The Fair Use Project of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society announced Tuesday that it is joining as co-counsel to defend RDR Books in the copyright infringement lawsuit filed in federal court in New York by Warner Brothers and J.K. Rowling in October 2007. The lawsuit revolves around RDR's efforts to publish The Harry Potter Lexicon, an unofficial
reference guide to the Harry Potter series of books and movies. From the press release:
The 400-page Harry Potter Lexicon is a print counterpart to the fan-created website, The Harry Potter Lexicon [www.hp-lexicon.org]—commonly known as the HPL—that is widely considered to be the most authoritative reference to all things Harry Potter. The site includes information on the series’ characters, places, animals, magic spells, and potions along with atlases, timelines, and analyses of magical theory. Created in 2000 by librarian Steve Vander Ark and myriad contributors, the site has an estimated 25 million annual visitors and is maintained by Vander Ark and a team of volunteer fans. Among the site’s supporters is J.K. Rowling, who bestowed the HPL with a Fan Site Award in 2004 and wrote on her website: “This is such a great site that I have been known to sneak into an Internet café while out writing and check a fact rather than go into a bookshop and buy a copy of Harry Potter (which is embarrassing).”
RDR argues that it has the right to publish the Lexicon under the fair use doctrine, which is a defense to copyright infringement that permits the use of a copyrighted work without the copyright owner's permission for limited and "transformative" uses that do not damage the market for the original work.
Larry Lessig is joining Anthony Falzone, the executive director of the Fair Use Project, as co-counsel on the case. Both will be working with RDR’s lead counsel David S. Hammer, a former federal prosecutor.
For more information, including copies of court documents, see the CMLP's database entry, Rowling v. RDR Books.