Thursday, April 17, 2008

Harry Potter in the News Again


Have you been reading about the latest troubles for Harry Potter? J. K. Rowling has been in court all week, suing for copyright and trademark violations over the publication of the Harry Potter Lexicon, an A - Z companion to the novels. In this article from the Guardian, J. K. Rowling explains why she is so upset over this book: "Rowling and Warners argue that publication of the Harry Potter Lexicon, an A-Z companion to the novels from RDR Books, infringes her copyright. Rowling adds that the Lexicon would pre-empt plans for her own Potter encyclopedia, the proceeds of which she would donate to charity - though she is unwilling to say when such a work would be written or published."

Now, I'm not an author. If I was, I, too, would probably be upset over someone else trying to cash in on MY work. And face it. There are lots of people that would love to cash in on a bit of the Harry Potter bucks.


But I have to say, I actually feel a bit sorry for Steven Vander Ark. Mr. Vander Ark is the epitome of a fan. He loves Harry Potter. In 2000, he created a Harry Potter Lexicon fansite. A fansite that Rowling herself gave a "fansite award" to. In fact, she admitted "that she sometimes used it to check facts while writing. Vander Ark received a note from Scholastic thanking him for the assistance the site provided in the editing of the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Warners also flew him to the UK premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." But when RDR books announced they were taking the fansite and publishing it, the lawsuits started flying.


Aren't there lots of books out there that use the Harry Potter name? If you look on Amazon, there are tons of books that are 'references' to the Harry Potter books. And I don't see Rowling suing any of them. Maybe it's me....but for some reason this bothers me. Steven Vander Ark is a huge FAN of the books. He loves Harry Potter. The poor guy was in tears in court. (For the record, he isn't being sued, RDR books is). In a second article in the Guardian, Vander Ark says, "It's been ... it's been," he stammered, barely able to talk. "It's been difficult because there has been a lot of criticism, and that was never the intention."

There has been a lot of criticism, much of it from Rowling herself who laid into Vander Ark in her evidence. If you had been accused, as Vander Ark was on Monday, by the creator of a series of books that had dominated your life for the past nine years, of laziness, sloppiness, inaccuracy, plagiarism, theft, pilfering and plundering, wouldn't you burst into tears?


Like I said, I feel rather bad for the guy. I do understand Rowling wanting to maintain Harry Potter's integrity. He is, after all, her creation. But this really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Any thoughts?

14 comments:

Chris said...

oh my my...I can see both sides of this argument. I had heard awhile back that she had plans to release a definitive guide to the series, but that guy poured everything into this and she turned to HIM for help for her own book for crying out loud. Sheesh...I wouldn't want to be the judge seeing over this case. Drama, drama...

Amy said...

It seems to me that we are always hearing about one lawsuit or another with her.

It leaves a bad taste in my mouth, as well, and I prefer not to think about it.

Stephanie said...

Chris - I know. I agree. I do see both sides to the story. I would hate to have my characters "ripped off". But I really don't think this is the case here. I'm not really sure why this bothers me so much when I read it.

Nymeth said...

That's a tricky situation...like you, I feel bad for the guy, but I also see her side. She has made it widely known that she intends to write her own encyclopaedia, and you'd think the guy would approach her or her publishers to make sure it was okay to publish the book. On the other hand, he's a fan, and you're right that there are dozens of other books about Harry Potter out there... it really is an unpleasant situation.

Stephanie said...

Amy - Thanks for stopping by. I really do get trying to protect your work. But this just seems a bit off for me.

Stephanie said...

Nymeth - I guess my point IS the fact that there are tons of books out there related to Harry Potter. This guy is such a fan. He's spent the last 8 years devoting himself to being a fan. It just doesn't seem right somehow.

Rhinoa said...

I think the difference was when it was an online resource the guy wasn't making any money off it so it wasn't a threat to her. If it is published and she planned on releasing her own version then of course it becomes a problem for JK.

Kim L said...

I have to agree with you, I think it is too bad that he was such a big fan and is now getting sued by someone he admired quite a bit. Even though I can totally understand why she doesn't want him to publish an encyclopedia before she gets hers written.

Ladytink_534 said...

I'm with you all the way. They should just drop the case and collaborate and then everybody can be happy.

DesLily said...

rhinoa has one major fact..Rowlings couldn't "go after" anyone who isn't making money from HER creations.. "making money" are the key words here.

I totally know how she would feel though about someone using her characters, her ideas..

on the other hand..she is not richer than the Queen! and sympathies go out to the underdog all the time..

The fact he went ahead and had something published sorta shows he didn't (and those surrounding him) check all the laws.. not a good place to be.

Carl V. said...

I feel bad for the guy himself. I had read somewhere that it was really not his idea at all to publish it and that he made the company who published it sign something that they would cover all legal costs and penalties if something like this happened. I hope that is true as it sounds like he figured that this was a possibility. I'm sure she's in the right as far as protecting her copyright and yet I'm not sure why she has to be so damn melodramatic about the thing or why she has to treat that guy as an individual so poorly. That is all badly done on her part. She should act like a professional and not like a child. I don't buy all the arguments over how devastated emotionally she is over this work being out. She loved it when it was online, so the only thing that has changed is that someone else is making money off of it. Her anger is justified. Her "emotional trauma" is bullshit in my opinion...it much ado about money and it is sad that she has to be so dramatic about that. It isn't costing her anything. If her and her publishers had any sense at all they would have cashed in themselves on the popularity of this website and saw the potential for money in it and made a deal with this guy to give him some money for his efforts and would have published the book themselves. It all seems like sour grapes to me.

Lisa said...

I can also see both sides of the issue to a point. But, I guess the law will have to make a ruling. Does his work actually violate copyright? If not, she needs to just get over it. If so, she has a valid case. However, I think she's doing more to hurt her case than help it by this lawsuit. The lexicon would not keep people from reading the actual books. It's something that could actually add to the enjoyment of the books. I think she'd been better off to let it go.

valentina said...

I used to really admire JK Rowling for creating such a great series of books and getting so many people to read. But now, after all this, I feel let down by her.
Maybe the law would be on her side, but I think she could have just avoided all this.
She made millions with Harry Potter, not just with the books.Films, gadgets, etc.. Her name is firmly linked to the Harry Potter brand and nobody could take that away from her.
Now, only because she wants to publish a HP encyclopedia, and someone else got there first, she gets all upset.
Does she thinks that this guy can really threaten her sales?
Is it really a matter of principles? I don't think so.
It seems to me like a petty argument, which she could have done without.

naida said...

hi, I just blogged about this too.
I dont see what the big deal is since there are other HP related books out there too. The Lexicon is one of my fav sites, if they published it, I'd buy a copy.
But I also see where Rowling is coming from, she doesnt want others cashing in on her work.

http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/