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Harry Potter can relax: Lexicon ruling in Rowling's favor

September 8, 2008 |  5:42 pm

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Today a U.S. District Court judge in New York ruled that publication of the unofficial "Harry Potter Lexicon," a 400-page reference book, cannot go forward. Reuters reports:

The ruling said Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc. and Rowling had established copyright infringement of the Harry Potter series of seven novels and two companion books, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," and "Quidditch Through the Ages."

The book came from a fan site — currently offline — which won an award from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. in 2004. But its reliance on Rowling's original work made the judge find that it infringed on her copyright. In a written statement, the author said today:

The proposed book took an enormous amount of my work and added virtually no original commentary of its own.... Many books have been published which offer original insights into the world of Harry Potter. The Lexicon just is not one of them.

Rowling has been tolerant of other, similar works. Books for sale on Amazon include "Fact, Fiction, and Folklore in Harry Potter's World: An Unofficial Guide," "The Pottersaurus: 1,500 Words Harry Potter Readers Need to Know," "An Unofficial Muggle's Guide to the Wizarding World: Exploring the Harry Potter Universe," "J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Novels: A Reader's Guide — Unauthorized" and the scholarly "The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter: Perspectives on a Literary Phenomenon."

She's also probably aware of the lively online fan fiction universe, including the seven-year-old unofficial Harry Potter Fan Fiction site, which currently hosts more than 50,000 stories.

Rowling, who is said to be worth about $1 billion, did receive a financial award with today's judgment: $6,750.

— Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Murray Close / Warner Bros. Entertainment

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