Well the hopes of a full settlement were apparently too much to ask for. Darn. The WSJ law blog tells us that when the courts reconvened today, the attorneys informed Judge Patterson that they had reached a settlement only on the false advertising and deceptive trade practices claims. This means only that neither J.K Rowling’s name nor her quote endorsing the online version of the Harry Potter Lexicon will appear on the cover of the book version of the Lexicon….if it is published. Also, Anthony Falzone, who’s representing RDR in the case, told the court that both parties hope to “paper a settlement” on the trademark infringement and unfair competition claims.
The crux of the courtcase; which is Copyright Infringement is still unfortunately on the table and has not been settled on.
So the case moved on…
David Hammer, the lead attorney for RDR, seemed to be most interested in establishing the point that the more creative a work is — a “fantasy” being perhaps the most creative genre of the novel — the more there’s a need for a reference guide to illuminate, for the reader, the unique (and non-existent) world the author has created. Sorensen testified that, historically, lexicons and reference works similar to Vander Ark’s have been helpful for readers seeking to gain a better understanding of such works as J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” and C.S. Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Lexicons like Vander Ark’s, testified Sorensen, can educate a reader on etymologies, mythical references, geography (real and imagined) and the vernacular and slang used by the author. She also said that reference guides written by the authors themselves aren’t necessarily the final word on their own texts, since authors can assume too much knowledge on the part of the reader.
In her cross, Cendali returned to the plaintiffs’ legal motif in the case: The H.P. Lexicon takes too much, and does too little. Cendali pressed Sorensen on the point that the Lexicon contains little interpretive analysis. Sorensen conceded as much, but said that analysis isn’t the only value a reference guide like Vander Ark’s can provide a reader.
It should also be noted that JK Rowling and Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc. put out an official statement regarding the case:
“A fan’s affectionate enthusiasm should not obscure acts of plagiarism. The publishers knew what they were doing. The problem remains that the Lexicon takes an enormous amount of Ms. Rowling’s work and adds virtually no original commentary of its own. As we’ve said in court, it takes too much and adds too little. Authors have a duty to prevent the exploitation of their works by people who contribute nothing original, creative or interpretive.”
If you are starting to feel lost in all of this legal jargon and want the laymen’s/Harry Potter fan’s version of the events, feel free to listen to our latest podcast episode, “Harry Potter Goes to Court.” We discussed the case so far, as well as the impact that it has had on the Harry Potter Fandom.