WB Lawyer Says Spoilers Illegal

You may have heard about the JK Rowling lawsuit, where she’s suing a fan writer for creating a book about her works. From the Techdirt writeup:

… closing testimony from the lawyer representing Warner Brothers (who owns the Harry Potter IP rights), claiming that the real harm was that the Harry Potter Lexicon gives away spoilers and that people might say: “You know what? I guess I don’t really need the rest of the Harry Potter books because I just read the big giveaways.”

Warner Brothers also owns DC Comics, who’s made a big deal in recent years about selling comics to people so they can find out what happens next. Does this mean they’re going after Spoilt! (which I created but am no longer associated with)? I doubt it — the case is really about encroaching corporate control of ideas, such that they think anything written about what they publish also belongs to them, whether fanfic or encyclopedia. And of course, money. They don’t want the competition.


5 Responses to “WB Lawyer Says Spoilers Illegal”

  1. thekamisama Says:

    I always wondered if Warner never making a big stink over her obvious lifting of Neil Gaiman’s Tim Hunter creation was because of all these IP deals they have with Rowling? It certainly makes it appear lucrative for them to overlook.
    It is somewhat bonechilling to see this case even get this far. If Rowling and WB win, you could easily see this as a precedent to shutting down various fanzines, price guides, or any other unauthorized reference. How long before they will be going after Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guides or Overstreet’s Price Guide?

  2. Andre Says:

    I dunno, an “encyclopedia” that apparently uses exact metaphors, verbs and phrases [based on testimony I've read at Leaky Cauldron and Mugglement] is kind of sketchy. No critical analysis, no original content, just random stuff pretty much copied and pasted in alphabetical order with no permission from JK Rowling. Added tackiness since JK was planning on doing an encyclopedia herself soon, with the funds going to charity [vs. the funds going to some scummy guy's bank book]

    Rowling has often supported things like scholarly article collections of her works, overlooked unofficial biographies or books about general fantasy that also cover her works, but those usually aren’t just a carry-on to her work. She’s let a fair amount of stuff go on, and doesn’t seem to have an issue with fan websites, but this particular work was purely for profit and stepped across the line a little too much. I’m kind of surprised that people attack her so much for protecting her work. Is it because she’s too rich/popular/a women? If it were some little creator doing so with the help of the comics legal defense fund, I don’t think we’d see these words….

    I’m also kind of boggled by how people say “she’s suing some kid” when the kid in question is a 50 year old, who having worked in a library, probably knew quite well what he was doing in terms of copyright violation.

    Most writers/artists can’t afford to sue people who abuse their copyrights, so I can’t blame JK for taking an axe to it all if she has the money/backing to do so.

  3. Johanna Says:

    According to the defense, there is original content, and if Rowling hated it so much, she should never have recognized it with an “award” when it was a website. I just can’t see supporting WB & Rowling in this case.

  4. David Oakes Says:

    “I just can’t see supporting WB & Rowling in this case.”

    What if we take the Prosecution’s claims at face value as well, and that “original content” ammounts to only 10% of the work? That would seem against the spirit of “Fair Use”, that you should be allowed to use a sufficient portion to make your point, but no more.

    And while there will probably be a time where the Internet is seen as “real” as paper publishing, we aren’t there yet. It is possible – if not reasonable – to dissmiss a web document as “merely” a fan site, where as a book is a different story. (Not to mention that the way copyright law is phrased, a for-profit publication *is* a different level of challenge to your copyright.)

    I don;t think we have heard the real story, from either side. But I find the web’s absolutist defense of “Fair Use” to be as chilling to creative thought as “Disney can own your copyright unless you say no”. (Which is really just the same thing, now that I compare them. If Disney is the height of EVIL for using your work after making a good faith effort to determine rights, why does an individual get a pass even after the author as specifically asked them not to?)

  5. odessa steps magazine Says:

    For some reason, this reminds me of the whole Comicology/Kingdom Come mess. That has always spooked me about the Starman stuff I want to publish.

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