JK 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.
Mr 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.
Images from www.bbc.co.uk.