- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 15, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) — J.K. Rowling testified before a packed courtroom in a lawsuit to block publication of a Harry Potter lexicon, telling a judge that the book amounts to a “wholesale theft” of nearly 20 years of her hard work.

“We all know I”ve made enough money. That”s absolutely not why I”m here,” Ms. Rowling told the judge in U.S. District Court.

The British author sued Michigan-based RDR Books last year to stop publication of Steven Vander Ark”s “Harry Potter Lexicon,” claiming copyright infringement. Mr. Vander Ark runs the popular Harry Potter Lexicon Web site, www.hp-lexicon.org, and RDR wants to publish a print version of the site and charge $24.95.

Ms. Rowling said the book is nothing more than a rearrangement of her own material and told the judge that it copied so much of her work that it amounted to plagiarism.

“I think it’s atrocious. I think it’s sloppy. I think there’s very little research,” she testified yesterday. “This book constitutes wholesale theft of 17 years of my hard work.”

She also said she has recently started work on her own encyclopedia but does not expect to complete it for two to three years because she wants to do it right.

RDR’s lawyer, Anthony Falzone, has defended the lexicon as a reference guide, calling it a legitimate effort “to organize and discuss the complicated and very elaborate world of Harry Potter.” The small publisher is not contesting that the lexicon infringes upon Ms. Rowling’s copyright but argues that it is a fair use allowable by law for reference books.

The nonjury trial will be decided by U.S. District Judge Robert Patterson Jr., who must determine whether the use of the material is legal because Mr. Vander Ark added his own interpretation, creativity and analysis.

The trial comes eight months after Ms. Rowling published her seventh and final book in the series. The books have been published in 64 languages, sold more than 400 million copies and produced a film franchise that has pulled in $4.5 billion at the worldwide box office.

After Ms. Rowling released the final chapter in the Harry Potter series last July, Mr. Vander Ark was contacted by an RDR Books employee, who told him that publication of the lexicon would not violate copyright law, he said. Still, to protect himself, Mr. Vander Ark said he insisted that RDR Books include a clause in his contract that the publisher would defend and pay any damages that might result from claims against him.

Ms. Rowling acknowledged that she once bestowed an award on Mr. Vander Ark”s Web site because, she said, she wanted to encourage a very enthusiastic fan. She said she now has second thoughts about all the encouragement she has given to online discussions and Web sites devoted to her books.

“I never censored it or wanted to censor it,” she said, adding that if she loses the lawsuit, she will conclude she essentially gave away her copyrights by encouraging the Web sites.

“Other authors will say, ‘I need to exercise more control. She was an idiot. She let it all go,” ” Ms. Rowling said.

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