A judge ruled Monday in favor of "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling in her copyright infringement lawsuit against a fan and Web site operator who was set to publish a Potter encyclopedia.
U.S. District Judge Robert P. Patterson said Rowling had proven that Steven Vander Ark's "Harry Potter Lexicon" would cause her irreparable harm as a writer.
Mind you, I think he has no right to publish the book, any more than I have a right to publish the Star Wars Encyclopedia, but the genesis of this litigation is Rowling suing a fan site.
Vander Ark, a former school librarian, runs the site, which is a guide to the seven Potter books and includes detailed descriptions of characters, creatures, spells and potions.
The small publisher was not contesting that the lexicon infringes upon Rowling's copyright but argued that it was a fair use allowable by law for reference books.
If you want a detailed discussion of fair use, by people who know what they're talking about, go to Larry Lessig, EFF, or the RIAA. If you want a detailed discussion of fair use, by people who know what they're talking about and have no agenda, be prepared to pay $450 an hour. The intricacies of fair use do not concern me (he said as he made sure to select only excerpts from the Associated Press story to which he linked).
No, this is about Geekery, and the bothersome fact that J. K. Rowling is a jerk. Rowling, like so many other authors and directors and what have you, claims to love her fans, but goes out of her way to punish the most earnest fans. Who all but self-publishes a Harry Potter trivia book? This encyclopedia (to say nothing of the website) was by all accounts of "zine" quality, not just for nerds, but real nerds, South Korean Starcraft Harry Potter nerds.
If I were J. K. Rowling, who can eat money if she so desires, I would be living on a private island, not returning phone calls from my publishers' lawyers. Part of what people hate so much about the copyright establishment is that in no other field of litigation can one find such blatant examples of winners beating down losers as when J. K. Rowling, the Roddenberry estate, or George Lucas sues the operator of an amateurishly printed fan book, or a website, when they could just as easily issue a "fan license" and demand 15% of the earnings, if any. If any.
I fully support J. K. Rowling's right to control her intellectual property. I condemn her because she is such a goddamned muggle about it.