Author J. K. Rowling is having a howling fit. It seems that the moderator of a Harry Potter fansite that Rowling visited and praised for its coverage of all things Potter has gone and published a Lexicon on the Harry Potter series. Now, mind you, the fellow didn’t write a rogue novel, he simply catalogued things like spells, potions, magical characters and such.
Rowling was quoted as saying that she felt “exploited” by her fan, Steven Vander Ark. RDR Books attorney Lizbeth Hasse said that Rowling is seeking a monopoly over the work, which is not part of copyright law. “It’s a very legitimate literary activity,” she said of the lexicon. “Like a reference book or a guide to literature, it’s a long-recognized genre.”
The thing that I find most interesting and amazing about this whole dispute is that Rowling had no problem exploiting her fans over the years. The proliferation of adoring fansites amounted to millions of internet hits in free marketing and publicity which only increased fan loyalty, boosted book and film interest by current and future readers/viewers. Web marketing is as valuable as word-of-mouth marketing for low cost and high endorsement value. So, while bloggers spent their time, effort and MONEY to run their sites, Rowling built her bank account. Now, the lexicon, (which I have to agree with RDR is a legitimate literary form), may make a little bit of money for a fellow who has given her YEARS of web marketing … and she feels exploited.
So, if someone like Tere Stoufer wrote a book called THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO HARRY POTTER or someone like Colin Duriez wrote a book called Field Guide to Harry Potter, shouldn’t Rowling being suing them, too? Or, are the publishers just too much larger than little RDR?
Vander Ark’s 400-page HARRY POTTER LEXICON has been blocked from release by the lawsuit filed by Rowling. Vander Ark and publisher RDR have said the book would only promote the sale of Rowling’s work and that Vander Ark’s Web site, used by 25 million visitors, had been called “a great site” by Rowling herself. Isn’t that funny that people unknown to her and other publishing entities can make whatever they want but this fellow is being shut down?