News Article

Rowling in Court Over 'Harry Potter' Encyclopedia

J.K. Rowling will testify in a Manhattan court on Monday over a publisher's plans to put out an encyclopedia based on the ''Harry Potter'' books

J.K. Rowling | J.K. Rowling The author has supported free fan sites, but objected when a publisher announced it would try to turn a profit off of one
Image credit: Toby Canham/Getty Images
J.K. Rowling The author has supported free fan sites, but objected when a publisher announced it would try to turn a profit off of one
(FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES) – Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling will testify in a Manhattan federal court on Monday (April 14) against a small publisher that plans to release an encyclopedia based on her book series. Last fall, Michigan publisher RDR Books announced that it was publishing a print version of the popular fan website The Harry Potter Lexicon, prompting Rowling and Warner Brothers, the studio that adapted her books, to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement. CNN reports that Rowling's lawyer has arranged with the judge to have a private security guard in the courtroom and for the author to spend breaks in the seclusion of a jury room — away from any die-hard Potter fans in attendance. The trial is expected to take most of the week.

Rowling claims that the print version of the encyclopedia, being written by the website's founder, Steven Vander Ark, and three other writers, would profit by simply repackaging her work. Rowling has openly praised the free Lexicon fan site, even commenting in interviews that she has relied on its catalog of characters, spells, magic potions, locations, and events while writing. Her objection came when RDR said it would make money off of her work. Rowling also claims that she is planning on publishing her own encyclopedia, with proceeds donated to charity, and that the RDR book would deter fans from buying it. RDR argues that Vander Ark’s book follows a long tradition of literary companion guides, saying it ''provides a significant amount of original analysis and commentary concerning everything from insights into the personality of key characters, relationships among them, the meaning of various historical and literary allusions, as well as internal inconsistencies and mistakes in the novels.'' (New York Times)

Originally posted Apr 14, 2008
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