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A month after J.K. Rowling went to court to ban the publication of a photograph of her son, she’s back in court to ban the publication of an encyclopedia of the Harry Potter universe.
RDR Books, a small publishing firm located in Michigan, had teamed up with Steven Vander Ark, the creator of The Harry Potter Lexicon, a free fan website that serves as an encyclopedia and a glossary, to release printed books of the website’s extensive information.


Unfortunately for RDR Books, plans were halted when J.K. Rowling and Warner Brothers took the publisher (but not Steven Vander Ark) to court instead, citing copyright infringement. According to The New York Times, this isn’t the only case the author and Warner Brothers have filed against publishers attempting to print books that might border on plagiarism.
Appearing in court yesterday, J.K. Rowling also called RDR’s efforts to publish the Lexicon “wholesale theft” and a stressful situation that has “decimated my creative work.” CNN reports J.K. Rowling looked like she was holding back tears as she shared why RDR was profiting from “nothing more than a rearrangement” of her work.
Given all the Harry Potter-themed books that have been released to profit from J.K. Rowling’s success over the years, I sympathize with J.K. Rowling. The worst thing in the world for a writer is to feel someone else has “borrowed” an original idea in order to profit from it. J.K. Rowling has also been an avid fan of The Harry Potter Lexicon, so this ordeal must be a huge disappointment.
But having said this, I’m also surprised J.K. Rowling feels threatened enough by RDR Books to reconsider compiling her own comprehensive Harry Potter encyclopedia, a project she had hinted at writing post-Deathly Hallows. AP quoted her stating, ”I’m not at all convinced that I would have the will or the heart to continue with my encyclopedia.”
As a huge Harry Potter fan, I hope she will find the strength to relax and write the encyclopedia, especially since writing is a much better way for her to spend time than appearing in court. Yet, at the same time, I feel guilty for thinking she’s being too maudlin about the court case.
What do you think? Is J.K. Rowling justified for suing RDR Books? Is RDR Books (and Steven Vander Ark) wrong for trying to profit from her ideas? Or is this whole situation just overblown?

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