In Warner Bros. Entertainment v. RDR Books, the judge has issued a 68-page decision, following a bench trial, in which he concluded that the "Harry Potter Lexicon" was not a "fair use" of J. K. Rowling's copyrighted material from the Harry Potter series.
The court concluded that the work was "transformative", but that portions which quoted the original language too heavily were less transformative; that the use was clearly commercial in nature; that the defendant had not been guilty of bad faith; that there was more "verbatim copying" than was "reasonably necessary"; work was clearly for financial gain; and that while the lexicon did not compete with the novels, it would compete with a planned "derivate work", Ms. Rowling's planned encyclopedia, would compete with 2 "companion books" Ms. Rowling had written, and -- although plaintiffs had offered no evidence of any intention to market poems and songs -- would compete with their marketing poems and songs were they inclined to enter into that market.
The judge awarded plaintiffs $6750 in statutory damages, and issued an injunction against the publication.
September 8, 2008, Decision
[Ed. note. There's excellent coverage, and even a text version of the decision, as well as the usual good discussion, on Groklaw. -R.B.]
[Ed. note. Sad. Very sad. And contrary to law as well. Unfortunately for the rest of us, the fact that the defendant got off so easily -- $6750 -- militates against his taking an appeal. -R.B.]
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