Sunday, September 21, 2008

Interview with Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe

Very good interview with actors Richard Griffiths (Uncle Vernon) and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) on the eve of the week of their opening of Equus on Broadway. You can hear the entire NPR interview here.

Monday, September 15, 2008


J.K. Rowling's agents request advanced copy of Steve Vander Arks travel guide

NOTE: While there are reports that RDR Books plans to file an appeal regarding the publishing of the Harry Potter Lexicon in book format, the Times Online writes that Steve Vander Ark has written a travel guide based on events in the Harry Potter series.

J.K. Rowling's agents have apparently requested to see an advanced copy before the book is published.

What we're curious about here at Shell Cottage is whether the use of trademarked words will be permitted by Warner Brothers. WB has trademarked as inventions many individual words used in the series and this is the type of action being taken to control not just graphics owned by the studio, but now the words themselves. We're keeping an eye on this.

Here's the London Times article from here:

An American author whose Harry Potter encyclopedia was banned after a legal battle with JK Rowling is to write a travel guide based on the boy wizard’s exploits.

Steve Vander Ark faces crossing swords with the millionaire author again by publishing a “travel memoir” detailing visits to British locations he claims inspired the Harry Potter series.

Rowling’s agents have asked to see a copy of In Search of Harry Potter before it is published next month to ensure it does not breach copyright. Last week a New York judge awarded Rowling almost £4,000 damages and banned Vander Ark’s Harry Potter Lexicon. Rowling had argued that the book was a “wholesale theft of 17 years of my hard work”.

Despite the ruling, Vander Ark, a former librarian from Michigan, said he intends to press ahead with his guide. It recounts his travels to King’s Cross station, where Potter and the other wizards board the Hogwarts Express, London’s Charing Cross Road, the site of the Leaky Cauldron pub, and Surrey, where Harry lived in the fictitious town of Little Whinging.

He also claims to have discovered the location of Hogwarts school on Rannoch Moor in the Highlands.

“This is my own writing about my own experiences and I can’t imagine there will be any problem with this book,” he said.

Peter Tummons, managing director of the publishers Methuen, said: “This is a travel book . . . written in full by himself after his travels . . . There is nothing in it that would cause any distress.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Warner Brothers: "Houston, we've got a problem"

The front page of the Wall Street Journal has it. Greg and Penny of HP Progs have this video up on YouTube that's hit Prime Time:

The LeakyMug gang have this one up:

And there are many, many more. Many, many more (see below). Just sort have to wonder what's going on in TimeWarner land these late summer days. Yo, WB - hey, how's that stock price doing, guys?

Take Two

Court issues very narrow ruling on the fair use in print (not the internet) of Harry Potter

Internet fan sites remain untouched by ruling. You can lift it on the internet, but not for profit in print, especially when the author says she's going to do it herself. A win for all.

It looks like the court took a pass at establishing precedent through the lawsuit initiated by Warner Brothers (with Jo Rowling along for the ride) to force the print version of the HP Lexicon out of fans hands and back into Jo's head.

Now she's got to write it herself - hope that all wasn't just a publicity stunt and she's really working on it. The lack of any punitive damages also shows that the judge deemed it a bit over-kill (Warner Brothers does not get its precedent-setting ruling regarding trademarking the words) plus the fact that the book never got out of the printer's office. The judge ruled that Jo Rowling is still alive and able to produce an encyclopedia herself and had declared to the world that she's going to do it instead.

At first blush, it looks to be the best of all worlds. Jo gets to write her own book (which we will look forward to read - perhaps she can pop it out before the film next summer?), the Lexicon stays online, no punitive judgment is invoked, fan sites will not worry about threats made against them by WB if it went bad for them, and the ruling is so narrow it does not appear to set precedent.

If Steve Vander Ark were to write a commentary on the books - and I wish he would - that would be fair use. My favorite part of Pottercast (until it all got rather silly of late and insider-ish) was Canon Conundrums with Steve. He knew it all and he knew the mysteries and he knew how to take it to a deeper level, an adult level and out of the fan-squee. I for one would love to read his commentaries on the books. The judge encouraged that in his ruling. Frankly, I think it would be better book.

Next step: Reconciliation? If Draco and Harry can find a truce, well, perhaps the parties in this litigation can as well. In time.

The lack of punitive damages invoked by the judge shows that he seeks to aid in the restoration of relationships as well. And Warner Brothers is out a pretty penny in legal fees. Boo hoo hoo.

Here's what the Wall Street Journal, which has done a very good job following the litigation, writes:

The suit, filed late last year against RDR Books, an independent publishing house in Michigan, alleged that plans by Michigan-based publisher RDR to publish a print edition of the Harry Potter Lexicon, a Web site that serves as a rather daunting compendium of all things Harry, violated Warner and Rowling’s copyright and takes away the future market for a similar compendium that Rowling plans to write.

Here’s the opinion.

Judge Patterson ruled in Rowling’s favor because the “Lexicon appropriates too much of Rowling’s creative work for its purposes as a reference guide.” He also wrote that, “While the Lexicon, in its current state, is not a fair use of the Harry Potter works, reference works that share the Lexicon’s purpose of aiding readers of literature generally should be encouraged rather than stifled.”

Ethan Horwitz, an IP lawyer at King & Spalding, told the Law Blog: “What Judge Patterson is saying is that when you look at fair use, one of the dominant issues is, are you providing commentary or taking the value of the work and selling it as your own? He decided that the value of the work was being taken, that [Rowling] had the ability to put out the kind of encyclopedia that [Vander Ark] was putting out, and that she’d indicated an intent to do so.”

O’Melveny’s Dale Cendali repped Rowling and Warner Bros.

David Hammer, a solo practitioner in Manhattan, took the lead for RDR. He got help from Stanford Law School’s Anthony Falzone — a former Bingham McCutcheon litigator and the heir apparent to Lawrence Lessig’s Fair Use Project and Lizbeth Hasse, of San Francisco’s Creative Industry Law Group.

There is still something very sad about all this. Good night, Severus.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Half Blood Prince Test Previw in Chicago

UPDATE: Here's another updated report here. And here's another one here. And a another one from the Mighty Mugglenet here.

Leaky has the scoop here. Warner Brothers continues on schedule - all the pre-film publicity continues and the test screenings remain on schedule. Read the report here. And pass the spearmint toothpaste.

UPDATE: Another report is now up at IMDb here.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Evanesco! Harry Potter Lexicon Disappears!

Went to look up a fact at the HP Lexicon and what do I find?


After I shook myself out of a moment of shock - who knew I cared so much? - I went looking for it. Finally, went over to Wiki to see if anything had developed of late and sure enough, Wiki explains, "The Lexicon was suddenly unavailable for a few days beginning August 30th, 2008, after a technical error with the domain. The site was still accessible via the IP address however."

We did go to the IP address and found it (whew!), but today the actually url is still down and some of the Lexicon links don't work. Our first thought was that the domain expired - and someone snatched it up (happened to my home parish and then the domain is held for ransom).

Still, the HP Lexicon page is up but it doesn't work, it looks like it was wiped. It's all rather strange. Wonder what the "technical error with the domain" means? An unpaid bill - or a legal problem?

Steve, where are you?

The corporations that have been pursuing fair use on the internet have been threatening to go after the domain hosts. So it's hard not to wonder if the "technical error" is a mechancial, financial, or legal one? The fact that the page is sitting there with missing information is strange, but the IP address is up and running, so perhaps it is a programing SNAFU. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. It's a geek's primordial sin. It's how we learn.

Of course, we're still waiting for a court ruling on the book-version of the Lexicon and Warner Brothers appears to be a foul mood (there is still no credible explanation why they pulled the sixth film in November to wait basically another year before release - to make more money is a public relations disaster and we still guess that the lawyers had something to do with it).

The Lexicon site is not yet restored, but many/most of the pages are available for viewing at the IP address here.

And so we continue to wait - and see.