Judge Blocks the Potter Lexicon

News today that a ruling has been made in favor of author J.K. Rowling in her copyright infringement lawsuit against fan, Web site operator and former librarian, Steven VanderArk, who was set to publish a Potter encyclopedia. The judge found that the lexicon "appropriates too much of Rowling's creative work for its purposes as a reference guide."

U.S. District Judge Robert P. Patterson said Rowling had proven that Vander Ark's "Harry Potter Lexicon" would cause her irreparable harm as a writer. He permanently blocked publication of the reference guide and awarded Rowling and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. $6,750 in statutory damages.

From the Muskegon Chronical, the would-be Lexicon publishers response to the ruling. Says Roger Rapoport of RDR Books: "We are encouraged by the fact the Court recognized that as a general matter authors do not have the right to stop the publication of reference guides and companion books about literary works. As for the Lexicon, we are obviously disappointed with the result, and RDR is considering all of its options."


Here is a link to the story at a law school blog. The article links to the pdf of the opinion and gives a little analysis.

Had this: Stingy minimum damages award speaks volumes
I’m completely underwhelmed by the damages awarded in the case. $750 for each of the seven novels about the boy wizard and $750 each of the two companion books for a total of $6,750. And for good reason: the 1976 Copyright Act now allows for damages of up to $100,000 for each act of infringement. Judge Patterson is certainly sending a message here about the spirit of the law, even if it contradicts his ruling on the letter of the law.

Full blog entry here.