagiarism!” doesn’t mean that it is; or just because someone starts spouting percentages it doesn’t necessarily mean that those figures are accurate. If that were the case, these people wouldn’t be spending time in a courtroom. The judge will decide. And then, as has been said, probably there will be appeal after appeal after appeal and many, many judges will have a chance to decide. Nothing says one judge might reach one decision, while a different judge might’ve reached the exact opposite conclusion. So I agree that this British publishing company might have hold of the wrong end of the stick if they think they’re going to be able to publish anytime soon. This could turn into some sort of landmark Internet-regulation test case and appeals could go on for years.

Anyway, just a caution to read the case yourself before making these calls that are “absolute”...

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I have decided that I am going to take matters into my own hands. I am writing letters to the corporate offices of Barnes and Noble, borders, amazon.com, and any other book store that I can think of a ask them to review the comments of harry potter fan sites before placing an order for SVA’s book and see that the majority of the fans do not want it. We may not be able to stop it from being published but maybe we can convince the bookstores not to sell it.

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After reading the case documents yesterday, the Lexicon book seemed to me to be an organized indexing combined with research, NOT a re-telling or “regurgitation” of JKR’s work. I compared what I read with “Ultimate Unofficial Guide to Harry Potter” and the Mugglenet book (just because I happen to have those two on my shelf) and I saw no difference with respect to “re-telling.” Both those books re-tell JKR’s stories to a great extent. None of the books would stand alone, without JKR’s novels. They are supplements, all of them. Yet those first were OK, and the Lexicon is not? I personally can’t see it. All I can see is maybe that Steve did too good of a job of doing a book JKR hasn’t gotten around to writing yet, and that made her fearful that it might undermine her Scottish book somehow. (That concern was prominently listed in the documents as one of Warner’s objections.) But, as someone posted earlier, the idea that this Lexicon book could negatively affect her Scottish book, which will be years from now and with tons of new content only JKR could provide, is laughable to me. It’s like saying Mugglenet’s “What Will Happen in Book 7?” could’ve negatively impacted sales of “Deathly Hallows.”

Another impression I got after reading the documents is that in my opinion, the declarations of Jeri Johnson, the dean of English at Exeter College, felt extremely rude. She sounds like a horribly bitter and nasty woman; glad I never had her for a professor! I wouldn’t have thought a declaration from a professional should include scathing personal remarks on what she judges to be “self-indulgent weak waggishness” or “tedious jocularity” or whatever other negative remarks she had about Steve’s writing ability. It was as if she was channelling Snape, declaring witheringly from her position ‘On High’ that Steve’s commentary wasn’t amusing to her, therefore it was invalid as original content. Well, that’s her opinion. I thought it was kind of funny and entertaining, and certainly original to Steve. But that’s just my opinion. (And Warner accuses RDR of being “rude” to them in the initial stages of this situation? Guess they decided it was time for payback.) I was impressed that all of Steve’s declarations were polite and complimentary to JKR.

This is completely irrelevant to the case I suppose, but just an observation after reading the case documents… Anyone else see the irony that Warner Brothers is shocked… SHOCKED at the very idea of someone “making money off the back of the work of others” while at the same time their employees apparently thought nothing of printing out copies of pages from the online Lexicon (work off Steve’s back) and pasting them all over the walls of the filming studios and the writers’ offices so that they could refer to them constantly, thus making money for Warner Brothers? (yes, it would make money for Warner; if it saved them time or kept them from having to pay a salary of an employee to check the facts Steve had so conveniently done for them for free, then it made money for them. Time is money.) Steve testified that David Heyman told him that the movie staffers used the Lexicon on a daily basis, and maps and timelines and such from the online Lexicon were all over the studio. Yet how shocking, SHOCKING that Warner didn’t feel the least bit of obligation to compensate him in any way. You’d think they could’ve at least offered him a position on staff as “indexing consultant” or something, out of simple gratitude. Just me musing at the workings of the big corporate mentality…

And no, before you say it, I am not an employee of RDR or a member of Steve’s legal team… (I feel like that has to be a sworn statement in order to make any post that is not 100% pro-Warner/JKR…)

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Madam P -

Completely agree with your assessment of the Lexicon book competing with the Scottish book. I never did feel that was a strong argument on WBs side.

I often ponder if the Lexicon ever gets published, just how well will it sell, anyway? It seems people will either boycott it or just not spend the money for something they can access for free via the internet (I am in the latter camp).

While no fan of RDR, I believe the judge will rule in their favor.

Avatar Image says:

“In my opinion, I thought the whole thing was original content, with the exception of a few direct quotes (which were so indicated) such as the Sorting Hat’s song, and the Potions riddle from the first book.”

Posted by Madam P on April 25, 2008 @ 02:26 PM

Actually, WB’s line-by-line analysis of quotation from the HP books was unrebutted. The defense instead chose to argue that extensive quoting was desireable in a “reference book” although they could not produce one example of another book that took as much as or more copyrighted material. JKR herself identified quote after quote taken that consisted of maybe 4 or 5 words that were nevertheless her unique turn-of-phrase and could have been stated in any other way so as not to take. Again, unrebutted. And the fact that the books you identified take less of JKR’s copyrighted work was also unrebutted by the defense. So while you are entitled to your opinion, even the defense itself didn’t try to claim what you are claiming, instead admitting that the Lexicon copies freely and arguing that such was allowable, although unprecedented, by calling it a “reference book”. Their main argument is that the very nature of a reference book requires extensive copying, although they could not prove this point with any real-world examples, so their extensive copying is fair use (i.e., the “purpose” criteria of fair use law outweighs the criteria regarding “amount taken”).

“Another impression I got after reading the documents is that in my opinion, the declarations of Jeri Johnson, the dean of English at Exeter College, felt extremely rude.”

Posted by Madam P on April 25, 2008 @ 03:13 PM

Actually, I found Dean Johnson’s testimony to be among the most convincing in the case, as it is extremely relevant to pointing out that allowing the Lexicon to be published on the basis that it is a “reference book” would be dramatically changing the definition of the term in light of all that has gone before. The truth may hurt, and maybe that is why you found it to be rude. I find this to be a dramatically different example than when RDR completely ignored WB’s legitimate requests to view the Lexicon manuscript, which were eventually enforced in the Discovery process.

“Anyone else see the irony that Warner Brothers is shocked… SHOCKED at the very idea of someone “making money off the back of the work of others” while at the same time their employees apparently thought nothing of printing out copies of pages from the online Lexicon (work off Steve’s back) and pasting them all over the walls of the filming studios and the writers’ offices so that they could refer to them constantly, thus making money for Warner Brothers”

SVA’s claim to said “work” is what is at issue here. His right to copyright something consisting so wholly of another’s work is at issue. The reason the Lexicon is allowed is that is freely available on the internet. I think printing pages of a website derived from another’s original work where copyright is arguable (some would say laughable) and where the content is free of charge is dramatically different than wholesale copying and re-selling of work that is unquestionably original and copyrighted. There is no moral equivalence.

In fact, your argument is actually one of the things JKR/WB is worried about; if SVA is allowed to copyright the Lexicon, will he and RDR then be able to turn around and sue JKR when she publishes her encyclopedia consisting of her own material? SVA’s sense of entitlement regarding something that was able to exist because it was a hobby is disturbing.

Avatar Image says:

I used to use the Lexicon website’s alphabetical listings and character pages for two things: A spell-checker, and to find the book/chapter for a reference. Then I would then use that information to go to the actual books and read directly from the source.

Because it was online and searchable, the Lexicon website did for me what I couldn’t do very quickly myself because e-books of the HP series are not legal. I realize the Lexicon book and the Lexicon website are two different things, but the website was used to create the book, and at least some of the website was created using e-books. This is very troubling to me. It makes sense to me now, because I was a bit surprised in my frequent trips to the Lexicon website over the last three years to see that the alphabetical listings on the Lexicon website seemed to be sentences from the books with just minor changes to them, they didn’t include many conclusions or commentary, and they sometimes overlooked information. The dry paraphrasing without personal commentary in fact meant that the information was sometimes missing crucial points, in my opinion.

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[This is my sixth comment. My fifth comment was posted on April 20th 11:35 p.m. to the article: “JKR/WB vs. RDR Books Trial: The "Blurry Line" of Copyright Law.” My fourth and third comments were on April 18th 2:21 p.m and April 17th 11:51 p.m. respectively to the article “JKR/WB vs RDR Books Trial: Summary Reports.” My first two were posted pm April 17th 3:26 a.m. and 3:57 p.m. respectively to the following article: “JKR/WB vs RDR Books Trial: A partial settlement reached; WSJ summarizes day three of testimony.”]

Re: Comment posted by Ginny on April 25th, 2008 @ 1:10 a.m.

@ Ginny, indirectly @Elizabeth

This comment is meant to be neutral, not against the 1:10 a.m. posting, and hopefully an extension of anyone else’s for that matter. The 1:10 a.m. posting mentioned comments posted by “Elizabeth” who has presented some remarkable Legal commentary, no doubt. I wasn’t sure of which of “Elizabeth’s” postings were being referred to, but had thought of some comments of my own as I read what “Elizabeth” has had to say through many of these articles. By the way, one could get their own supplemental grasp of the relevant law that could be applied to this Harry Potter case, by finding some other authoritative sources of one’s choosing, or maybe reading what is written about the U. S. Code itself through something like Cornell Law School’s compilation of the U. S. Code materials, as well.

Regarding the “affirmative defense” of Fair Use, and about applying the “four elements” that are used to determine “copyright infringement,” or a prima facie case of copyright infringement, “Elizabeth” had posed a question about “affirmative defense” as it relates to Fair Use. In my own opinion, I didn’t think, at the time she posed the question, that Fair Use was an “absolute” “affirmative defense”, in that it could become fallible when riddled with holes by the opposing side. A few things that came to mind at the time were the doctrines of “unclean hands” and “bad faith” amongst other things. It was interesting to find that those were Legal terminologies that have been stated within the transcripts we’ve been provided. As far as applying the “four elements” and presenting an opinion that three-quarters (75%) (3 out of 4) of them are in favor of one side or the other, this assumes that the side attempting to rely on “whatever benefit” that that three-quarter reliance would create, actually has a “lawful” position in the case. So that, if there actually was an “unlawful” position, then, it seems that they couldn’t rely on “whatever benefit” that the “copyright law,” as it is written in Code, provides. The “copyright law” benefits more than just the author; in the example at hand, the defendant is proposed to be “benefiting by three-quarters.” I think there is a huge distinction between “lawful” and “unlawful” as to whether or not what is “lawful” or “unlawful” enjoys a “benefit” from the “copyright law.” And, as to one side quickly making a prima facie case through the four elements, or even the defendant quickly admitting to infringement, that is, if the defendants were to say, “on the face of it there may or may not be copyright infringement”, but “if there were, I am shifting my reliance over to the ‘Fair Use’ ‘affirmative defense;’ this shouldn’t automatically legitimize the notion that one’s “copyright infringement” was not actually a “lawful” one that would be protected by the U. S. Copyright Law in the first place. I don’t think that something like that would become legitimized underneath the watchful eye of the Court, but it might become muddied in commentary. The “affirmative defense,” as Elizabeth may have commented, doesn’t create (Does it extinguish what looked like?) an infringement once the “affirmative defense” is established. It is worth noting, in my opinion, that, by some definition would mean one won’t be able to legitimately rely on the “affirmative defense” nor the “four elements” themselves if there weren’t a legitimate “lawful” position through which to enjoy those “copyright laws.” So, in the end, I myself have no earthly idea about all of the things that might make the defendant’s position “unlawful” enough that the defendants couldn’t actually enjoy a three-quarters (75%) benefit from the “four elements.” In the end, this message of mine is meant to recognize the distinction between “lawful” and “unlawful”, and the idea that one might not be able to enjoy the “four elements,” and further, the “Fair Use” “affirmative defense,” if, let’s say, “unclean hands” or “bad faith”, or a handful of other things, actually weakened or made “unlawful” either side’s position.

Avatar Image says:

“Anyone else see the irony that Warner Brothers is shocked… SHOCKED at the very idea of someone “making money off the back of the work of others” while at the same time their employees apparently thought nothing of printing out copies of pages from the online Lexicon (work off Steve’s back) and pasting them all over the walls of the filming studios and the writers’ offices so that they could refer to them constantly, thus making money for Warner Brothers?”

Posted by Madam P on April 25, 2008 @ 03:13 PM *

One has to take SVA’s word that producers actually said something like that. Sorry, but he’s been proven to not be an honest and honorable guy. Also, didn’t John Noe say in the PC epi about the trial that he was there when SVA would have supposedly heard Heyman say something and that he said nothing like what SVA said he heard? As John’s never been proven a liar, I have to go with his word on this. SVA sounds a bit delusional about his own importance.

Even if it were true, I think *Monsieur T explained it very well in how SVA has no claim over the material anyway. I find his copyright notices on the website to be annoying and untrue (except for on essay pages).

Also, as to the amount that the MuggleNet book and the Unofficial Guide may quote or paraphrase from the books, I’m sure it doesn’t make up 91% of the book. I don’t have those particular companion books, but the ones that I do have add commentary and analysis into the mix, which makes them tranformative and fair use. The Lexibook does none of that.

Also, it’s been said tons of times before, but if the Lexibook really was a reference book, it would have less summation and more page numbers. Reference books are, afterall, meant to reference back to the original material. So, it fails at that as well. It’s not fair use. Period.

Avatar Image says:


I read Elizabeth’s post too about the Lexicon probably having three out of the four fair use criteria on its side. Thanks for your additional info about “lawful” vs. “unlawful”.

One thing that gave me hope in this is when I read on Wikipedia about a case where a newspaper article printed only 300 words from Gerald Ford’s book, but it was ruled infringment because the words were ruled to be the “heart of the book”. What counts is the “amount and substantiality” taken.

So, RDR is arguing that the “purpose” criteria alone should outweigh the other three factors, while most sources argue that the courts consider all four fair use criteria to be complementary and generally a work that only fails one of the four criteria is considered to be non-infringing. However, this newspaper article example shows a work that actually DID have a transformative nature and probably only failed one of the four criteria, yet was still ruled to be infringing.

The only hangup is that RDR basically argued that their “purpose” was to copy, and the purpose should outweigh the amount taken. Ms. Cendali called it a “circular argument” in her closing statement.

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@ DorisCrockford: “Methuen is a publisher, so how does the RDR decision relate to Methuen’s publishing date? Is it simply a case of Methuen not wanting to publish something that was barred in another country and will most likely drag Methuen into court too, or is there some kind of complication/ownership issue with RDR?”

Short version: Methuen is a reputable publishing house that actually knows something about making and selling books – and not getting into legal hot water over copyright. They received a cease-and-desist order from JKR/WB’s attorneys, ordering them to stop publication of the UK edition of the Lexicon book. Unlike RDR, they were smart enough to comply with it.

Long version: If Methuen went ahead and published the book right now, JKR and WB could rightfully sue them – which would not only further postpone their publication date, but also cost them a small fortune in legal fees and possibly damage their good reputation. They know that the sane, intelligent choice is to just put the Lexicon on the back burner until the whole matter is settled. If I recall correctly, the equivalent concept of “Fair Use” in the UK is even more stringent than it is in the US, and JKR/WB would have an even better chance of winning if they sued Methuen in the UK. So Methuen are being very cooperative.

If there is a judgment in RDR’s favor, and RDR still wins on appeal, Methuen may yet publish the Lexicon. If JKR/WB win, Methuen can then sue (what’s left of) the pants off RDR for selling them the manuscript in bad faith – because I can’t imagine them buying the rights without Roger Rapoport’s iron-clad assurances that everything was kosher.

In the meantime, it is also in Methuen’s best interests to maintain an optimistic but subdued and noncommittal stance as far as publicity goes. Saying they’d like to be able to publish it this autumn helps them do just that; Peter Tummons managed to make a public statement on the matter that sounds positive about the book, but promises nothing, and at the same time neither cheers on Roger Rapoport nor says anything negative about JKR.

I’m sure Methuen would still like to publish the Lexicon – if they ever can – so they aren’t going to cancel publication until they know it’s absolutely impossible.

Avatar Image says:

These people are so annoying and pompous. I can’t wait to see their public comments when they lose the case.

Avatar Image says:

your right Black cat idid go a bit over board mcgonagal’s cat apologize for the name calling. Its just that this subject gets me so worked up as it does many others I must learn to copntrol my emotions better

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@ Monsieur T:

Thank you for your polite and thoughtful reply. I appreciate your points. You said “Actually, WB’s line-by-line analysis of quotation from the HP books was unrebutted.” I haven’t finished reading the transcripts yet, and I’m not a lawyer so I don’t know the legal meaning of “unrebutted.” I do recall reading on Day 1 testimony that Hammer went back and questioned JKR a bit on what she was calling “wholesale lifting” and he was pointing out that some of the phrases she called “copying” were in fact different in some way (some would probably say a slight way, but still different.)

My opinion that I stated earlier where I said I felt the whole book was original is based on what you said here: “Their main argument is that the very nature of a reference book requires extensive copying, although they could not prove this point with any real-world examples, so their extensive copying is fair use (i.e., the “purpose” criteria of fair use law outweighs the criteria regarding “amount taken”).” I agree with that argument. The Lexicon appears to me to be a reference book, not a novel. Therefore, to me, it is original. Again, only a layman reader’s opinion.

And when I was talking about Dean Jeri Johnson’s declaration being rude, I was referring to the personal comments she made about Steve and his writing ability. It had nothing to do with the “truth” of her analysis of what constitutes the definition of a reference book, so no, the “truth” doesn’t hurt. At my work, I would never in a million years put highly personal comments like the ones she used in a supposedly professional assessment.

You said: “I find this to be a dramatically different example than when RDR completely ignored WB’s legitimate requests to view the Lexicon manuscript, which were eventually enforced in the Discovery process.” Again, I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know how “legitimate” WB’s requests were to view the Lexicon manuscript. Was he legally required to turn them over just because they asked? Was it “rude” of him not to do so? Rapoport testified on Day 1 that it is not typically the habit of a publishing company to go around providing copies of their manuscripts to whomever asks for them. To me it seems rather like getting a warrant—if you want to see it, then file suit. Which of course WB did, and at which point Rapoport turned over the manuscript as he was legally required to do.

About WB pasting the maps and timelines and such from the Lexicon around their offices and using them… I understand that this is not a legal issue (at least, not at this point.) But I don’t agree with you that “There is no moral equivalence” though. If I were an employer such as WB, and I were using something to help me make money that someone naively did for free (such as Steve’s Lexicon), then I would feel a moral obligation to try to acknowledge or compensate him somehow for it. But that’s just me. And as I said, I was just musing about corporate mentalities, not commenting about the legality of it.

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@ mollywobbles23:

Regarding the issue of WB using the Lexicon’s maps and timelines and such in their offices, and David Heyman’s comment to Steve that the movie people used the Lexicon all the time, you said: “One has to take SVA’s word that producers actually said something like that. Sorry, but he’s been proven to not be an honest and honorable guy.”

Can you cite me the source for that proof? (Other than going by postings here on Leaky about his personal life, I mean.) In going over the testimony and information relevant to this case, I haven’t seen anything that proves he’s lied about anything to do with this case. He testified to the WB/Heyman thing under oath on the stand; I see no reason to disbelieve him, but if you know of a source I would be glad to hear it. I don’t know John Noe nor what you’re referring to (I assume PC is PotterCast?) but I don’t have a reason to disbelieve him either; perhaps he just didn’t hear all of Heyman’s conversation, though? Surely if Heyman definitely didn’t say that, then WB would have him up there on the stand denying everything Steve claimed, wouldn’t they? There DOES exist the note from Cheryl Klein of Scholastic (attachment 1 of SVA’s declaration), stating that Scholastic’s editorial staff used the Lexicon extensively, although I realize that’s not WB.

You also said “Reference books are, afterall, meant to reference back to the original material. So, it fails at that as well. It’s not fair use. Period.”

Again, in my opinion, the Lexicon book DOES reference back to the original material, with enough direction that I’m able to find what I’m looking for, even if that constitutes a new definition of “reference” for Dean Johnson. I do not require an exact page citation as you mention, and in fact would find the page citations probably so numerous that they’d be tedious. I’m not a judge, nor even a lawyer, though, so I would not presume to say “It is such-and-such, period” or “It is not such-and-such, period” because I think that will be up to the judge to say, and he himself has stated that this case is not cut-and-dried by any means in either direction. It is sort of in uncharted waters.

I can only speak as a reader of both the Harry Potter novels and of the Lexicon. I enjoy the novels, and I use the lexicon to help me enjoy the novels more. I would like to have both on my shelves, and I would pay for both, and I would like to have the choice to make up my own mind as to whether to purchase without JKR’s doing it for me by deciding that the Lexicon book isn’t “good enough.” Any suggestion that either one substitutes equally for the other is ridiculous to me. In my mind, they are both original, different pieces of work with different focuses and different purposes that happen to be based on the same material and thus necessarily share some similarities in wording.

I cannot help but think that if JKR would’ve just let this go by, any of the concerns she apparently has() would’ve been taken care of by natural economic process. The Lexicon would’ve probably enjoyed a very, very limited success being purchased only by, um, intense readers of the novels (read: geeks) like myself. It wouldn’t even approach the success of the Mugglenet book, because the tension and speculation about Book 7 that drove that book’s success is over. Since JKR’s Scottish book is at least a couple years away, and since those same “intense readers” would most likely (who are we kidding here?) also buy JKR’s book given that it will have all the new info only she can add, what is the harm, really, in allowing us few geeks the chance to have a ready reference book on our shelves to use in the meantime? It will be obsolete and fade into nothing as soon as the Scottish book comes out, we all know that, just like Mugglenet’s “What Will Happen?” book is now obsolete, while the Scottish book would be a permanent companion volume to the series just like “The Silmarillion” is for its series. (WB’s argument about the grandparent purchasing an encyclopedia for their grandkids who then won’t buy a second one is really reaching, in my opinion.) The whole thing would’ve been under the radar. If the Lexicon book is really as terrible as she says it is, then nobody will buy it anyway.

(Except, you’re right Monsieur T, it sounds very much as if JKR is concerned about Steve/RDR turning the tables on her and copyrighting the “format” of an encyclopedia and thus preventing her from writing her Scottish book. I can’t imagine how that could ever come about, but to me it is beginning to sound like almost the only reason why this case came to this point in the first place…)

Avatar Image says:

Hmmmm, guess this site doesn’t like asterisks. I meant for the last paragraph to refer back to the first sentence of the next-to-last paragraph. I had put an asterisk in those parentheses and again at the bottom… sorry.

Avatar Image says:

“I have no problem for Steve to make a little money from all the work he’s put into it collecting and categorizing the details from JKR’s books.”

Posted by McGonagall’s Cat on April 24, 2008 @ 11:14 PM

Allow me to introduce you to the many members of the Lexicon Website staff who have ALL contributed years of hard work to make the site- from which the material for the book was taken- what it is:

Steve Vander Ark- Editor in Chief, Primary Writer

Penny Linsenmayer- project management.

Michelle Worley- Senior Writer and Editor

Josh Santilli- Assistant Editor.

Lisa Bunker- Senior Writer

Belinda Hobbs- Editor.

John Karns- Information management, Cataloging and Indexing.

Clint Hagen- Latin Expert.

I’d appreciate if everyone stopped implying that the material from which the Lexicon manuscript was made was done only by Steve, thanks. It’s a disservice to the rest of the staff.

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Thanks for the list Hinoema. What I’d like to know is, will all these people be profiting from the book too?

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That question was asked of Roger Rapoport on Day 1 of the trial and you can find it on the transcripts. I believe he said that RDR’s contract was only with Steve Vander Ark, and that he could not say how the compensation was planned to be disseminated beyond that point because that was between Vander Ark and the other staff contributers.

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Yeah some stuff from leaky never appears on my RSS feed. But seriously the hard core fans are gonna boycott this anyway, dunno what that would make to the end up profit figures though

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well, $VA/RDR – we know your $ong!

Bloomsbury/Scholastic – can I make a suggestion? Why not make a Harry Potter Interactive Book – like the Dragonology books Have J.K.Rowlings help create it – and if the case looses, RELEASE IT on the same day the LexiGONE tries to capture the market.

Could be even a guide to Hogwarts – The book opens with a letter you pull out saying you have been accepted to Hogwarts, with a list of items you need for school. A Ticket for the Hogwarts express, textures of creatures from Hagrids Creature Class, Things like that. Would make the youth go wild for it, and instead of losing money – make competition SVA/RDR can’t compete with.

This way J.K.Rowlings has time to work on making a proper Scottish Book, the fans are happy, SVA/RDR do not make the sales they expected, they deal with protests, while a book like this would make it hard because you have published something so enticing and fun, no one would want the Lexi-GONE!

It’s a positive solution – because this case is going to be tied up in Court for a long period of time. Lawyers cost, Legal fees cost – it’s just an idea to make something positive when there is now so much negative energy out there. Creation has a way of blooming…

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