Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

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Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Mon Sep 08, 2008 11:20 pm UTC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7605142.stm

The part that gets me is at the VERY end of the article.

"The author has always denied the case was about money.

She had been planning to write her own definitive encyclopaedia, the proceeds of which she had intended to donate to charity.

However, she told the court in April she is not sure if she has "the will or the heart" to do it after all. "


"Well, I was gonna give lots of money to charities, but now I don't wanna!"

Oi...

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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby MotorToad » Tue Sep 09, 2008 1:41 am UTC

Maybe she thought she had enough money until she realized she just might be able to pass Paul McCartney on the celeb top 100?
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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby kellsbells » Tue Sep 09, 2008 1:45 am UTC

What's especially sad is that the guy writing it ran the Harry Potter Lexicon website, which I distinctly remember reading about on JK Rowling's own site a few years ago, with her recommendation to check it out. How things change once money (or charity?) comes into play.
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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Tue Sep 09, 2008 2:07 am UTC

From an intellectual property point of view, I can see her point.

From a moral point of view, it was pretty shitty of her.
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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby TheAmazingRando » Tue Sep 09, 2008 2:15 am UTC

Dear Ms. Rowling,
It's your cash cow, and you have every right to sole milking privileges. But please don't pretend you aren't motivated by fame and fortune.

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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby darwinwins » Tue Sep 09, 2008 2:17 am UTC

i have no idea what the big issue is here.

some dude wants to write about harry potter -- for profit.

that's her realm. she can pretty much do whatever the hell she wants to with that property but doesn't give others the right to her property. she still owns the characters. hers.

maybe people who don't produce art or fiction wouldn't understand but i'd be pretty pissy if someone took one of my pieces and decided to use it as their own.
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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby darwinwins » Tue Sep 09, 2008 2:21 am UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:Dear Ms. Rowling,
It's your cash cow, and you have every right to sole milking privileges. But please don't pretend you aren't motivated by fame and fortune.

i seriously doubt she'd bother with the fame and fortune bit anymore. the point is that it's her property to do with what she will and not anyone else. i see nothing wrong with being overtly protective of something she's spent the last decade and change writing. that's a lifetime of commitment. and then for someone to come in and shit all over your work cos they feel like making a buck? fuck em.
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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby steewi » Tue Sep 09, 2008 3:12 am UTC

Yep, she totally had the right to stop its publication. It's one thing to have an information site on the 'net for it, but publishing is a whole new area, and brings legal issues a lot closer to home.

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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby culled » Wed Sep 10, 2008 2:16 am UTC

Honestly, people there's got to be a balance in copyright. Yeah I don't agree with the MPAA/RIAA's scare tactics or Disney bribing congress to extend copyright for all time but Rowling was completely justified in this. The guy was trying to publish a book that was a clearly infringed on Rowling's copyright and not only that he was doing it to make money. Rowling was completely justified in suing the shit out of him. Granted her comment about no longer having the heart to create her own version anymore is rather douchebaggish but that's her right.

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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby TheAmazingRando » Wed Sep 10, 2008 2:41 am UTC

As I said before the rollback, I think Rowling was perfectly justified in her actions. I would have accepted "this is infringing on my copyright, I don't want you doing it" as a perfectly valid response. It's all her talk about how she didn't want to do it, but she's fighting for the rights of authors everywhere, so it's something she had to do out of a sense of duty, that I don't buy.

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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby darwinwins » Wed Sep 10, 2008 2:57 am UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:As I said before the rollback, I think Rowling was perfectly justified in her actions. I would have accepted "this is infringing on my copyright, I don't want you doing it" as a perfectly valid response. It's all her talk about how she didn't want to do it, but she's fighting for the rights of authors everywhere, so it's something she had to do out of a sense of duty, that I don't buy.

well she did do just that. the case sets a precedent for all cases following that runs along the same line of legal thought.
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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby TheAmazingRando » Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:32 am UTC

I know the case sets precedence, I just don't believe that she was primarily motivated by anything more than protecting her own properties. Not that there's anything wrong with that, except that by claiming she didn't want to, but had to, she's the one who's making it sound like that motivation alone isn't enough.

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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby Clumpy » Wed Sep 10, 2008 5:48 am UTC

I'm increasingly impatient with trite, ignorant statements justifying Rowling in this. Copyright law is an agreement between content owners and the general public. Thus, Rowling maintains the right to everything that she has written and gives rights to publishers and movie studios "derivative works" like film, related books and the like.

But there is a specific exemption granted for so-called "scholarly works" or even encyclopedias summarizing a work. Mere information cannot be copyrighted. (Don't debate this - the law is clear on the public's rights.)

Rowling is fiercely protective of anything reflective of her characters or series, and that's fine. But far too many people are giving her a pass on this. She doesn't understand the law, and the fact that she's written some fantastic books doesn't justify the legal screwover. I for one don't welcome corporations and powerful individuals dictating law.

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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby darwinwins » Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:18 am UTC

Clumpy wrote:I'm increasingly impatient with trite, ignorant statements justifying Rowling in this. Copyright law is an agreement between content owners and the general public. Thus, Rowling maintains the right to everything that she has written and gives rights to publishers and movie studios "derivative works" like film, related books and the like.

But there is a specific exemption granted for so-called "scholarly works" or even encyclopedias summarizing a work. Mere information cannot be copyrighted. (Don't debate this - the law is clear on the public's rights.)

Rowling is fiercely protective of anything reflective of her characters or series, and that's fine. But far too many people are giving her a pass on this. She doesn't understand the law, and the fact that she's written some fantastic books doesn't justify the legal screwover. I for one don't welcome corporations and powerful individuals dictating law.

"she doesn't understand the law"

see, right there, is when you should have known you should have stopped typing the moment the thoughts came up. she doesn't have to understand the law - her lawyers and the judges do. especially that judge. i'm sure he never went to school for law. not at all.

"don't debate this - the law is clear on the public's rights."

again you should have stopped tying. can you cite the law you're trying to invent? your blanket declaration means absolutely dick and in a court of law, you would have been laughed out of the courtroom.
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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby TheAmazingRando » Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:21 pm UTC

darwinwins wrote:"don't debate this - the law is clear on the public's rights."

again you should have stopped tying. can you cite the law you're trying to invent? your blanket declaration means absolutely dick and in a court of law, you would have been laughed out of the courtroom.

Ok, first of all, anything anyone has said in pretty much this entire forum would be "laughed out of the courtroom" because we aren't lawyers. Anyway...
darwinwins wrote:some dude wants to write about harry potter -- for profit.
This alone is not illegal, or violating copyright. I could write a book analyzing harry potter in a number of ways, and release it, and I could. Using the character in a story of my own (and even then, in a situation where it clearly isn't just parody) might get risky. But writing about something someone else created? Perfectly fine.

And Clumpy is entirely correct that you can't copyright ideas. Otherwise, the fact that both Neil Gaiman and JK Rowling have written stories of skinny kids with glasses discovering that they're secretly wizards and being whisked away to a world of magic would be a copyright clash. Hell, it might even clash with skinny little moisture farmer Luke Skywalker discovering he's a jedi and being whisked away to a world of epic space battles, or the thousands of tropes before it. You can copyright a specific implementation of an idea, but not the idea itself. And there's the whole concept of fair use, which is woefully ill-defined so it's really hard for someone who isn't a lawyer and well versed with precedent to say "this is definitely illegal infringement."

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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:25 pm UTC

Gyarh, just realized that my big post explaining my point of view more in depth, from the POV of a writer... got erased. And I don't feel like re-writing it. Crappicus.

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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby TheAmazingRando » Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:28 pm UTC

Yeah, forum rollbacks suck, don't they?

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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby darwinwins » Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:53 pm UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:
darwinwins wrote:"don't debate this - the law is clear on the public's rights."

again you should have stopped tying. can you cite the law you're trying to invent? your blanket declaration means absolutely dick and in a court of law, you would have been laughed out of the courtroom.

Ok, first of all, anything anyone has said in pretty much this entire forum would be "laughed out of the courtroom" because we aren't lawyers. Anyway...
darwinwins wrote:some dude wants to write about harry potter -- for profit.
This alone is not illegal, or violating copyright. I could write a book analyzing harry potter in a number of ways, and release it, and I could. Using the character in a story of my own (and even then, in a situation where it clearly isn't just parody) might get risky. But writing about something someone else created? Perfectly fine.

And Clumpy is entirely correct that you can't copyright ideas. Otherwise, the fact that both Neil Gaiman and JK Rowling have written stories of skinny kids with glasses discovering that they're secretly wizards and being whisked away to a world of magic would be a copyright clash. Hell, it might even clash with skinny little moisture farmer Luke Skywalker discovering he's a jedi and being whisked away to a world of epic space battles, or the thousands of tropes before it. You can copyright a specific implementation of an idea, but not the idea itself. And there's the whole concept of fair use, which is woefully ill-defined so it's really hard for someone who isn't a lawyer and well versed with precedent to say "this is definitely illegal infringement."

believe it or not, some of us are actually educated and have more than a passing understanding of legalese.

the guy was definitely in infringement territory. he was adding nothing to the market place of ideas. i have no idea where you're going with your supposed analogy of neil gaiman and rowling. the first part of that and the last part are just words tossed in at random to come to some sort of point. in fact none of that applies to this case. the case is very specific and the judge even states that the dweeb has crossed the proverbial line of infringement. there were no amicus curiae filed on his behalf from the cottage industry of writers who research and analyze the works of others. that right there tells you that he was on shaky grounds. were this a precedent setting case, other publishing houses would have gotten involved. this was not a landmark case by any stretch of the imagination. no speech was infringed on, no people's voices were trampled on. this was just one guy out to make a quick buck by capitalizing on another's work by a rather cynical method. he was copying vast swaths of text and adding little else in terms of literary value on the analysis side. that is what the judge was getting at when he concluded the case.

/works as an analyst
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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby TheAmazingRando » Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:22 pm UTC

darwinwins wrote:he was copying vast swaths of text and adding little else in terms of literary value on the analysis side.
And I agree with the decision, based on this. I believe I said, in the beginning, that I thought Rowling had the legal right to do what she did, and that I opposed her statement that it was out of honor to set precedent. But, like I said, since the decision is made on the basis of how much analysis was in there, and how much original content there was, it still seems like a decision that has to be made on a case-by-case basis, and one that took serious deliberation. It wasn't the clear-cut case of copyright infringement some are making it out to be, because it was based on the specifics of the book, not the concept of the book itself.
darwinwins wrote:i have no idea where you're going with your supposed analogy of neil gaiman and rowling. the first part of that and the last part are just words tossed in at random to come to some sort of point. in fact none of that applies to this case.
That was actually based on a misreading of Clumpy's post. He said "information," I read "ideas," and I was objecting to the idea that ideas can be copyrighted, with examples. They weren't tossed in at random, just aimed in the wrong direction.


darwinwins wrote:well she did do just that. the case sets a precedent for all cases following that runs along the same line of legal thought."
darwinwins wrote:were this a precedent setting case, other publishing houses would have gotten involved.
So which is it?

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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:26 pm UTC

As for being "meaningless", here's Orson Scott Card's take on plagiarism:

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.

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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Thu Sep 11, 2008 12:29 am UTC

It should be noted that I'm pretty sure Card was being sarcastic at the time.

Now, let's talk about Eragon...
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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby Rinsaikeru » Thu Sep 11, 2008 2:48 am UTC

I'm pretty certain he was being sarcastic too--he's just pointing out that it's an archetype--the heroes tale. Classic romance (in the not mushy sense).

There is no plot device or narrative structure that isn't reminiscent of an earlier work--it's not surprising to find unintentional or homage like links between stories by different authors. But, attempting to make a profit off of a derivative work seems to be pushing it for me. Then again, there are lots of different takes on creative property. (ie. Doujinshi--parody or alternate storyline comics written by amateurs in Japan for profit)
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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby Clumpy » Thu Sep 11, 2008 7:46 pm UTC

Having said what I said, I'm glad that the judge based his decision on attempting to interpret the existing law, rather than taking the route of hardcore Rowling fans and ignoring the applicable sections of copyright law just because they like her. His verdict essentially stated that the amount of Rowling's original text that was quoted by the Lexicon made it an infringer. The book was basically a crapheaded attempt to piggyback off of Harry Potter, but I still feel that it should have been allowed, and that the sheer crappitude of books like that would keep them from selling among any but the truly dedicated - people who would buy anything Rowling wrote anyway.

"While the Lexicon, in its current state, is not a fair use of the Harry Potter works, reference works that share the Lexicon's purpose of aiding readers of literature generally should be encouraged rather than stifled."

Yup.

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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby darwinwins » Thu Sep 11, 2008 8:26 pm UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:
darwinwins wrote:he was copying vast swaths of text and adding little else in terms of literary value on the analysis side.
And I agree with the decision, based on this. I believe I said, in the beginning, that I thought Rowling had the legal right to do what she did, and that I opposed her statement that it was out of honor to set precedent. But, like I said, since the decision is made on the basis of how much analysis was in there, and how much original content there was, it still seems like a decision that has to be made on a case-by-case basis, and one that took serious deliberation. It wasn't the clear-cut case of copyright infringement some are making it out to be, because it was based on the specifics of the book, not the concept of the book itself.
darwinwins wrote:i have no idea where you're going with your supposed analogy of neil gaiman and rowling. the first part of that and the last part are just words tossed in at random to come to some sort of point. in fact none of that applies to this case.
That was actually based on a misreading of Clumpy's post. He said "information," I read "ideas," and I was objecting to the idea that ideas can be copyrighted, with examples. They weren't tossed in at random, just aimed in the wrong direction.


darwinwins wrote:well she did do just that. the case sets a precedent for all cases following that runs along the same line of legal thought."
darwinwins wrote:were this a precedent setting case, other publishing houses would have gotten involved.
So which is it?

all cases set a precedent in so much that a new case may mirror an old case.

but in the grand scheme of things, the precedent set isn't ground breaking and pretty dry.
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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby Narsil » Thu Sep 11, 2008 11:02 pm UTC

Mighty Jalapeno wrote:As for being "meaningless", here's Orson Scott Card's take on plagiarism:

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.

Oh, and he becomes a total wuss in the last few books.
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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby LittleKey » Fri Sep 12, 2008 12:21 am UTC

My opinion is, if she ended up deciding not to make her own encyclopedia, why not let him make his? I assume he gave her credit in his, and she admitted herself that the material was from her own thoughts, which means it's accurate. The point is to make the fans happy, and she should know that.

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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Fri Sep 12, 2008 12:47 am UTC

LittleKey wrote:My opinion is, if she ended up deciding not to make her own encyclopedia, why not let him make his? I assume he gave her credit in his, and she admitted herself that the material was from her own thoughts, which means it's accurate. The point is to make the fans happy, and she should know that.


Maybe she'll let him take the work he's done on it already and publish it with her or something?
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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby Antimatter Spork » Fri Sep 12, 2008 3:36 am UTC

I think it might be somewhat beneficial for everyone in this thread to read at least some of Fandom Wank's (extensive) coverage of this incident and the trial. (That link goes to the wiki page, which has links to many of the actual reports and such). (Here's a link to the first Wank Report).

The story as I understand it can basically be summarized thusly:

1. HP Lexicon guy asks JKR if he can publish his book. JKR says no, she's going to do her own, eventually.
2. Later, HP Lexicon guy (HPLG) gets a publisher (RDR books) to publish anyway.
3. Cease and Desist letters are exchanged. RDR ignores them and continues to try to sell the book.
4. JKR/Warner Bros. Lawyers ask RDR/HPLG if they can see the book. RDR says to print out the website.
5. JKR/Warner Bros. point out that this is clearly copyright infringement, since the Lexicon contains a great deal of text lifted directly from the HP books/spinoff books (specifically Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)
6. RDR continues to ignore all of the legal threats etc. and generally make themselves look like idiots.
7. Court smackdowns.

I would have some sympathy for the guy if it wasn't for the atrocious way in which his side handled the case. The fact is that he asked JKR if he could publish his book based on her material, she said no, and he tried to do it anyway. During the case, he claimed that the book was legitimate under copyright law because it was criticism/analysis, which was pretty blatantly untrue (it's also why the bit about "print out the website, morons" is relevant, since the only criticism/analysis that was on HPL at the time was written by other people who hadn't been asked if the guy who ran the Lexicon could use their work in his book, and it later became apparent that they weren't going to publish that anyway)



tl;dr: There are legitimate books of commentary on HP that are legal and are published, though most of those people worked with the copyright holders to make sure that there was no infringement going on, and the primary purposes of these books are criticism/analysis or commentary, which are legal. The Lexicon people did the exact opposite of this, and rightly got smacked down in court.
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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby Mo0man » Tue Sep 16, 2008 4:19 am UTC

I thought the problem was that the site copied all that stuff from her other, non-main story books, like the fantastic beasts one, or the one about quidditch

Plus, it was unclear for a while which parts were in the book and which parts weren't, half the stuff on the site was from voluntary contributors, and another quarter was directly quoted from the book, which was what made it so important that they got a manuscript, which they never got anyways until halfway through the trial
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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby Bassoon » Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:19 pm UTC

While I think copyright needs to be destroyed in a painful maiming befitting its evil ways to be overhauled, I must say that I side with JKR in this one. SVA's law people/publishers fail at their jobs and should all be destroyed in a painful maiming befitting of their evil ways fired.

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Re: Rowling Successfully Sues Fan

Postby Antimatter Spork » Thu Sep 18, 2008 3:26 am UTC

Bassoon wrote:While I think copyright needs to be destroyed in a painful maiming befitting its evil ways to be overhauled, I must say that I side with JKR in this one. SVA's law people/publishers fail at their jobs and should all be destroyed in a painful maiming befitting of their evil ways fired.

While I agree that copyright needs to be overhauled, I don't think that the changes should affect this case at all. I believe that living artists should have the rights to their creations as long as they live (unless they choose otherwise). Existing fair use provisions already protect actual books of criticism or commentary, which SVA's book wasn't.
Albert Schweitzer wrote:There are two means of refuge from the misery of life — music and cats.


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