Discussion in 'Archive: SF&F: Books and Comics' started by Jedimarine, May 6, 2008.
This was too good not to be shared.
Seems to me Rowling's desperate. It's sad, actually. She contradicts herself, with saying she went to the website to research her own story (which I find strange to begin with) but now that those people are making a bit of many, she goes crazy.
I have the feeling she's afraid she'll be forgotten once the Harry Potter Hype's over.
Ouch. He makes some fair points there.
I await the outcome of this case with great anticipation.
Reading through Card's article once more, I notice a few points I'd like to address.
One, verbatim wording, character names and specific events created by an author are protected by law and can be copyrighted. Broad-stroke outlines, such as the one Card gives as a point of comparison between his novel Ender's Game and Rowling's Potter series, cannot be copyrighted and are not protected by law. (If the latter were so, Lucasfilm could have -- and probably would have -- sued the author and filmmakers of Eragon, which conforms to the precise storyline of the original Star Wars film in a point-by-point comparison.) The makers of the Lexicon seek to use verbatim wording, character names and specific events from Rowling's works in their own.
Two, Rowling's earlier acceptance -- and usage -- of Vader Ark's website does not constitute "hypocrisy". A fan-run website is not usually a means of generating income, but rather is created in the spirit of fanship and of shared access to pertinent materials free of charge. A published work such as Vander Ark's proposed Lexicon exists to generate income. This income would ultimately be derived from Rowling's works.
Three, Vander Ark's proposed Lexicon is not a critical commentary or scholarly research study into the origins and development of the Potter series, as Card seeks to describe it. It is rather an encyclopedia of the "Potterverse" created solely by Rowling. Only the copyright holder has the legal right to create and publish such a work.
Except Vander Ark at no time has attempted to claim anything original from the Potterverse as his own. It will be heavily sourced, and from I've read elsewhere be "companion" friendly by book in conjunction with where a reader is in the Potter Series. Provided he sources properly...he does have the right...just as Star Wars has been sourced thousands of times when directly referenced.
This is where She does have a case...but I will offer this line from Card
legally, she may have grounds...but is it necessary? I'm sure Rowling has sold in one Harry Book 100 fold the copies of Ender's Game...what's the message.
Additionally I would like to say that it wouldn't just be "her" work...this fan spent 10 years on a website that was award winning and lauded by it's inspiration's creator!
That takes a LOT of work...a lot of dedication from a fan...you know...just like the one we are on right now. I'd hope that perhaps after a decade of dedicated following and accumulating as a fan...the possibility of perhaps gaining a small fruit from the labor? Yes would this be so bad?
As Card mentioned, similar books were written about Potter during the run...why is it verboten now?
Again I quote Card:
This is not an attempt to "get your Potter in brief"...this is not a book to short change the buying of the series...in fact, I'd say it would probably pretty nonsensical to the non-Potter fan.
10,000 prints...give the dude a break.
A young kid growing up in an oppressive family situation suddenly learns that he is one of a special class of children with special abilities, who are to be educated in a remote training facility where student life is dominated by an intense game played by teams flying in midair, at which this kid turns out to be exceptionally talented and a natural leader. He trains other kids in unauthorized extra sessions, which enrages his enemies, who attack him with the intention of killing him; but he is protected by his loyal, brilliant friends and gains strength from the love of some of his family members. He is given special guidance by an older man of legendary accomplishments who previously kept the enemy at bay. He goes on to become the crucial figure in a struggle against an unseen enemy who threatens the whole world.
-Orson Scott Card
I can't help but laugh. Generic plot points to be sure, rather than specific items being referenced, but still quite funny.
Yes, it absolutely would be bad. Horrible. There are millions of fan fiction stories, fan art images, RPGs, etc. If they were all allowed to get them published and make money, it would seriously hurt the authors. And you can't just allow it for one person, it's all or nothing. JRK has been and still is fine with people playing in her world, but I completely understand that she doesn't want people to make money off of it.
As for the lexicon, it quotes a LOT of her text. She still holds the copyright on her material, so she gets to do with it as she wishes. Even in scholarly works (or even powerpoint presentations) there's a limit to how much copyrighted material you can put in without having to pay for use of copyrighted material.
Wow, i just lost all respect for JK. What is her problem, she even used the thing.
Exactly. It's a very murky legal issue. I'd recommend reading the articles on the WSJ's law blog (links can be found at TLC and Mugglenet)for a good, and unbiased, overview.
In the end, I understand Rowling: she's come to the end of the HP road, and it's clear Harry has a very deep, personal connection for her, almost as if he were one of her children. SO she wants to maintain as much control over the use of the story as possible. She and her staff asked SVA and RDR to receive a manuscript that they could give comments on. She's done the same for a number of other, similar works. Unfortunately, RDR, were rather uncooperative, which incurred JKR's wrath.
The legal issue resolves around how much an author of a lexicon has to add to the material himself to make it "transformative". Is it enough to simply collect the info in alphabetical order, or do you have to add some more original analysis? Does the quality of the analysis matter (JKR says that what little analysis SVA brings is of very poor quality)? I personally think collecting the info in alphabetical order is a significant amount of work, and provides a real service to HP readers, so that it should be a "fair use", but I'm by no means an expert on this legal field. And as legal commentators have pointed out, the case law is all over the place.
That was great and kudos to Orson Scott Card, the author of my favorite book Ender's Game. Rowling is already a BIZZILIONAIRE. I love HP but she is way out of line w/this lawsuit.
Her being a BIZZILIONAIRE is actually irrelevant -- she is going to donate the proceeds of her own encyclopeia to charity.
Her own encyclopedia is a motivation for the suit, though -- she fears that RDR may actually sue her claiming that her encyclopedia steals from the lexicon.
It's actually an interesting thought -- at this point, it's unlikely the lexicon will sell many copies, as JKR's fans consider SVA a traitor. That#s not really a surprise.
You have to wonder if RDR is really interested in publishing the lexicon only so that they can sue Rowling. It would be sort of like domain name squatting -- I discover that cocacola.com, for example, is not registered, so I register it myself, even though I have no connection to the product. When the good people at Coke finalyl come along wanting to register the site, I can essentially blackmail them into paying me an unbelievably high price for the rights.
A great many people make a living doing contracted works of various original ideas...between freelance artists doing sketch work by request, to the entire cosplay industry...there is a ton of this out there.
The truth isn't "it's none or everyone" it was "who to go after and who to let be".
In this case...as the concept of a Rowling edited encyclopedia "could" be something of interest to her...she stepped into it.
I'm curious if the guy made money off ad revenue on his site? In essence, he would be making money of HP then...is she suing him for that too?
I think he said he's made a few thousand dollars profit. Not much, in any event.
I ignore everything OSC has to say about everything. The man is a brilliant writer for sure and I love his work. He however is a total jackass.
Contracted works - by the copyright holder. You can't legally make money off of what other people write. If someone were to go try to publish HP fanfic, JKR would be totally within her right to sure that person.
And it doesn't matter how much money she has. It's illegal and unethical to make money off of her work like that.
The similarities between Harry Potter and Ender's Game remind me of this:
Almost all fantasy authors have the same basic plotline; the bad ones (and some of the classics) show it. The reluctant hero sets out on an epic quest to save the world/land/kingdom/galaxy/his family, gains newfound magical powers and is guided by a wise old wizard until the time comes when he must face his evil enemy alone, relying on his magical ability and the love of his family/friends/hot girl/mentor.
How many times have people complained that Eragon copied from evryone else? Same deal here, except not so blatant and it's well-written.
That image is brilliant.
No I mean contracted works between artist and customer...take a stroll down an artist row at a convention or art fair...I guarantee you'll see a dozen or more freelance renders of SW or Tolkien or Harry Potter or Disney or whatever people want...and not a dime in royalty will find it's way to the respective copyright holders.
Same with years on End of Hogwarts scarves that people have knit and sold online or crafted wands...or made lightsabers. Same thing with people who right books on the philosophy of such fiction, and similar "tangent" books.
Now if they ever started making money on a level that could jeopardize a copyright owner's product lines...then you might see this happen...but most of time, this stuff just goes on...because the cost of litigation is more then any award a holder could gain...and there is a grey area in terms of "fair use"...especially when talking about "cultural icons". (Disney ran into that with Mickey Mouse a few years ago).
I never disputed the legality of a copyright holders claims...I simply indicated that it happens all the time, no matter how unethical it may seem...if JKR is going to be policing the open markets for people making a little money on her creation...she's going to spend more on doing so then it's probably worth...and for what? So she can be second with the idea for such a product?
She should've embraced the effort...then encouraged her own publisher to pay him what he would've gotten from his small release or perhaps a little more and taken the lion share from a 2 million print bestseller.
It may be legal...but that doesn't mean it can't be petty.
After reading the article, my opinion of OSC just rose.
It's nice to see other author's feelings on Rowling's behavior. She should have been able to see that once she stopped writing, others would want to continue it on their own (look at SW). To prevent the current situtation she shouldn't have allowed any one to use HP (those "What will Happen in HP__?" books spring to mind)
The only reason I can see her lawsuit having any merit is if she is in the final stages of publishing her own encyclopedia.
On the "stealing" idea; I don't see it as that serious. Every SciFi/Fantasy story has basically the same plot, so unless its really explicit its not too bad. Paolini was smart because the guys he copied from are mainly dead and therefore will have a hard time suing him.
The difference being that Lucas gave his permission for SW to continue in books and comics. The publishers held (and DelRey holds) rights to do that. JKR doesn't want this, feels that it is a threat, and has every right to go after this guy.
And yeah, I suppose you're right; artists can make money that way. However, that does not mean that was SVA is doing is okay; JKR has every right to go after him.
Sorry, I need to form real sentences. I meant that JKR wasn't so blatant and HP is well-written. Eragon is neither.
I personally think Rowling is being overdramatic but she does have a legal case and she is correct in trying to stop the Lexicon. By law, only she has the right to authorize such a thing, and she clearly did not authorize it.
I would not permit something like a Lexicon of my work if I didn't authorize it first either.
Now, fanworks being sold can work somewhat, depending on the society. There is a bazillion doujnshi (sic?) being sold in Japan alongside official work and they manage to co-exist just fine. But Japanese culture is different than the US or Western culture in general, I think that most Westerners, including myself, would take advantage way too far.
Edit: FTR, I think Card is an intelligent man who writes superb stories (with the lone exception being Pastwatch), and he is my favorite author. He is a bit too conservative but he makes good points most of the time, except when he's talking about some of his social views, which I find disagreement with.
I also am of the opinion that Dumbledore is not gay. If he was, J.K. Rowling should have said so in the text. If I'm going to write a homosexual character I'd make sure the reader would at least see it implied before the story ended, I agree with Card on that.
You know, I've been following this for a long time. There are a lot of legal fanworks out there, and I fully support them. So, you'll notice, does JKR. She has long encouraged her fan community, moreso than many other authors. There are a number of books that exist that take Harry Potter, and make good, scholarly comment on the books. JKR has never tried to stop them, and her licensing agency has been very cooperative with people interested in writing such books.
The Harry Potter Lexicon in book format is not the site (in spite of early instructions from RDR to the WB to 'hit the print button' if they wanted to see the manuscript so badly). It is only the A-Z index, and much of that is available to the public through Justia. Side-by-side comparisons of the Lexicon text versus JKR's text reveal that most of the phrasing is almost exactly the same. In fact, it has been shown that 91.4% of the Lexicon is comprised of JKR's words (document 84 on Justia, Exhibit A). That is not fair use. That's copy-pasting and rearranging with a few facetious remarks to call your own. Not to mention his citations are sporadic and completely inadequate, and don't follow any remotely recognizable system.
Just to add insult to injury, JKR corrected one of his etymologies on the witness stand. He has since corrected the online Lexicon to reflect this, but did not give any credit to her. Instead, he credited one of his LiveJournal friends for hunting down a website. Call me biased, but that is one of the most classless things I have ever seen in fandom.
Saying that "it was allowed online, so it should be allowed in print" is a very, very dangerous thing to say. If such a precedent is set, I would not expect online fandom to survive much longer. Using that argument, any fanfiction published online would be completely legal to sell, and you can be quite sure that no sane copyright holder is going to let that happen.
The point is not that JKR is rich. She's not making any money off this lawsuit (it was detailed in the original complaint that any proceeds of the case would go directly to charity), she wouldn't make any money off any books she would publish in the future. She has enough money, and she knows it. But she's not required to share if she doesn't want to- that's why we have copyright laws. The reason she's fighting this one with everything she has is because there are a lot of other authors who aren't filthy rich. And they wouldn't be able to defend themselves if somebody decided to infringe their copyright.
Thing is, you shouldn't listen to me, you shouldn't listen to JKR, and you shouldn't listen to OSC. If you want an objective view of the case, all the documents are readily available. US Copyright laws are easy to find online. You can even view full transcripts of the trial. Don't rely on the rantings of others to provide you with an opinion, because everyone has a bias. Look at the evidence and decide for yourselves.