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A Stanford Lawyer Argues 'Fair Use' For The Harry Potter Lexicon

Publication Date: 
December 11, 2007
School Library Journal
Joan Oleck

School Library Journal interviewed Lecturer in Law and Fair Use Project (FUP) Executive Director Anthony Falzone about the FUP representing the publisher of a companion book to the Harry Potter series who is being sued by J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. for copyright and trademark infrigement:

Asked why the Fair Use Project is getting involved Falzone says:

It really goes to the right of fans to interact with, and make use of and discuss, copyrighted work, whether it’s Harry Potter, or fans of music, or movies, or something else. The work at issue here is a very useful reference tool for better accessing and understanding and, frankly, just better enjoying the “Harry Potter” series, because it provides a lot of helpful information that would be hard, otherwise, to readily access.


It’s a critical, free-expression issue. The real issue it poses is the extent to which fans are going to have the right to participate in the content and fan community, and the extent to which they do so.


... Nobody’s going to buy The Harry Potter Lexicon instead of a Harry Potter book, or instead of going to see a Harry Potter movie. It’s clearly something to supplement and complement the copyright works—to make them accessible and enjoyable.

Answering the question "What court is the case in, and what point is it at? And what's your role?" he says:

We’ve agreed to take the [co-counsel] lead on the copyright and fair-use issues and provide our resources and expertise. The case is in U.S. district court in New York City. The plaintiffs have moved for a preliminary injunction that would prevent RDR Books [Vander Ark’s Michigan publisher] from publishing The Harry Potter Lexicon while the case is pending. [The hearing on the preliminary injunction] is scheduled to be held in February.


When asked if he didn't have any more to says about a possible strategy Falzone says:

You’ve got to understand the obligation of a lawyer who’s representing a client in an active case. I’m not going to get into what we’re going to say and what they’re going to say.