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Well. What can i say?

Tuesday 9 September 2008

I’m not especially anti-JK, but i’m disappointed that she’s succeeded in banning a Harry Potter guide.

I own David Day’s Tolkein Bestiary and have seen dictionaries of literature summing up the plots of countless ‘classic’ novels. Some will be out of copyright but not others.

Without seeing the offending book, we’ll never know what RDR Books’ Lexicon would have told us about Harry Potter that went beyond what those other reference works tell us about Oliver Twist, Elizabeth Bennet, Silas Marner and all the rest. Shame.

Same-day UPDATE: Of course we haven’t seen the proposed book. If it uses swathes of passages lifted directly from the Harry Potter series then of course that would be in breach of copyright, without JK Rowling giving her express permission, and in that case i’d see her point. But my instinct is that it’s unlikely any publisher – who presumably has knowledge of copyright law – would attempt to do that without getting the permission before doing all the work. I’m guessing.

What gets me is the possessiveness JK must feel in order to have taken the publisher to court in the first place. They are out of pocket in quite a big way as a result of losing the case. How out of pocket would she have been if she’d lost? Surely the Harry Potter Lexicon would have boosted sales of her books rather than the opposite. I don’t imagine many people buying it instead of the novels.

Since i posted this morning, i’ve seen that the author of the banned Lexicon, Steve Vander Ark, is now producing (or, i suppose, hoping to produce) a ‘travel guide’ of real-world places corresponding to the places in the HP books. Can’t think of any legal problem with that (not that i have any legal knowledge beyond what you pick up). This article mentions including a ‘few words’ of JK’s in the each chapter; as far as i understand copyright law, that’s not enough for prosecution.

Let’s hope.

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