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J.K. Rowling Wins Fair-Use Case Against Harry Potter Encyclopedia

Jk01_2Here's a decision we've been waiting five months for: A New York federal judge today ruled in favor of Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling in a dispute with a publisher who put out an unofficial encyclopedic companion to the popular Harry Potter book series. We'll post the full decision as soon as we get it but here's some background on the case. In a nutshell, RDR Books claimed the forthcoming "Harry Potter Lexicon" was a fair use of Rowling's copyrighted books; she said it was a massive infringement.

Judge Robert Patterson today sided with Rowling, making that forthcoming release not-so-forthcoming. He ruled RDR "had failed to establish an affirmative defense of fair use" and stopped publication of the book.

The case is a setback for fair-use advocates but a big win for Warners and Rowling (and their lawyers at O'Melveny & Meyers). She testified in court back in April and issued this statement following the ruling:

"I took no pleasure at all in bringing legal action and am delighted that this issue has been resolved favourably. I went to court to uphold the right of authors everywhere to protect their own original work. The court has upheld that right. The proposed book took an enormous amount of my work and added virtually no original commentary of its own. Now the court has ordered that it must not be published. Many books have been published which offer original insights into the world of Harry Potter.  The Lexicon just is not one of them.”

RDR's statement after the jump: 

And just for the heck of it, here's Warners' statement:

"We are obviously pleased with today’s ruling by Judge Patterson supporting the position that the proposed lexicon book infringes on Ms. Rowling’s rights.  As a content company, it is imperative that we work vigorously on all fronts to protect the intellectual property rights of those who create the stories and characters, words, pictures and music that entertain and benefit the worldwide audience."


"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."