Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Rowling Going Too Far?

JK Rowling arriving on MondayJK Rowling and Warner Brothers are suing a Harry Potter fan, Steven Vander Ark, because he was planning to publish a Harry Potter Lexicon, through RDR publishers, based on the contents of his website. The site was setup in 2000 to catalogue the characters, creatures and spells in the Harry Potter universe and was praised by JK herself a few years back. Things have turned sour now however with Rowling claiming that his book amounts to "wholesale theft", as well as accusing Mr Vander Ark of "an act of betrayal" by using her fiction as a basis for his book.

Steven Vander ArkMr Vander Ark has claimed to have read the books "30 or 40 times" and that it has ben an important part of his live for 9 years. I'm sorry but to me this seems like a cheap case. If the Star Trek series had started bringing cases against their fans for publishing books, etc then, while they certainly could've made a few quick pounds, they would've killed off the massive fan base that has brought the world of Star Trek from a TV show to a cult hit. Harry Potter was well on the way to having a fan base that would eclipse Star Trek and sustain it for years to come. This case could kill it. Does everything have to be run past Warner Brothers and Rowling before it's released? What about online material or is this simply to do with any material that makes money? Well the Harry Potter fan sites are probably making money through advertising so will they be next in line for the lawyers? No more fan material published, is this the goal? It's also nice to know that as the books are now finished and the fans aren't being relied on to buy them anymore the court cases have started.

Even the language used by Rowling is harsh. This is a fan who has read everything on Harry Potter, runs a hugely popular website that, in reality, is free advertising and publicity for the series and the merchandise, who regards Rowling as a "genius" and yet she said that what he is doing is "an act of betrayal". This case stinks. Do they really think that an unofficial guide to Harry Potter is going to do the series any harm? If she decides to publish her own encyclopedia it is guaranteed to be a massive success whether an unofficial version exists or not. This guy was not a threat to the Harry Potter universe. He's not a threat to her vast fortune. It's not like he's writing an eighth book. He's certainly even competition to Warner Brothers. He's just a fan. That's it. In fact it seems to me like his guide will only help the series make more money. But this isn't about fans. This is about having total control over every penny the series makes even if it means standing on the people who helped to make it the hit that it is. I'm sorry JK but you've dropped in my estimation and I'm truly disappointed.

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1 comment:

  1. It's obvious that you don't know much about the case, or about the people involved. Steve Vander Ark isn't just a random fan. He's a mini-celebrity in his own infamy, he's been featured on a Harry Potter documentary that aired on cable television (he got more air time than Dan Radcliffe), and he's HATED by those in the Harry Potter fan base who know what's going on. I've known Steve for a while. He's been planning this for ages, and we (the majority of the intelligent fandom) have told him not to. We WARNED him not to do this. JKR has been exceptionally generous towards her fans, giving us her blessing to play in the universe she created with very few restrictions, and Steve is ruining it for everyone. He knows it, too. He received several letters from Rowling, asking, then telling, then demanding that he not publish the book. JKR tried to be nice. She TRIED to be reasonable with him. I've watched this unfold, and I know how it developed. Believe me, Rowling is NOT the person who deserves scorn in this case.

    If you'd ever met Steve, you'd quickly find out that he has the manners of an ill-trained only-child with rich parents. Give him an inch, and he takes a mile. He's creepy, he's out of touch with reality, and he thinks he's above the rules. He's an arrogant, egotistical, self-absorbed jerk. He cheated on his wife with a fangirl half his age and was fired from his job as a librarian at a Christian school for being caught in an adulterous act. He tried to convince several known fan-artists to illustrate his Lexicon book, leading them to believe that JKR had approved it. One of my friends even signed a contract before we told her that JKR hadn't given Steve permission to publish. She had to get a lawyer to get out of it because she didn't want her good name tarnished in the lawsuit. Dishonesty all around, even to the point where Steve was happy to let other people take the fall with him, without ever letting them know the truth of the situation.

    He's got this attitude like he's supposed to own Harry Potter now that Rowling has "quit", as he put it. You should have heard him talking at the two conventions last summer. He's not a fan. He's power-hungry.

    The fans who KNOW what's going on are supporting JKR 100%. She created something, and after being turned down again and again by publishers, she finally got her break. Harry Potter is her own creation, and she has ALL rights to it. We're not going to abandon her because she's laying the smackdown on Steve, who is anything but "just a fan". Steve has been asking for this, and he deserves the embarrassment. He's got no job, and he's being supported by his mistress in London. I feel bad for her, actually. I've known her for some time now, and one of my closest friends has known her even longer. Steve has taken her for a ride and strung her along. Anyway, trust me... you've got this whole thing wrong. JKR isn't attacking "the little guy". She's not ruining her fan-base. In fact, if she loses, her entire fandom will lose. We want her to win this. And regardless of the outcome... Steve will be shunned from the fandom community for the rest of his days.