×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Orson Scott Card Blasts J.K. Rowling's Lawsuit

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the funnier-than-I-thought-he'd-be dept.

Books 525

Wanker writes "In the wake of a lawsuit by J.K. Rowling against the author of a Harry Potter encyclopedia, the Greensboro Rhino Times has an article by Orson Scott Card blasting J.K. Rowling for 'letting herself be talked into being outraged over a perfectly normal publishing activity.' Orson Scott Card has hit the nail on the head. He understands that authors re-use each others' ideas all the time, and certainly Ender's Game gets its share of re-use. Did Rowling's success go to her head?" Card lays out (something like tongue-in-cheek) some of the similarities between the story in Ender's Game and in the Potter series: "A young kid growing up in an oppressive family situation suddenly learns that he is one of a special class of children with special abilities, who are to be educated in a remote training facility where student life is dominated by an intense game played by teams flying in midair, at which this kid turns out to be exceptionally talented and a natural leader." (And that's just to get started.)

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

525 comments

The Hero with a Thousand Faces (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266554)

Writers will always sue the pants off each other and sometimes even other sources! Always have, always will. It just depends on how big of an orc ... I mean ass they are. I think that Joseph Campbell's "The Hero with a Thousand Faces [wikipedia.org]" pointed out how, through one way or another, nearly everyone owes at least something to those who came before and the Monomyth. You want to write a good fiction story? Simply take Campbell's book and dump the Monomyth into some environment of today. If I may say so myself, Rowling is a few mousekateers short of a full Mickey Mouse group ... uh, I mean she's a few rhymes short of a full Cat in the Hat ... uh, I mean she's a few Knights Templar short of a full Da Vinci's Code ... that is to say she's a few crystals short of a Jedi Lightsaber ...

Aw, christ, I'll just put my lawyer on speed dial.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266590)

Well, this is ultimately why copyrights should be limited. Everyone borrows. Or, in the case of Disney, outright pilfers and then claims to own what they pilferred (say, Snow White or Cinderella).

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (0)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266682)

Or, in the case of Disney, outright pilfers and then claims to own what they pilferred (say, Snow White or Cinderella).

I'm sorry, but that's patently false. Almost every time Disney has made a children's animated film, another company called Good Times Video has immediately come out with an animated film with basically the same story on DVD. If you've walked through a Wal-Mart, I'm sure you've seen these. They've even got a Snow White [amazon.com] , and besides the Good Times video there's dozens or probably hundreds of illustrated children's books on the theme. Disney has mainly left them alone, even though they probably attract some meagre amount of business away from Disney.

Sure, Disney was a major copyright lobbyist to keep their precious "Steamboat Willie" cartoon out of the public domain, but they don't act like they exclusively own the Snow White story.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

Thornburg (264444) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266764)

but they don't act like they exclusively own the Snow White story.
No, but the whole Kimba/Simba thing is pretty specious.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimba_the_White_Lion

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267014)

I can't believe that damn movie hasn't resulted in a huge cash settlement by now.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266776)

Try painting Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (the Disney versions) on the wall of your local daycare center and you'll find out quickly how mistaken you are.

They vigorously defend what they consider theirs. The reason they don't go after Good Times and etc. isn't because they don't want to, it's because they already know they'll loose. They have trademarks on the visual representations but the stories themselves are public domain.

Disney is STILL a major copyright lobbist. And right now what they'd like to do is come up with a legal way of shutting down Good Times and their ilk. Because Disney DOES consider Snow White and every other story they've touched to be their own.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266882)

Try painting Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (the Disney versions) on the wall of your local daycare center and you'll find out quickly how mistaken you are.
How does that make GP wrong? It sounds like you're both pointing out:
Story: Public domain
Likenesses created by Disney: Disney's
Yes, for right or wrong, Disney will demand compensation for everything that they legally can. But their lawyers are very good and know where the lines are.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266930)

But the point is Disney isn't claiming to own the story of Snow White. It is claiming to own the designs that its employees created.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

Anonymous Cowtard (573891) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266938)

They vigorously defend what they consider theirs.


I'm pretty sure that if you paint, as you put it, the "Disney versions" then Disney would likely be in their rights to do that.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266816)

Precious "Steamboat Willie" is more egregious. It contains little original material, and was - in fact - a pleasant cartoon recasting of the now classic "Steamboat Bill Junior [wikipedia.org]", by Buster Keaton.

A quick peek [youtube.com] and you'll see why Disney and Iwerks copped it.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266844)

You completely missed the point. Snow White and Cinderella are public domain and older than Disney itself. As such, it makes no sense for them to be able to claim ownership over anything outside of their exact rendition of the story (script and animation cels). However, Kimba the White Lion was a rather recent story and still covered by copyright when they made the Lion King. Disney has done some great original works that they should be applauded for, but the stories of Cinderella and Snow White most certainly do not belong to Disney.

Limits are badly needed (1)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266962)

Exactly. It's not possible to create anything without using the ideas of others. Every word is someone else's idea (unless you made it up yourself).

So it's ridiculous to claim such broad ownership of derivative works.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266634)

On one hand we are talking about borrowing ideas in broad strokes and molding them into your own 'unique' idea with seperate twists and different details.

On the other hand we are talking about taking another's work, and simply taking all the details in it and compiling them into a work you call your own.

It should also be noted that J.K. never had a problem with the encylopedia till the people who were running it decided to make a book out of it and sell it. When it was still a 'just' fan created work she actually supported it from all I've heard.

In other words, OSC once again proves he that he's missed the point. Apples and alarm clocks.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

Bud Dickman (1131973) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266754)

"On the other hand we are talking about taking another's work, and simply taking all the details in it and compiling them into a work you call your own."
When do you think this Bill Shakespeare guy will get around to suing Cliff and his "Notes"? Based on your expert legal assessment of the situation, I'd say he's got an excellent case.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

Uncle Focker (1277658) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266828)

I really hope you're joking. Otherwise you've unnecessarily made a complete fool of yourself in public. The works of William Shakespeare have been in the public domain for centuries. Harry Potter is still a copyrighted work. Next time you might want to look after such details trying to one up someone.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

Uncle Focker (1277658) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266964)

To add, this isn't meant to be a post supportive of Rowling, but the attempt at trying to equate the usage of copyrighted material as being the exact same situation as something in the public domain is retarded.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267028)

Actually, there was little or nothing that Shakespeare could have done in his time to prevent someone writing a play called Humlet Duke of Dinmark. And yet Shakespeare did alright financially (well enough to build a theater), and, in fact, has been regarded for much of that time as being not only one of the greatest writers in the English language, but in the entire history of our species. That his plays have been cribbed by later playwrights, writers and into the modern age movie and TV show creators has not diminished his reputation.

The idea that a writer could make fanastical amounts of money (and let's be honest here, there are only a handful of authors that have had the kind of success Rowlings has had) simply by writing is a pretty new one. Do you think Homer got royalties every time a copy of the Illiad was produced? Do you think the Akkadian kings went after people that made copies of the Gilgamesh epic, or added their own bits to it? The story of world literature is one of works being added to, chronicled and sometimes even being outright stolen (the Hebrews did it when they ripped off big chunks of the Sumero-Akkadian creation and cosmographical myths). Do you think world literature over the five or six thousand years that it has existed (many times longer if you count oral transmission of stories) has suffered because for the overwhelming majority of that time authors had little or no protection against plagiarism and unauthorized derivative works?

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

Uncle Focker (1277658) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267096)

I'm having a hard time understanding what your post has to do with mine. I was merely pointing out that the situation between Harry Potter and Shakspeare's plays aren't analogous since once is still under copyright and one is public domain.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266952)

Given Bill's works are in the public domain, as are almost all of the works Cliff and crew summarize. The ones that aren't, they typically do get licenses.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266774)

Mod parent up!

You've hit the nail on the head. Damned near everything is derivative to one extent or another, and making commentaries of older stories, and even expanding them, is a tradition likely as old as humanity itself. Unfortunately, in this age of inviolate intellectual property rights, the storyteller has become more important than the story.

Rowling's case is a little different in that her publicist and publishing company have created something of a cult of personality among her fans (most of which are under 16). Don't get me wrong, the books are enjoyable enough, and I have to credit them with getting a lot of kids away from the TVs and computers and into the delightful activity of reading. Still, they aren't great literature, they're pretty much a different take on the old English schoolboy stories and adolescent mystery stories. When you dig through it, particularly in the earlier, less-epic books, you might as well have been reading a Hardy Boys mystery.

The woman has already made fantastical amounts of money, and if she isn't the most financially successful author in history, she must come pretty close to the likes of JRR Tolkien and Stephen King. Even the Tolkien Estate doesn't go after people who make encyclopedias of the work, even really shitty ones like David Day's.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

hkgroove (791170) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266974)

The reason this is where it's at is because Rowling has said several times over the years that there will only be 7 books and IF she were to do more relating to Harry & Co it would be an encyclopedia of sorts with extra character information, dropped characters and plot lines, etc. And around the time the 6th and 7th books were being written and published she hinted on her site and in interviews that the likelihood of this happening was growing by the day.

She's said that if there was to be something published like this for it to be as complete as possible and then some - think of it as Tolkien's letters / Unfinished Tales, but since she's still young has time to flush things out and perhaps not leave the information incomplete and scattered.

What's being published is just based on her current work - written up from a website which contains all this information just based on canon. Again, to compare to Tolkien, this would be like the Arda Encyclopedia writing up everything for a book and for profit.

There has been many arguments on /. on both sides of this. One is definitely anti copyright / IP / etc... the other arguing "well, if they don't protect their IP / copyright then they may lose the right to protect it later."

This isn't someone making a derivative work or something similar. This is someone publishing something for profit about things that already exist and that the author has stated that she may have plans to do herself later down the line if not in the immediate future.

On the other side of the coin, there have been may "theory" books similar (but not really) to what is being published prior to the completion of the series. These were more analysis of what's been published and proposing questions about what may or may not happen in the future. I think these started after Book 3 or maybe Book 4 as the wait between book 4 and 5 was three years.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

sYkSh0n3 (722238) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267118)

J.K. Rowling is the 2nd Richest woman in entertainment, beat out only by Opera, and IIRC she's also considered to be the most successful author ever. Hard to argue when she holds the record for fastest selling book in history, and i know that at least the last 3 books were on the New York Times bestsellers list months before their release. Add in the royalties from the movies and merchandise and she has quite the little empire.

At least according to Entertainment magazine http://cheeju.wordpress.com/2007/07/19/20-richest-women-from-entertainment/ [wordpress.com]

I was more surprised to see Judge Judy on the list, right between Britney Spears and Sandra Bullock. But i didn't think people actually watched that show.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

magical_mystery_meat (1042950) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266784)

Critical analysis like "Hero With a Thousand Faces" has taken all of the fun out of fiction. For writers, now that everyone knows how a story works, what's the point in writing any more? For readers, if you can recognize the point at which you're being manipulated, how can you suspend disbelief?

I don't think it's any coincidence that rise the popularity of criticism has coincided with a fall in the popularity of the things that are being criticized. So people have moved on to interactive entertainments.

Just random observations...

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266978)

Yeah... now that all the fun has gone out of abridged plot synopses, writers will actually have to rely on skill and originality in order to sell books! It's an outrage!

Seriously, read "Eastern Standard Tribe" by Cory Doctorow, I've never read a more original or insane novel in my life.

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

magical_mystery_meat (1042950) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267070)

You miss the point. The ability to distill fiction down to these basic principles is proof that it's impossible to write or read anything that's truly original. How depressing.

What works for science works for art (2, Informative)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266862)

"If I see farther than other men, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants." -Isaac Newton

He is not, in fact, the first man to say that! [wikipedia.org] (WP doesn't mention the quote stolen by the far more famous Newton). The fact is that all art is based on previous art.

Re:What works for science works for art (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266926)

"If I haven't seen as far as other men, it is because I peer over the edge of footprints left by giants."

Re:The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1)

AmericanInKiev (453362) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266956)

There seems to be a bright line between "borrowing general themes and ideas - which are morbidly few in number" and encroaching on the "Real Names" of particular characters after they have been proven commercial success. One has to ask, is this "Harry Potter Enc" a new and novel work, or merely a recombination of exact quotes from the single most successful fiction series (short of the King James Bible) in history?

Let a million writers resurrect the Genre of heroes flying in clouds, the liberal application of curses, and the avoidances of curses by temporary martyrdom - in short the substance of the Bible - in various forms; but these writers can and should distiguish their work by the use of original names for their characters. This author made no effort to develop novel characters.

That's a bright enough line for my taste.

I tried, I really did. . . (1)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266568)

I really tried to care about this story, but then I realized that there was simply no way to do it. Sorry.

Re:I tried, I really did. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23266594)

and you had to tell us this why? oh, that's right. it's because you're an apple fanboi and you feel that anything you have to say is important and people actually care to hear it. think again, loser.

Re:I tried, I really did. . . (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266842)

Authors wanting megalomaniacal control over their franchises are nothing new. Many of our heroes in the software realm behave similarly.

Why is there such a fuss about Harry Potter? Most fantasy has that geek-chic to it, but Harry Potter books are merely glorified childrens' stories, and I know because I've read bits and pieces. Seeing grown men admit to reading Harry potter is like seeing 50 year old women dress like they did when they were barhopping at 21...a sad sight either way.

Re:I tried, I really did. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23267042)

Seeing grown men admit to reading Harry potter is like seeing 50 year old women dress like they did when they were barhopping at 21...a sad sight either way.

What a judgmental jerk you must be to make a comment like that.

I read the Harry Potter books and enjoy them, perhaps even more so knowing that people like will never understand why.

Signed,
A 40-year-old male Harry Potter fan

Prefer the Pile of Cat Poo or Pile of Dog Poo? (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266602)

Which jerk am I supposed to be rooting for in this story? Card had one good book decades ago and has been riding its success ever since.

Re:Prefer the Pile of Cat Poo or Pile of Dog Poo? (1)

d34thm0nk3y (653414) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266642)

Which jerk am I supposed to be rooting for in this story? Card had one good book decades ago and has been riding its success ever since.

The one who understands copyright law.

Re:Prefer the Pile of Cat Poo or Pile of Dog Poo? (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266794)

Card had one good book decades ago and has been riding its success ever since.

And that makes him a jerk how, exactly ?

Re:Prefer the Pile of Cat Poo or Pile of Dog Poo? (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266802)

One good book? Personally I would consider enders game to be one of Cards WORST efforts. Not terrible , but not his best.

The sequels and the parallel to the original story is where the real character development and writing style is found. Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind are MUCH more thought provoking and easier to identify with. The characters become much more real, and less OMG DBZ SUPERSAIJANTIME-esk.

His parallel with Enders Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon, and Shadow Puppets focused on Bean is also excellent, taking on the more tactical and geopolitical bent rather than the constant moral conflicts (although they're in there, just not as pronounced).

And not only that, but if you can keep the mental images of golden plates and seer stones out of your head, the Alvin Maker series and the Homecoming saga offer excellent reading as well. A bit of a glimpse into the mormon perspective of things in extremely unique settings.

Now if you have read all of these and still believe what you believe, then i guess thats a matter of personal opinion (or perhaps you're a sci-fi author and he is competition =). If not, read a bit more before talking shit about an author.

Re:Prefer the Pile of Cat Poo or Pile of Dog Poo? (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266998)

Enchantment: good take on the sleeping beauty myth.
Lost Boys: great story about a man's family life, moving, and dealing with loss.
Shadow Series: every one of them has moments that are as good as Ender's Game and the series as a whole has a lot more to offer.
Maps in a Mirror: short stories ranging from mildly interesting to better than Bradbury's. The best one is Unaccompanied Sonata, probably the best short story I've ever read.

There are more books he's written, and I've found most of them are pretty good. The problem with Card is he's extremely opinionated, has some weird opinions and likes to yell them at the top of his lungs. In other words, the only difference between him and at least 75% of slashdot is that when he yells, people listen.

Re:Prefer the Pile of Cat Poo or Pile of Dog Poo? (1)

Uncle Focker (1277658) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267016)

the only difference between him and at least 75% of slashdot is that when he yells, people listen.
And the vast majority of them facepalm afterwards.

Re:Prefer the Pile of Cat Poo or Pile of Dog Poo? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267088)

The best one is Unaccompanied Sonata, probably the best short story I've ever read.

I can only assume then that your only experience in reading short stories has been from popular science fiction authors similar to Card. Have you read no short stories from the Western canon, or from science fiction authors acclaimed for their literary stylings like Gene Wolfe?

1 important difference between the two (1)

sixpenny_83 (1248146) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266606)

Except Enders Game was actually good literature.

I have to disagree with you, sir. (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266676)

Ender's game was written for the adolescent mentality.

Re-read it again when you're a little older - it's just trash. Barely any plot, and a deus-ex-machina ending which anybody over the mental age of eight could've seen coming long before the story's midpoint.

Puts it right next to the Harry Potter books - except those were explicitely marketed to the younger crowd. Tell ya what - compare Ender's Game with, say, The Martian Chronicles or I, Robot or Stranger in a Strange Land and let me know if you see a slight difference in the complexity of the story being told, eh?

Re:I have to disagree with you, sir. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23266720)

Ender's game was written for the adolescent mentality.
Re-read it again when you're a little older - it's just trash. Barely any plot, and a deus-ex-machina ending which anybody over the mental age of eight could've seen coming long before the story's midpoint.


Damn right! After hearing for years and years about how great a book Ender's Game was, I finally sat down and read it a few years ago. Sure, it was entertaining, but there was nothing particularly great about it. My thought was exactly this--"This would've been great if I was 13." Then again, I suspect that many around here haven't particularly grown beyond that age mentally.

Re:I have to disagree with you, sir. (1)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266804)

It wasn't originally a book, but a short story.

... then it was stretched out into a book ...

... then the book was stretched out into a series ...

... then the series was stretched out into a career ...

Oh, it really IS like a Harry Potter story after all ...

Re:I have to disagree with you, sir. (1)

sixpenny_83 (1248146) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266890)

Ender's Game won a Nebula [wikipedia.org] award. Do you see Harry Potter getting a Nebula? Do you even see Stranger in a Strange land getting one? Grok it?

Re:I have to disagree with you, sir. (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267112)

It's no surprise that a science fiction novel won an award set up for science fiction novels because there aren't enough truly worthy works coming from the genre to have it represented much among Booker Prize winners, Nobel winners, National Book Award winner etc.

Re:I have to disagree with you, sir. (1)

Galactic Dominator (944134) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266984)

I've reread it later, mid-life to most, and I still find it to be a wonderful work. And to be fair, if you're going to compare Ender's Game to The Martian Chronicles(it was a compilation work), you'd have to extent Ender's Game to the full series including Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind. If you did that, if would be fair to say the Ender's Game series rivals and in my opinion clearly surpasses Bradbury's work in subtly, complexity, and quality. Asimov was the master however so no arguments there.

Heinlein was so bizarre, I'm often surprised it wasn't him who invented Scientology, not L. Ron Hubbard.

Re:I have to disagree with you, sir. (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267024)

By your standard, Moby Dick is crap too: simplistic plot (and told may times before), retarded amount of data about whales, and an uninspired and predictable ending. Yet, it's a classic and a must read for any author who wants to know how amazing prose can actually be.

I have to disagree with your disagreement, sir. (1)

caerwyn (38056) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267046)

Re-read it again without the bias that complexity begets quality.

Sure, you can compare it with the books you mentioned and find a more complex structure in each of them. Complexity does not automatically imply quality, however, and while those three books are certainly historic works, that does nothing to indicate anything about Ender's Game.

Calling it "trash" as a result merely indicates a literary snob and doesn't do anything to invalidate its quality.

Re:1 important difference between the two (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266716)

Good literature? I've never seen it. I don't know why people bother reading a bunch of made up crap, it's a lot more interesting (and fun) to read about real things that actually happen.

Re:1 important difference between the two (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266864)

Good literature? I've never seen it. I don't know why people bother reading a bunch of made up crap, it's a lot more interesting (and fun) to read about real things that actually happen.
Well, put. This is why there are vocational and technical schools, so those who are not interested don't have to be distracted by trivia.

Some people enjoy exploring intangible ideas. Others simply prefer exploring tangible things.

A liberal arts education is not suited to everyone.

Re:1 important difference between the two (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23267012)

I don't know why people bother reading a bunch of made up crap, it's a lot more interesting (and fun) to read about real things that actually happen.

Yeah, like we do here on Slashdot all day long.

Now THAT is really valuable literature . . .

Re:1 important difference between the two (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23267040)

Good literature? I've never seen it. I don't know why people bother reading a bunch of made up crap, it's a lot more interesting (and fun) to read about real things that actually happen.
I dunno about you, but I don't find much fun in reading about the latest human attrocities.

For fun, I'd rather read made up stuff with interesting characters that experience stuff we WISH could be. Havn't you ever wished you could magically make something appear(replicator, conjuring, whatever)? Havn't you wished you could fly? Be invisible? Save the world?

Not sure he does "get it" (0)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266626)

He's talking about re-using general themes. Yes, that's all fine and dandy. However, copyright is about specific implementations. The concept of a wizard can't be copyrighted, but a wizard named Harry Potter with glasses that has a specific set of life events is certainly copyrightable. The book which triggered the lawsuit is taking the specifics of Harry Potter and the characters and republishing them. It's significantly similar, and thus a derived work which only the author can legally create.

Re:Not sure he does "get it" (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266686)

Of course if you'd actually read the article, you might see his point, which is not that a specific character can't be copyrighted. Here's a quote from the article: "Once you publish fiction, Ms. Rowling, anybody is free to write about it, to comment on it, and to quote liberally from it, as long as the source is cited."

Re:Not sure he does "get it" (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266858)

I did read the article. The problem is that the content of the book in question is largely taking Rowlings work and repackaging it. That is, it's not sufficently different that it's not a derived work. It's an encylopedia about a fictonal realm with comments thrown in. Take out the encylopedia portion and publish only the comments and that would be fine.

Apples and Oranges (1)

Orig_Club_Soda (983823) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266638)

Similarities in plot/storyline are not the same as using actual characters, names, and places. Rowling has a point and and profit from the encyclopedia are hers.

Re:Apples and Oranges (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266756)

Similarities in plot/storyline are not the same as using actual characters, names, and places. Rowling has a point and and profit from the encyclopedia are hers.
Seems like explanation and commentary on the work to me. Should be fair use. They didn't write a new novel using her characters and setting.

Re:Apples and Oranges (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266914)

> They didn't write a new novel using her characters and setting.

Other people have. Should the fanfict authors be sued?

There are some things I may never understand. This lady has created a fantasy world that millions of people love, and along the way has gone from a single mom trying desperately to survive, to one of the very richest people in all of human history. What's the harm in letting others participate in this fantasy world? What's the harm in letting others profit from their participation?

Card should stick to writing stories (3, Insightful)

weston (16146) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266644)

Because he's really not that great at commentary.

The Lexicon authors may well be within their rights to have produced that work, but not for reasons that are based in the rather tortured screed he's offering up.

So... one can find parallels between many good stories. Does that automatically erode all intellectual property claims? Does it even directly relate to the specific claims in the Rowling suit? Hardly.

So... Card has publicly admitted on at least one occasion where he's borrowed from someone else. And he also tells people in his books when a character is gay! Look how much of a better person he is than Rowling!

And this dig is pure malice:

" The difference between us is that I actually make enough money from Ender's Game to be content, without having to try to punish other people whose creativity might have been inspired by something I wrote."

Yeah, Orson. That quote just *oozes* personal security with what you've done.

Ask yourself this: after reading the piece, which do you have a clearer understanding of:

(1) Copyright and other intellectual property law
(2) Which particulars Rowling is invoking and where her case goes wrong
(3) How disgusted Orson Scott Card is with Rowling

I'm seeing a lot of #3 and not very much of #1 or #2.

If the suit lowers the dignity of Rowling, Card seems perfectly ready to sacrifice his own by basically marshalling the resources of his talents.... to call Rowling a poopyhead.

Re:Card should stick to writing stories (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23266860)

And he also tells people in his books when a character is gay!

If you read any OSC books you should assume there will be gay characters -- oh and man-boy love. Which is quite interesting that he includes so much gay sex in his novels when he personally thinks homosexuality is a sin [nauvoo.com] and should be criminalized [about.com]

Card is EXTREMELY homophobic and has very strong religious and personal views against gay people but when he writes novels, nearly all of his main characters have a very intimate (personal / not necessarily physical) homosexual experience. I'd say he's got some serious Freudian repression going on or something like that.

Re:Card should stick to writing stories (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267086)

So... Card has publicly admitted on at least one occasion where he's borrowed from someone else.

It's called "honesty". Sometimes you borrow from someone else and twist or expand it. Now, I'm no great author; in fact I personally think I suck at writing but I enjoy doing it and a few people enjoy reading it, so I do it anyway.

I seem to be having tremendous difficulties with my lifestyle. [uncyclopedia.org]

Oh, I'm sorry. I seem to be plagiarizing. Please let me correct that. The above sentence comes from chapter 31 of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by the late Douglas Adams, who in my opinion wasn't late at all but left the planet way too early.

Fucking party pooper.
That's from Monday's mcgrew journal, and just so the often unlearned mods don't misinterpret that as a troll or a flamebait I'll spoil the nerd in-joke by explaining it... no, on second thought, screw the mods.

-mcgrew

Ouch (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266684)

I think the essence is summed up in this snippet of the article:

"Rowling has nowhere to go and nothing to do now that the Harry Potter series is over. After all her literary borrowing, she shot her wad and she's flailing about trying to come up with something to do that means anything."

I tend to agree. I think she's being a huge self absorbed twit over this whole thing.

I think I'll wait... (1)

Kid Zero (4866) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266700)

For what the court has to say. Not that I like either OSC or JKR, in fact I can't stand either author.

Way to miss the point. (2, Insightful)

seasleepy (651293) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266702)

Card is missing the point here. This isn't about reuse. Rowling certainly doesn't have problems with reuse... How many HP companion/related type books are there out there?

So obviously there's something going on in this case that's different than the others. This is even more obvious when you consider that Rowling was quite happy to have the text in question available on the Internet.

It's that there's a possibility that the Lexicon may use far too much of the original text to be considered an original work for publishing purposes. Apparently Rowling considers this to be the case.

So it comes down to the old, "it's all right with me if it's up for free, but when you want to start charging for it, I'm going to have to come down on you."

Scott has it wrong (2, Informative)

mark-t (151149) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266706)

Although I do believe that he is right that if Rowling had a problem with this material, she should have done something about it years ago... the real problem here isn't personal greed, it's that she was planning on producing a similar encyclopedia herself, with all the proceeds going to charity, and this publication will conflict with that interest so that's why she is trying to stop it.

Re:Scott has it wrong (1)

masamax (543884) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266870)

The problem here mark-t is that there are numerous other works that do what the Lexicon does, both in print and online. The fact that she has done nothing about it until she wants to publish her own work on the subject is not an excuse. While its true this work does try to make some of its down assumptions (and thus ventures into original work) the majority of it is nothing more than a Harry Potter encyclopedia from what I've seen of the site and read in the news.

Besides, do you REALLY think that such a work would alter the sales of her own work? A small publishers (probably paperback) work versus an official (probably hardcover) one by Rowling? People who are going to buy more of Rowling's drivel will do so regardless of what other competition there is out there for that drivel, as has shown by the sales of Harry Potter. After all, there are numerous BETTER books and series out there that one could read, yet the HP books continued to sell in the face of that competition.

While I don't necessarily agree with OSC's copyright argument (that's for the court to decide) the reasoning behind the suit probably has more to do with Rowling being immature than protecting her charity work.

Re:Scott has it wrong (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267032)

Oh, I agree it's not an excuse, I'm just presenting the information on why she has made a stink about this particular issue... it's because it conflicts with her own interests to donate the proceeds to charity for another highly similar work that she intended to produce herself. From her perspective, she sees this endeavor as not harming *HER*... she sees it as harming the charity, since the lexicon's author has not indicated he'll be donating everything he makes from it to that charity. That said, it's a highly tenuous argument, and I don't think she has any real case except possibly on the grounds of trademarks. Although even that may be problematic, because she should have been making a stink about trademark dilution years ago when the website first went up, instead of previously publicly acknowledging the lexicon website as a valuable resource.

Re:Scott has it wrong (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266990)

Disagree. Whether she was planing (or claiming to plan) to make something similar should have ZERO to do with the legality of this. Otherwise, I could just claim that I'm _planning_ to make a for-charity product for whatever I don't want you to make. It'd be a stupid precedent to set.

Re:Scott has it wrong (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267044)

Of course it should. I agree with what you are saying completely. I'm just saying what the factors are in why she's making a stink about this particular case when she never had any problem with anything else remotely similar previously. Is it brought about by personal greed? Not remotely... Is it immature? Highly.

Re:Scott has it wrong (1)

ShiNoKaze (1097629) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267092)

Wait, so you're saying this boils down to someone publishing something similar to something she wanted to publish, before she could? and her answer is to sue? and the justification is charity?

power corrupts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23266732)

Just goes to show that power does in fact corrupt, and since money = power these days... Yeah. Greedy selfish behavior.

I'm sorry... (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266772)

... but I find Card's article pretty unpalatable, more so than Rowling's case, although I am not a great fan of that.

Creating a book who's plot is in various vague ways similar to a previous book is not the same in my opinion as selling a product which only makes money because it uses the exact same characters and names in its marketing.

Rather than a black and white issue, I think we have a continuum. Let's look at one extreme end - would it have been OK if the Hollywood Harry Potter films had been produced without any of the credit or cash going to Rowling? I would say no. At the other end of the continuum - would it be OK for Rowling to write a book that has passing resemblance to Card's? A bit shoddy perhaps, but I would have to see a damn site more evidence of real plagiarism.

The Rowling case, in my opinion falls somewhere between those two extremes. It has more merit than Card's whining - but is still rather lame.

Blasted Rants! (1)

fudboy (199618) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266826)

Rowling is specifically "outraged" because she's been working on her own compendium. Should she just scrap one of the secondary projects for her Potter franchise so that shmucko McFanboi can publish his?

Card, you card.

Tagged Sci-fi???? (1)

fuocoZERO (1008261) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266874)

Fiction? Yes. Science? No. That is unless you're an overly religious idio--err... person who still believes that science and magic are the same thing.

Fuck JK Rowling (1)

Asmor (775910) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266886)

No, seriously. She's a huge douchebag, a total control freak when it comes to Harry Potter. For example, I've heard she specifically won't allow a Harry Potter RPG to be made, because she wouldn't be able to control the sorts of stories run in it.

Re:Fuck JK Rowling (1)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267100)

She's a control freak because she won't sell out her creation to make money by licensing it for an RPG?

What a jerk.

I'm glad there are people like Rowling and Watterson in publishing who will not allow themselves to pimp their creative works for licensing revenue.

Making a Quick Buck versus Making Commentary (4, Interesting)

ancarett (221103) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266894)

As an academic who's written critical works on contemporary media, I'm all for fair use and the freedom for fans or opponents to employ some material in their own work. But that isn't what this proposed Lexicon is, in truth.

This isn't fair use (news reporting, educational or criticism, although the publisher tries to pretend the latter) or transformative in any way: van der Ark's Lexicon is a summary of elements in the work. That means that, as a secondary work about Harry Potter, this is much more akin to the Castle Rock case [thelegality.com]: copying fragments of the work.

More significantly, Rowling was planning to publish her own encyclopedia to the Harry Potter world as one of her charitable publications (like some of the other guidebooks she's produced), while this work is taking the unpaid labour of countless fans who contributed to the Lexicon website and turning it to the personal profit of the site's disgruntled owner (who's cranky because his good buddy "Jo" wouldn't give him a paying job in the UK to edit her own encyclopedia).

The whole imbroglio has been amply covered by the helpful souls at Fandom Wank [journalfen.net] if you want to get a feel for what others besides OSC have said. (Anne Rice has even weighed in!)

Re:Making a Quick Buck versus Making Commentary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23267068)

Anne Rice!

Wow!

Is she still dressing in that black lace that she's too old and fat for?

TFA - semi slashdotted (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266906)

Uncle Orson Reviews Everything
J.K. Rowling, Lexicon and Oz

by Orson Scott Card

April 24, 2008
Can you believe that J.K. Rowling is suing a small publisher because she claims their 10,000-copy edition of The Harry Potter Lexicon, a book about Rowling's hugely successful novel series, is just a "rearrangement" of her own material.

Rowling "feels like her words were stolen," said lawyer Dan Shallman.

Well, heck, I feel like the plot of my novel Ender's Game was stolen by J.K. Rowling.

A young kid growing up in an oppressive family situation suddenly learns that he is one of a special class of children with special abilities, who are to be educated in a remote training facility where student life is dominated by an intense game played by teams flying in midair, at which this kid turns out to be exceptionally talented and a natural leader. He trains other kids in unauthorized extra sessions, which enrages his enemies, who attack him with the intention of killing him; but he is protected by his loyal, brilliant friends and gains strength from the love of some of his family members. He is given special guidance by an older man of legendary accomplishments who previously kept the enemy at bay. He goes on to become the crucial figure in a struggle against an unseen enemy who threatens the whole world.

This paragraph lists only the most prominent similarities between Ender's Game and the Harry Potter series. My book was published in England many years before Rowling began writing about Harry Potter. Rowling was known to be reading widely in speculative fiction during the era after the publication of my book.

I can get on the stand and cry, too, Ms. Rowling, and talk about feeling "personally violated."

The difference between us is that I actually make enough money from Ender's Game to be content, without having to try to punish other people whose creativity might have been inspired by something I wrote.

Mine is not the only work that one can charge Rowling "borrowed" from. Check out this piece from a fan site, pointing out links between Harry Potter and other previous works: http://www.geocities.com/versetrue/rowling.htm [geocities.com]. And don't forget the lawsuit by Nancy K. Stouffer, the author of a book entitled The Legend of Rah and the Muggles, whose hero was named "Larry Potter."

At that time, Rowling's lawyers called Stouffer's claim "frivolous."

It's true that we writers borrow words from each other - but we're supposed to admit it and not pretend we're original when we're not. I took the word ansible from Ursula K. LeGuin, and have always said so. Rowling, however, denies everything.

If Steven Vander Ark, the author of Lexicon, had written fiction that he claimed was original, when it was actually a rearrangement of ideas taken from the Harry Potter books, then she'd have a case.

But Lexicon is intended only as a reference book for people who have already paid for their copies of Rowling's books. Even though the book is not scholarly, it certainly falls within the realm of scholarly comment.

Rowling's hypocrisy is so thick I can hardly breathe: Prior to the publication of each novel, there were books about them that were no more intrusive than Lexicon. I contributed to one of them, and there was no complaint about it from Rowling or her publishers because they knew perfectly well that these fan/scholar ancillary publications were great publicity and actually boosted sales.

But now the Harry Potter series is over, and Rowling claims that her "creative work" is being "decimated."

Of course, she doesn't claim that it's the Lexicon that is harming her "creative work" (who's she borrowing from this time?); it's the lawsuit itself! And since she chose to bring the suit, whose fault is it? If she had left Vander Ark alone to publish his little book and make his little bit of money, she wouldn't be distracted from her next novel.

But no, Rowling claims Vander Ark's book "constitutes wholesale theft of 17 years of my hard work."

Seventeen years? What a crock. Apparently she includes in that total the timeframe in which she was reading - and borrowing from - the work of other writers.

On the stand, though, Rowling's chief complaint seems to be that she would do a better job of annotating and encyclopedizing her own series.

So what?

Nothing prevents her from doing exactly that - annotating and explaining her own novels. Do you think that if there were a Harry Potter Annotated by the Author, Vander Ark's book would interfere with her sales in any way?

This frivolous lawsuit puts at serious risk the entire tradition of commentary on fiction. Any student writing a paper about the Harry Potter books, any scholarly treatise about it, will certainly do everything she's complaining about.

Once you publish fiction, Ms. Rowling, anybody is free to write about it, to comment on it, and to quote liberally from it, as long as the source is cited.

Here's the irony: Vander Ark had the material for this book on his website for years, and Rowling is quoted as saying that when she needed to look up some 'fact" from her earlier books, she would sometimes "sneak into an Internet cafe while out writing and check a fact rather than go into a bookshop and buy a copy of Harry Potter."

In other words, she already had made personal use of Vander Ark's work and found it valuable. Even if it has shortcomings, she found it useful.

That means that Vander Ark created something original and useful - he added value to the product. If Rowling wants to claim that it interferes with her creativity now, she should have made that complaint back when she was using it - and giving Vander Ark an award for his website back in 2004.

Now, of course, she regrets "bitterly" having given the award.

You know what I think is going on?

Rowling has nowhere to go and nothing to do now that the Harry Potter series is over. After all her literary borrowing, she shot her wad and she's flailing about trying to come up with something to do that means anything.

Moreover, she is desperate for literary respectability. Even though she made more money than the queen or Oprah Winfrey in some years, she had to see her books pushed off the bestseller lists and consigned to a special "children's book" list. Litterateurs sneer at her work as a kind of subliterature, not really worth discussing.

It makes her insane. The money wasn't enough. She wants to be treated with respect.

At the same time, she's also surrounded by people whose primary function is to suck up to her. No doubt some of them were saying to her, "It's wrong for these other people to be exploiting what you created to make money for themselves."

She let herself be talked into being outraged over a perfectly normal publishing activity, one that she had actually made use of herself during its web incarnation.

Now she is suing somebody who has devoted years to promoting her work and making no money from his efforts - which actually helped her make some of her bazillions of dollars.

Talent does not excuse Rowling's ingratitude, her vanity, her greed, her bullying of the little guy, and her pathetic claims of emotional distress.

I fully expect that the outcome of this lawsuit will be:

1. Publication of Lexicon will go on without any problem or prejudice, because it clearly falls within the copyright law's provision for scholarly work, commentary and review.

2. Rowling will be forced to pay Steven Vander Ark's legal fees, since her suit was utterly without merit from the start.

3. People who hear about this suit will have a sour taste in their mouth about Rowling from now on. Her Cinderella story once charmed us. Her greedy evil-witch behavior now disgusts us. And her next book will be perceived as the work of that evil witch.

It's like her stupid, self-serving claim that Dumbledore was gay. She wants credit for being very up-to-date and politically correct - but she didn't have the guts to put that supposed "fact" into the actual novels, knowing that it might hurt sales.

What a pretentious, puffed-up coward. When I have a gay character in my fiction, I say so right in the book. I don't wait until after it has had all its initial sales to mention it.

Rowling has now shown herself to lack a brain, a heart and courage. Clearly, she needs to visit Oz.
 
/END

http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/2008/4/26/jkr-wb-vs-rdr-books-trial-opinions [the-leaky-cauldron.org]
This article rebuts some of the things Card has to say.
It also bring up Kenn Jennings (the Jeopardy guy) and rebuts some of his statements too.

Tisk tisk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23266920)

Sounds like someone has their Magic Panties all in a bunch.

(do I mention that this is a Mormon reference?...hmmm...)

Striking similarities, indeed (2, Funny)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 5 years ago | (#23266942)

Is Card describing his August 1977 novelette "Ender's Game" or the May 1977 movie "Star Wars"?

Literary Respect? (1)

usul294 (1163169) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267002)

I didn't realize Orson Scott Card had literary respect, I mean Ender's Game was pretty good, but Heinlein, Dick, Asimov, Clarke, and Herbert all wrote several books that were much better than Ender's Game. That said JK Rowling ranks alongside Tom Clancy in my opinion. Fun to read once, but very little depth in the text.

Concept != actual work (1)

notnAP (846325) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267010)

The other day, I came up with a program that helps put words on paper with the help of a computer.
Problem is, Microsoft already did it a while ago, and called their program "Word."

What do you think... could they sue me for copyright infringement? (Or could the many predecessors to Word sue MS?)

I have to admit I don't know enough of the facts to render final judgment, but I have been a fan of both the site and the books for some time now. From what I understand, hp-lexicon wants to publish, and profit from, their own retelling of a copyrighted work. From what I've seen of the site, I'd imagine it would be quite accurate and true to the original, but that's immaterial.

So what if JKR didn't object to the site when it was non-profit? Also immaterial.

And I know JKR has been a bit (*ahem*) overenthusiastic with other legal actions. Again, immaterial. Karma is not a legally valid argument.

Turn this around and ask... once HP-Lexicon has their own copyrighted version of the Harry Potter story, what's to stop them from changing it? What right would the original creator of the work have to control her creation if the copyright of the retelling is under someone else's control?

Could I call my word processor "Microsoft Word?" I'd really like to. I mean, I've done my best to make it look and act like Word. In fact, I even call all of the outwardly visible features the exact same thing as it's called in Word. Man, being able to call it Word would really help sales.

funny? (1)

AdamWill (604569) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267080)

'funnier-than-i-thought-he'd-be department'? well, fun trivia - Scott Card wrote the original sword fighting insults for Monkey Island...

Hardly a "perfectly normal" publishing activity (1)

eof (33820) | more than 5 years ago | (#23267084)

The issue isn't that someone's deriving a work from Rowling's ideas. The issue is that the derived work in question is comprised of over 91% [justia.com] of her writing, word-for-word.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...