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Potterdammerung, Part 2
gof15m
cleolinda
In case y'all have been wondering where I've been, I've pretty much been glued to JournalFen for L'affaire Lexicon as A MILLION BILLION comment notifications have rolled into my inbox, because several of them have resulted in key ETAs. Since I've been posting those addenda as they've come in, let's reorganize them a bit here, shall we? Here's what's happened so far, per the comments and information at the FW links above:

The Harry Potter Lexicon wants to publish the site in book form. JKR has always been cool with the site as a non-profit public resource, and even said she's consulted it a few times herself when she didn't have copies of her books on hand (say, in that Edinburgh hotel room). But publishing the site as a book, for profit, opens a whole Pandora's box of copyright issues--namely, 1) since the "facts" in question are fictional facts and not historical facts (like those in, say, the Encyclopedia Britannica), the Lexicon can't use them freely in a profit situation and 2) the Lexicon would not include enough commentary (or does it? More on this in a minute) to pass the way other critical works have (and JKR mentions having no problem with these). The best summary of these issues that I have seen is praetorianguard's here. (ETA: Part two.)

(Sidenote: Many people, myself included, find the Lexicon to be incomplete and patchy. I ended up using Wikipedia for GOF in Fifteen Minutes, but there is now a Harry Potter Wiki unto itself. Rejoice!)

JK Rowling is not pleased. And is suing.
From what I understand, the proposed book is not criticism or review of Harry Potter's world, which would be entirely legitimate – neither I nor anybody connected with Harry Potter has ever tried to prevent such works being published. It is, we believe, a print version of the website, except now the information that was freely available to everybody is to become a commercial enterprise. It is not reasonable, or legal, for anybody, fan or otherwise, to take an author's hard work, re-organize their characters and plots, and sell them for their own commercial gain. However much an individual claims to love somebody else's work, it does not become theirs to sell. [JKRowling.com]



Contributors to the Lexicon are not pleased. The book may or may not include critical essays that appeared on the site. In something like 1200 comments combined, I have yet to hear from a single contributor who has said that s/he was asked, notified, or approached about material not written by Steve Vander Ark being used in the book. RDR Books says that the book does include commentary; a spokeswoman for the Lexicon says it does not.

Contributors to the Lexicon may be interested to learn that "[t]he book contains critical analysis from 'Steven Vander Ark and his staff.' When asked what he meant by critical analysis Mr. Harris said, 'You can go to the site and read the articles. I’m not going to itemize them for you.' Questioned further he said 'the book was typeset directly from the site,' and that it was word-for-word taken from the web site." [The Leaky Cauldron]

It is an original book with a vast array of independently written scholarly articles. [RDR Books]

Either way, the Lexicon is screwed--it either doesn't have enough commentary to not count as infringement, or it's going to have a boatload of angry, ripped-off contributors coming after it next.



Steve Vander Ark apparently asked JKR in advance and was told no, he couldn't publish a book. JFer westmoon: "I was told that she was asked. And quite clearly said no. It was talked about at the Prophecy convention in Toronto this summer [August?], and apparently Steve was quite miffed that she refused to give him permission - as were some of the people to whom he related his tale of woe."


The Lexicon apparently incorporates a large amount of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them already. And it may or may not have had permission to use the text on the non-profit site as it was. Note this passage from an earlier TLC article, in that light: "I don't give permission for people to just copy my work for their own use. Not only is that illegal, since everything in the Lexicon is copyrighted, it's also just plain wrong. Hey, I did all the work, I put in all the time, it's my skill and talent in this area which allowed the Lexicon to come into being. No one else has the right to use my work."


There's a separate issue as to whether WB stole a timeline of HP events from the Lexicon. "WB doesn’t feel this is an issue of first amendment rights, and that there are unequivocally no rights owed to the Lexicon for a timeline deriving from the rights of others" [The Leaky Cauldron]. Whether the precise wording of that timeline was stolen, and whether the Lexicon has rights to that wording, may or may not be dwarfed by the issue that JKR and/or WB owns the rights to the facts in that wording. I honestly don't know. But I am pretty sure that "THEY STOLE FROM US FIRST!" is going to be knocked down pretty quickly.


RDR Books, Steve Vander Ark's publisher for the Lexicon book, is insane.

Exhibit A: JKR's people want to see an advance copy of the book, ostensibly to see how hard they want to sue RDR Books. RDR Books replies, in speaking to the Leaky Cauldron, that 1) “we don’t have a copy to give them…because the book hasn’t been published yet” and "How would that benefit us?" Which... is not really how it works, there. Also:

In the meantime Warner Bros. asked for a copy of the"print version" of the Lexicon Website referred to by RDR Books in order to aid in its evaluation of the claims. RDR Books summarily dismissed Warner Bros. reasonable request," the suit claims, "stating rudely: 'If you do not know how to print that material [from the Lexicon Website] please ask one of your people to show you how.' "
Exhibit B: Speaking of which, let's repeat from above: "The book was typeset directly from the site." What? How? Does it have critical essays or not? Does anyone even know what's in the book at this point? Is there even a manuscript?

Exhibit C: "Stopping a book of [Vander Ark's] own creation is not something that happens in America. It's something that could only happen in a police state."

Exhibit D: RDR Books alleges that WB "bore false witness" in the papers filed. All I'm saying is, they'd better be telling the truth about that if they want to live.

Exhibit E: The Lexicon book's UK cover highly resembles the style of the Deathly Hallows UK cover, and the title in no way indicates, despite this resemblance, that it is not an official tie-in.

Exhibit F: But it's for the children, y'all!
Knowing that the Harry Potter novels have had a profound effect in encouraging literacy among young people around the world, we believe that publishing the website content in printed form will make its information available to underprivileged children and those in impoverished nations, who may have no access to computers or to the World Wide Web.
Exhibit G: No, seriously! WHY WON'T YOU THINK OF THE CHILDREN?
Warner Bros. responded by rushing into court with this ill-tempered and badly thought out legal action. This wastes financial resources that Ms. Rowling could give to one of her favorite charities.
Exhibit H: C&D orders are just like nuclear weapons.

Summarizing Ms. Nelson's view, one reporter wrote that Warner's "cease and desist letters constituted an attempt to open a dialogue." How could that be?

This is obviously a contradiction in terms. It reminds of a statement made by General Leslie Groves when he was asked if the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was leading to lingering deaths of tens of thousands of civilian[s].

Exhibit I: RDR Books' spokesman is named Richard Harris. That's not insane, really; that's just weird.


Important bottom-line statements, both via TLC:

RDR Books: "It’s RDR’s position that the Lexicon did not need permission to do work on the book."

Warner Bros: "There is no intention to have this suit apply to other fan endeavors such as web sites, wizard rock, etc."


I've heard something about one of the publication dates being Monday. This Monday. Day-after-tomorrow Monday. I don't know if that's true, or if it's still going to happen, but... it's going to get interesting.


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I've been following it actively on JournalFen since it began, and yet every time I re-read the facts, my brain starts hurting from the level of FAIL from RDR and Steve Vander Ark.

I just still can't get over the Hiroshima thing. I'm not sure I ever will.

(Oh shit! I forgot to put in the part about the police state!)

Knowing that the Harry Potter novels have had a profound effect in encouraging literacy among young people around the world, we believe that publishing the website content in printed form will make its information available to underprivileged children and those in impoverished nations, who may have no access to computers or to the World Wide Web.

If they don't have access to computers or internet, how are they going to afford this book...? There's something wrong with that statement.

But yeah, Steve's just after the money. It's completely useless to pay for a print form of a website that you can access for free.

Well, see, Jess Nevins' Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana was a wonderful investment, IMO, but then it had tons of original research and commentary (and on works that were out of copyright as well). It's the kind of book you'd actually enjoy curling up with, plus he added even more information that wasn't on the site. But when you've got a site that's basically lists of things, yeah, it's not much worth it.

This is going to rule.

callmesyd

2007-11-04 03:13 am (UTC)

Oh God, Oh God, I DON'T HAVE ANY POPCORN MADE YET, OH GOD, HELP ME MAKE POPCORN PEOPLE WE NEED A TON OF IT BY MONDAY LET'S GOOOOOO~~~

Re: This is going to rule.

greenwitch

2007-11-04 03:20 am (UTC)

There is no microwave big enough.

This is all so delightful. But I think that the Monday publication date can't be true, because books almost always have Tuesdays as publication dates (with the exception of books like, um, Harry Potter) so I think that that would be weird.

The other date I heard was November 28--but isn't that a Wednesday? I mean, I've got the little calendar on my LJ right here in the same screen-space. Whatever, these people are obviously insane anyway.

Is anyone else finding it incredibly surreal to be siding with an enormous media conglomerate over, well, anything. It's very strange.

Also, the bottom of Leaky's article: "The Harry Potter Lexicon is a partner site to The Leaky Cauldron." You just know whoever wrote that was cringing as they did so and wishing oh-so-hard that it wasn't.

(Suddenly grateful I recently got round to making this icon. It will get so much use over this.)

Also, the bottom of Leaky's article: "The Harry Potter Lexicon is a partner site to The Leaky Cauldron." You just know whoever wrote that was cringing as they did so and wishing oh-so-hard that it wasn't.

I KNOW! And I don't blame TLC at all for selling the Lexicon's ass down the river, because TLC has to uphold its status as one of the better news sources and favored-by-JKR sites, and ain't nobody got a leg to stand on here. I'm actually trying to figure out whether RDR or Vander Ark is going to turn on the other first.

All the legal issues aside for which I believe, nay deeply pray for, JKR and WB are going to feast upon the carcass of RDR & SVA, this is the best example of the worst kind of public relations a business and professional could possibly do. I have this feeling that industry peers are laughing their asses off at risk of falling out of their office chairs. In a networking dependent industry this is not what you want your reputation to be.

Sometimes a little thorazine in the water might do the world a bit of good.

RDR Books summarily dismissed Warner Bros. reasonable request," the suit claims, "stating rudely: 'If you do not know how to print that material [from the Lexicon Website] please ask one of your people to show you how.' "
Dear fucking God. Who do these people think they are?

"Stopping a book of [Vander Ark's] own creation is not something that happens in America. It's something that could only happen in a police state."
This cracked me up. His own creation? Really? Yeah, I could retype the books in Word and publish them too, then. They're my own creation!

The Lexicon book's UK cover highly resembles the style of the Deathly Hallows UK cover, and the title in no way indicates, despite this resemblance, that it is not an official tie-in.
Wow, that's pretty devious.

Warner Bros. responded by rushing into court with this ill-tempered and badly thought out legal action. This wastes financial resources that Ms. Rowling could give to one of her favorite charities.
Wow. Just wow.

RDR Books' spokesman is named Richard Harris. That's not insane, really; that's just weird.
Haaaaaaaa.

...Why are they so blatantly taunting the woman with more money than God when they are so, so very clearly in the wrong? WHY?

I think that's pretty much the source of my bogglement in a nutshell. I just still can't get over how deluded these people are, the publisher in particular.

Someone rush those poor folks a copyright lawyer. They're crazy. If they're actually doing a print of the online version, then they don't even have the really thin possible argument of originality. Screen captures? Reproductions of maps? No way can they convince a judge that this is (1) not a copyright violation, or (2) fair use.

Um, yeah. Don't think the Lexicon is gonna win this one. As much as I hate siding with BIG CORPORATION$, I just don't see how this isn't going to end up as copyright violation.

WHAT. WHAT. WHAT WHAT. There is a degree of WHAT going on here that I simply cannot cope with.

Wow...Lexicon fails. thats all I can think at the moment. Just, wow. and why?

PraetorianGuard is so right - WB/JKR has a slam dunk... no jury could possibly side with RDR after all the stupidity they've done...

I was planning to make a post on this subject myself but you've done such a good job here I don't feel I have to and can just suggest folk read yours for an excellent summary. Will also save to memories.

The date I heard for publication is 28th November and that is also on the RDR website.




I hope JKR sues their asses from here to eternity. She has the money - it will never run out. These people are seriously deranged and need to be put down now. The nerve.

Um, isn't JKR coming out with an Encyclopedia of the Potterverse? I thought I heard she was working on something like that. So to me it sounds like Lexicon is trying to jump in before the legit version is published.

Also, I would be surprised if the big chain bookstores would carry the lexicon book due to legal reasons.

This looks like it will be highly entertaining. Keep us informed please!

Um, isn't JKR coming out with an Encyclopedia of the Potterverse? I thought I heard she was working on something like that.

Not only is she planning to, all of the profit will go to charity.

Yeah...all I have to say is *headdesk*. And if you continue to hear banging, that's still just me whacking my head trying to force some sort of comprehension in there. This only makes one kind of sane - INsane.

Yeah, I was pissed about this thing at first, because I misread it. "JKR is sueing the Lexicon for existing!?!?! I thought she loved them!"

No, no, no. She's sueing because they want to now actually make money off of the information, and such things are not okay.

JKR: "Worship my stories, awesome. Ask money for worshiping my stories, oh HELL no."

I never comment on LJs I read (hence this old, old name) but I just have to say, thank goodness for you Cleo, because I completely Teal Deer on the magnificent Crack!Wank that fandom manages to churn out without your recapping. It's like Fandom News: all the crap you want to laugh at, but hurts your brain to find! (Now with 50% more Cleo-isms!)

Aww, bless. : )

Oh, that November 5 UK publication date is in the complaint. Which I suppose doesn't guarantee it's right, only right to the best of JKR/WB's knowledge.

I doubt we'll see anything on Monday, though, because (according to WB) the UK publisher is talking to them. (Which probably goes something like, WB: I WILL KILL YOU. UK Publisher: Oh. Okay. Sorry.)

It was pointed out up-thread that Amazon are listing that date which... could lend credence, but equally could be complete nonsense I suppose. It's been known to happen.

(Also, I swear it didn't have the date yesterday. Though maybe I didn't look in the right place.)

I agree with you on the UK publisher front though. Whilst RDR seem little better than a vanity publishing house, they apparently managed to get Methuen in the UK. And they're a very real publisher.

I think this may actually be my favorite part:

RDR Books' spokesman is named Richard Harris.

Bizarre!

Incredibly, this is the first I've heard about this! I think you've done a really good job of compiling all the links, because after five minutes of reading this post, I feel like I'm completely up-to-date. XD

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