Nov 1 2007
The great thing about being a children’s celebrity is that you can act like a jerk and the majority of your fans aren’t going to be the least bit aware. Rowlings non stop attempts to prevent anyone from doing anything that remotely resembles her work is becoming tiresome.
Last month, news of JK Rowling’s lawsuit against a organisers of a religious event in India based on a lifesize replica of Hogwarts Castle hit the news wire. This month, its a suit against RDR Books, a Michigan based publisher, who is set to publish a book based on information culled from the Harry Potter Lexicon. The Harry Potter Lexicon is a fansite established by former middle grade librarian, Steve Vander Ark. The site contains thousands of pages of information including plot summaries, news, essays, message boards, character and object listings, detailed quotations from interviews that provide backstory to the world of Harry Potter. The information is categorized and indexed making all of the factoids related to Potter easy to find.
These type of fan sites help to create and foster excitement about the series, particularly during the long waiting periods between books. Rowling herself has praised the award winning site for being a “one-stop” place for Potter information. Vander Ark has even been asked in the past to participate in Warner Bros’ marketing campaigns for the Potter films. Now that he plans to make some money off this endeavor that has likely taken hundreds of hours to maintain since the site went live in 2000, Rowling has pulled her approval and plans to sue for the site contains her “original creative expression with minimal additional commentary.”
Of course, Rowling doesn’t want to shut down the site; only prevent any profit made from it. Essentially Rowling wants all the publicity and promotional results she gets from the site without compensating them; but she doesn’t want anyone to make any money from it but her.
This is not what the copyright law intended to protect and I hope that RDR Books makes a stand and doesn’t allow itself to be cowed by Rowling and Warner Bros.