(Adds statements by J.K. Rowling and RDR Books, details)
By Grant McCool
NEW YORK, Sept 8 A U.S. judge on Monday halted
publication of an unofficial encyclopedic companion to the
popular Harry Potter book series in a copyright case author
J.K. Rowling argued would threaten other writers.
Judge Robert Patterson in U.S. District Court in Manhattan
wrote in his opinion that an independent U.S. book publisher,
RDR Books, "had failed to establish an affirmative defense of
fair use" and that publication of "The Harry Potter Lexicon"
should not proceed.
The ruling said Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc and
Rowling had established copyright infringement of the Harry
Potter series of seven novels and two companion books,
"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," and "Quidditch
Through the Ages."
The British author and Warner Bros, a subsidiary of Time
Warner Inc (TWX.N), sued RDR Books, which planned to publish
the lexicon. The proposed book was a 400-page reference written
by fan Steve Vander Ark on www.hp-lexicon.org.
Monday's ruling said that if an injunction on the lexicon
was not issued "defendant is likely to continue infringing
plaintiffs' copyright in the future." It said the encyclopedia
would not harm sales of the novels, but could impact the market
for Rowling's companion books.
The judge also wrote that in general, reference guides and
companion books were an aid to readers and should not be
stifled, a point that RDR noted in its reaction.
"The opinion upholds the genre," said David Hammer, an
attorney for RDR Books.
"As for the lexicon we are disappointed and RDR is
considering all of its options, including an appeal."
Rowling said in a statement from her home in Edinburgh,
Scotland, that she was "delighted" with the outcome.
"The proposed book took an enormous amount of my work and
added virtually no original commentary of its own.
"Many books have been published which offer original
insights into the world of Harry Potter. The Lexicon just is
not one of them," her statement said.
In court in April, Rowling, estimated by the Sunday Times
to be worth about $1 billion, said she was outraged her work
was considered to be fair game because it was so popular.
At the same hearing Vander Ark, wearing eye glasses similar
to those worn by Harry Potter, said his book was intended to
help readers and celebrate Rowling's work.
But Patterson's ruling in favor of Rowling's position said
that "because the Lexicon appropriates too much of Rowling's
creative work for its purposes as a reference guide, a
permanent injunction must issue to prevent the possible
proliferation of works that do the same and thus deplete the
incentive for original authors to create new works."
The judge awarded Warner Bros and Rowling the minimum
damages of $750 for each of the seven novels about the boy
wizard and $750 for each of the two companion books for a total
(Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)