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Rowling v Lexicon
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Rowling v Lexicon

For seven years, a Harry Potter fanatic worked on a guidebook to J. K. Rowling’s best-selling series, but in the end, a federal judge ruled on Monday, his book was too close to the work he admired.

“Plaintiffs have shown that the lexicon copies a sufficient quantity of the Harry Potter series to support a finding of substantial similarity between the Lexicon and Rowling’s novels,” Judge Robert P. Patterson Jr. of Federal District Court in Manhattan wrote in his 68-page ruling blocking publication of a Harry Potter Lexicon written by Steven Jan Vander Ark.

The decision, which came nearly five months after a four-day trial, was a victory for Ms. Rowling and Warner Brothers Entertainment, the company that produces the Harry Potter movies. They had sued to block a Michigan-based publisher from producing the lexicon. Judge Patterson awarded the plaintiffs $6,750 in damages.

“I took no pleasure at all in bringing legal action and am delighted that this issue has been resolved favorably,” Ms. Rowling said in a statement. “I went to court to uphold the right of authors everywhere to protect their own original work. The proposed book took an enormous amount of my work and added virtually no original commentary of its own.”

Despite Ms. Rowling’s criticism of his book and a legal defeat, Mr. Vander Ark said he remained a fan and would welcome an opportunity to sit down and chat with Ms. Rowling.

“I have been a huge fan of the Harry Potter series and Ms. Rowling for 10 years; that’s not going to change,” Mr. Vander Ark said by telephone on Monday from his home in Brighton, England. “We had a disagreement about the definition of a particular book. It was a legal disagreement. I would rather that it wasn’t personal.”

Mr. Vander Ark, 50, who bears a striking resemblance to Harry Potter, said he wished he could come to a resolution with Ms. Rowling that would allow him to go forward with the lexicon, which he said was written in response to the demand of fans of his Web site, also called the Harry Potter Lexicon.

For now, however, Mr. Vander Ark has his sights on his next Harry Potter project: his book “In Search of Harry Potter” is scheduled to be released next month. It is a memoir of his travels to locations similar to the ones described in the Rowling books. The book, Mr. Vander Ark said, should not land him back in Wizengamot — the wizards’ high court of law depicted in the Harry Potter series.

“It’s a travel memoir,” he said. “It’s not in any way the kind of a thing which should raise any red flags.”

Mr. Vander Ark was a librarian and teacher at Byron Center Christian School in Byron Center, Mich., but now makes a living as a writer.

The lawsuit filed last year against the company trying to publish Mr. Vander Ark’s lexicon, RDR Books, which is based in Muskegon, Mich., argued that the encyclopedia copied Ms. Rowling’s material, while adding little or no new information and insight.

The trial played out like a novel, complete with catharsis and fury.

The opening day saw Ms. Rowling lash out at Mr. Vander Ark’s work.

“I believe that this book constitutes the wholesale theft of 17 years of my hard work,” she testified, going on to denounce the book as plagiarism and a waste of money.

The following day Mr. Vander Ark sobbed on the stand as he said that Ms. Rowling’s attacks on his work had ostracized him from the “Harry Potter community.”

Despite the criticism, Mr. Vander Ark showed his fascination for Ms. Rowling during the trial.

When told in court that Ms. Rowling had explained the etymology of “Alohomora,” an unlocking spell, as coming from a West African dialect, Mr. Vander Ark responded: “That’s exciting stuff for someone like me. Did she happen to mention which dialect?”

Lawyers for RDR found a ray of hope in the judge’s decision.

“We have a decision that’s a very useful guide to show people what they can do in the future as far as creating companion guides,” said Anthony T. Falzone, one of the defense lawyers.

David S. Hammer, another RDR lawyer, said RDR might appeal.

Mr. Vander Ark said he would move on to the next phase of his life as an author, without the aid of the magical quill that the reporter Rita Skeeter relies on.

“If I had a Quick-Quotes Quill, I wouldn’t tell you, because that would mean I was a wizard,” Mr. Vander Ark said. “And that would be a secret.”



Old Post Sep 9th, 2008 11:04 PM
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Darth Macabre
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It stinks that the website has been taken down.


The only thing thats with you your whole life is complete and utter darkness.

Old Post Sep 10th, 2008 10:18 AM
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Hogwarts Cafe MANAGER

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I feel sick that JK and WB took such sharp stand against him, she her self has said that numerouse time she was using the lexicon as reference while writing the books.



R.I.P Headmaster Severus Snape

Take the portkey


Tigg, RebPhoe, Maika, Rogue, Sarant, ADarksideJedi, MUSC

Old Post Sep 10th, 2008 02:05 PM
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Meh. When you're rich you let everything get to you erm


Old Post Sep 10th, 2008 10:50 PM
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