J. K. Rowling

From yesterday's Publisher's Lunch:
Judge Tells Potter Parties to Settle the Case
After the second day of testimony in the Harry Potter trial, Judge Robert Patterson, Jr. urged the parties to settle, expressing concern that the case is "more lawyer-driven than it is client-driven."

Patterson said, "The fair-use people are on one side, and a large company is on the other side...The parties ought to see if there's not a way to work this out, because there are strong issues in this case and it could come out one way or the other. The fair-use doctrine is not clear." He added, "Maybe it's too late. Maybe we've gone too far down the road. But a settlement is better than a lawsuit."

Scholastic's Suzanne Murphy testified as an expert witness for Rowling, while former Random House executive Bruce Harris was the expert witness for the defense. Harris testified "that he believed there was little chance that Mr. Vander Ark's lexicon -- which, he said, might warrant a first-run printing of about 1,500 copies -- would harm Ms. Rowling's market."

Meanwhile, author of the Lexicon Steven Jan Vander Ark cried on the stand. As the Times puts it, "It was an emotional culmination to three hours of testimony in which Mr. Vander Ark gushed over Ms. Rowling and her work like the devoted fan that he claimed to be, and disarmingly preceded almost every answer to a question with an 'Um.'"

Rowling's reaction to his testimony by e-mail: "A fan's affectionate enthusiasm should not obscure acts of plagiarism."
Did This Really Have to Be Done?

Hmm. Don't know what to make of this. I abhor plagiarism, as any good, decent writer should. But couldn't Ms. Rowling have instructed her lawyers to enter into some sort of a joint venture with Mr. Vander Ark? Why drag the dude through the court system?

If you think the publishing industry moves at a glacial pace, you haven't dealt with the justice system (in the U.S., anyway). It's Ice Age glacial (and I ain't talking about the fine and funny animated movie).

Personally, I think this is what should've been done in this case. Ms. Rowling gets a little something, the fan (who, it sounds like to me, put in a lot of effort/time/love into this project) gets a little something, and the lawyers get a little something.

~Nancy Beck