Monday, April 14, 2008

Does a "Harry Potter Encyclopedia" violate J.K. Rowling's copyright?

A smiling J.K. Rowling stepped out of a car and strode into a lower Manhattan courthouse early Monday for the start of her lawsuit against a publisher.

J.K Rowling is unhappy that a version of a popular Harry Potter Web site may come out in book form.

Rowling, who wore a gray pinstriped jacket and a gray knee-length skirt, didn't speak as she entered the courthouse where she was to testify around midday.

She says her copyrights are being violated by a fan who plans to publish a "Harry Potter" encyclopedia.

The showdown between Rowling and Steven Vander Ark is scheduled to last most of the week in U.S. District Court. She'll spend her breaks in the seclusion of a jury room -- away from any die-hard Potter fans.

Rowling brought the lawsuit last year against Vander Ark's publisher, RDR Books, to stop publication of the "Harry Potter Lexicon."

On its face, the distinction between defendant's fair use defense in this case is difficult to distinguish from that advanced in Castle Rock Entertainment Group v. Carol Publishing, Inc., in which the 2d Circuit Court of Appeals held that the compilation of a trivia book basead on the characters and events of the Seinfeld television series did not constitute fair use.


Phil Ammar said...

I disagree that there is little distinction between this case and Castle Rock. Reading through the Defendants Memorandum of law in opposition to the plaintiff's motion for preliminary injuction (I'll post the link in the following comment, no urls allowed in these comments) convinces me (albeit without having seen the lexicon), that the situation here is materially different than in Castle Rock. This lexicon contains commentary on the characters and is not merely just a repackaging like the Seinfeld Aptitude Test.

It will be interesting to see how this case pans out, now that we know a bit about this topic.

Phil Ammar said...
Even if you can't see the whole linkj, just double click on it and press Ctrl-C to copy it