JK Rowling- Copyright hog?!

People across the globe are hugely fascinated with the immensely successful Harry Potter series by author JK Rowling. But after the release of the seventh and last book, Ms. Rowling has gone all out to stop any infringement on her work. Recently, Ms. Rowling along with Warner Bros. Entertainment is suing RDR Books, a small publisher in Michigan, to prevent the sale of an online ‘A-to-Z guide’ to the HP Series.

The case put forth by Ms. Rowling seems simple enough- the book “is not a reference book or scholarly critique”, they claim, and it lacks “any originality or invention”. The alleged ‘infringer’ though is being valiantly defended pro bono by Lawyers at Stanford University Law School’s Fair Use Project, who seek to establish that this lexicon (more a reference guide for obssessive HP fans) would constitute fair use of Rowling’s works. The online guide when examined by many, seems to reflect extensive research on the subject as well as being a transformation of Rowling’s books- having compiled reports, interviews, hoaxes, curricula at Hogwarts- over a decade.

However, as per testimony (available on the Stanford Fair Use Programme site) Ms. Rowling seemed unfazed by this effort, and only reiterated her own plans of compiling a Harry Potter encyclopaedia. Rowling also demeaned the quality of Mr Vander Ark’s book, which is legally irrelevant. She apparently appeared condescending, and self-involved and even made unnecessary statements such as “It’s very difficult for someone who is not a writer to understand”. Believing that allowing this case, would leave the floodgates open, Rowling has clearly exhibited that she feels strongly about her works being hers and hers alone.

The extent to which Rowling has taken the enforcement of her rights seems monopolistic, and in my personal opinion, very gluttony. The New York Times business writer… called Ms Rowling a “copyright hog”.

While Rowling’s works are excellent, and I myself am a huge fan of the series, it is reports like this that lead us to reflect on what we admire- the work or the person behind the work. In this case, I think Ms. Rowling has shifted the focus of her fans from all her books and has needlessly spent long hours fighting battles that make her seem greedy. As reported by SpicyIP before, the profit driven motive, despite many denying it, is a huge factor in preventing copyright infringement. But maybe it is time for eminent authors such as Ms. Rowling to reflect on what she has possibly done here- discourage many obsessive fans from carrying on a love affair with this book only because of her over-aggressive coyright enforcement drive.

Read the full report by the Financial Times read here

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