More About That J.K. Rowling Lawsuit
Meanwhile, RDR books, the defendant, is quoted at RDR Books Files Response to JKR/WB in Lexicon Suit as stating in its defense these interesting facts:
4. The brief says it is “far too late” for JKR to be the “first to publish” a Potter companion books, citing “nearly 200 Harry Potter companion guides,” “many of which incorporate A to Z listings.” RDR provides six of these books as evidence:
a. The Unofficial Harry Potter Encyclopedia: Harry Potter A-Z, by Kristina Benson
b. Field Guide to Harry Potter, by Colin Duriez
c. The J.K. Rowling Encyclopedia, by Connie Ann Kirk
d. A Muggle’s Guide to Exploring the Wizarding World by Fiona Boyle
e. Fact, Fiction and Folklore in Harry Potter’s World, by George Beahm
f. The End of Harry Potter? by David Langford
Similar legal actions:
This Means Warcraft!, recounts that the publisher of a guide to the World of Warcraft game was sued for copyright and trademark infringement. The case was handled by Public Citizen, for a win in the publisher-author’s favor: In Settlement Victory, Software Company Allows eBay Sale of Guide to Popular Video Game.
“Beanie Babies” Collector’s Guide: Another Study in Fair Use brings up some interesting issues, especially since the Guide had to use photos of the dolls, which presented another dimension for an allegation of infringement.
I think J.K. Rowling is right. Creating a web site is one thing, but putting a book together to profit from her work is wrong.
No. A for-profit venture is beside the point in Copyright cases. See The Seinfeld and The Wind Done Gone Cases: Studies in Fair Use:
Nature and Purpose of the Work: TWDG was clearly a commercial venture but commercialism, in and of itself, does not rule out the defense of fair use if other elements are present.
Emphasis added by me.
Someone else in the Comments stated:
I wonder if you need to put the word “Unauthorized” in the title to be allowed to do it.
And he might be closer to the truth:
Early in the production of the musical, the president of the Church of Scientology in New York sent a letter to the producer pointing out the Church’s history of litigation. This led Timbers and Jarrow to insert the word “Unauthorized” into the title, upon the advice of legal counsel.
I’m not certain about the legal issues involved with Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star: An Unauthorised Biography of the Big G
Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star is the first complete guide to the Godzilla legend published in North America. It is also the first totally unauthorized Godzilla book to be successfully published (legal challenges from Toho Co. Ltd.have previously snuffed out two others by Fantasma Books in 1996 and Quill Publishing in 1998).
Perhaps the other two publishers simply withdrew the books from publication. Book publishers are sometimes weasels like that.
There have also been a number of books riding on the popularity of Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code. One of them is Secrets of the Code: The Unauthorized Guide to the Mysteries Behind The Da Vinci Code.
I still believe Rowling is wrong. Even if she wins this case, she’s bound to lose on appeal.