Possible implications of the ruling in the J.K. Rowling copyright case?

I think his main point was that Rowling is a complete hypocrite, given how she ripped off other peoples’ stuff pretty thoroughly, then turned around and whined when someone else did it to her. Yes, it seems her ripping off was legal, and his wasn’t, but that’s a failing of the law. Obviously his legal analysis was…substandard.

'course, the law is hardly specific about what constitutes infringement vs fair use, so such confusion is inevitable.

There are two kinds of injunctions – preliminary and permanent. A preliminary injunction is issued pending a ruling. A permanent injunction is a remedy available once judgment has been handed down.

“Permanent” generally does mean “permanent.” If RDR Books or Vander Ark publishes, then they may be held in contempt of court.

Yes, at some point in the 2100s Rowling’s copyright will expire. At that point, if someone wants to risk publishing and if Rowling’s successor tries to enforce the judgment issued in September 2008, there will be a defense that the copyright is no longer enforceable. But that’s beside the point here.

So, once the copyright expires, if the defendant publishes, would he be in violation of this judgement?

Could he appeal the judgement on the basis that the law does not support permanent copyrights?

No, he could not appeal the judgment on that basis, but if someone tried to enforce it against him after the copyright had expired (and remember, we’re talking about 100 years here) he would have a defense.

Or not.

Just to be clear here, the court, by issuing a “permanent” injunction, is not saying that Rowling’s copyright is perpetual. It’s merely saying that Rowling wins, and here’s the remedy: Don’t do this.

If, at some point in the future, there is no longer a legal basis for enforcing the remedy (that is, the copyright term expires), then at that point the enjoined party can go back to court and ask that the injunction be lifted.

I’m glad that the ruling was based on specific infractions, since obviously reference works are inherently fair use if done properly. I would imagine if they clear up those issues, they should be legally able to publish the improved version.

Even so, I would have preferred if Rowling just ignored it and made her own. Previous to this she had enough goodwill to guarantee plenty of sales regardless of anything similar already published, and has the advantage of being able to include as many excerpts and artwork from the novels as she liked, as well as adding new canonical information.

This lawsuit makes her seem a little petty and greedy and will probably end up costing her more in money and reputation than if she had ignored it.

ETA: Does anyone know if UK copyright laws on fair use and reference works are similar to the US?

As Vinyl Turnip posted, they didn’t.
Read this poem.

As others have posted, the court case made it clear you can indeed make a reference work based on e.g. the World of Harry Potter. You just have to (for example) put in some work yourself and not simply quote chunks verbatim.

Exactly. The judge even explicitly stated that works of this nature are to be encouraged rather than stifled. It’s just that this particular book’s transgressions were too much.

Obviously, the problem with the Lexicon was in its genesis as an internet tool. When your primary goal is getting the information online as quickly as possible, then of course you’re going to be a bit lazy and quote verbatim. That works when it’s just a web resource, but the game changes completely when a print publisher comes along and wants to sell a physical copy of the book for profit. If they’d been smarter, they’d have put a little bit more grunt-work into the transfer instead of simply cutting & pasting from the internet articles. Damn shame for such an obviously useful book. Rowling herself used and praised the thing before she found out they were trying to make money from it.

Exactly. She hasn’t lifted a finger to stop anyone from writing all of the HP fan fiction out there, or the many books which interpret HP, and I don’t think she ever would. I’m surprised by Card’s peevish, insulting essay, and glad his predictions about the lawsuit were off-base. The court got it right.

Very unlikely on both points, I think.

While I agree with jackdavinci about Ms. Rowling coming across as being more than a little petty and greedy, I also agree with acsenray that this will have a negligible effect on her income or reputation in the long run.

A decade from now I think we’ll be wondering what all the fuss was about, to be honest. Then again, Martini’s Law of Eventualities says that the complete opposite of whatever I predict is the more likely eventuality. :wink:

I don’t really think she’ll lose all that much overall from the lawsuit. My point was that she would lose more from the lawsuit than from whatever cost to her own reference book she was thinking there’d be in letting the other reference book get published.

So who wants to take bets on how long it will take Rowling to come out with her own Harry Potter Lexicon?

Or will some intrepid writer compile a real Lexicon that doesn’t quote so heavily from the HP septalogy first?

I don’t believe anyone has mentioned this so far, but Rowling’s stated plan is to write a Harry Potter encyclopedia for charity. I believe she mentioned she might do this even before the Lexicon lawsuit, but she definitely said so during. Here’s the first respectable cite I found on Google:

New York Times Rowling to Testify in Trial Over Potter Lexicon

Rowling had already written two short Harry Potter tie-in books for charity (with a third, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, due in December), so I don’t see any reason to doubt she intended to do another. She would have every right to be concerned about protecting her own financial interests, but in this case she apparently never expected to personally profit from her official encyclopedia anyway. If she’d ignored the other book it would have cost her intended charity money, not her. Rowling can well afford to pay a lawyer and apparently didn’t mind doing so.