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An Appeal In the "Harry Potter Lexicon" Case

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the soon-to-be-on-sale-in-diagon-alley dept.

The Courts 189

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "RDR Books, the would-be publisher of the book version of the 'Harry Potter Lexicon' Web site, has filed an appeal from the judge's decision in Warner Bros. Pictures v. RDR Books, the case involving the Harry Potter Lexicon. The judge, after a bench trial, issued an injunction and awarded statutory damages of $6,750 (as we discussed at the time), holding that the Lexicon was not protected by fair use due to (a) sloppiness in attribution in sections, (b) the length of some of the quotes, and (c) imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style in portions. I recently wrote an article criticizing the opinion, but doubting that an appeal would be taken in view of the small damages award. I guess I underestimated the resolve of the defendants and defendants' lawyers — who include the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society."

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189 comments

Harry Potter (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25729041)

The story is about a boy who lives in a cupboard ("in the closet"). His Aunt and Uncle are ashamed of him because his parents were quite eccentric ("flaming") and they are deeply concerned and afraid that he will turn out just like them. On his 11th birthday (i.e. roughly at the onset of puberty), the boy discovers that he is actually a "wizard", different in both style and substance from straight people, or "muggles" (breeders).

The boy is groomed into his new existence by a large, hairy bear of a man who shows Harry a hidden underground community of "wizards"(the gay subculture) living right under the noses of the general population . Harry's first visit to this subculture involves traveling through "Diagon Alley", a play on the word diagonally (not straight).

Re:Harry Potter (5, Funny)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729109)

All that and you couldn't link to bash.org [bash.org] ?!

Re:Harry Potter (2, Funny)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729147)

It has been a long time since I laughed to tears. That was perfect.

Re:Harry Potter (2, Funny)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731451)

you should get out more.

Re:Harry Potter (0)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729441)

Wow, that was just odd... I just finished reading that and lo and behold someone on /. links to it.

diagonally (not straight) (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25729271)

Diagonal lines are as straight as any other lines.

Re:diagonally (not straight) (3, Funny)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729433)

Don't marginalize diagonals!

I, for one, embrace the perpendicularly-challenged, and do NOT deny them the root of their diversity.

Re:diagonally (not straight) (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729491)

but put them one next to another, going this way then that, and now they're a *kinky* line

Re:diagonally (not straight) (1)

hachi-control (1360955) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730875)

Parentheses however, leave me confused and feeling alone. )

Re:Harry Potter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25729395)

Diagonal lines are straight.

Re:Harry Potter (5, Funny)

Bobb9000 (796960) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729609)

Congratulations. You've noticed that the plot of Harry Potter has parallels to real-life persecuted minorities. You now qualify for a degree in obvious literary interpretation! If you like, you might want to go for a PhD - perhaps you could examine Christian symbolism in the Chronicles of Narnia. I see a bright future ahead of you.

Re:Harry Potter (3, Insightful)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729825)

I really don't think his point was to point out a parallel to a real-life minority... He just wanted to call Harry Potter gay.

Hey, Fallwell (2, Funny)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730151)

You forgot the hot-n'-heavy scene with Tinky Winky.

Re:Harry Potter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25730221)

Does that mean Mudblood is a euphemism for someone who takes part in violent/dirty anal sex?

its kinda turning into... (1)

Robin47 (1379745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729051)

a Magical Mystery Tour!

Re:its kinda turning into... (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730627)

What a comparison... Magical Mystery Tour at least had a kickass soundtrack.

imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (4, Interesting)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729069)

...(c) imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style in portions...

Is that even an enforceable law? If so most authors should have their books contested, as people learn partly through imitation and experience. Throwing weak points out like that makes me suspect of the ruling.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (-1, Troll)

quanticle (843097) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729087)

To be fair, you may learn through imitating another, its not right for you to profit by such work. To take an example from another art form - I may learn how to paint by copying an established painter, but that doesn't mean that I can create a painting in substantially the same style and profit from it.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25729143)

But that is the thing... you can.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (4, Informative)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729149)

Uhhh, wtf?

You can do things in the same style, you just can't copy an original work (i.e. note for note, stroke for stroke).

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25729159)

To be fair, you may learn through imitating another, its not right for you to profit by such work. To take an example from another art form - I may learn how to paint by copying an established painter, but that doesn't mean that I can create a painting in substantially the same style and profit from it.

You can copy the style, but you can't copy the style and subject matter, and not clearly identify the true creator of the painting.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25729161)

and why not ? copyright law does not protect styles.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25729167)

To be fair, you may learn through imitating another, its not right for you to profit by such work. To take an example from another art form - I may learn how to paint by copying an established painter, but that doesn't mean that I can create a painting in substantially the same style and profit from it.

And why not? Pointillism never had a copyright. Impressionism didn't. Even if they were around today, they wouldn't have one. Copyright doesn't cover things like that. Now, if you wanted to try for a patent on the representation of an image through a pseudorandom distribution of dots approximating the average color at a particular location blah blah blah blah you might be able to make a case, perhaps, maybe.

It may not be particularly sophisticated or a sound way to build your career in the world of art, mind you, but legal/moral outrage it ain't, not by a long shot...

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (1, Offtopic)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729359)

Not a copyright but Haliburton was granted a patent on Impressionism a few years back. They successfully sued the estate of Claude Monet.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25729743)

[citation needed]

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (5, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729971)

I believe the case was Woosh vs Woosh 2006, Woosh County Court, State of Woosh

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (4, Insightful)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729177)

"Imitation of [Author X]'s writing style" would cover any written satire of the author. Since satire is universally accepted as protected and allowed under copyright law, imitation of style cannot be considered copyright infringement.

As a matter of fact this extends beyond writing to all works that can be copyrighted. Imitation of style covers, essentially, any possible satire.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (3, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729205)

Yeah, a writer's style is not supported by copyright to my knowledge -- only the actual words. And the "length of quotes" in the book... Have you ever read a research paper? Sometimes over half of each of the previous works are cited and included! That said, lack of proper attribution... That IS just sloppy, and they have every right to call them out on it. Though, being the Harry Potter lexicon, it's hard to imagine any other source than JK Rowling's works.... -_-

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (5, Insightful)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729481)

I'm not sure you can compare the HPL and a research paper. The actual text in Harry Potter is the basis of a billion dollar industry [the-numbers.com] and Rowling's publishers have very good lawyers. Fair use has rules about quote length and attribution and it seems like this guy broke them. Of course a lot of research papers may break those same rules but it would be very unlikely anyone would sue over that.

Slashdot is schizophrenic about copyright, if someone had taken big chunks of GPL code and used them in a closed source application everyone would be baying for blood, but for some reason Harry Potter is considered entertainment and therefore OK to copy, a bit like movies and music. In a sense Harry Potter is open source - the text is freely available. It definitely isn't Creative Commons though, so while you are free to cite it you are not free to make derivative works, unless you have an agreement with Rowling herself.

From what I've read this guy cut and pasted big chunks of the original text and didn't add much himself. While the whole thing was non commercial he was safe but as soon as he started to make money he wasn't. It's actually the literary equivalent of using GPL code in a commercial, closed source application.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (4, Interesting)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729989)

Fair use has rules about quote length and attribution

No, it doesn't. Fair use ultimately boils down to 'you can use as much as is fair, given the overall circumstances.'

When you time shift television, you're 'quoting' the entire thing, and stand a good chance of successfully claiming that it's a fair use. In other circumstances, however, excessive copying can sink a fair use argument handily.

There's also no attribution requirement, but if you claim that you were engaged in a particular type of fair use, and that type of use normally involves attribution, failure to include the attribution may harm your argument, and ultimately, your defense.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (2, Interesting)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731083)

A long time ago when I was in an class someone told that all quotes had to be attributed and you could only quote one paragraph from each source, and you had to add some sort of original commentary tying the quotes together to make a point that was not present in any of them individually. Apparently in the US the rule of thumb is 300 words maximum and attribution. Now these are usually designed for safety rather than maximizing the amount you can quote. They are style rules too, so they vary from institution to institution. And actually it was ruled that quoting 300 words from Gerald Ford's biography, the crucial part about pardoning Nixon, was not fair use.

However if you've ever written anything formally you should have some idea about how to quote and not be at risk of a copyright lawsuit. You could probably work out a rule of thumb from research now.

From what I can tell this lexicon quoted way, way more than plausible fair use, didn't attribute and did not add original commentary. That's why the author was in trouble.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (2, Funny)

kae_verens (523642) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731213)

A long time ago when I was in an class someone told that all quotes had to be attributed and you could only quote one paragraph from each source, and you had to add some sort of original commentary tying the quotes together to make a point that was not present in any of them individually.

-- this quote was originally uttered by Hal_Porter

I notice you did not name this "someone". Does that mean that your quote is illegal?

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731333)

I didn't quote I paraphrased. And there were several sources for this. One paragraph and the attribution seem to be conventional wisdom, the part about the commentary making points not present in any of the individual sources is my rule for academic stuff. Mostly because it makes it more interesting to write, but also because that's one of the things that separate quoting for critical purposes from plagiarism.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (1)

clifyt (11768) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731457)

"A long time ago when I was in an class someone told that all quotes had to be attributed and you could only quote one paragraph from each source, and you had to add some sort of original commentary..."

That is a good rule of thumb when you are trying to get students to do, say, a 3 page paper. I.e., something that could be knocked out in a half hour by a competent writer that has read the material and synthesized the information into something new.

Then again, I've never actually quoted more than a sentence or two from a single source in a row, if I have to go more than that, I do the relevant sections '...' and then the end relevant area. I can't imagine the need to do an entire paragraph. In this instance, it it more about getting students to learn to quote relevantly as opposed to just using others words to pad the pages. In larger academic works where one is not judged by the paper length but by the accuracy and relevance of the information, a lot more quotes from single sources can be admitted under some circumstances (though I still can't imagine lifting large chunks of paragraphs at a time).

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731255)

Fair use has rules about quote length and attribution

No, it doesn't. Fair use ultimately boils down to 'you can use as much as is fair, given the overall circumstances.'

Fair point, but the guidelines are pretty strict.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (3, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730299)

I doubt you could make the argument that some chunk of source code or a research paper, shared and used by a very small minority of people, should be subject to the same rules as a cultural icon shared by over a hundred million people. At what point do corporations stand aside so that the PUBLIC can own their own culture? By the law as you (and many others) interpret it -- never. In my opinion, corporations can suck a big one on this -- they don't own culture, and that's what harry potter has become, whether JK Rowling and the Publishers of Doom want it that way or not.

Shall I give up telling my friends to "google the question"? Shall I avoid asking for a Kleenex? When my coworker does some hack job on a server, do I no longer get to call it a mickey mouse job? Seriously -- The book was designed by fans to serve as a companion to the books, quite ostensibly because after over ten thousand pages of text some people might be confused... That they quoted "large sections" of the text... how much material could they possibly have quoted compared to the original? 5%? 10%?

Please.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730975)

But in the end the public don't own Harry Potter. J K Rowling does, because she created it. She's already said there are other lexicons she is fine with, she just doesn't like this one. And the guy that wrote it did it in such a way that it is classed as a derivative work which means she can stop it being distributed. From what I've read it was so blatantly plagiarised that the case for it being a derivative work was easy to make. Plus he sold it.

It reminds me of a good quote from Victor Lewis Smith -"Imitation is the sincerest form of being an unoriginal thieving bastard" or the 4chan insult of newfag for people who solely exist to repost stuff by other people.

And note that fair use quoting is OK for satire and lexicons like this. But you must follow the rules to do it and add some original content. Really the only people who get clobbered are people without anything original to say.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (4, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731011)

Slashdot is schizophrenic about copyright

It's weird, isn't it?

You'd almost think there was more than one person posting here.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731263)

There is? I thought I was the one writing all these comments? Who's the other guy?

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731475)

Slashdot is schizophrenic about copyright

We're certainly hearing voices of people who aren't present; those of RMS, Larry Lessig and NYCL in particular.

Our thoughts are incoherent: watch the word salad that some of the trolls spew out.

We're also delusional: we hold the fixed belief that Microsoft are evil and Open Source is good, despite Novell selling out and Microsoft uhmm... well they do try to do something good.

Social cognition is pretty impaired in all of us, and there's a lot of avolition going on: we all sit on our asses and complain instead of doing something about it.

Yep, it matches pretty good ;)

Perhaps you meant multiple or dissociative personality disorder?

(laundry list of symptoms taken from wikipedia).

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (2, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729219)

I guess that unless the law has changed, you can protect no such thing as "writing style" under any kind of "IP protection". Even words, which are still "quite concrete", IMO do not constitute a copyrightable work, unless you really made them up. Well, this might be just the case, but I still believe it is in public interest not to prohibit usage of *words*, no matter how exquisitely refined a word is from the creative point of view. I guess the best thing you can do is to apply for copious trademarks.

But - writing style? Do they really mean the thing that I would describe in my words as "a preference of particular words, collocations, phrases and syntactic structures specific to the author"? Ha ha. As I noticed, if there are people "ripping off someone's style", that someone is much more likely to be J. R. R. Tolkien, not a Joanne Rowling. Never seen Chris Tolkien or his old man complaining, though.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729307)

...(c) imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style in portions...

I propose a kdawson imitation thread.....

1....2.....3.... Go!

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729321)

It's not even part of the law at all! Copying "style" is not covered by copyright or patent or any other intellectual property laws that I am aware of. This judge is effectively ruling based on his OPINION and isn't even considering the law. I have to wonder if that is even legal. I think judges get away with far too much.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (4, Insightful)

Spasemunki (63473) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729373)

Fair use necessitates attribution- making it clear when text is being quoted or paraphrased, and when new material is being added by the author. One of the points cited by the judge was the sloppy attribution and long quotes. By imitating Rowling's style while including long, unattributed portions of her work the authors of the Lexicon are making it unclear where her text ends and theirs begins, making their work appear to be a new composite work derived from Rowlings text rather than a work that comments on, satirizes, etc. Rowlings material.

The gist of the decision seems to be that if the Lexicon did a better job of clearly identifying what is Rowling's work and what is their own. That makes it hard to argue that they are commenting on or sampling Rowling's test in a manner compatible with fair use. Imitating Rowling's style is part of what creates the confusion.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (4, Informative)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729955)

Fair use necessitates attribution- making it clear when text is being quoted or paraphrased, and when new material is being added by the author.

No it doesn't.

This particular defendant, however, claimed that he had written a reference guide. Since the novels are not reference guides, this would be a transformation of the copyrighted works, and it strengthens a fair use argument to show that the defendant has used the underlying work in a transformative manner. The court noted, however, that due to the lack of attribution, it wasn't actually a very good reference guide. This undercut the claim of it being a transformative work. That, in turn, weakened the fair use argument.

If he had instead written a parody, he would not have had to include attributions, since parodies are a type of transformative work where attributions aren't really expected. Such a parody could easily be a fair use.

Imitating Rowling's style is part of what creates the confusion.

It might further harm the 'it's a reference guide' argument, but copyright does not protect mere writing styles, nor does copyright care about confusion. Copyright chiefly cares about copying. A novel written in Rowling's style that didn't copy anything protectable from her corpus of work, would not infringe her copyrights.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (1)

Spasemunki (63473) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730103)

You're correct re: attribution- I was thinking of plagiarism. Copyright doesn't care about style or confusion, but they can definitely speak to the effect on the author's ability to exploit the original work. Rowling has an exclusive right to create derivative works- imitating the style used in the series and its associated works (Rowling has previously published in-world guidebook style works) undercuts Rowling's ability to profit from the work in a way that a guide book written using a different style would not.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (4, Interesting)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730337)

Rowling has an exclusive right to create derivative works

Which is not implicated in this case; the guidebook was not a derivative work. Rather, the author got in trouble for his excessive verbatim copying.

imitating the style used in the series and its associated works

Would also not constitute a derivative work.

Derivatives are defined in the law:

A "derivative work" is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a "derivative work".

As you can see, merely being based upon a preexisting work isn't enough. In practice, the derivative has to recast, transform, or adapt the preexisting work. An adaptation, like "Harry Potter: The Opera" would be a derivative. A sequel book, such as "Harry Potter and the Endless Revenue Stream" would be a derivative work. But as the court pointed out, a mere reference guide is not a derivative work, because it does not recast, transform, or adapt the thing to which it is a guide. This was covered pretty well in the Beanie Baby case, and the point was repeated in this case.

Likewise, merely using the style of the Harry Potter books would not constitute a derivative work, because that doesn't recast, transform, or adapt the preexisting books.

undercuts Rowling's ability to profit from the work in a way that a guide book written using a different style would not.

So? Copyright does not include a right to profit. Imagine the absurd results that would occur if it did: A scathing review of the latest book or movie that caused it to be a big flop would constitute copyright infringement! Even if it didn't copy so much as a word. Likewise, a rival author who wrote a series of dreadful books about vampires which drew away the audience for Harry Potter could be accused of infringing on the basis that her (bad) original works were undercutting Rowling's profits, despite a total lack of copying anything.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (1)

Spasemunki (63473) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730349)

So? Copyright does not include a right to profit. Imagine the absurd results that would occur if it did: A scathing review of the latest book or movie that caused it to be a big flop would constitute copyright infringement! Even if it didn't copy so much as a word. Likewise, a rival author who wrote a series of dreadful books about vampires which drew away the audience for Harry Potter could be accused of infringing on the basis that her (bad) original works were undercutting Rowling's profits, despite a total lack of copying anything.

Effect on the author's ability to profit from their work is one criteria in judging if a use is fair use.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (1)

Twanfox (185252) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730399)

Reference, please.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (4, Informative)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730509)

That's true. But not really all that relevant here. The Lexicon was not supplanting the market for the novels. And as the court pointed out, "[n]otwithstanding Rowling's public statements of her intention to publish her own encyclopedia, the market for reference guides to the Harry Potter works is not exclusively hers to exploit or license, no matter the commercial success attributable to the popularity of the original works." There was a concern, however, that the lexicon might harm the market for some of the existing ancillary works it copied from, since it copied so much.

And more generally, there still isn't a right to profit. Remember, fair use only arises where there is prima facie infringement of an actual right, such as the right to reproduce the work in copies. Writing a bad review would not be infringement at all, unless it included quotes or something. Writing a competing series of terrible books would not be infringement either. Only if there is some underlying infringement would a fair use argument (and the fourth, monetary, factor) come into play. In the case of a review, I would be utterly amazed if a court decided that the loss of sales attributable to the review was relevant under the fourth fair use factor. I certainly cannot recall such an absurd outcome ever having happened.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (1)

Spasemunki (63473) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730405)

As you can see, merely being based upon a preexisting work isn't enough. In practice, the derivative has to recast, transform, or adapt the preexisting work. An adaptation, like "Harry Potter: The Opera" would be a derivative. A sequel book, such as "Harry Potter and the Endless Revenue Stream" would be a derivative work. But as the court pointed out, a mere reference guide is not a derivative work, because it does not recast, transform, or adapt the thing to which it is a guide. This was covered pretty well in the Beanie Baby case, and the point was repeated in this case.

But if you're going to publish a 'reference' book, you have to do so in such a way that it doesn't take on the qualities of a derivative work. If you take long quotes from a book and then insert additional explanatory text around them in the same style, you haven't created a guidebook, you've created a modified version of the source work.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (3, Interesting)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730559)

But if you're going to publish a 'reference' book, you have to do so in such a way that it doesn't take on the qualities of a derivative work.

That's usually pretty easy.

If you take long quotes from a book and then insert additional explanatory text around them in the same style, you haven't created a guidebook, you've created a modified version of the source work./i>

I suppose that's possible. But it would be an odd guidebook. You're essentially describing Cliff's Notes with extensive paraphrasing of the story between long verbatim quotes. That's an abridgment, and it would be a derivative.

We can immediately see that the Lexicon in this case isn't like that; it's organized alphabetically, not chronologically. A lot of text about the man-eating Aardvark from book 4, followed by the entry for the magical Albatross from book 1 is hardly putting the original story back together out of snippets and paraphrases.

Please remember that the court did not find the defendant to have infringed on the derivative right; the Lexicon is not a derivative work. Rather, the issue was verbatim copying, and too much of it.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731249)

Derivatives are defined in the law:

A "derivative work" is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a "derivative work".

As you can see, merely being based upon a preexisting work isn't enough.

Actually the very section you quote says that being based upon a preexisting work is enough. It then gives a list of examples lest anyone interpret "based upon" too narrowly.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730307)

A parody could be fair use, but substantial quotation doesn't belong in parodies. To create a parody the author would have to rewrite those quotations somewhat, not use them straight. I suppose that a parody could use some text without alteration, but surely it can't be a very high percentage of the total work.
    David Gerrold once did a parody of E. E. (Doc) Smith's work, and accidentally transcribed an entire paragraph straight from Smith, based only on what he had read 10 years or more before. When he realized this, he went back and changed it before publication, thinking that an entire paragraph, in a short story sized work, was too much to justify. That's probably a pretty good rule of thumb.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (2, Insightful)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730461)

A parody could be fair use, but substantial quotation doesn't belong in parodies.

That depends on the parody; every case is different. Besides, it is well-established that parodies have to copy quite a lot in order to make it clear just what they are parodying. This could involve verbatim copying, though it needn't necessarily, but there will be a lot of copying no matter what.

but surely it can't be a very high percentage of the total work.

First, the issue is how much was copied, not the ratio of copied:new material. Second, it's however much is fair, under the circumstances. Could be a lot, could be a little. Fair use is extremely vague, and deliberately so. Bright line rules don't mesh well with fairness.

thinking that an entire paragraph, in a short story sized work, was too much to justify. That's probably a pretty good rule of thumb.

Meh. I really wouldn't bother with rules of thumb for fair use. It's the overall circumstances of each case standing alone that matters. Any given rule of thumb is as likely to be wrong as it is right, because it does not take into account all of the surrounding issues. Go with your gut instincts instead, looking at the particular circumstances of the actual use in question.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730271)

There are some widely used methods of making it simple and straightforward for readers to determine which parts of a text are quoted material. The use of different fonts, font weights and sizes, indentation or italics are all practices which it seems fair to describe as industry standards, and are all simple to implement. While there are different methods, these reflect differences in how much material is being quoted, how much it resembles the non-quoted parts, and so on. Most publishers have policies that guide them in selecting one method from these several, but even if the 'wrong' method was picked, picking any method would show intent.
    If the lexicon couldn't, in fact, be bothered to use one or more of these methods, I'd think that very point hurts their case. If the authors didn't have a clear idea of what they were doing in some general senses, I don't think they should be given the normal benefit of a doubt that they had a clear idea of how what they did fell within the confines of fair use either. Instead, they should bear some burden of proof that they considered fair use and formed a reasonable opinion instead of just not giving a damn.
      In other words, this may not mean they are guilty of anything, but if it turns out they are, it would seem to be a possible aggrievating circumstance.
 

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729379)

Is that even an enforceable law?

Well, it's not a law, so no.

As to whether it's relevant, absolutely it is. On its own, a writing style (much less a pedestrian, tortured one like Rowling's) is not eligible for copyright protection. However, no one has suggested that is the case--from either side. The relevance of the writing style speaks to the purpose and character of the allegedly infringing work, as well as to the amount and substantiality of the copying. These, as anyone actually involved or educated in the field would immediately know, are parts of the multifactor balancing test for fair use cases. The most important factor, and the deciding one in the case, is the market impact, coupled with the commercial nature of the endeavor.

The ruling follows a trend of erring on the side of the author's right to prepare or license such derivative works, and isn't at all suspect, given that the website was not enjoined and Rowling made a specific point of stopping the commercial profit in the publication of the book. The low damages further reflect the court's rather balanced view of the offending work. The submitter's "criticism" of the opinion is a fairly generic and less-than-insightful critique of the case-by-case analysis of fair use cases--but as Learned Hand wrote decades ago, that's the way it is and the way it should be.

If so most authors should have their books contested, as people learn partly through imitation and experience. Throwing weak points out like that makes me suspect of the ruling.

It's only a "weak point" if you don't know what you're reading.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729777)

...(c) imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style in portions...

Is that even an enforceable law?

No, it isn't, IMHO.

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (2, Interesting)

Opyros (1153335) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730269)

But what did item (c) refer to? I've just searched through the decision [groklaw.net] at Groklaw, and I can't find the word "style" anywhere. Were you referring perhaps to the fact that the companion books were themselves references, and the judge found that Vander Ark's incorporation of material from them into another reference was insufficiently transformative? If not, I'm puzzled by the mention of "writing style".

Re:imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style... (4, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730287)

I'm puzzled by the mention of "writing style".

Me too. I don't know why the Judge considered that a factor at all. I think the 2nd Circuit will disapprove that.

Summary of Previous Posts (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25729197)

What does her wealth have to do with it?

I was not aware that society's subjective judgment of whether someone has made "enough" money from one's intellectual property was a factor in copyright law. Either there's a copyright infringement or there isn't. Rowling's wealth and success are irrelevant.

--

Hold your horses!

J. K. Rowling didn't make enough money on Harry Potter, so she had to make sure that the 'Harry Potter Lexicon' was shut down.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back up a moment! NewYorkCountryLawyer, I normally respect your posts, but this one is in need of some serious scrutiny.

As it happens, I was listening to the details of the case this morning on NPR. The problem with this specific book is not that it focuses on the Harry Potter series. The problem is that nearly every description was lifted from the books in a reasonably clear case of plagerism and/or derivitive works. Most reference books contain unique descriptions and commentary above and beyond the information presented in the source material. However, this particular lexicon made no effort to add such value over the books themselves.

In effect, it was merely a reorganization of J.K. Rowling's books into a dry reference. Something for which only the author has a legal right to grant.

THAT is why the judge found against the lexicon. And he did so with a strong warning that this book is an exception to the usually legal practice:

Issuing an injunction in this case both benefits and harms the public interest. While the Lexicon, in its current state, is not a fair use of the Harry Potter works, reference works that share the Lexicon's purpose of aiding readers of literature generally should be encouraged rather than stifled. As the Supreme Court suggested in Campbell, "[b]ecause the fair use enquiry often requires close questions of judgment as to the extent of permissible borrowing" in cases involving transformative uses, granting an injunction does not always serve the goals of copyright law, when the secondary use, though edifying in some way, has been found to surpass the bounds of fair use. Campbell, 510 U.S. at 578 n.10. On the other hand, to serve the public interest, copyright law must "prevent[] the misappropriation of the skills, creative energies, and resources which are invested in the protected work." Apple Computer, 714 F.2d at 1255. Ultimately, because the Lexicon appropriates too much of Rowling's creative work for its purposes as a reference guide, a permanent injunction must issue to prevent the possible proliferation of works that do the same25 and thus deplete the incentive for original authors to create new works.

--

Erm...What?

Why the bad attitude in the submission post?

Someone was trying to release a commercial product whose premise was stealing content from an established work.

If they didn't get hit hard on copyright infringement, they'd get hit hard on trademark infringement, and rightly so.

Like it nor not, J. K. Rowling created the series, and decided to turn it into a commercial enterprise. It's well within her moral and legal rights to make sure a bunch of idiots don't cling to her coattails trying to milk dollars from a popular franchise that they have no legitimate claim to.

--

Amazingly slanted summary

I heard J.K. Rowling interviewed on NPR about this. She listed many of the books that are derivative works that she is thrilled about. The commonality with acceptable books is that they add original thoughts. The targeted book contained no original thoughts but just indexed material from her books, in many cases copying the content and even indexes from her books verbatim.

The lawsuit was to stop the publication of the book; it had nothing to do with the $6k.

Re:Summary of Previous Posts (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729427)

Wealth may have little to do with the issue of copyright infringement, however, it probably has everything to do with what's going to *actually* happen in the legal system.

If she's rich enough to afford lawyers, then she can probably extract a huge settlement, or even steamroll an outright victory if the defendant fails to jump through a critcal hoop. Money is might, and might makes right. It usually doesn't matter who's morally right, or even legally right. The rich have a far better chance than the poor to win a lawsuit as either plaintiff or defendant. Incidentally, this is probably why they are more prone to abuse the legal system in the first place, as they can do so with relative impunity.

Consider also, that this was a bench trial. Why the defendants didn't assert their right to a jury trial is beyond me, and may or may not have any relevance as to the veracity of NYCL's summary.

Also, considering that the defendant is apparently Warner Bros. and not Rowling, attributing the original suit to rowling may even be patently erroneous itself.

Considering how thrilled she usually is with creative derivative works, I wouldn't put it past Warner to be the plaintiff instead of rowling. NYCL has once said that it was "A particularly litigious company".

Re:Summary of Previous Posts (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729527)

Consider also, that this was a bench trial. Why the defendants didn't assert their right to a jury trial is beyond me, and may or may not have any relevance as to the veracity of NYCL's summary.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the purpose of a jury trial is to have the jury decide what the facts of a case are. Like if one side claimed that 10,000 copies of the book were sold, and the other side claimed it was only 200 copies, and if this mattered, then the jury would decide what the correct number is. In this case, the facts are clear: The defendant wrote this lexicon, and everyone agrees what words were used in the lexicon. These are the facts. Whether writing this lexicon using these words is copyright infringement or protected by fair use or no infringement at all, that would be a matter of law and for the judge to decide.

Re:Summary of Previous Posts (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729449)

Here is the problem.

Rowling sued the book before ever seeing a single rough draft of it. Her lawyers insisted it copied verbatim without rewriting any passages based off the web site.

The book's publisher claims that those entries were largely rewritten for the lexicon.

Given that neither of us have read the lexicon (as it is not published) we are left to believe one side or the other. What I find curious is how Rowling was so sure of her side of the story without having read the book herself.

The lexicon was made available to her during the trial, but most of her claims came before then.

She has also threatened law suits at cases clearly covered by parody. I don't think she is evil, so much as she is strongly attached to the world she created. She said it physically pained her to kill off her characters. That being said, for the purposes of legal precedent, I think reference works should be protected and fair use preserved. There are plenty of lawyers volunteering on the side of the lexicon by people who have read it and insist it should be covered by fair use. I can't imagine they would volunteer their time to protect a work so full of plagiarism. It just doesn't make sense.

Re:Summary of Previous Posts (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25729543)

She has also threatened law suits at cases clearly covered by parody.

When has she done this?

Re:Summary of Previous Posts (3, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729611)

Rowling sued the book before ever seeing a single rough draft of it. Her lawyers insisted it copied verbatim without rewriting any passages based off the web site.

Citation Needed. From the actual decision written by the judge [nytimes.com] , there were numerous example of verbatim copying in the manuscript. How did Rowling know that? Because Rowling was aware of the site. The site had verbatim copying. She was fine with that when it was a non-profit website. The minute they tried to make money off her writing, she objected.

The book's publisher claims that those entries were largely rewritten for the lexicon.

Despite the publisher's claims, the judge found that the majority of the book would have been in quotes had the Lexicon properly attributed the work to Rowling.

Given that neither of us have read the lexicon (as it is not published) we are left to believe one side or the other. What I find curious is how Rowling was so sure of her side of the story without having read the book herself.

Again, she was aware of the website which had verbatim copying. You don't have to believe one side or the other. The judge having read Lexicon made a determination that the Rowling was correct: Lexicon copied a lot from her book. The question is if you believe the judge.

She has also threatened law suits at cases clearly covered by parody. I don't think she is evil, so much as she is strongly attached to the world she created.

Given the fact that Rowling has not sued other companion books like MuggleNet.com's [amazon.com] and the Complete Idiot's Guide to Harry Potter, Rowling isn't against companion books per se. She was against this particular one.

Re:Summary of Previous Posts (3, Informative)

Spasemunki (63473) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729659)

Given that neither of us have read the lexicon (as it is not published) we are left to believe one side or the other.

The judge got to read it. His ruling mentioned specifically that there were lengthy verbatim excerpts. The combination of this with the practice of poor footnoting/attribution with the imitation of Rowling's style made the Lexicon appear to be a derivative work rather than a text incorporating passages in a way acceptable under fair use.

Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (5, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729451)

What does her wealth have to do with it? I was not aware that society's subjective judgment of whether someone has made "enough" money from one's intellectual property was a factor in copyright law. Either there's a copyright infringement or there isn't. Rowling's wealth and success are irrelevant.

I remember seeing this comment in the earlier discussion some time back.

While wealth might not be a factor in whether there's an infringement or not, wealth is relevant to the theory of copyright law. Copyright doesn't exist to make people lots of money. It exists to provide incentive for people to create things they otherwise wouldn't have created.

In terms of economics, paying a dollar more than is required to provide that incentive, or providing a day more copyright, is inefficient. If the author would have created it without that extra little bit, then that extra little bit is a waste. Society is overpaying for creativity.

Of course, determining the exact amount of incentive in each case isn't feasible, so there will always be some overpaying. However, the point is that if copyright were making every rights holder wealthy, it would probably indicate that society was in general overpaying for its creativity. And, as in the case, if one rights holder becomes very wealthy, society is probably overpaying in that instance.

Would Rowling still have written her books if the work only got her half her current earnings? Probably. A quarter or a tenth? Still probable. Would she have written the books if copyright only lasted 15 years, instead of decades? Probably. Society is undoubtedly overpaying for this creativity.

Re:Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (1)

Robin47 (1379745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729579)

I have to disagree with this. Copyright is there to protect the creator from the theft of what he creates. The vast majority of copyrighted material makes no money for the creator. Intellectual property is property none the less and copyright law provides a mechanism for protection of that property.

Re:Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (1)

GoodNicksAreTaken (1140859) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729649)

Your argument is circular. You can't steal something that is intellectual property as it is not physical. There is nothing to steal. The only way this is theft is if you say that it is theft to somehow duplicate this material. You then have created the idea of copyrights if only in practice if not in name, and are basing your argument upon that.

Re:Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (2, Informative)

GodKingAmit (1192629) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729693)

Hint: No.

You have swallowed the RIAA/MPAA version of copyright and ignored the vast body of history and theory surrounding copyright law. The GP is correct, copyright is to provide incentive to the production of creative works. In the US at least, it has nothing to do with "moral" or "property" rights: that is why it expires after a fixed time.

Informative link [intellectu...vilege.com]

Re:Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (1)

Robin47 (1379745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729737)

Ok, good point. I stand corrected.

Re:Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (1)

msuarezalvarez (667058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729969)

How come you did not bother to do a minimum amount of research on the matter before making such patently wrong assertions? It is not like this information is that hard to find...

Re:Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731063)

At least he has the decency to admit when he's wrong.

Given that editing is forbidden, a clarifying retraction is the best he could have done.

Re:Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (2, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730209)

Just because that's what the current laws are based on does not mean one can't be of the opinion that copyright is a good thing because of moral/property rights. Your statement is correct, but does not refute the GP's statement that copyright law should be there to protect the creator.

Re:Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (1)

GodKingAmit (1192629) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730331)

He said:

Copyright is there ...

No mention about should

Re:Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730413)

Yes, but "is" can mean "the reason it was put into place", or "the reason I think it should be in place". It's ambiguous, and the post reads to me like he meant the latter.

Re:Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (1)

GodKingAmit (1192629) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730631)

I think the fact that he admitted he was wrong indicates that my reading of his comment was correct.

Ok, good point. I stand corrected.

Link [slashdot.org]

Re:Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730721)

Fair enough. I guess I'm quibbling, too, my point was really to point out that just because copyright law was enacted for reason A, doesn't mean reason B isn't a valid reason to want to keep it around.

Re:Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (4, Informative)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729807)

have to disagree with this. Copyright is there to protect the creator from the theft of what he creates.

No, it is not. Copyright is there to encourage the creation of more works into the public domain. The idea is that if we delay its entry into the public domain, the public's gain (incentive for artists to create more work) outweights the public loss (the temporary monopoly on the right to make and distribute copies).

After all, the idea that you can't do anything you wish with something you bought and paid for (actual, physical property), including copying the content and handing out the copies to everyone you want is ludicrous. The public would only accept it if we had something to gain for it, and that's why the constitution specifically qualifies the right of congress to establish copyright with for limited times, and indicates that it's purpose is to promote the progress of science and useful arts. It doesn't say, "to protect property," because if it had been considered property, there would be no reason to limit the length of the copyright.

And to those of you who will undoubtedly claim that US constitution is invalid because Rowling is British, the lawsuit in question is in US jurisdiction.

Re:Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (2, Informative)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729821)

I have to disagree with this. Copyright is there to protect the creator from the theft of what he creates.

Maybe where you live, but not according to the US Constitution. I'm not a US citizen, but this case is in the US so the US constitutions article that authorises copyright law is the supreme relevant law.

Section 8
The Congress shall have Power ...

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;


So langelgjm is correct, "Copyright doesn't exist to make people lots of money. It exists to provide incentive for people to create things they otherwise wouldn't have created."

Re:Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (2, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729849)

Her wealth has nothing to do with whether it's a copyright infringement. It has everything to do with her being greedy and selfish and forgetting from whence she came.

Re:Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (4, Insightful)

Captain Sarcastic (109765) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730229)

Her wealth has nothing to do with whether it's a copyright infringement. It has everything to do with her being greedy and selfish and forgetting from whence she came.

And this relates to the lawsuit how?

I mean, I understand that you don't like Ms. Rowling, because you see her as a money-grubbing miser who is trying to milk as much out of her work as possible. Fine with me.

However, your arguments are starting to sound as though you wish that there were be a legal mechanism to say, "OK, you've made enough money from this, now shut up and let us have at it."

Your posts are usually cogent on other areas... actually, your posts are unusually cogent in other areas, and I admire your expertise in copyright law. Could you give this topic a rest?

Re:Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (3, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730275)

Could you give this topic a rest?

I didn't bring it up, someone dredged up his comments from the older story. I was just clarifying that the wealth issue has nothing to do with the copyright issue, it's just a dig.

Re:Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (1)

Captain Sarcastic (109765) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730295)

Fair enough. Sorry if I goofed on the context.

Re:Wealth is relevant, at least in theory (3, Insightful)

Grond (15515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730293)

Would Rowling still have written her books if the work only got her half her current earnings? Probably. A quarter or a tenth? Still probable. Would she have written the books if copyright only lasted 15 years, instead of decades? Probably. Society is undoubtedly overpaying for this creativity.

Luckily, we invented a way to redistribute some of that excess wealth back to society: taxation. Of course, the tax regime isn't perfect, but it's overall a much more efficient way to correct overpayment than trying to determine, ex ante or even ex post, how much money a given author deserves for a given creative work. I'll give you that the copyright term is too long, but we shouldn't try to cap how much money an author can make from a work. Instead, we should just set appropriate, progressive income taxes.

Copyright == Temporary Monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25729559)

What does her wealth have to do with it?

Copyright exists to incentivize content creators to create more content by granting them a temporary monopoly.

When someone amasses "enough" wealth and declares their intentions to retire they break their end of the deal. Therefore, additional wealth would not be a motivator for the creation of more content and the copyright monopoly is no longer serving its purpose.

People smarter than I should establish what "enough" wealth is and when a monopoly is no longer necessary but that's what we have courts for.

Re:Summary of Previous Posts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25729567)

In other words, you didn't get enough self-righteous indignation in at NYCL last time so you want a rehash of the same bullshit.

Re:Summary of Previous Posts (2, Funny)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729871)

In other words, you didn't get enough self-righteous indignation in at NYCL last time so you want a rehash of the same bullshit.

Thank you for pointing that out. Such an obvious troll.

Re:Summary of Previous Posts (3, Insightful)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730265)

I was not aware that society's subjective judgment of whether someone has made "enough" money from one's intellectual property was a factor in copyright law. Either there's a copyright infringement or there isn't. Rowling's wealth and success are irrelevant.

Oh, it's not. It's a big factor in copyright policy, however, so perhaps that's where the confusion arises. After all, if copyright is meant to promote the public good by encouraging authors to create and distribute works by means of granting them a limited economic monopoly on the work for a limited period of time, how much money authors make, and how often they make it, and how, etc., becomes pretty important.

The problem is that nearly every description was lifted from the books in a reasonably clear case of plagerism and/or derivitive works.

Plagiarism isn't infringing, or even illegal. Plagiarism is when you copy someone's ideas (which are not protected by copyright) and claim them as your own (which copyright doesn't care about). Copying someone's written work verbatim, even with plenty of attribution, and disclaiming any credit for it would not be plagiarism, but could quite easily be copyright infringement.

As for derivatives, this isn't one, and the court pointed that out. The infringing work doesn't retell or recast the story or adapt it in another medium; it's just a reference guide for the books. It merely copied, and it copied enough, and in such a way, that they lost their fair use argument.

However, this particular lexicon made no effort to add such value over the books themselves.

That might be relevant insofar as one would claim that it's a reference guide, and thus transformative, but generally it is irrelevant. What matters is how much you copy, not how much you add. Besides which, the court rejected the argument that the lexicon had to be a work of literary criticism or some such. A mere guidebook is okay.

In effect, it was merely a reorganization of J.K. Rowling's books into a dry reference. Something for which only the author has a legal right to grant. ... The targeted book contained no original thoughts

No, doing that is perfectly fine. This particular author was a little quote-happy is all. Had he been a bit more careful, he would have been well within his rights to write a dry reference. And again, dry references are not inherently infringing. Original thoughts aren't necessary.

Re:Summary of Previous Posts (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730495)

What does her wealth have to do with it? I was not aware that society's subjective judgment of whether someone has made "enough" money from one's intellectual property was a factor in copyright law. . . Rowling's wealth and success are irrelevant.

Obviously, you have never voted Democrat.

WTF??..... (1)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729717)

"(c) imitation of J. K. Rowling's writing style in portions"

Fictional? Creative? Fantasy?

So.....Now *WRITING STYLES* are copyrightable??

If Rowling and the publishers are hoping to protect their reputation, I think it is safe to say they just shot themselves in the foot. Repeatedly.

Wholesale copying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25729809)

I'm not well versed in the case, but if the defendant was indeed producing a lexicon (a complete catalog of terms), then IMHO this constitutes more than just a fair-use smattering of examples being quoted and, hence, would constitute copyright infringement.

Re:Wholesale copying (2, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25729917)

Even this judge recognized that a reference work to a copyrighted fictional work is indeed a fair use.

Re:Wholesale copying (1)

TimSSG (1068536) | more than 5 years ago | (#25730035)

"a complete catalog of terms" is not the problem. The problem seems to be that they used her material to define the terms without the proper use of source citation. Fair use implies that some new materiel is being added and you can tell difference between old/sited and new materiel. Tim S

yo0 FAIL 4it (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25729949)

BSD sux0rs. What parts. The cuurent about a project fear the reaper operating systems,

Quick question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25730695)

How can you write something that includes more information than what is available in the source material when you are writing a reference guide on the same material?

Facts are not copyrightable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25730829)

So it would follow that a description of how Harry Potter looked in the book would be non-copyrightable. Once she set it down as a fact, it lost it's copyright protections.

The critical article is hardly an article (1)

Excelcia (906188) | more than 5 years ago | (#25731167)

If you read the article referenced in the synopsis, you'll find that it is hardly a critical article. It spends about 80% of its length simply recapping the case, a few lines of saying the decision should have gone the other way, then the last 20% bemoaning the fact that because of the decision, the fair use is more muddy. In a critical article, I was hoping for more meat. Why should the decision have been different? What errors of law were there?

Basically the guy wrote a paper that said "oh I wish it were different", the defendant happened to then appeal, and the writer is cashing in on that by saying "hey, I criticized the decision and now it's being appealed". Like he had something to do with that.

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  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

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

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
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