p2pnet news | Freedom:- The Stanford Law School’s Fair Use Project is acting for RDR Books in the copyright lawsuit lodged by Harry Potter author JK Rowling and Warner Bros against a small online publisher.
“The Harry Potter Lexicon – This is such a great site that I have been known to sneak into an internet cafÃ© while out writing and check a fact rather than go into a bookshop and buy a copy of Harry Potter (which is embarrassing). A website for the dangerously obsessive; my natural home.”
The quote came on the official JK Rowling site, p2pnet posted in February.
And that was strange, we noted, because billionairess Rowling said she’d feel ‘exploited’ if the online Harry Potter Lexicon, an unofficial reference guide to the Potter series, is published as a book.
Now a federal court in New York will today hear opening arguments that independent book publisher Steve Vander Ark (right) has the right to publish his Lexicon, says Stanford.
This decision, “could have a far-reaching impact on the literary landscape, and beyond, to discussions of any fictional work in any medium,” says professor says Lawrence Lessig, founder and director of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society and the C. Wendell and Edith M. Carlsmith professor of law, who’s co-counsel on the case.
“It’s essential for copyright law to leave room for others to build on creative works. That’s the point of fair use.”
‘Actually a big fan …’
But Rowling, “is eager to tell a judge this week that one of her biggest fans is in fantasyland if he believes a ‘Harry Potter’ encyclopedia he plans to publish does not violate her copyrights,” says the Associated Press, going on:
“The showdown between Rowling and Steven Vander Ark is scheduled to last most of the week in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
“Rowling is scheduled to testify Monday in a trial that is sure to generate huge interest among Harry Potter fans and the public, says AP.
“Her lawyer has arranged with the judge to have a private security guard for Rowling in the courtroom and for the author to spend breaks in the seclusion of a jury room – away from any die-hard Potter fans in attendance.”
Rowling is, “actually a big fan of the Harry Potter Lexicon Web site that Vander Ark runs,” the stor states, going on, “But she draws the line when it comes to publishing the book and charging $24.95. She also says it fails to include any of the commentary and discussion that enrich the Web site and calls it “nothing more than a rearrangement” of her own material.
Rowling lawyer Dan Shallman says Rowling, “feels like her words were stolen.”
‘ … asserting a startling claim …’
Attorneys from the Fair Use Project of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, along with co-counsel, will argue RDR Books has the right to publish the Lexicon under the fair use doctrine.
“The doctrine safeguards the use of copyrighted material so long as it is used transformatively and does not damage the market value of the original work,” it says.
“J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. are asserting a startling claim,” says said Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project and counsel on the case. “The right to create literary reference guides like the Lexicon has remained nearly unquestioned for hundreds of years. The Lexicon is a valuable resource that helps people better understand and enjoy the Harry Potter books.”
And that’s exactly what copyright law should encourage, not suppress, Falzone states.
He and Fair Use Project associate director Julie Ahrens join RDR’s lead trial counsel David S. Hammer, a former federal prosecutor, and RDR counsel Lizbeth Hasse, founding partner of the San Francisco-based Creative Industry Law Group.
“All of the material that’s going to be published in the Lexicon has been available on the Harry Potter Lexicon website for a long time without objection from Ms. Rowling or anyone else,” says Hammer.
“To suggest that the Lexicon might affect the market for a companion guide Ms. Rowling plans to publish some day, perhaps years from now, is inconceivable given her stature and reputation.”
Posted Vander Ark in February >>>
Last night I finished entering Quidditch Through the Ages into the Portkey database. That’s the last of the books to be entered, so now the Portkey covers all seven novels and the two Schoolbooks, as well as all the Famous Wizard cards. Surprisingly, there was actually an earthquake just a few moments after I entered the last part of the book into the Portkey. Kind of made it feel like a momentous occasion.
The Daily Prophet newsletters are next. The first issue is partly entered already. I think I’ll do some non-Portkey work on the Reader’s Guides first, though. There are a lot of chapters that have no commentary yet. Just remember, Reader’s Guide commentary automatically appears in the Portkey entries for the passages from the books, just another example of how the Portkey pulls everything in the Lexicon together in one easy-to-use research tool.
Harry Potter ‘rip off’
There are currently L’EncyclopÃ©die Harry Potter (in French) and El Diccionario de los Magos (en EspaÃ±ol) and “coming soon,” Russian, Chinese, Dutch, Hebrew, Italian, Arabic, Portuguese, and Hungarian versions of the Lexicon, promises Vander Ark.
But not in book form, declare Rowling and Warner.
“I believe that RDR’s book constitutes a Harry Potter ‘rip off’ of the type I have spent years trying to prevent, and that both I, as the creator of this world, and fans of Harry Potter, would be exploited by its publication,” Reuters has her saying.
RDR Books had planned to release the Lexicon in the United States on November 28, 2007.
The 400-page book is a print counterpart to the fan-created website, the Harry Potter Lexicon, which includes information on the series’ characters, places, animals, magic spells, and potions along with atlases, timelines, and analyses of magical theory.
The site has an estimated 25 million annual visitors and content is free.
“The importance of this case goes beyond the world of Harry Potter and its fans,” says the Stanford Project.:
The case, Warner Bros. Entertainment In. et al v RDR Books et al, is being heard by Judge Patterson at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse in New York.
Fair Use Project – Stanford Law School’s Fair Use Project Defends RDR Books Against Copyright Lawsuit Brought by J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros, April 14, 2008
p2pnet – JK Rowling vs The Harry Potter Lexicon, February 29, 2008
Associated Press – Harry Potter Author Goes to Court, April 14, 2008
Reuters – J.K. Rowling says rival Potter book would exploit her, February 28, 2008
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