Dear Reader

Random musings on reading and books from a librarian in training.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Harry Potter and the accursed encyclopedia

There’s some controversy in the land of Harry Potter. Author J.K. Rowling and Warner Brothers are suing to block the publishing of a Harry Potter encyclopedia. They claim that the encyclopedia – The Harry Potter Lexicon, which was proposed by a Harry Potter fan, plagiarizes her novels and infringes on copyrights.

Steven Vander Ark, a school librarian, cried on the stand the other day.

From Publishers Weekly: When asked if he considered himself part of the Harry Potter fan community, he broke down in tears, initially answering, “I did,” but then saying, “I do.” After regaining his composure, he said, “It’s been difficult because there’s been a lot of criticism and obviously that was never the intention.”

I’m torn. I have to say I feel badly for Vander Ark. He sounds like a very enthusiastic fan, so facing such backlash from fellow fans and Rowling herself must be difficult. Since its reference materials, it doesn’t seem unusual that the book would depend heavily upon the books and I would think there’d be a big demand for an encyclopedia like this.

However, if the book is a just a glorified cut and paste job, then I would tend to side to Rowling. Apparently, Vander Ark had a Harry Potter lexicon Web site that the author had praised at one point in time.

Rowling and her lawyers have claimed that Vander Ark’s book contains “spoilers” that could ruin the books for children who haven’t read them and that it contains information from Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, it sounds like the Judge is pushing both sides to work towards a settlement.

“Before adjourning at 4 p.m., Judge Patterson took both sides to task for what he saw as a lack of progress on addressing the case’s core issue—that of fair use—and expressed concern that “despite Ms. Rowling’s strong feelings,” the case seemed more “lawyer-driven” than “client-driven,” with “fair use on one side and a big company with a lot of money on the other.”

What do you think?

Day Two Brings Fresh Drama at Rowling Trial,

Rowling Implores Judge To Block Publication of Guide,

At the Harry Potter Trial, the New York Papers Pile On Steven Vander Ark,

Does JK Rowling own Harry Potter?

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