View Full Version : JK Rowling and the unofficial encyclopedia

03-01-2008, 09:40 PM
Harry Potter author JK Rowling said she would feel "exploited" if an unofficial reference book about the boy wizard was published, according to court papers.

The writer is taking legal action in New York against Steve Vander Ark and publisher RDR Books over their plans to release a Harry Potter encyclopaedia.

My question is... Do you think JKR has a case, or is she being over protective?



03-01-2008, 09:51 PM
Certainly she has a case, after all, the characters and world are hers, but... I see things like books about Star Trek, Star Wars, Buffy, etc. published without the creators writing things in them themselves. I don't know what the process the creators of those books go through to get rights to write about the series. But it seems to me that the fans of those series eat those type of books up, and if they're willing to pay for an unofficial fan version, they're certainly going to pay for the official author version, while other people are going only accept the author version. I honestly doubt there will be many people who will choose the unofficial version over hers.

But she definitely has a case, and every right to be annoyed, especially if she hasn't given her permission.

03-01-2008, 09:55 PM
I used to reference the HP Lexicon a lot when I did beta work for a girl who wrote HP fanfic. I was under the impression JK LIKED the Lexicon. I think she even approved use of timeline they created for the release of a bonus feature on a Harry Potter DVD... Or something to that effect. (I could be totally wrong on that point.) But I was always under the impression she thought the Lexicon was cool, and had even admitted to using it to check her OWN facts. I should look this up...

So, she's only pissed now that they want to go from an e-resource to a print one and start making more money? Seems kinda lame.

03-01-2008, 10:09 PM
Truthfully I'm not too worried about whether JKR feels exploited or not, because she can afford to buy entire continents if she wants to, but they're her characters and her world. Whoever wants to use 'em needs her approval and will probably have to pay for that privilege. They're not operating in some fantasy world where copyright and ownership have been forever vanquished by a powerful council of warlocks.


03-01-2008, 11:44 PM
Thing is, it's possible that Vander Ark may be operating within the scope of copyright.

Yes, an author owns the copyrights to their world and their character, however certain interpretations (such as satire or parody) is NOT copyright violation. Publishing encyclopedias such as this--which is a compliation of facts from an established world or series-- is one of the grey areas of copyright (to my understanding of said laws).

If I understand it correctly, that's really what the case is about. Rowling (and probably Warner Bros) wants copyright to be defined as more limited to restrict such publications. Problem is, there is no hard and fast legal ruling. This may well be a landmark case.

Even if it is, honestly, it's not very newsworthy since most people don't give two whits for copyright infractions. However throw in the subject matter and the fact it started out as a fan site and suddenly people are noticing and taking sides and she makes the headlines again.

03-01-2008, 11:59 PM
JKR does like the Lexicon. It's an awesome ressource about Harry Potter. But I'd be pissed too if someone was trying to make money out of stuff I worked hard to come up with! There's no need for the Lexicon to go into print except making money out of the Harry Potter books.
Books like Mugglenet's are fine because they are presenting new material and ideas about HP but just compiling the info? It doesn't feel right.

03-02-2008, 12:16 AM
I really think JK is just stepping toes. She's already so insanely tremendously successful and rich.. if my writing could be as famous and prosperous as hers, you could shoot me in the face and I'd still be happy.

03-02-2008, 01:05 AM
Hum. Then I want to start a class action suit again Webster and the likes for putting togather a dictionary. These are words that do not belong to only them. Who do they think they are? I want my cut. ;)

What about all the other research things out there? It's not like they are writing an extension of her stories. This may be interesting to follow and see what turns out. IMHO

Rolling Thunder
03-02-2008, 01:28 AM
I think he's standing on weak ground by asserting his right (and his publisher's right) to printing an encyclopedia when he makes this statement:

Q: Your spell lists and character biographies are incredible. I have a web site of my own. May I copy your stuff and put it on my site?

A:Thanks for the compliment. I compile and write this for my own enjoyment and part of that enjoyment is knowing that others find it interesting and enjoyable too. And I understand that you'd really love to have the kind of quality work you find in the Lexicon for your own site. However, I don't give permission for people to just copy my work for their own use. Not only is that illegal, since everything in the Lexicon is copyrighted, it's also just plain wrong. Hey, I did all the work, I put in all the time, it's my skill and talent in this area which allowed the Lexicon to come into being. No one else has the right to use my work. The Lexicon is the only place on the web where Lexicon content may be displayed.


It's about the money, not about the fans.