Posted on September 8, 2008 in copyright, Fair Use, harry potter, IP by Brian RoweComments Off

Judge Robert Patterson ruled today that the H.P. Lexicon infringes J.K. Rowling’s copyright in the Harry Potter series, while rejecting a finding of fair use.  Judge Patterson granted an injunction preventing the distribution of the Harry Potter Lexicon while stating that the distribution would cause Rowling irreparable harm as a writer.

Basically the court found that the “Lexicon appropriates too much of Rowling’s creative work for its purposes as a reference guide.”

My favorite and possibly most backward line from the opinion is:

“While the Lexicon, in its current state, is not a fair use of the Harry Potter works, reference works that share the Lexicon’s purpose of aiding readers of literature generally should be encouraged rather than stifled.”

If you want to encourage these works then why rule against it… ?  Well the answer is not a legal one it is an economic and emotional one.  Once you get beyond the basics of the legal claims in this opinion you will notice something very disturbing.  The court simply accepted many of Rowling’s bogus economic arguments and fell for her argument that the Lexicon is hurting charity.  This court simply fails to grasp two things:

1.   Answer speech you do not like, including commercial speech, with more speech not less

2.  Monopolies are bad for the public interest – in this case they discourage the creation of new works, and expand copyright control beyond the work for purely anti-competitive reasons.

The court claims that “publication of the Lexicon would also result in harm to the charitable organization … More concretely, publication of the Lexicon would cause irreparable harm to the sales of Rowling’s companion books, all the elements of which are replicated in the Lexicon for a similar purpose. Readers would have no reason to purchase the companion books since the lexicon supersedes their value” (emphasis added page 64) This is flawed in many ways:

1.  People will still buy official Rowling’s works simply because they are official, the Rowling approved brand sells books.

2.  Rowling’s own companion inherently has an advantage, she can add more information or facts making it better. Competition creates a need for innovation, by killing the lexicon the court is protecting stagnation and discouraging new creativity.

3.  People will buy the Rowling companion to support charity even if it is the same as the lexicon.

4.  More products on the market create more interest and more hype for official goods.

This opinion is very disappointing.

Read the 68 page opinion for yourself:

Potter Decision Rowling v. RDR Books 9-8-08

Other posts:

WSJ coverage of HP Lexicon Case

Posted on July 24, 2007 in Copynight, harry potter, IP, Pirate bay, RIAA, Seattle, university of Washington by Brian RoweComments Off

Please join us tonight (Tuesday) at 8:30 PM at Cafe Press in Capitol Hill at 1117 12th Ave. This is a new location with WIFI. The location is also all ages with a good reasonably priced menu and drinks.

Topics will include:

Harry Potter and Pirate Bay


Free Culture in Seattle

See you there,

-Brian Rowe
Freedom for Intellectual Prosperity

Posted on July 19, 2007 in Fair Use, harry potter, IP, news, Pirate bay, tech crunch by Brian RoweComments Off

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the last book in the Harry Potter Series, has been downloadable on The Pirate Bay since at least Monday. Today, Scholastic the U.S. publisher of the Harry Potter books, is sendng takedown notices to sites that have reported this news requesting that they take down the stories for infringement on IP rights of the author.

There is little to no legal foundation for Scholastics take down requests. The release of the Potter book on a file sharing site is very large news that should be protected speech.

Not only is this a bad legal tactic it is also an example of how out of date publishers are with the modern technology literate generation. Authors and Publishers need to start watching and listing to the current generation and stop threating them with baseless legal claims.

The book is on Pirate bay, SO WHAT:
Does this mean no one will buy the book… NO, in fact the publicity around the leek may create more interest in the book. I predict that it will have record sales that are not touched by the release on Pirate bay.

Does this mean that people who were going to buy the book will choose not to buy it? NO many people will download it and still buy the book. Fans want to support authors! Having the book online for free does not stop people from buying official copies of good books.

In fact putting a version of ones work up online for free is probably the best thing you can do to help spread publicity about your work. It opens up your work to people who might not have given it a try if they had to buy it originally. This allows for amazing viral marketing of authors.

Link to an example of the take down letter at Tech Crunch