This is Falcon, and I am going to have a small rant. There is a case in Manhattan right now in Federal court before U.S. District judge Robert Patterson, Jr. who is now asking the sides to come to a settlement out of court. Falcon says she agrees, noting that the judge was quoted by the AP as saying, "I think this case, with imagination, could be settled."
This is a case that has Harry Potter fans reeling. Some are supporting Jo Rowling in her quest to keep a hardcopy version of the website Harry Potter Lexicon from publishing in print form. Others see former middle-school librarian Steven Vander Ark's efforts as commentary and scholarly, and therefore, eligible to publish.
This is a slippery area, to be sure. I would like to look at some of the areas that may have been forgotten.
Many Harry Potter fans have been helped by Vander Ark's site. Even Jo Rowling herself has admitted to using the site for reference while in the process of composing some of her own works. That means that man is passionate, and has done a service to the popularity of the Harry Potter series success. He wasn't compensated for any of that research time; he did it for pure love of the series, and the desire to get more young people to read. Now, he wants to publish a book that probably should have more reference material and commentary than it now contains. In the interest of compromise, he should probably add additional commentary to the text. This would make the project more of a review and reference piece. Let the guy make a nickel.
Okay, what about Jo Rowling's plan to do her own reference text in a few years...it will make a mint like all her other work. Sorry, but it is completely ludicrous to believe that those buying Vander Ark's project wouldn't buy one written by the author years from now. Of course they would.
History has proven that fan generated texts have only increased popularity of the original, not hurt it. Look at Gene Roddenberry's 'Star Trek' and George Lucas' 'Star Wars'; there have been plenty of fan created books and materials, essays, and comics, and all have enhanced the fan experience and appreciation for the originals. Here is my next suggestion for compromise: Steven, give one of Jo Rowling's charities a portion of the sales of your version of the lexion! That way, the project will not be 'perceived' as taking anything away from charities that will benefit in the future from the author's encyclopedia when published.
Jo, Dove (Areya) loves you dearly, but I am a mom, as you are...so let's have a conversation, Mom to Mom.
Jo, although you are the author of the 'Harry Potter' books, you no longer 'own' it. You are its parent, but you did not 'raise' your son in a vacuum: you had many others whose contributions went into making what 'Harry Potter' became...a huge success. You did not 'pay for' or 'compensate' those contributors, yet their influence is very much present and obvious to those who have studied literature through the ages for many a year. Now, I don't expect you to compensate them; I expect you to honor them. The most honorable thing that you can do is to remember how you got to where you are.
Many, many people who were never on the payroll at Warner Brothers helped make this project a success. No one does it alone, and many did everything they did, spending lots and lots of their own money to make Harry Potter popular. One of them is a librarian named Steven Vander Ark.
If he is willing to go back and revise and add some additional commentary to the printed lexicon, and dedicate a portion of the profits to a charity that you name, can this lawsuit go away? You have had a great run of it, and Warner Brothers has more coming in the next few years with the films. This lexicon will not hurt you; and it may help you in ways you cannot yet expect.
I know...because I am a mom, too... that your deepest concern is for your charities to prosper, and I believe that this is a way to help keep that thought ever-present, without causing any permanent damage in reputation or image of anyone involved.
I remember another author of famous literature in the 20th Century who had a problem very similar to this one...J.R.R. Tolkien.
He decided before he passed away to allow a lot of projects to be done, mostly because he saw advantage in sharing more of his work with the world. He once said that the greatest compliment to his work was that people were so interested in seeing Middle-earth and its characters extended beyond the borders, and he delighted in the fact that someday, perhaps there would be little girls named Eowyn running around in future generations. He knew that he had not created the names or the places really, but 'listened carefully' to the dictation'.
He was a very spiritual man and realized that as an artist, whenever anyone shares something they created into being, that at the moment it is shared, it no longer belongs to you...it belongs to us all.
Try to let your child grow a little through someone else's eyes...they will not hurt them, and what they have to offer may end up being a very good thing, even if it doesn't seem like it right now.
It is a mother's...and an artist's curse: we love them, we raise them, and eventually, we must learn to let them go...graciously acknowledging that although we did most of the work to get them where they are today, we did not do it alone. We let them run, trusting that they will be fine in the hands of a world that loves them, maybe not the same way that we do, but loves them, nonetheless. Trust that all will be well; you have a strong child, and he will be just fine.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Posted by Areya Simmons at 1:32 PM