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Nov. 1st, 2007

Praetorian Guard
Heh. I meant to post this publicly the first time, but I had to go to a meeting, so I let my flist play with it first. And then my flist posted all sorts of comments they didn't want made public, so let's try this again, shall we?

Oh, fandom.

In case you’re living under a rock or in a cave or with a media-shunning hermit sort, yesterday J. K. Rowling and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. filed a lawsuit against RDR Books and several John/Jane Does based on a book that Steve Vander Ark, publisher of the Harry Potter Lexicon, is putting together based on the HP series.

This is where all of you stop reading and start yelling about how JKR’s greedy or Steve’s arrogant or OMG MY FANFIC. But you know, fandom, you ought not because you don’t have all the facts yet. So shush, and and let's play fandom lawyer, shall we?

First, because lawyers always start with the facts, may it please the fandom, some actual facts:

(Incidentally, I have the complaint filed in the Southern District of New York. This isn’t conjecture so much as reporting.)

According to the complaint – and this is difficult to verify because RDR has refused, apparently several times over, to provide a copy to the plaintiffs – RDR is scheduled to publish a book version of the Harry Potter Lexicon on November 28 (and November 5 in the UK, which is Monday). Rights have already been sold, according to the complaint, which cites RDR’s website, in England, France, Canada and Australia.

Alleged in the complaint is that the book is an encyclopedia, not a compendium of critical essays. It is apparently 400 pages of lists of characters, spells, locations and so forth. Remember that because it’s important. Remember, too, that this is only accurate so far as JKR/WB know; RDR has refused to provide a copy of the book.

September 12, 2007: JKR’s agent e-mailed SVA and RDR and raised the issue.

September 18, 2007: No response from SVA/RDR, so JKR/WB’s lawyer sent a letter to SVA/RDR citing law.

September 18, 2007: SVA told JKR’s agent he “[had] been asked to leave all correspondence on the matter to others.”

September 19, 2007: RDR gives the standard cease and desist reply: We’re looking into it.

October 3, 2007: No other answer from SVA/RDR, so JKR/WB’s lawyers again wrote to RDR. RDR responded that they had had a death in their president’s family and asked for more time. JKR/WB granted it.

October 11, 2007: RDR sent a cease and desist letter to WB claiming that a timeline used in some of the HP DVDs infringed the Lexicon. WB gave the standard cease and desist reply: We’re looking into it. [Also, largely irrelevant, but in the complaint: WB asked for a “print version” of the Lexicon as part of its evaluation of RDR’s claim. RDR’s response: “If you do not know how to print that material please ask one of your people to show you how.”]

October 19, 2007: JKR/WB’s lawyer wrote RDR again asking for a substantive response. RDR gave the standard cease and desist response: We’re looking into it.

October 23, 2007: JKR’s agent learned that RDR was actively selling rights to the book in Germany and Taiwan.

October 24, 2007: JKR/WB’s lawyer wrote RDR again, this time with a response deadline of October 29, 2007.

October 24, 2007: RDR replied to JKR/WB’s lawyer, saying that the “Plaintiffs’ ‘unwarranted’ objections were not appreciated” (quote from complaint) and that the book was a print version of the Lexicon, which JKR had approved in the past, and that there are other similar books out other already. [Also, largely irrelevant, but interesting language about JKR permitted some fan sites certain latitude to make use of her material and stating -- this is the interesting part -- that those sites are generally free to the public and exist to enable fans to communicate, rather than to turn a profit.]

Presumably, October 29 came and went without RDR providing a copy of the book to JKR/WB’s lawyer. Remember, the UK publication date is Monday. Hence, lawsuit.

------------------------

And on to the legal issues:

To me, this is a slam-dunk win for JKR/WB, assuming that the book really is an encyclopedia. (Again, it may not be. RDR won’t produce it, and since they won’t produce it, JKR/WB had to file suit to be able to subpoena it.)

SVA took material entirely owned and created by JKR, rearranged it into resource format, and is publishing it. There doesn’t seem to be any additional content, no critical essays, no mythology background, nothing that you usually see in guides – just JKR’s material rearranged into a new format. (JKR/WB are also complaining about the proposed title, The Harry Potter Lexicon, as a trademark infringement because it doesn’t bear a disclaimer and people will likely think that JKR endorsed it. Also, likely, a slam-dunk because it is confusing. The standard here is not whether a super-knowledgeable HP fan is confused; the standard is whether a standard bookstore-goer would be confused.)

Presumably, it’s being published for profit, though frankly, whether it’s published as a fundraiser for a charity or for him isn’t really relevant to the law, though perhaps it is to JKR/WB. They certainly harp on that a lot in the complaint, and the line for them seems to be that the Lexicon website was provided for free to fans, while the book will bear a price.

Note: The Lexicon makes money, at the very least through advertising revenue – just like a million other HP sites. The key here for JKR/WB seems to be that the Lexicon is available free to use, while the book won’t be.

I know you’re all out there thinking that RDR had a point in its final letter to JKR/WB’s lawyer: this is just a print version of the website and there are other books out there like this. What’s the problem?

The problem for JKR/WB on the print vs. website issue seems to be two-fold. First, the website is available free to fans; the book is not (and coincidentally, makes money for SVA/RDR). Second, JKR’s publishing an encyclopedia, and unsurprisingly, she doesn’t want two out there.

[Side note: Does this make her a greedy bitch? Eh, that’s an ethical determination and I’m not an ethicist. I do, however, tend not to have the same issues with people protecting their intellectual property that fandom tends to.]

Frankly, on the issue of whether there are other books out there, SVA/RDR crossed a huge line on this one, legally, again assuming this is an encyclopedia. The guides out there tend to be explanatory and/or critical (etymology of spells, mythology and folklore, critical examinations). There’s substantial, new content, and JKR’s material is kept to a minimum – only enough to examine. Could she have blocked some of those? Probably. But in the case of a fan-produced encyclopedia, absolutely. An encyclopedia doesn’t incorporate new content, just the original author’s, rearranged. It’s the equivalent of creating a trivia book based on the HP series, and I’ve been telling you how infringing that is for years. ;)

There are some pretty bright lines here: a book created entirely of copyrighted content, a book published for profit, a great set of facts whereby the defendant ignores and insults the plaintiffs. I’m honestly not sure JKR/WB could have asked for a better case to test the water – and in this one, she has a definite interest in pursuing this legally because of her upcoming encyclopedia.

Before moving on to “Why Lawyers Don’t Suck as Much as You Think They Do”, let’s clear up a few rumors that are floating around.

The other HP guide books donate their proceeds to charity.
What? Where the hell did this rumor start because it’s categorically untrue. I know of one guide that donated its proceeds to charity – and I work with these authors a lot as part of Narrate’s conferences. Please stop repeating this because it’s really just wrong – and at this point, donating the proceeds to charity probably wouldn’t be enough for SVA/RDR to get JKR/WB to call off the dogs anyway.

Melissa Anelli’s book is threatened.
/:) Again, not true. My understanding of Melissa’s book is that it’s about the Great Summer of HP, or whatever we’re calling it, not recategorizing JKR’s material into a reference guide.

The Lexicon is going to close down.
Not by order of JKR/WB or a court injunction, at least not yet. The complaint specifically exempts the website.

But JKR approved the Lexicon! She gave it an award!
But she didn’t give them the right to publish an entirely derivative work of her material. (And really, wasn’t that, like, three years ago or something?) There might be a question here as to whether she abandoned her right to go after it impliedly, but that’s not a winner for the defense. Abandonment is really hard to prove in copyright (you pretty much have to say “I hereby abandon...”) and to prove abandonment for a for-profit book based on a free-to-use website is pretty much a non-starter.

Steve was saying at Prophecy that he asked JKR if he could publish the Lexicon and she told him no.
I... have no idea. Not a clue. The complaint doesn’t allege that JKR or anyone else contacted SVA or RDR that far back, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t. I have had someone who was at Prophecy tell me this is true, but whether it was eyewitness knowledge or hearsay, I have no idea. *shrug*

MY FANFIC! OMG MY FANFIC!
Yeah, I don’t know about your fanfic. An encyclopedia is a million miles away from a fanfic, but this case may also turn – easily – into something that does impact what fans may and may not do with intellectual property. It’s much too early to tell.

------------------

And just because this always bugs me: Why Lawyers Don’t Suck as Much as You Think They Do

JKR/WB’s lawyers most certainly did not run off without permission and start something. Don’t blame this on the lawyers, fandom, because we don’t get to do anything without our clients’ prior approval. If JKR sued someone, she had to give her express approval not only of the suit, but of the contents of the complaint. So don’t go blaming the lawyers or even WB.

And please don’t start with the “they just jumped directly to a lawsuit, they didn’t even give Steve a chance” nonsense. Even if the timeline alleged in the complaint weren’t given – and by the way, facts must be alleged with particularity under the penalty of perjury, so don’t be thinking JKR/WB are making this up – lawyers never jump directly to court. I send all sorts of cease and desist letters; the public just never sees them because they aren’t any of the public’s business. Half the leverage of a cease and desist, especially in a case like this, is that you won’t file and the public won’t see what you’ve done. Almost all lawyers want to handle things amicably.

And man, the first publication date is Monday. How long did you want them to wait?

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Where am I on this? I think JKR/WB have a slam-dunk case, I think RDR/SVA handed them a slam-dunk set of damning facts, and I think that half the reason that JKR/WB took this case to court was the combination of the slam-dunk law and the slam-dunk set of facts. They’ve probably been considering this for years, and RDR/SVA were kind enough to set themselves right in the rifle sites.

Incidentally, while I was verbosely typing all this out earlier today, TLC got a good chunk of the complaint up. Here: http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/2007/11/1/j-k-rowling-updates-companion-books-article

Comments

( 139 comments — Leave a comment )
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longtimegone
Nov. 1st, 2007 10:28 pm (UTC)
Nice post. I would sympathize with Steve if it weren't for the following things

1) JKR hadn't stated she was going to publish an encyclopedia of her own
2) His material wasn't (or apparently wasn't. since they won't release it) basically a complete repackaging of facts from the already published books, taken from a free to the public site for SVA/RDR to profit from
3) had there not been that report from Prophecy of him saying they told him no and yet he's doing it anyway.

I have used the Lexicon many times, and met Steve once. I wish him no ill will, but I can totally see why they have sued, and agree that JKR has the upper hand in this by all rights.
praetorianguard
Nov. 1st, 2007 10:38 pm (UTC)
Hey, thanks. This is one of those days when I just want to sit everyone down and explain IP law. And then I get all wordy. :))

The real slam-dunk part for me is the no new content. Lots of guides have been published without a problem, but they've got other content in them.

And actually -- and this isn't public knowledge -- this isn't the first time JKR's said no to an encyclopedia. I had a friend who approached JKR's agents with a completed manuscript and was told, "hell, no, absolutely not." This isn't a new line for her.
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purpleink
Nov. 1st, 2007 10:58 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. I guess one of the things that bugs me is the 'but I've put all this time into re-sorting and organizing all these facts--I should be able to sell my format!' kind of mentality...which is...uh, NO.

Other things bug me about this, but I'll leave it at that.

In fact, pretty much the only thing like about all this is this post. The voice of reason and clarity reigns. ♥
praetorianguard
Nov. 1st, 2007 11:04 pm (UTC)
:)) Thanks. I am going to go buy myself a shirt that says "The voice of reason and clarity" and wear it when I'm feeling wanky!

And well, that mentality. I know that mentality. I work with people of that mentality. "You can't tank my deal! I worked so hard on that deal!" And well, sadly, your deal is illegal, I'm sorry. See, it works in sales and distribution, too!
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macshel
Nov. 1st, 2007 11:14 pm (UTC)
THANK YOU for posting this explanation and your opinion on the entire case. When I heard it this morning I was not at all surprised -- and I too think she would win this hands down. I do not see this as the big, bad corporation going after the little guy at all.
praetorianguard
Nov. 1st, 2007 11:18 pm (UTC)
Oh, you're welcome. I'm always glad when I have all this useless knowledge rolling around and people actually want it. ;)
frayer
Nov. 1st, 2007 11:47 pm (UTC)
Wow. This is all fascinating. I love your posts on this sort of thing. They're like an oasis of logic in a desert of wank.

I am going to be watching this one with amusment. They must have one awesome ace in the hole to do something quite as stupid as thumbing their nose at Time-Warner and JKR.
praetorianguard
Nov. 1st, 2007 11:52 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks.

And really, you'd think, right? Because I can't imagine what on earth would prompt this: http://www.rdrbooks.com/lexicon_info.html
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vivien529
Nov. 2nd, 2007 01:35 am (UTC)
I glanced over the news about this yesterday and thought, "...How on earth could anyone think it would be fine to put out an unauthorized encyclopedia with just the author's content?!?" I personally don't think JKR is being either greedy or horrible; she's protecting her future announced project.

Thanks for the legal, logical point of view.
praetorianguard
Nov. 2nd, 2007 07:34 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. I know this is foreign -- or worse, buried in confusion -- for most people, partly because it's a pretty complicated point of law (at least, it would have been if I'd bothered to run through the whole fair use analysis), but partly because, whee, internet lawyerz. I'm glad I could help. :)
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rfachir
Nov. 2nd, 2007 01:51 am (UTC)
So you'll post when the His Dark Materials Lexicon is up? Or published?
praetorianguard
Nov. 2nd, 2007 07:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, wait, there's still an opening for that? *gets right on it* ;)
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innostrantsa
Nov. 2nd, 2007 10:01 am (UTC)
God damn I love your lawyerly explanations. They actually Make Sense.
praetorianguard
Nov. 2nd, 2007 07:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :)

And ha. They make up for all the times when I Make No Sense Whatsoever!
jonquil
Nov. 2nd, 2007 06:29 pm (UTC)
Well done. Thank you.
praetorianguard
Nov. 2nd, 2007 07:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you -- and you're welcome!
roadnotes
Nov. 2nd, 2007 07:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this lucid explanation.
praetorianguard
Nov. 2nd, 2007 07:36 pm (UTC)
You're quite welcome. I'm really glad you found it lucid; I'm always worried about being able to explain the law well to non-lawyers. :)
qwyneth
Nov. 2nd, 2007 07:18 pm (UTC)
THANK YOU! You absolutely hit the nail on the head. I'm not an attorney, but I used to work as a paralegal in IP. This whole thing has irritated the hell out of me, because it's so clear to me that JKR/WB is rightly defending their copyrights/trademarks. And the babble on RDR's website is just...beyond ridiculous.

Anyway, thank you. :) Was linked to you by pegkerr, but I've read several intelligent posts by you before so I hope you don't mind if I friend.
praetorianguard
Nov. 2nd, 2007 07:38 pm (UTC)
You're quite welcome! I'm definitely quite surprised to hear that RDR is not only pushing their position, but posting some pretty inflammatory things. Maybe they have a smoking gun.

Not at all. :) At least, not so long as you don't mind if I friend you back!
rachet
Nov. 2nd, 2007 07:29 pm (UTC)
Hey there. Newbie to your journal but know your LJ name well. :-D

Anyway, thanks for this post. It was good to hear a lawyer's version, finally.

I do not know Steve personally but I've used the Lexicon so many times that I think a book would actually be overkill. I hate to see this happen to him but...uh...it seems so cut and dry that I'm shocked he's even fighting this. I have to side with JKR.

Again, thanks for your thoughts on the matter. Nice to see someone write about it without getting all OHMYGODZOINKS emotional.
praetorianguard
Nov. 2nd, 2007 07:39 pm (UTC)
Hey. I know your lj name well, too, so we can be a mutual knowing society. :)

*nods* Perhaps they have some fantastic, cut-and-dried permission e-mail from JKR or something, because yeah, I'm not sure why they're fighting this so hard -- and so rudely. If I were that publisher's lawyer, I'd take his internet access away. :))

You're welcome. And thanks for reading and commenting!
bloodrebel333
Nov. 2nd, 2007 11:36 pm (UTC)
Ah, thank you for the good explanation.
praetorianguard
Nov. 3rd, 2007 01:11 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. Thanks for reading it!
alfreda89
Nov. 3rd, 2007 01:59 am (UTC)
Good heavens.
Thank you for the intelligent and brief (Yes, it was -- I've seen the legal versions of these things...) explanation. I also found out via pegkerr and unfortunately I can believe this. It's boggling that no one said: "You have their permission in a legal document, don't you?"

Although I am a writer and have arm-wrestled my own versions of copyright paragraphs, I've actually seen this behavior in the software industry. When some middle managers desperately wanted their product to go out in a PC version as well as the Linux and other big-system things it worked on. The bosses said no.

So what do they do? They do it anyway. I have no idea why they still work in the software industry -- it was theft of intellectual property. But it was like the Regency -- they had to "rusticate" in the country a while, until the scandal blew over.

Idiots.
praetorianguard
Nov. 3rd, 2007 01:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Good heavens.
*dies* There might be some "rusticating" here, too, in the end.

And I totally agree. If this had been my client, I would have wanted an original, signed, sealed and delivered document from both JKR and WB saying, "No, really, please, we meant it, do go ahead."
ellid
Nov. 3rd, 2007 03:15 am (UTC)
Thank you for a lucid, clearly-argued explanation of what's going on. You've given me much food for thought.

I wonder though - I'm all but certain that there've been unauthorized things like this for other works (like Tolkien and particularly Star Trek). Was the old Tolkien Encyclopedia authorized or not? It's been thirty years since I had a copy and I'm not sure, but I don't recall Christopher Tolkien having any input. Is this a unique situation? I'm genuinely curious at this point.

Also, RDR's blather gives me a headache. :p
praetorianguard
Nov. 3rd, 2007 01:16 pm (UTC)
You're quite welcome. :)

I don't know off the top of my head. (I'm such a bad, pedestrian Tolkien fan. It's embarrassing!) My guess is that it was probably the estate's choice not to proceed, either directly by granting permission or indirectly by ignoring it .

:)) RDR's blather makes me laugh. I told someone yesterday that, if they were my client, I would have taken their internet connection away. Based on the new article on TLC, someone should have taken the phone, too.
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moonshayde
Nov. 3rd, 2007 03:18 am (UTC)
I don't usually post in journals of people I don't know, but I really wanted to commend you on taking law terminology and wording it into language that those of us not in the profession can understand. Not only that, you kept it as factual as possible and clearly stated where your opinions came into play.

Thank you very much.
praetorianguard
Nov. 3rd, 2007 01:17 pm (UTC)
Oh hell, thank you. I'm an in-house lawyer, so instead of talking to lawyers all day, I talk to business guys all day, so there's no higher compliment to my lawyering than that I can take high legal concepts and make them understood by non-lawyers. So really, thank you.

And you're quite welcome. :)
clair_de_lalune
Nov. 3rd, 2007 03:27 am (UTC)
Sorry for crashing your LJ - I got here through a complicated series of links about this story...

Anyway, what you wrote was very interesting, but I have a couple of questions, if you're inclined to answer:

1) Why would there be a difference between a free website and a for-profit book? Isn't it true that it would be just as much of a copyright infringement to post all of the "Harry Potter" books online, for all to read for free, as it would be to copy the books and sell them for profit? JKR, obviously, never would have given permission for the books to be posted online; however, her permission for the HP Lexicon website to post the content it does can be inferred by her endorsement of the site through her fansite award and her comments about having used it herself. Furthermore, the content of the HP Lexicon is monitored and the site has previously complied with requests from the publisher about copyrighted material, such as with the RAB leak. So, if SVA has permission to use the content he has on the website that might otherwise infringe copyright, does he not have general permission to use it for any purpose?

2) How much copyrighted content crosses the line into infringement? The HP Lexicon categorizes pretty much everything, but it also includes extra information about most things, such as derivations of names, etc. (If this book is a print version of the HP Lexicon, I presume that it also contains such extra information.) Is there a specific percentage defined in the law? Also, in relation to this, SVA has alleged that Warner Bros commited copyright infringement (or something) by using his timelines on their DVDs. The timelines were created by the HP Lexicon people based on information in the books. Can that be considered an original work?

Thanks for your legal insights! :)
simons_flower
Nov. 3rd, 2007 07:23 am (UTC)
Sorry to jump in, but I can answer this as a layman:
Why would there be a difference between a free website and a for-profit book?
JKR has said to fandom in general that we are allowed to play in her universe just so long as we don't make a profit on her material. That means fanfic sites can't make money, a fanartist can't make money on the characters (but can charge for labor and materials), an author can't sell their stories. Once a profit is made by someone who doesn't own the copyright, that's infringement and is illegal. Fandom can run all the free websites they want because there is no profit involved (and it's often at a loss as there is no recoupment of server and domain costs).

I hope that makes sense.
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dwh
Nov. 3rd, 2007 04:25 am (UTC)
Thank you, thank you for the readable legal explanation. I've had this discussion with my sister (a much more hardcore Potter fan than I), and she took the position of, "but she likes the website!" I admit my counterargument was not as eloquent as yours. I just told her that clearly, my fandom is smarter than hers, because Star Wars fans know better than to try something that stupid.

The fact that RDR/SVA were rude in return boggles my mind.
praetorianguard
Nov. 3rd, 2007 01:35 pm (UTC)
Actually, we HP fans owe you and the Star Trek fandom all sorts of gratitude for sorting out as much of the fans vs. creators stuff as you did. ;)

Yeah, the rudeness just kills me. I have no idea why you'd ever be this rude to someone, especially when you're purportedly a professional, and especially when the person you're being rude to could bankrupt you on legal fees alone.
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gaycrow
Nov. 3rd, 2007 07:03 am (UTC)
I'm here via a friend's journal, and would like to thank you for setting this out so clearly.

I've recommended you to several people, and will probably pop back a few times myself to re-absorb your well presented thoughts.

Thanks again.
praetorianguard
Nov. 3rd, 2007 01:35 pm (UTC)
You're quite welcome. :) Thank you so much for reading!
simons_flower
Nov. 3rd, 2007 07:25 am (UTC)
Thank you for your concise (yes, concise, because I work in a law office and know how verbose attorneys can be) summary.

It's a clear-cut case of IP theft and it boggles my mind anyone can think differently.
praetorianguard
Nov. 3rd, 2007 01:37 pm (UTC)
I am going to gloat to all my colleagues on Monday that I am concise. :)) They will undoubtedly tell me to shut up, but still, gloating!

*nods* Unless RDR has some sort of smoking gun somewhere -- and in my mind, that alleged timeline infringement definitely isn't it -- I think they've got a huge uphill battle here. And wow, I just can't get over how rude and insulting they're being.
magic_lilybean
Nov. 3rd, 2007 01:41 pm (UTC)
Oooh! I'm taking an introductory business law class, and we just covered intellectual property a few chapters ago. I think I'll share this with them! Thanks.
magic_lilybean
Nov. 3rd, 2007 01:42 pm (UTC)
Whoops! Heh heh. Time to clean out my icons. Haven't been on ElJay since the summer, as you can see.
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mickawber_fics
Nov. 3rd, 2007 05:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this. It's the clearest redaction of the situation that I've read.

I'm in publishing and it was clear to me from the get-go that SVA/RDR had not a leg to stand on, legally or even morally.
praetorianguard
Nov. 4th, 2007 01:46 pm (UTC)
You're quite welcome, and thank you. :)
legionseagle
Nov. 3rd, 2007 07:56 pm (UTC)
Great summary (and, incidentally, the "fair use" doctrine is much narrower in the UK: "fair dealing for the purpose of private study, criticism or review" and not including transformative use, so if the November 5 British publication goes ahead the chances of the UK lawsuit going against the Lexicon and the publishers are even higher). But the other point is that a lot of the stuff in the Lexicon isn't owned by Vander Ark: his publishers are indicating that the critical essays were written by "Steven Vander Ark and his staff" but actually they were written by us; the fen (one of mine is up there and I sure as hell was neither asked for nor gave consent for any further use of it). I think that aspect needs to be brought out a lot more; essentially, what's been sold seems from what his publisher is saying to be a combination of Rowling material, his material and fan-created material, and though obviously the individual fan-in-the-street can't afford to sue him for infringement, they could always assign their rights to Rowling and supply witness statements to assist in the principle action if they felt pissed off enough about it.
praetorianguard
Nov. 4th, 2007 01:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you (and thanks for the info about fair use in the UK).

And yeah, I'm really curious to know what's in that book. The publisher is saying critical essays verbatim from the website, which means all sorts of bad things for you guys. But then I guess SVA (via Penny Linsenmayer) said there aren't any essays in there, which means all sorts of bad things for the publisher. (I addressed this a bit more in a newer post, if you want to take a look. :) ) Mostly, I just feel really bad for you guys, having to be all caught up in this.
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sutlers
Nov. 3rd, 2007 10:36 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry of you have already answered this, but what is the difference between a print lexicon and this book? As far as I can tell, it does the same thing that the lexicon is proposing to do, only probably in much less depth. Is it because of the "unofficial" in the title?
praetorianguard
Nov. 4th, 2007 01:53 pm (UTC)
Mostly, how they went about it. My guess is that JKR/her reps reviewed that book before it was published and may have had some say in the scope. Because the biggest differences are:

1) Scope: That book (and I haven't read it) seems to only contain character summaries. My guess would be entirely new words rehashing book facts about the characters. (It also was published pre-DH, which isn't legally relevant, but the fact that it's not a complete character encyclopedia might have made a difference to JKR.)

2) Name: Unofficial *definitely* helps. The complaint in the RDR/SVA case specifically talks about how the book didn't even bother to mention that it's unofficial or disclaim JKR/WB's involvement on the cover. (Also, the fact that a very well-known fan wrote the Lexicon one would give fans more reason to think JKR endorsed it; she's endorsed the Lexicon in the past.)

3) Cover Design: That book doesn't look like the HP books, and SVA's definitely does. It's unlikely that a casual passerby would think that JKR wrote or endorsed that one. (I have links to the UK book covers in a new post, if you're curious.)
sev1970
Nov. 4th, 2007 01:21 am (UTC)
Thank you for posting this. I have linked this post in an entry I made regarding this entire weeks happenings; I hope you don't mind.
praetorianguard
Nov. 4th, 2007 01:53 pm (UTC)
I don't mind at all. Thank you for reading!
littleroo27
Nov. 4th, 2007 01:39 am (UTC)
JKR for the win. Steve Van Der Ark is about to go over the falls - and he forgot his barrel. To me it doesn't matter if JKR is pissed because of the money. The woman has tons of cash and I honestly don't think she gives a shit if Steve is making money off of a book or the lexicon. He is, however, planning to charge fans to view material that is not his and which may end up being contradicted by JKR in her encyclopedia.

I like the lexicon, I think it's a great fan resource, but it's no more legal than publishing a book of fanfic for profit! He's barking if he thinks they'll let him get away with it, and I cannot believe he actually found a publisher willing to take it on!
praetorianguard
Nov. 4th, 2007 01:55 pm (UTC)
*nods* I'm surprised he found a publisher willing to publish this. Almost as much as I want to see that book, I want to see his contract with the publisher. Did they cover this risk in there? Who took the risk? I mean, if the publisher assumed all the risk and promised to cover SVA if there was a problem, sure, go for it. (Though there's still that ethical issue of apparently being told no by JKR.)
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