Harry Potter Lawsuit – You Be The Judge!

Apr 16, 2008 by

This morning on the way in to work I was listening to NPR and heard about the tragic story of Harry Potter superfan, Steven Jan Vander Ark, being sued for copyright infringement. Apparently, he’s publishing his popular online version of the Harry Potter Lexicon. The long and short of it is simple; J.K. Rowling LOVES the fan site, as it catalogs everything Harry Potter, and has even gone so far as to the use the lexicon site for her own research while writing the last few books. However, once the book was published, it became something of a copyright infringement beacuse there was money to be made.

There have been other Harry Potter books published not authored by J.K., but they have contained so much commentary, speculation, and original material that they’ve fallen under fair use guidelines. Unfortunately, most of the text in Mr. Vander Ark’s book is actually lifted from the Harry Potter books.

The thought that popped into my head was “THIS WOULD MAKE A GREAT LESSON ON COPYRIGHT!” Imagine providing students with the framework of the issue (copyright versus fair use), and then provide them with a media portfolio of images, articles, references, etc. They could use all of that media and information to state and defend their position using powerpoint or some other multimedia presentation tool (could even be a short movie). What do you think? Is the idea half-baked, or does it have some merit? I figure the popularity of Harry Potter would make it a HUGE favorite for kids of all ages, and really provide lots of resources, images, articles, and media for putting together a persuasive “visual essay” on whether they agree that J.K is having her material infringed upon or not.

Here’s where it gets really fun! I need your help! I’m going to put together a “You Be The Judge Project” on this, but the more help I get, the sooner is can be accomplished. If you have any resources, images, or websites that deal with copyright, fair use, and specifically this whole court case, just add them to your response. I’m also collecting resources with a simul-post over on MACUL Space. I’ll gather all of the resources and share them during a Forum Friday post and see what we can create!

I know this would be easier with a wiki, but I wanted to get the ball rolling now while the idea was still fresh in my mind. Please share anything you have, and we can use it all to create webquests, projects, lessons, or whatever else we can think of.

I’ll get everyone started:

Online News Articles about the Harry Potter Lawsuit

Online version of the Harry Potter Lexicon

Government’s definition of Fair Use

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1 Comment

  1. From last year, A Fair(y) Use Tale from Stanford University’s Fair Use Project. http://blog.wired.com/business/2007/05/hijacked_disney.html

    Here is the video of Disney characters explaining copyright principles delivered through the words of the very folks we can thank for nearly endless copyright terms. http://voirdire.stanford.edu/program/centers/cis/fairuse/Fair(y)_Use_Tale_Stanford_Cut-stream.mp4

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