J.K. Rowling recently won the right to be even richer when a US federal judge ruled against a Harry Potter fan's right to publish The Harry Potter Lexicon. In so doing, Ms. Rowling demonstrated two things:No matter how "right" it may seem to use someone else's copyrighted works, you can't simply assume that right, and Just because you're copying out of love and devotion doesn't make it right.
I'm sure that the defendant in the Harry Potter decision, Steven Vander Ark, must have felt hard done by to see his paean to Rowling's genius stomped on by her. A wide range of Potter fans seem to share this view. As I'll describe below, this isn't wildly different from open-source "fans" who piggyback on the works of others.
But their misplaced feelings and his intentions are somewhat irrelevant here. He copied liberally from Rowling's work to create "his" lexicon, which is the primary problem, as Groklaw points out:… Read more