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Old 05-02-2008, 12:31 AM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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Orson Scott Card, "Rowling's hypocrisy is so thick I can hardly breathe"

Want a good laugh this morning? Check out what Orson Scott Card, best known for his Hugo-award winning novel Ender's Game, has to say about J.K. Rowling and her latest copyright suit against the Harry Potter Lexicon.

Quote:
People who hear about this suit will have a sour taste in their mouth about Rowling from now on. Her Cinderella story once charmed us. Her greedy evil-witch behavior now disgusts us. And her next book will be perceived as the work of that evil witch. [...] Rowling has now shown herself to lack a brain, a heart and courage. Clearly, she needs to visit Oz.
Read his full commentary, you won't be disappointed. So, if author J.K. Rowling and publisher Warner Brothers were successful in suing a middle-school librarian, who provided a reference guide to one of the most successful children books, over copyright infringement, would this make all fan guides illegal? What do you think?

Related Link: Archive of the official complaint

[via Pat's Fantasy Hotlist]

Last edited by Alexander Turcic; 05-02-2008 at 12:32 AM. Reason: added link to complaint archive
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Old 05-02-2008, 02:09 AM   #2
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Personally I think that Ms. Rowling is 100% in the right, here. Using someone else's characters without their permission - what copyright law calls "creating a derived work" - is unquestionably a breach of copyright. I honestly don't see what Mr. Card is objecting to.
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Old 05-02-2008, 02:10 AM   #3
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Have to agree with Cards comments that someone has been feeding her ego a bit too much.

And while I am not so confident of the result he has forcasted (Never am, with the way the legal system seems to work at times.), It does leave a bad tase in my mouth.

Personally, I could barely stand to read the books after the 4th one in the series, and in case of the last 2, just skim read them.

What seems to be the disturbing trend trend here is that due to the commercialisation of the industry, there is an eagerness to take legal action in the name of "protection of the I.P." for things that have been well established as fair use.

And while in this case it did go to court, It does make you wonder how may people whould have just considered giving in. Somthing to think about.
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Old 05-02-2008, 02:29 AM   #4
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Personally I think that Ms. Rowling is 100% in the right, here. Using someone else's characters without their permission - what copyright law calls "creating a derived work" - is unquestionably a breach of copyright. I honestly don't see what Mr. Card is objecting to.
A fan guide is hardly a derivative work. A derivative work would be a fan fiction based on the Harry Potter world (which Ms. Rowling allowed recently).
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Old 05-02-2008, 02:33 AM   #5
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A fan guide is hardly a derivative work. A derivative work would be a fan fiction based on the Harry Potter world (which Ms. Rowling allowed recently).
Of course it's a derivative work! Copyright law allows limited quoting from a work for purposes of literary criticism, etc, but this hardly constitutes that.

Besides which, this is not a "fan guide", distributed free on the internet. It's a commercial publication. This is just a guy who's cynically trying to make money from Ms. Rowling's work.
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Old 05-02-2008, 02:45 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Of course it's a derivative work! Copyright law allows limited quoting from a work for purposes of literary criticism, etc, but this hardly constitutes that.
It's a lexicon, not a collection of quotes. Just because it includes the names of characters and places from Harry Potter doesn't mean that it's a derivative.

Quote:
Besides which, this is not a "fan guide", distributed free on the internet. It's a commercial publication.
Implying what? That a fan guide cannot be used commercially?
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Old 05-02-2008, 02:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Personally I think that Ms. Rowling is 100% in the right, here. Using someone else's characters without their permission - what copyright law calls "creating a derived work" - is unquestionably a breach of copyright. I honestly don't see what Mr. Card is objecting to.
Quote:
But Lexicon is intended only as a reference book for people who have already paid for their copies of Rowling's books. Even though the book is not scholarly, it certainly falls within the realm of scholarly comment.
That, in essence, is what he is objecting to, and quite rightly so. IANAL, but as far as I can see, her copyright infringement claims have absolutely no basis in anything approaching reality. Her trademark infringement claims are probably another matter.

The other matter (the whole hypocrisy bit) is that whether it's a commercial publication or a fan guide on the net is of absolutely no relevance when it comes to copyright. As such, she should have sent a C&D to the web site in 2004 or whenever it was she learned of its existence, and not now, especially after having awarded the site before and having gone on public record as finding it useful herself.
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Old 05-02-2008, 02:57 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by TadW View Post
Implying what? That a fan guide cannot be used commercially?
What I mean is that while an author may be willing to "turn a blind eye" to a web site created by a fan for the benefit of other fans (as is often done in the case of "fan fiction", for example), if the same work is published by a commercial publisher for profit it becomes rather a different situation.

There are trademarks involved here as well as copyright. If the owner of a trademark fails to protect it, that can be used later as evidence of the fact that the owner isn't really bothered, and the trademark protection can be lost. That's exactly what happened to trademarks like "aspirin" in the USA - the trademark holder failed to take someone to court who marketed their own make of acetylsalicylic acid (that's what aspirin is) under the name "aspirin", and the trademark holder lost the rights to the name as a result.

ie, Ms. Rowling has to fight this.
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Old 05-02-2008, 03:09 AM   #9
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I am not an expert on trademark laws. So, you may be right that she has to fight it. Whether she'll win is another story. I simply don't know.

From her recent testimony:

Quote:
The lead defense lawyer, David Hammer, was not impressed with her literary critique of the work.

“Have you ever read a dictionary, Miss Rowling?” Mr. Hammer demanded. Alphabetical order, he continued, “is what the Encyclopedia Britannica uses, isn’t that true?”

To which Ms. Rowling retorted: “What are you accessing in these A-to-Z’s? Aren’t you being suckered out of your hard-earned cash?”

“You feel it’s your responsibility to prevent people from paying their hard-earned cash for things you don’t like?” Mr. Hammer asked.

“Absolutely not,” Ms. Rowling replied. “This is theft. This is wholesale theft.”

It was the ultimate irony, Mr. Rapoport’s lawyer said, that the same Web site that Ms. Rowling was now denigrating was one that she had admitted using herself a time or two to check facts.
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Old 05-02-2008, 03:11 AM   #10
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hmmm, suddenly i feel al little less guilty for reading all Harry Potters on my Iliad.....
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Old 05-02-2008, 03:48 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Of course it's a derivative work!
Sorry Harry, but in this discussion I have to stand on the side of Mr. Card.
Just have a look at this marvelous quote.
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Originally Posted by Uncle Orson
Well, heck, I feel like the plot of my novel Ender's Game was stolen by J.K. Rowling.

A young kid growing up in an oppressive family situation suddenly learns that he is one of a special class of children with special abilities, who are to be educated in a remote training facility where student life is dominated by an intense game played by teams flying in midair, at which this kid turns out to be exceptionally talented and a natural leader. He trains other kids in unauthorized extra sessions, which enrages his enemies, who attack him with the intention of killing him; but he is protected by his loyal, brilliant friends and gains strength from the love of some of his family members. He is given special guidance by an older man of legendary accomplishments who previously kept the enemy at bay. He goes on to become the crucial figure in a struggle against an unseen enemy who threatens the whole world.
BRAVO Mr. Card. BRAVISSIMO.
Touche!!!

You know Harry, Mrs. Rowling was not *that* original in her work. I very much hope she is sued repeatedly for "plagiatorizm", "stealing of ideas", "copyright infringement", and "Intelectual Property Rights Violation" by anyone and everyone that described a wizard in a pointy hat, or a witch flying on the broom, or a magician wielding a magic wand in his/her books. And I very much hope that heirs of Mr. Rudyard Kipling for setting her story in a British public school.

You see, I am against authors being deprived of their hard earned income, and the Harry Potter Lexicon seems to be bordering that (or perhaps even crossing the border), yet I feel that Mrs. Rowling *is* being a hypocrite here.
It is very much like Disney taking public domain fairy tale - Cinderella and making a cartoon and then suing aggressively anyone that dares to mention the Cinderella character or use a generic drawing of the young lady in a long white dress.

Besides, If I could choose a between a new book from Mr. Card and a new book from Mrs. Rowling, Mr. Card would win hands down. ;-)
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Old 05-02-2008, 04:01 AM   #12
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Yes, I have read the article.

To repeat, I believe that Ms. Rowling has to fight this case to protect her trademarks. She really has no choice but to do so, regardless of the "rights" or "wrongs" of the situation. That's just what you have to do in trademark violation cases. Even if she loses the case, she will still have acted to defend the trademarks, and that's the important thing.

In what way do Ms. Rowling's books "deprive anyone of their income"? Your logic escapes me there, I'm afraid.
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Old 05-02-2008, 05:04 AM   #13
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In what way do Ms. Rowling's books "deprive anyone of their income"? Your logic escapes me there, I'm afraid.
I think kacir was referring to the complainant's argument that the lexicon could deprive of Rowling's income.
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Old 05-02-2008, 05:14 AM   #14
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In what way do Ms. Rowling's books "deprive anyone of their income"? Your logic escapes me there, I'm afraid.
I was saying that the Lexicon deprives Mrs. Rowling of her income. Well, perhaps not direct income, but the lexicon does seem to be quoting too excessively.
In other words I was in agreement with you.
I still think that Mrs Rowling is hypocrite here.

Yet, I found the bit I was quoting extremely hilarious. And yes, I do realize that his answer is sarcastic or sardonic. Well, I *do hope* OSC was sarcastic and he is not going to sue JKR over those "similarities" ;-)
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Old 05-02-2008, 05:37 AM   #15
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Thanks for clarifying that!
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