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HARRY POTTER LEXICON, Part III: Conclusions of Law, Derivative Work - Walking on the Edge
I don't really have a plan...
HARRY POTTER LEXICON, Part III: Conclusions of Law, Derivative Work
For ease of reading, a collection of Lexicon Links from Foresthouse Central:

The briefs are filed and here’s what’s going on in them
A few notes on the trial, commentary
More notes on the trial, commentary
Orson Scott Card vs. JK Rowling: He is WRONG (a discussion of Fair Use and the Ideas/Expression Dichotomy)
Link to the decision
Decision Breakdown: Part I, Findings of Fact
Decision Breakdown: Part II, Copyright Infringement
RANT re: Knowing the Facts Before You Take Sides, and other things
Decision Breakdown: Part III, Derivative Work
Decision Breakdown: Part IV, Fair Use, and Part V, Damages and Conclusion

PLEASE NOTE: This is not my "analysis" of the case; this is a summary of the decision as rendered by the court, with a few footnotes of commentary. Analysis to come. :)


Conclusions of Law: Part III, Derivative Work

In which I continue to condense and re-organize the opinion in a way that makes it (hopefully) easy for a layperson to understand.

Derivative Work

Defined as: a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. Also, a work “consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represents an original work of authorship. 17 U.S.C. § 101.

Why copyright deals with this: Copyright seeks to protect works that are “recast, transformed, or adapted” into another medium, while still representing the original work.

(Why this mattered to the Plaintiffs: the owner of the copyright has the exclusive rights to prepare and to authorize derivative works based on the copyrighted work. So establishing that it was a derivative work would halt the publication because JKR/WB had not authorized it.

However, a work is not derivative simply because it’s based on preexisting works.

For instance: In Ty, Inc. v. Publications International Ltd., Judge Posner concluded, as the parties had stipulated, that a collectors’ guide to Beanie Babies was not a derivative work because “guides don’t recast, transform, or adapt the things to which they are guides.” 292 F.3d at 520.

Plaintiffs argue that companion guides are derivative works because they contain a substantial amount of material from the underlying work.

The court disagrees: because the Lexicon’s use of plot elements is far from an “elaborate recounting of plot details” and does not follow the same plot structure as the Harry Potter novels, the judge finds that it is not an “abridgement” like a guidebook that was the subject of the Twin Peaks case (the guidebook was found to be derivative, so Plaintiffs were citing this case).

The court notes in a footnote: The law in this Circuit has recognized that ‘if the secondary work sufficiently transforms the expression of the original work such that the two works cease to be substantially similar, then the secondary work is not a derivative work and, for that matter, does not infringe the copyright of the original work.’

  • The court states that because the Lexicon condenses and reorganizes the information in Harry Potter, it no longer represents the original work of authorship, because the purpose of it is not to re-tell the story, but to serve as a reference for all the details of the HP world.
  • Also, the Lexicon does not fall under any of the examples of derivative works.

The Lexicon is not a derivative work.

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Trixie feels: calm calm

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weaslediva From: weaslediva Date: September 10th, 2008 10:07 pm (UTC) (current file)
Thanks for a great review of the Rowling vs. RDR clambake. As an added bonus, you are another Trixie Belden fan! What's not to like!

I remember thinking as I read the first HP book that the red-headed-ness (certainly not a real word!) of the Weasleys reminded me of Jim, Reagen, and Matthew Wheeler. I also saw the Burrow as a lot like Crabapple farm.
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: September 11th, 2008 02:40 am (UTC) (current file)
Glad you're enjoying it! And yay, Trixie!

I love those redheaded boys. *g* (In second grade I had a total crush on Fictional Character Jim. I mean, who wouldn't?)
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