Tuesday, April 15, 2008

“Wholesale Theft,” Charges Rowling

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was in court in New York yesterday, hot on the heels of a Michigan-based company that is trying to publish an encyclopedia based on the magical world Rowling has created. According to The New York Times:
Ms. Rowling and Warner Brothers Entertainment, which produces the Harry Potter films, are suing RDR Books, a small Michigan publisher, to stop the publication of Steven Vander Ark’s “Harry Potter Lexicon,” an encyclopedia based on Mr. Vander Ark’s popular Web site of the same name.

Ms. Rowling argued on Monday in Federal District Court in Manhattan that the proposed encyclopedia -- she has read the manuscript -- is a copyright infringement and is little more than an alphabetical form of plagiarism.
RDR Books, of course, has a different take on the matter:
What she denounced as plagiarism and a waste of money, the publisher defended as literary scholarship and an invaluable tool for Harry Potter readers, similar to a Shakespeare concordance, the Encyclopedia Britannica, the dictionary and other reference books. Ms. Rowling said the manuscript was “sloppy, lazy,” riddled with errors and motivated by the publisher’s and author’s realization that it could bring “a fast buck.”
Though aspects of the proceedings are quite serious, some fictional silliness was bound to sneak in here and there:
Everyone except Ms. Rowling seemed to be competing for the wittiest Harry Potter references.

When her lawyer, Dale Cendali, spoke Lord Voldemort’s name -- known to everyone who has ever read a Potter book as “he who must not be named” -- she quickly said, “Forgive me for speaking the name.”

And Mr. Falzone, the defense lawyer, suggested in his opening statement that Ms. Rowling was trying to exert a bit of the dark arts herself, by testing whether she “has the power to make the Lexicon disappear from our world.”
The case, which is likely to run all week, is being heard by U.S. District Court Judge Robert P. Patterson without a jury.

The New York Times piece is here. Hecklerspray gets a bit fun and silly here, while The Scotsman offers up just the facts here.



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