The Battle Between Rowling and Van Ark

Today, the topic of copyright infringement is brought up again with the case of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. v. RDR Books. The commencement of this lawsuit between Warner Bros and RDR was October 31, 2007 and the case lasted until 2008. RDR is a publishing company that is based in Michigan and was planning on publishing a book called “The Lexicon”. The book was created from Steven Vander Ark, which was also the creator of the website “Harry Potter Lexicon”. The website is a very popular in the eyes of Harry Potter fans and obviously the books is primarily drawn from the information that is advertised on the website. The purpose of the website is to be an encyclopedia for the fans to reference events that are taking place, special spells that are used, and even descriptions of characters and creatures.

What I found that was most interesting was that the article explains how Steven Vander Ark knew that Rowling wanted to produce a Harry Potter encyclopedia after the seventh book of the series was completed. Van Ark even emailed Rowling’s agent before the seventh book was produced that he wanted to jump on board with Rowling to create this Harry Potter Encyclopedia; however, Van Ark was told that Rowling wanted to work on this work herself. What I am curious about is what was his motivation to go through with making his own encyclopedia when knowing that she was going to create her own anyways? Was it out of anger towards her wanting to work on the encyclopedia herself?

After further reading in the article, it states that Roger Rapoport was the main reason for the encyclopedia to be published. Rapoport mentions that he had no clue that Rowling wanted to produce an encyclopedia even after Van Ark went to him with the concerns that he has with copyright infringement. However, Rapoport later convinced Van Ark to produce the encyclopedia which would only be placed on the website so that Harry Potter fans could get all the information they needed in one place. Later RDR books rushed to have a manuscript done for “The Lexicon” by late October of 2007 so that for the holiday season they would be out on the shelves. Rowling and Warner Bros ended up winning the case, which blocked the publication of the book.

Personally, I do not think the publication of “The Lexicon” would have affected our society at all. The only benefit from it would be that the encyclopedia would have been produced a lot sooner then it would have been produced if Rowling’s wrote it. The real negative would have been place on Rowling because she would have lost a boatload of money. I do agree with the outcome of the case with the book infringing on copyright, but I do believe that Rowling should have at least included Van Ark on her editing team because of the massive amount of Harry Potter work that he has completed over the years.

One thought on “The Battle Between Rowling and Van Ark

  1. One of the main purposes of copyright protection is financial. Yes, JK Rowling has already made a great deal of money, but the content is indeed hers. One of main reasons copyright was upheld is because the content was not significantly different because much of it was just lifted from her books.

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