J.K. Rowling Reveals All In New Book, ‘Harry, A History’

I was so pleased with my ability to point to MTV earlier, I must do it again... J.K. Rowling might not have exactly have a new book out this year — do you count “Beedle the Bard”? — but for her boy Harry’s 10-year “birthday,” she’s got the next best thing. Leaky Cauldron webmistress Melissa Anelli interviewed the author — and got Rowling to write the intro — for her upcoming book, due out November 4, called “Harry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon.”

So apparently it's OK to write about the people who read Harry Potter, it's not OK to write about Harry Potter.


I think that last part should probably read "it's not okay to reproduce whole passages of the Potters novels without citation or attribution", which was what Vander Ark did, in addition to not adding any original thought and/or commentary to what he was reproducing.

Steven Jan Vander Ark.

he should write a book about how he lost the Potter case and include passages from his book along side passages from Potter books with commentary and criticism, and basically publish his entire encyclopedia inside this courtroom memoir.

passages from his book along side passages from Potter books

Since all of his passages are lifted directly from the Potter books, there should be a lot of repetition there.

Yes, it's fair game to write about Harry Potter, or Rowling, or both, IN THE CONTEXT OF FAIR USE. This is what disallows the publication of an encyclopedia drawn substantially from Rowling's fiction, but allows Mr. Vander Ark to proceed with a non-fiction travel guidebook, IN SEARCH OF HARRY POTTER, which is due to be published this week, in the U.K. (He is already at work, he says, on a follow-up volume; he'll be mining his Rowling/Potter expertise for several books, it looks like. I have no problem with that. He's within his legal rights. He's also spent a lot of time promoting Rowling at conventions and countless hours making his HP Lexicon website a fan favorite.)

Interestingly, at about the same time that THE HARRY POTTER LEXICON (print version) was to be published, the Mugglenet staff had expected to get their Harry Potter encyclopedia published, as a follow-up to their bestselling book of speculation as to what would be happening in Book 7. Rowling shut that down, though, as is her right: folks, she's going to write her own encyclopedia, so she doesn't need the competition distracting and confusing the general public; and, besides, as the judge declared in his summation, you can't simply use Rowling's fictional universe and compile a "persons, places, and things" list that rephrases (or copies in whole) the original texts. That's why RDR Books lost the case.

In the court documents Rowling makes it abundantly clear that there have been numerous books published about her and her work, with the important distinction that they all have original commentary, whereas Vander Ark's was merely (as her lawyer put it) rearranging the furniture. Rowling has no problems with legitimate books that fall within the Fair Use doctrine. She has big problems with fans and writers wanting to line their pockets with cheap rip-offs of her work, in which there's no original contribution.

So, anyone writes anything as silly, as opinionated, as wrongheaded, as wonky, as patently absurd and as far from facts and reality as possible by asserting that it's not OK to write about Harry Potter, well, it would behoove that person to at least take the time to acquaint oneself with the basics of copyright law (see the Library of Congress website) and read up on Fair Use, and also look at the Rowling case in detail by reading the court transcripts. And, by doing so, such a person won't appear so woefully ignorant.