Lexicon Lawsuit – A Mini Update
It’s only day two of the trial and I’m still not ready to do a more in-depth update on what has gone down so far or lend my “civilian” opinion to the masses.
For regular updates on the happenings, go to Fandom Wank (here for day one, here for day two): if you stay out of the comments and just read the posts, there’s quite a few informative links which sometimes lead to other informative links.
The only thing I want to comment on now is this quote by Judge Robert Patterson (as taken from this Wall Street Journal Law Blog entry):
“I’m concerned that this case is more lawyer-driven than it is client-driven … The fair use people are on one side, and a large company is on the other side … The parties ought to see if there’s not a way to work this out, because there are strong issues in this case and it could come out one way or the other. The fair use doctrine is not clear.
I’m bringing it up now so you can think about it before you get into the rest of the case … Maybe it’s too late; maybe we’ve gone too far down the road. But a settlement is better than a lawsuit.”
The only parts of the above I’ve removed are the “he said” bits that are outside the direct quotations from Patterson.
I have rather been thinking the same thing myself, lately. I think the fair use people have a real war to fight in this era — one that I entirely support over all — but I don’t think this was the best case for them to have picked for their landmark. The thing of it is, I really believe it was in bad taste and highly disrespectful for Steve to have tried to published the Lexicon (a move I think he probably regrets now), but I have always supported liberal fair use laws and will always support fair use laws; I honestly don’t think anything about the Lexicon is detrimental to the Harry Potter brand (certainly not any more than a lengthy and bitter legal battle will be) or JKR’s Scottish Book. Do I think the Lexicon is particularly useful as a reference book? Not really. Do I think it unfairly or aggrievedly violates copyright, considering its fundamental purpose as a quick-reference book? Not really.
I am also wondering whether or not suing was the right choice for WB or JKR. There is certainly a chance the Lexicon will be allowed, and the massive media coverage of the court battle only gives a whole lot of “free” marketing to it if it does. There will likely be some backlash from the fandom and (if I know this fandom at all) some sort of boycott, and the real question is whether or not that will be balanced by the increased sales driven by the media attention. If the Lexicon had been allowed to go forward unchallenged, it might have gone largely unnoticed by the public considering it’s from a very small publishing house and targets a niche market. I wonder if there’s a self-fulfilling prophecy at work here.
Edited to Add: A couple of new interesting posts on The Wall Street Journal Law Blog today:
- Notes from the Potter Trial: After a Partial Settlement, the Defense Digs In
- Potter Case: IP Lawyer Calls It a Toss-Up
- Potter Trial: On Last Day, Defense Outshines Rowling
Also, for a more fannish opinion, try
‘s post in
‘s thoughts here.
Hmm… looks like we might be in for the long haul.