U.S. judge halts unofficial Harry Potter lexicon

Mon Sep 8, 2008 5:09pm EDT
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By Grant McCool

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Monday halted publication of an unofficial encyclopedic companion to the popular Harry Potter book series in a copyright case author J.K. Rowling argued would threaten other writers.

Judge Robert Patterson in U.S. District Court in Manhattan wrote in his opinion that an independent U.S. book publisher, RDR Books, "had failed to establish an affirmative defense of fair use" and that publication of "The Harry Potter Lexicon" should not proceed.

The ruling said Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc and Rowling had established copyright infringement of the Harry Potter series of seven novels and two companion books, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," and "Quidditch Through the Ages."

The British author and Warner Bros, a subsidiary of Time Warner Inc, sued RDR Books, which planned to publish the lexicon. The proposed book was a 400-page reference written by fan Steve Vander Ark on www.hp-lexicon.org.

Monday's ruling said that if an injunction on the lexicon was not issued "defendant is likely to continue infringing plaintiffs' copyright in the future." It said the encyclopedia would not harm sales of the novels, but could impact the market for Rowling's companion books.

The judge also wrote that in general, reference guides and companion books were an aid to readers and should not be stifled, a point that RDR noted in its reaction.

"The opinion upholds the genre," said David Hammer, an attorney for RDR Books.

"As for the lexicon we are disappointed and RDR is considering all of its options, including an appeal."   Continued...

<p>J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, makes a statement before leaving the U.S. District Court in New York April 14, 2008. A U.S. judge on Monday ruled in favor of Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc and author Rowling over the publication of an unofficial encyclopedic companion to the popular Harry Potter book series. REUTERS/Joshua Lott</p>