Reference guides and companion books about literary works have been a critically important part of literature since its inception, and the right to publish them stood largely unchallenged. We agreed to help defend the Harry Potter Lexicon because J.K. Rowling's claims threatened that right, and because we believe the fair use doctrine protects the Lexicon, and other publications like it. We tried the case in April in a Manhattan Court and waited through the summer for a decision.
Today we found out we lost. In a thoughtful and meticulous decision spanning 68 pages, the Court recognized that as a general matter authors do not have the right to stop publication of reference guides and companion books about literary works, and issued an important explanation of why reference guides are not derivative works. Needless to say, we're very happy the Court vindicated these important principles.
But the Lexicon did not fare so well. The Court held the Lexicon infringed Ms. Rowling's copyright, was not protected by fair use, and permanently enjoined the publication of it. (Read the full decision here.)
Needless to say we're disappointed, as is our client, RDR Books. Careful and thoughtful as the decision is, we think it's wrong. So stay tuned to see where we go from here. In the meantime, thank Roger Rapoport, the Publisher of RDR Books for having the courage to stand up for free speech and fair use. He fought a fight that not many would have the stomach to fight, and we are proud to fight with him.
While you're at it, thank Steve Vander Ark. It's not easy to stand up to your hero, or bear the unjustified scorn of your fellow fans.
Finally, remember that avada kedavra -- the killing curse -- is not always fatal. One wizard survived it. Three times. And it was he who cast the spell (and won't be named here) that ultimately suffered for it. Maybe someday the Lexicon will be known as The Book That Lived.