Jaw-droppingly stupid ruling on the Potter Lexicon

Sorry, but this is horrendous news:

A federal judge in New York today put the kibosh on the planned publication of a contentious book version of the popular (now defunct) fansite, ruling it violates Rowling’s creations.

U.S. District Judge Robert Patterson Jr. dismissed defense arguments that the Lexicon was protected under fair-use provisions of copyright law.

I know readers here won’t need a primer on how ridiculous this is. The right to compose literary guides to extant works has existed for hundreds of years. Take, for example, the multiple guides to James Joyce’s Ulysses (incl. one written by his friend Stuart Gilbert). Or the guides to Middle Earth, many of which I would guess Rowling has on her own bookshelf.

Art has always been a conversation, and works like lexicons are one of the many aspects of that conversation. But it is apparently more important for the courts to protect the rights of millionaires to make more money than it is to keep that conversation open — just yet another example of our culture’s readiness to raid the infrastructure of the past while refusing to pay our own productions forward. Rowling’s influences: C.S. Lewis, T.H. White, Roald Dahl, and J.R.R. Tolkein would shake their heads in disgust at this behavior were they alive today. My sense is all those authors thought they were building a world to be shared between them and their readers, not building a walled garden with a EULA pinned on it.

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