We wrote about the piggish nature of billionairess J. K. Rowling last fall in connection with her Death Eater-like persecution of an unauthorized fan site. Now copyright maven Tim Wu (yes, him again!) weighs in:
Author J.K. Rowling and publisher Warner Brothers have sued the Lexicon for copyright infringement, exposing the big unanswered question: Are fan guides actually illegal?
As sympathetic as I am to Rowling and her rights as an author, the answer is no. There is a necessary and healthy line between what the initial author owns and what follow-on, or “secondary,” authors get to do, and Rowling is running over that line like the Hogwarts Express. The creators of H.P. Lexicon may not be as creative as Rowling, but they are authors, too, and deserve a little respect from the law. . . .
No one would read the Lexicon as a substitute for the Potter books; it is useless unless you’ve read the original, and that makes all the difference. . . .
No one would read the Lexicon as a substitute for the Potter books; it is useless unless you’ve read the original, and that makes all the difference.
Like we — well, okay, we were mostly quoting Bill Patry — said. For someone who holds herself out as quite the enlightened, politically-correct lady, Rowling (whether it’s just her or “her people”) should drop the Dudley Dursley imitation and fly off on her broomstick. Hat tip to Walter Olson.
UPDATE: Marc Randazza, always the legal realist, says trial-level fact trumps ivory-tower theory — and that despite our learned opinions, Rowling is likely to win.
UPDATE AND WRAPPED: Marco was right — mainly. Here’s all the updating.
Originally posted 2008-01-21 12:02:11. Republished by Blog Post Promoter