Friday, February 29, 2008

JK Rowling vs Harry Potter Lexicon

JK Rowling: author of the biggest-selling series of all time, holder of numerous world records, super-celebrity, known across the world, first person to become a billionaire from writing books.

The Harry Potter Lexicon: online Potter encyclopedia, by far the biggest source of information on Harry Potter in any form, winner of JK Rowling's 'Fansite of the Year' award. The immensity and significance of this website cannot be overstated.

So what's the deal with the lawsuit? Well, in 2007 the lexicon planned to publish the website in book format. Essentially they were releasing a comprehensive Harry Potter Encyclopedia. JK wasn't happy about this and filed a lawsuit seeking 'damages copyright and federal trademark infringement'. Huh? Basically, for many years it has been well known that JKR plans to release her own encyclopedia with lots of extra information in. She claims that the release of the lexicon book pre-empts this and that the lexicon is just trying to make money out of her work.

In her defense, I must say that releasing this book is a crazy idea. Whatever Steve Vander Ark, editor-in-chief of the lexicon, says, the book is clearly just intended to make a profit, as it is just the website on paper; it contains no extra information. There is information that JKR will make known in the future which will not have been included in this book so it is not in any sense a definitive encyclopedia. It also blatantly pre-empts JKR's own encyclopedia, which will contain new information. I am a massive fan of the lexicon, but there really is no need for this book.

However, I don't think JKR has much of a case. All the lexicon is doing is writing about the Harry Potter books. Hundreds of books have been written about the series, so as long as they don't claim to have written the official encyclopedia, there's not much she can do to stop them.

This is the second time a HP fansite has made a shedload of cash from idiotic Potter companion books. In 2007, another popular site,, published 'Mugglenet.Com's What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Falls in Love and How Will the Adventure Finally End'. Apart from having the most idiotic title I've ever seen, this was just a collection of theories from Harry Potter 'experts' about what would happen in the final book of the series. For people whose life is basically Harry Potter, the predictions were rubbish: I predicted more things correctly on my own. But my point is that these so-called fans were just jumping on Rowling's bandwagon to make a little profit from her success. It's sickening that such people, celebrities and role models in HP fandom, would do this. The rest of us managed to theorise about book 7 without having to make some dirty money out of it.

And it's not just these two books. What about the films? (a separate article/rant devoted to this may soon follow). The makers of the films are clearly not particularly devoted fans of the book (compare with Peter Jackson and co. with LOTR) - they're just another, albeit larger, money-making scam. Sickening. Please note that although JKR likes the films, she has still said that if she could choose again to sell the rights, she would not sell them.
And the theme park! Don't get me started, what a joke.

The truest fans are those who enjoy the books, even lap them up, read other writings about Harry Potter and enjoy it for what it is, without having to get their little bit of money out of it too.

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