Harry Potter Lexicon Found to Infringe J.K. Rowling’s Copyright
By Miriam Weiler – Edited by Evie Breithaupt
This week, Judge Robert P. Patterson of Southern District of New York, granted a permanent injunction against Defendant RDR Books (“RDR”) and awarded statutory damages to Plaintiffs Warner Brothers Entertainment, Inc. and J.K. Rowling (“Warner Bros.” and “J.K. Rowling”) for the infringement of Rowling’s Harry Potter books. In this long awaited decision, the court ruled that RDR’s plan to publish “The Lexicon,” an A-to-Z reference guide to Harry Potter facts written by Steven Vander Ark, infringed upon Rowling’s famous series and two of her other works, Quidditch Through the Ages (2001) and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2001).
There was no dispute that J.K. Rowling owned the copyright to the Harry Potter series, the film rights of which had been licensed to Warner Bros., and that Steven Vander Ark had originally copied from the books to create an online reference source called “The Harry Potter Lexicon.” The court applied the Ringgold test for substantial similarity, finding that Vander Ark copied a quantity and quality of material sufficient for infringement when he developed the website into a book to be published by RDR.
Briefs and relevant court documents are available here.
The Wall Street Jounal provides an overview of the case, and the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law features a thorough analysis of the decision.