Ansley Asher

writing thoughts

J.K. Rowling in NY to testify in Harry Potter case

Via Ars Technica, Fairuse obliteratus: Rowling to testify in Harry Potter case:

Vander Ark is the main author of the online Harry Potter Lexicon…Rowling sued, claiming that a fan web site was one thing, but a complete paperback lexicon was another. Not only did she not want Vander Ark to profit from her work in this way, but Rowling made it clear that she had plans of her own to publish a lexicon.

Although [lexicons] have generally been considered a “transformative” use of an author’s work and world, Rowling is prepared to argue that the new lexicon does not, in fact, pass the fair use four-part test found in US copyright law.

Now comes the part where I am supposed to give my opinion, this being a blog and all. But I have to say I have none about this matter. Although I’m sure the outcome of the trial will affect similar rulings in the future, and I’d really like to form a solid opinion, I only have more questions. Why is the Lexicon targetted when there are other works derived from Harry Potter, as Ars Technica pointed out here:

Rowling complained, “It is not reasonable, or legal, for anybody, fan or otherwise, to take an author’s hard work, re-organize their characters and plots, and sell them for their own commercial gain. However much an individual claims to love somebody else’s work, it does not become theirs to sell.” That in itself is a highly suspect claim. The weirdest thing of all is that similar items to the Lexicon have already been on the market for years.

C.E. Petit at Scrivener’s Error writes:

…this is really an unfair competition and trademark suit more than it is a copyright suit… as I’ve asserted from the beginning. This isn’t the time or place for a long commentary, particularly not on a matter that is currently before the trial court.

That link in the quote is long but worth reading, especially if you have more than a passing interest in the case.

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2 Comments»

  Atika wrote @

Rowling, you are absolutely right. No one has right to use the creativity of some other person for some financial gain. As literature is an art in which only the author who has originally produced it can fill colours.

  ansleyasher wrote @

I feel now that I should have been more clear. Of course I am opposed to an author’s work being outright stolen. But I do believe that derivative works have a place. The questions I have are concerning that place. Which is why I find it interesting that Mr. Petit points out that in his opinion it’s a trademark suit (at least, the vibe I’m getting is that it’s his opinion only). I’ve read that this lexicon is mainly taking lots of tiny slices of Ms. Rowling’s work and reorganizing them, which makes it different than the other lexicons. I haven’t read the lexicon myself, though, so that makes me a poor source on the matter.


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