J.K. Rowling: $4.5Billion, Copyright: 0

Back in May, I wrote about the copyright infringement suit filed by J.K. Rowling against the author and publisher of the Harry Potter Lexicon.

At the time, I hoped that the courts would realize that, on its face, the Lexicon qualified as fair use.  Apparently not.

Ms. Rowling’s response is that the potential publication of the Lexicon was so severe, she stopped writing… and that if publication was allowed, she “firmly believe that carte blanche will be given to anyone who wants to make a quick bit of money, to divert some Harry Potter profits into their own pockets.”

Which is an interesting thing to say, as Orson Scott Card previously stated:

Well, heck, I feel like the plot of my novel Ender’s Game was stolen by J.K. Rowling.

A young kid growing up in an oppressive family situation suddenly learns that he is one of a special class of children with special abilities, who are to be educated in a remote training facility where student life is dominated by an intense game played by teams flying in midair, at which this kid turns out to be exceptionally talented and a natural leader. He trains other kids in unauthorized extra sessions, which enrages his enemies, who attack him with the intention of killing him; but he is protected by his loyal, brilliant friends and gains strength from the love of some of his family members. He is given special guidance by an older man of legendary accomplishments who previously kept the enemy at bay. He goes on to become the crucial figure in a struggle against an unseen enemy who threatens the whole world.”

I hope this isn’t the end of this case… as the results with respects to scholarly works will be tragic.  We can’t see the contents of the Lexicon, so we will ultimately be unable to determine whether, as the court stated, the “Lexicon appropriates too much of Rowling’s creative work for its purposes as a reference guide.”

[Update: Michael Madison at madisonian.net, has a great review of the case.]

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