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Harry Potter Lexicon published after judgment-guided edit

Rowling over on legally iffy material

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A new version of the Harry Potter companion book at the centre of a US intellectual property court case has been published. Author Steve Vander Ark has stripped the book of the material a US judge objected to in order to make it publishable.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling's representatives have welcomed the publication, saying that they now consider the matter to be resolved.

Vander Ark is the fan behind the website The Harry Potter Lexicon, which charts the world invented by Rowling for her boy wizard to inhabit. Last year a New York court blocked the publication of a book based on that site, saying that the book infringed Rowling's copyright.

Vander Ark said that he had used the court's judgment as a reference in producing the new version of his book, which is published by RDR.

"This book has been written to carefully follow the guidelines laid out in the Judge’s decision concerning the original Lexicon manuscript," he said on the Lexicon website.

Rowling's agents, the Christopher Little Agency, welcomed the revisions.

"We are delighted that this matter is finally and favourably resolved and that JK Rowling’s rights – and indeed the rights of all authors of creative works – have been protected," said the statement. "We are also pleased to hear that rather than continue to litigate, RDR have themselves decided to publish a different book prepared with reference to [New York] Judge Patterson’s decision."

The Lexicon is a guide to the world of Harry Potter, a reference work listing places, characters and phenomena found in the books.

Judge Robert Patterson said in his ruling that, in fact, much of the Lexicon was not an infringement of Rowling's copyright because it was transformative – it used the information for a different purpose.

The Lexicon's use of material from two companion books produced by Rowling herself, though, was not as transformative because those books were reference works in the first place, he said.

The judge said that the use of information from the books was not against the law, but that Vander Ark had used too much of the literary language of the novels.

"The Lexicon’s verbatim copying of... highly aesthetic expression raises a significant question as to whether it was reasonably necessary for the purpose of creating a useful and complete reference guide," said the ruling.

Citing another ruling, he added, "a copier is not entitled to copy the vividness of an author’s description for the sake of accurately reporting expressive content".

Copyright © 2009, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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