|neviot (e_witness) wrote,|
@ 2008-05-01 16:26:00
|Current music:||GH Ending Theme|
NYC Legal Showdown
I've been combing through The Leaky Cauldron's page documenting the WB/JKR vs. RDR Books trial, as objective of an information archive on this topic as one could find on the 'Net. The case has made headline news occasionally, I think, what with WB's fame and JKR's fanbase. If you're unfamiliar with the situation, here's a quick summary: Huge HP fan and webmaster of the popular HP Lexicon Steven Vander Ark was approached in fall of last year by a small publisher named RDR Books to compile an encyclopedia based upon his website. SVA and RDR came to an agreement without authorization from either J.K. Rowling or Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., and a lawsuit was brought against RDR last October, halting any publications. The trial has been raging in NYC for the past two weeks, and the judge has encouraged it to be settled out of court.
On one hand, I feel very disillusioned with JKR and am uncomfortable with the entire air of entitlement she's donned all of a sudden (though much of what she said on the stand might have been coached). JKR's always encouraged her fans to discuss and speculate, and I've always seen her on the more liberal spectrum when it comes to copyright and ownership, so it is disconcerting to see her denouncing the Lexicon manuscript for not including what she considered the most important aspects of the book. It is also just a little discomforting that she wields her own encyclopedia as a threat, a piece of blackmail almost, declaring on the stand that the trial has sapped her creativity. "And should that happen," says Rowling on the possibility of the Lexicon publication, "should my fans be glutted with a surfeit of substandard so-called lexicons and guides, I'm not at all convinced that I would have the will or the heart to continue with my encyclopedia." (Page 54 of day 1 of the transcript)
On the other hand, I recognize on a logical plane that RDR in repeatedly ignoring the C&D letters and in not complying with WB's request to see the Lexicon manuscript really did not act professionally. As for the actual issue of legality and the argument of fair use, even the most experienced lawyers are embroiled in debate over it, so I won't add in my ignorant, mostly liberal opinions. I don't think there's anything I can say that hasn't been already discussed in that archive.
The whole case has left a very bad taste in my mouth, reminding me why, back in the days when people still asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, law was one of the two professions I wouldn't touch with a yardstick (politics being the other that allows for, if not stirs up, mudslinging).
But, morbidly intrigued, I skimmed through parts of the transcript, provided at The Leaky Cauldron courtesy of Stanford Law School, and while I wouldn't sit through the case for a thousand Galleons, there was one bit of inanity that had me doubled over with laughter.
Ms. Cendali, the attorney for WB and JKR, said at one point. "Can you put up on the screen from Exhibit 1, The Lexicon, the first page of the entry for Voldemort. Forgive me for speaking the name." (Page 61 of day 1 of the transcript)
Apparently, knowledge and accompanying fear of You-Know-Who has infiltrated even the Muggle world. :D
Despite the general unpleasantness with the case and the slightly polarizing effect on the HP fanbase between JKR and SVA, JKR is still to be admired and respected for gifting the world with such a magical, wonderful creation and for her patience with and encouragement to her fans. SVA, too, is to be respected for devoting so much of his time to the Lexicon, a resource to so many fans and a tribute to JKR herself.
On an somewhat unrelated note, Neil Gaiman's response to all of this gives me new respect for him. Actually, reading his blog is fun. In that, fangirly, half-stalkerish way. :)