April 19, 2008

I'll tell you what else is gibberish

This shite:

Sweet LJ copypasta

My friend Diaphanus posted this article about J K Rowling's recent attempts to protect her Harry Potter franchise, I guess. And after seeing some comments about the article I figured I'd...either chime in or just...yeah. I thought it was an interesting issue.

Harry Potter storylines are gibberish, judge tells Rowling

J. K. Rowling heard her work described as “gibberish” by a US judge yesterday at the end of a three-day trial into an unauthorised encyclopaedia of her Harry Potter novels.

Rowling has asked the federal court in New York to block publication of The Harry Potter Lexicon, a guide to the characters, places and spells in her novels, written by Steven Vander Ark, 50, a former school librarian.

District Judge Robert Patterson Jr said that he had read the first half of the first Harry Potter novel to his grandchildren, but found the “magical world hard to follow, filled with strange names and words that would be gibberish in any other context.

“I found it extremely complex,” he said, suggesting that a reference guide might be useful.

Rowling said she was “vehemently anti-censorship; and generally supportive of the right of other authors to write books about her novels”. But she said Vander Ark had “plundered” her prose and merely reprinted it in an A-to-Z format.

A decision in the case is not expected soon. It will be weeks before lawyers finish filing documents, and possibly longer before a verdict is given. Judge Patterson is deciding the case, rather than a jury.

Okay, well that's the article. So JK Rowling's trying to stop a lexicon of her famous books from getting published. Why, exactly?

Argument tiem:

I'm not going to pretend to be well-versed with Harry Potter because I'm not. Read some of the books, saw the movies, not the greatest fan. And I'm not even going to act like I understand why she doesn't want what's essentially a fan-made guide on her work being published for people who may not understand it all.

The article says about Rowling's not wanting the lexicon published: But she said Vander Ark had “plundered” her prose and merely reprinted it in an A-to-Z format.

Well, yeah, last I checked that was the general gist of buying a guide like that. Let's say I'm an avid Harry Potter reader and I just want more info behind the spells or I don't understand "levitatum caninis" or some shit like that. Or maybe I'm having trouble keeping up with all the minor and major characters, or I'm not sure on what Snape's motives are for such-and-such. It's not "plundering" prose, it's laying it out in simple terms I think. She makes it sound like he maliciously tore her books apart and distorted them beyond recognition or something :/

As for what the judge said about the books being gibberish, that was a great burn :P nothing more to say on that. Not that I agree or anything, but OW.

Some of the comments on the article bothered me too. Like this one:

"This has nothing to do with anyone's opinion of Rowling's books or of her personally. This has to do with stealing someone's work and trying to label it as your own. If she doesn't approve, then it doesn't get published. Its her work, her story. If you were a writer, you would understand. Despite what you think of it, this is years of her work."

Again, maybe I'm missing something here but these guys are making it sound like Vander Ark went to Rowling's house and stole her manuscripts and tried to pass it off as his own or something. From what I see this isn't even the case, all he's doing is compiling a guide for the fairly complex world of Harry Potter. I mean, what is the DEAL? It's true, if she doesn't want the thing published she can protest and stop it from being published, but that doesn't mean she has the right to go "Omg no you can't do that!"

And this one:

"It worries me that a judge can't follow Harry Potter. The books, especially the first book, are easily read and understood by elementary-schoolers."

Wow, you must know some hyper-intelligent first graders. I don't even think the first book was designed for kids of elementary school age. If they can understand it, good for them, that doesn't mean the Judge was wrong for not being able to follow it. It shouldn't worry you, if you're trying to go for a quick quip (which you failed at anyway), it should make you think about the other people that may not be able to keep up with the books.

Another good point brought up by azalaisdeveyrac, who said, "It's not copyright infringement, it's not bashing... what's up with that?"

It really isn't. To me it's like super dedication because this guy went to the effort to even get this information down into book form. God, that should be commended :P not shunned.

In all, I think this is one JK Rowling just needs to let go. It's not like the guy is doing anything horribly malicious, to me it'd be pretty helpful. I don't know what I'd think if this book wasn't actually able to be published. As it's her work, it's her right to stop the book from being published, it's true, but...really, why?

And some other comments from the original article I found interesting:

"A Fischer you have, like many others missed the point of this legal action. J K Rowling is in favour of such guides provided that they provide a narrative to her work. What she objects to and we as consumers should object to is the rearranging of her work in extracts and passing this off as a guide. The guide in question, she argues, does not add anything new and is effectively just re-arranging her text."

Rearranging her text you say. So...has anyone actually seen this lexicon yet to prove it's just a "rearranging" of her text? I'm curious about that now. I can understand using exerpts as examples and stuff like that, if that's what this person's trying to get at. That's not "rearranging" the story to me.

I thought this one was pretty fair too:

"Rowling is anything but genius, she capitalized on a collective folklore/mythology that has been around for almost a millennium. She targeted an audience (children) with a quirky wit and that is all I can give her.

The judge is right to call it gibberish in comparison of actual literature and English scholars, while redeeming qualities have been noted it terms of turn of phrase, will still tear it part in terms of writing skill, plot devices, theme and its over all place in the canon of Western Literature. Commercial success does not mean that it is any good.

As for the lexicon. By have PR folks feeding the books to the media and colleges for examination she opens up scholarly debate, that means fair use if encouraged. She herself supported this fellow until he wanted to publish his work. Does that mean she is going to go after a college student that submits a scholarly essay based on her work to a paying magazine?

She has run around the world saying she is done with it. So be done"

I don't necessarily agree with all of it (especially the last line) but he makes a couple of good points, mostly about the commercial success and fair use of content.

This one's a little odd:

"By definition FICTION == giberish. As is her case against the guy. "fair use" applies. In addition I find it gauling that you can make some crap up and have its copyright protection extended essentially indefinitely yet if you invented a gizmo that cured cancer you get a paultry bit of patent coverage time."

Fiction equals gibberish does it? Where did he get that? Is there some archaic definition of gibberish I'm not aware of? But I thought his comment about copyrighting was pretty fair.

Lastly, this one's just funny:

"So what if he writes a Harry Potter reference guide. Does that mean I can't write an article about the History of Coca-cola because I'm infringing on their trademark or slogans?"

Tru dat :P although, I think Coca-Cola can sue for something like that...legal system, it is to laugh.

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