General ramblings

Dear J.K Rowling

Dear Ms. Rowling,

You, as well as my other blog readers know that I would be writing this blog post, after reading about your recent lawsuit against the guy who runs the HP Lexicon. As much as I admire you, I think my confidence in your PR skills is waning. I already know about your mediocre writing skills, yet I’m guilty of spending quite a lot of money buying hardback copies of your Harry Potter series. If that were not enough, I’m even ready to buy The Tales of Beedle the Bard, if a cheap copy’s ever published for poor people like me. But the way you keep suing people left, right and center really makes me wonder if you’ve fired your PR manager. Why would you want to do this? Are you so jobless? I guess not. You are writing another book, right? So, why not concentrate on that?

Okay! I get your point- you wanted to publish a Harry Potter lexicon! This guy, Steve Vander Ark, is/was an ardent fan of your books. He almost runs that non-profit website HP Lexicon, that even I’ve found to be very useful in discovering hidden meanings and relations between the characters and events. From what I gather, the printed copy of the lexicon, which will be sold for $24.95 is as good as a printed form of the website! When you don’t have any objections against the electronic form of the Lexicon, then why do you have a problem with the book that will be sold? The ideas are yours, the characters are yours and the story is yours. But this is definitely not the first time that an independent publisher, such as RDR books, is releasing a “guide” on a popular novel/book. From what I can understand, the Lexicon is nothing but a compilation of lots of interesting information that we often miss as casual readers. Why make such a big deal about a book that’s mostly based upon the website information anyway?

And the funniest of all is the fact you are testifying against a man, who runs a website, whose presence you have previously acknowledged on your official website. This is the same website which you have admitted to have used a couple of times yourself, to quickly “check some facts”. Now, all of a sudden, the Lexicon becomes of poor quality? Wah!

Have you become that greedy? Aren’t you already the richest woman in UK, only next to the Queen? Would a couple of several million pounds make such a big difference to the supposed donations that you were going to make? You were only planning to write it since 1998. There is no book! So, there is no case!

You are basing your case on the argument that you wanted to write a Lexicon and since the characters are fictitious, nobody will understand the background better than you! All right. I understand that. But who says that there can only be one Lexicon? You can publish yours too. People will buy that too, I’m sure. If the quality of this Lexicon is mediocre, then it shouldn’t bother you anyway! Just because someone is publishing a guide sort of thing based on your characters, I don’t see how exactly your lawsuit is justifiable.

I haven’t forgotten about the lawsuit against some poor Durga Puja organizers in Calcutta. Anybody who lives/has lived in Calcutta can tell you that with the amount of money that these Puja societies can spend, the Hogwarts Caste-styled Puja pandal wouldn’t have been even 20% as grand as the Castle shown in the movies. So, why bother? What will you get out of an injunction, except for the wrath of lots of fans (including me) and probably some paltry monetary damage, which you can do without?

Think about all the books that you’ve sold thanks to the amazing marketing and media attention that they’ve received. Why do you choose to fall downhill in this manner? MTV published a good article enumerating several amazing points that highlight the loophole in this case. Having more knowledge of law compared to an average person, I have reason to believe that they are quite correct.

While the entire world waits to see what happens to this case, I hope continue to squirm in your seat and find it difficult to get your “creativity juices” to flow. I, for one, won’t bother buying another book of yours. Like the defense lawyer mentioned in the hearing-“Ms. Rowling is trying to exert a bit of the dark arts” here.

Sincerely,

An ex-Harry Potter fan.

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26 thoughts on “Dear J.K Rowling

  1. Ruhi, I read recently that the character Harry Potter is not original. There was such a character in a book written earlier. Before she did. The link is here.

    Nita, thanks for the link. ๐Ÿ™‚ I can’t call myself such a big fan then! I didn’t know about this. Rowling has been influenced by lots of people. We can draw parallels betn. HP and LOTR too. The idea is not very original, I agree. The books are easy to read. The marketing is over the top. And that is what made her a huge star. – Ruhi

  2. Hey Nita, don’t mind, but you are little late about that news ๐Ÿ˜€

    Ruhi, What happened to that Kolkata Puja Group next? I want to know.

    About the case against HPL, she (JKR) is just trying to remain in focus. Thats all. She knows herself that she lost too much fans after deadly deathly hallows book. I still can’t forget the night I spent to read it on my PC. And I am glad that I never bothered to purchase her books because my plan was same as yours i.e. to make a collection for next generations.

    Now is there any way she can read this letter, may be she will feel some shame on herself. ๐Ÿ˜›

    My mom told me that the construction was OKed later. But still…lots of unnecessary trouble. It was all because of Penguin Books informing Rowling. And you wanted to make a collection too? God knows how many people must have laughed after reading that post of mine. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Were you my blog reader then? – Ruhi

  3. Hey Ex Harry Potter fan….. good post. I am still thinking… may be I need more reasons to leave HP fan club…. I will read more about this news and will comment again ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Did you manage to read anything more? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Didn’t know that you were also a fan of the Fan club.- Ruhi

  4. JKR is not only having “bad brains days” but also doing other things. Visit these: http://www.nationalledger.com/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi?archive=18&num=16673, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/10/16/njk116.xml, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/showbiz/showbiznews.html?in_article_id=487806&in_page_id=1773&ico=Homepage&icl=TabModule&icc=picbox&ct=5,http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article346451.ece.

    All the articles are accompanied by pictures – be careful though I haven’t checked them myself. The write-ups are pretty hilarious.

    No wonder she wants to hold everything close to her – and hope that something helps.

    Awww! Way TOO embarrassing. ๐Ÿ˜€ Can happen to anyone actually. Don’t understand her fixation with suing everyone though. She should have become a part time lawyer too. – Ruhi

  5. Read this on news yesterday.. I am quite lost here.. I thought Rowling was okay with people coming up with their own interpretations (of her work) so why has she flipped around now? Is it the realisation that she has no more harry potter stories to tell? (no more book money, film money etc)

    She is supposedly working on a new book. But I believe that she feels that “everything” is under her name. Next she’ll start dictating the terms and conditions related to the reading of her book- read it in bright light, before 12 am, only alone, one copy per person…sigh. She is becoming an old hag. – Ruhi

  6. LOL

    She’s gone mad… badly needs a psy! ๐Ÿ˜›

    Psys will need psys too then. ๐Ÿ˜‰ No cure for her madness. We need to stop buying those books and put an end to her craziness. – Ruhi

  7. Ashish says:

    From a business standpoint [i.e. trying to squeeze more money out of a finished franchise] it makes perfect sense. After all who wouldn’t want to buy HP related stuff? Money makes everyone move.

    But as a fan, Harry Potter is finished, I have nothing more to do with JK. lol. Don’t know, Don’t care [cue Garfield pic.] ๐Ÿ˜€

    Btw, I’ve now managed to land the last place in your links! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Yes, makes a lot of sense businesswise and as she’s been mentioning that she wanted to write a Lexicon herself, she feels that this unauthentic source will dampen her sales. Don’t we get all kinds of reading guides for a novel written by Shakespeare? Only the best ones capture the market. So why is she so scared? All this guy is doing is taking out a Lexicon. I feel really sad for him. – Ruhi

  8. Ashish says:

    Reading my comment again, I meant to say – “The old hag is trying to squeeze more money out of poor harry!” I must learn to be to the point. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Definitely trying to squeeze money from both her hands. The richer you get, the stingier you are. Perfect example. – Ruhi

    P.S- You were always on my Blogroll. I deleted your name after your blog expired. Now that you’re blogging again, I’ve put your blog back on my Blogroll. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I don’t understand how this lawsuit converts you from a HP fan to an ex-HP fan. If I understand correctly you are a fan of the character and not the author, so how action of the author affects that?

    PS: I still have to read my first HP book and watch first HP movie.

    Not just this lawsuit…my history with HP goes back a long way. You need to dig through my posts to know how and when I’ve become an ex-fan. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sadly, the author lends a voice to the character and the author does have the power of diminishing my reading experience. At least, it’s true in my case. It’s difficult for me to separate her book from her personality. Oh, and you need to read the book before watching the movie. – Ruhi

  10. Ruhi:

    You and I have discussed this before so you know some of my views on these developments already. Most of these lawsuits are about ‘signalling’; they serve as cease-and-desist notices to those contemplating such things in the spirit of being fans. Nearly all of these are about money; which as another reader points out is not an illegitimate desire on her part. Many authors also acknowledge being too obsessed with their characters to ever let go.

    But above all, I think the motive lies deep within JKR. Writing HP saved her from dire poverty. Perhaps the fear that she may return to that poverty one day keeps her suing everyone else from the Poojo Pandal guys to the HP Lexicon chap.

    Then again, while I once lived not far from where she does in Edinburgh, I am happy that I never cared much for HP (or fiction in general). ๐Ÿ˜‰ But then you knew that too about my stance.

    Yes, we had an extensive talk about this whole deal. ๐Ÿ™‚ She’s definitely very obsessed with her characters. I would go on to say that her legal counseling is not very good either. My strongest argument against this move of hers is thi- Is writing a guidebook/Lexicon a violation of her copyrights? Absolutely not! This is not the first time that such a thing has happened. Unless there is a clause in my Copyrights saying so, I don’t know how this guy has wronged her.

    Good that you don’t bother about her. She’s really not worth it. I’ve learned my lesson indirectly. -Ruhi

  11. yaake says:

    whoa!!! that was one mean nasty letter!!! hehehe.. .and i liked it… her PR manager sucks… its some old asshole who belongs in a museum… and she’s probably running out of money so she decided to sue… I won’t be surprised if she sues you for using the words “Harry Potter” next..!!! ROFL… ๐Ÿ˜€
    http://mirrorcracked.wordpress.com

    ๐Ÿ˜€ Running out of money or not, this tough cookie won’t leave even a single pence. And yes, she might sue us for using the name “Harry Potter” and say, “Do not take the Boy Who Lived name in vain! ” ;)- ruhi

  12. Zamarit says:

    I think Mrs. Rowling has the right to sue being hta she was the one that came up with tha Idea (therer was no other Harry Potter it was Larry Potter in a very different book). Any person that would like to publish anything that has to do with Hary Potter should AND must ask Mrs. Rowling for permission. You can’t just try to make money out of someone else’s ideas, no matter how much research and work you have put in the subject.

    So you mean to say that we should ask for her permission if we decided to have a Harry Potter theme Birthday party? She doesn’t have the exclusive rights to everything. Giving birth to a fictional character doesn’t mean that she can play the mommy forever. Sorry. – Ruhi

  13. So, I read the entire letter and the articles in the links and I sort of agree with what you say.

    But I also kinna agree with what Shefaly says. Maybe the woman has just become insecure or mentally unstable because she had to sort of end the series. Frankly speaking I haven’t kind of understood whatever she’s done over the past 2 years or something. Right from when she declared that the 7th book would be the last thing in the series. Then declaring Dumbledore gay. Then saying that she might just write another book and now this. So, it could be insecurity or it could be that she wants to stay in the limelight. But she doesn’t need to do that. If only she could’ve continued writing the books, she would’ve remained popular. She’s still earning from the movies and if she was that desperate for money and really out of creative juice, she could have always sold the copyrights to someone else and I’m sure she would’ve earned millions for that. But then, maybe HP is her child and she’s rather possessive about it.

    How did you get the blue Favicon btw? Many people on WordPress seem to be having that suddenly.

    Yes, such action definitely reeks of insecurity and plain possessiveness. What else could it be? Looks like she doesn’t want to get out of the limelight for any reason! Declaring Dumbledore as gay could be totally avoided. It didn’t add anything to the story at all. She’s become too power crazy. And the sad thing is that her series was very good, until she released that last book. Like I mentioned, my plans of making that family heirloom are now canceled. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ So yes, I don’t think that people will give her much importance 50 years down the line. There will be other great writers. While she’s still famous, she’s doing her little bit.- Ruhi

  14. oh i dunno…i like rowling…she does have a right on her characters, you know…thing is most of these ‘unofficial’ books are total crap…i mean completely crap…
    and who knows, maybe its her publishers and warner bros who are more excited about this lawsuit than her…and she’s just playing along coz they’re her main source of income..

    Well, how many unofficial guides have you read? I have read a lot of unofficial guides that are used by people who want to read T.S Eliot, Shakespeare and many other books. And no, not all of them are completely “Crap”. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m sure you have taken a look at his webite HP Lexicon. It’s amazing and even Rowling had acknowledged this in the past and has accepted the fact that she often referred to this website to quickly “check up ” some past topics. So I don’t see how it could be bad. -Ruhi

  15. She wrote 7 books, earned millions. Now what exactly is the problem? She can certainly live on the money for the rest of her life. Damn, her next 7 generations can live on that money. Why is then she doing all this and destroying everything she has created. I always wanted to look at Rowling and think of a woman who challeged fate. She could have been a poor housewife and baking potatoes all her life. She took a chance and look where she got. Now why is she hellbent on destroying it? ๐Ÿ˜

    It’s probably a lot to do with insanity, insecurity, madness, craziness and possessiveness. Lots of other adjectives too. – Ruhi

  16. Ruhi:

    I think this discussion has two separate threads. One is about copyright and JKR’s rights, and the second about her relentless pursuit of lawsuits.

    “Is writing a guidebook/Lexicon a violation of her copyrights?”

    Copyright is unusual amongst rights in that it is a moral right and the mere act of assertion confers some rights on the copyright holder. These rights may include the moral rights of ownership to derivative products and work product. So technically the answer to your question is ‘yes’, since such a guidebook/ lexicon is a ‘derivative’ product.

    The compiler of such a lexicon should work on a licensing agreement with her if he wishes to profit from the publication. You mention she has referenced her website earlier but now there is a difference – the website was not for profit, the published paper copy is. As you know from your academic experience, citing for non-commercial purposes is perfectly acceptable so the website was not in violation but publishing the book for profit is.

    The second bit is of course why she pursues these lawsuits. Well I listed some of the reasons earlier but there is the importance of case law. Many authors are probably grateful to her that she chases these people through the courts of law. She has the money and the time to afford these cases, and she is helping create case law that could pave the way for future defences against copyright violations.

    But then again, _you_ are a lawyer, why am _I_ telling you all this? ๐Ÿ™‚ On the other hand, this answers your curiosity as to why I read more non-fiction than fiction.

    I’ll let this one go because both of us can play the roles of lawyers of two separate parties and can talk about it to death. ๐Ÿ™‚ But yes, what you say also makes sense. But if you read what she talked about in the courtroom, then it’s perfectly clear that she talks in a manner that gives the “impression” that she’s under a moral obligation to see what her readers are reading, instead of the copyright violations per se. What you talk about in the Court is much more important and can be construed in any manner. If the Lexicon is a derivative product (the definition of which can be contested right now because we don’t know the exact clauses that we are referring to, plus we don’t know the terms of her copyrights), then we need to take a look at what is within her frame of rights and what is not. I don’t think that Law makes any distinction betn. the electronic and printed form of the same material. In this case, the material is almost the same. The only difference in the “form”. She seems to have given her content implicitly by allowing the defendant to continue writing on the website. Plus, she cannot say that the website material is hogwash, because she has been quoted in the past when she had extensively praised the defendant and had admitted the fact that even she has been using the website for reference purposes! One of her biggest problems (acc. to the Court session) is that the Lexicon is of poor quality! – Ruhi

  17. Ruhi:

    “I have read a lot of unofficial guides that are used by people who want to read T.S Eliot, Shakespeare and many other books.”

    The main difference with JKR is that the creators are all dead, long dead, long past expiry of copyright deadline dead. How can we purport to know how they might have reacted to unofficial guides if they were alive today? The history of copyright does extend to the 14th century after all and many creators were known to defend their products vigorously.

    Shefaly, the law might have existed, but whether it was enforced and how it was enforced is another question! India has copyright/cyber laws too, but it’s a very weak one. People alway play the joker with the law and get away with it. Finding those loopholes and using them to your advantage is nothing wrong. – Ruhi

  18. you don’t seem to have read the second part of my cmment.

    I did read it and do agree with what you’ve got to say. Yes, it might have been their idea, but she is the one who filed the lawsuit. I don’t think the names of her publishers are listed. If their names were listed, then it would have been a different ball game.- Ruhi

  19. Ruhi, I am gonna make collection of books from many authors and I thought of adding JK to it. And yes, I am your faithful reader from many days, nearly more than a year. Silent reader though. Because I was new to many things, its a long tale. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Also, I did not felt like laughing on that post of yours. It wasn’t that horrible ๐Ÿ˜€

    Haha..wow…you were a silent reader too long. You need to tell me your long tale then. ๐Ÿ™‚ I went back and read that post yesterday and found it to be really silly. But it’s okay I guess…I really meant it when I wrote it.- Ruhi

  20. @ Ruhi:

    “Finding those loopholes and using them to your advantage is nothing wrong.”

    This opinion can only come from a lawyer I daresay ๐Ÿ˜‰

    On the rest:

    If you go back and read the history of copyright you will see that the copyright owners were very vocal in defending their rights. Writers and musicians were foremost in this defence. Just like then, enforcement in most cases also depends on the aggrieved party defending itself and that is what JKR is doing.

    On derivative products: The definitions are clear enough and the laws both in the UK and the US unequivocally confer the rights related to derivative product on the original copyright holder. Warner Bros own a licence to the ‘films’ as derivative products, but JKR still owns the copyright.

    BTW in my comment, I do not base my view on a distinction between paper and online versions, just the for-profit and not-for-profit aspects of the lexicon. The use, by the fan for his own profit, of materials that she created does remain objectionable. If he were smart and well-advised, the author of the website would do well to negotiate a licence with her. The best IP disputes can be resolved within the framework of laws given (a recent patent related example is the Nexium related settlement that Astra Zeneca recently made with Ranbaxy while it presses ahead with the trial with Teva and Sandoz).

    Alas, disagreeing with her stance – or worse, calling her names, such as a copyright hog as an FT blogpost recently called her – does not detract from her moral rights. The website owner remains on shaky ground and I will be very surprised if the Judge rules in his favour.

  21. Hey ruhi!!
    Somebody, I dunno who got from your blog to mine and left an anonymous comment. I thought I might as well reply here because I want to make sure that person reads this. Hope you donโ€™t mind!

    Ref: 8 things Iโ€™m passionate about.

    6. SPEW โ€“
    Society for Promotion of Elfish Welfare FROM JK ROWLING โ€“ SOCIETY CREATED BY HERMIONE GRANGER

    7. G.RO.S.S. โ€“
    Get Rid Of Slimy girlS. LIKE YOU SAID, BILL WATTERSON IN CALVIN AND HOBBES.
    Emphasis on slimy.

    8. Bringing back the Dolphins โ€“ DOUGLAS ADAMS.

    If you were wondering about the last three things, just take it that Iโ€™m passionate about imagination and humour, mine or others. WHAT I SAID.

    ANYWAY, you said that with all my ideas on copyright, an attribution is in order. True. But had you seen my blog carefully enough, youโ€™d have noticed bill watterson features in the credits in the sidebar, because I keep using so many of his cartoons and ideas, take my header for example.

    But Iโ€™m not doing what Steve Vander Ark is doing. Iโ€™m not, in other words, putting my name JKRโ€™s or Wattersonโ€™s work and using it for profit. Profit in the monetary sense, of course. I admit I get a kick out of blogging and writing ABOUT othersโ€™ ideas that inspire me.

    Steve is writing a companion book when, agreed, there are many such books already in the market. Why target him? Because maybe JKR was already planning a Lexicon/ Encyclopaedia on Harry Potter. It would be absolutely silly that her version would appear in the bookstores with another book on the same subject written by a different author. And like JKR says, when theyโ€™re both describing a Chinese Fireball, itโ€™s not like theyโ€™re both describing a giraffe. JKRโ€™s ideas are her own and nobody but her has the right to elucidate upon them. A copyright wouldnโ€™t make sense otherwise. Sure there are biographies and guides and cliff notes and stuff. But is jkr thinks Steveโ€™ lexicon is a threat to her work, she has a right to. Sheโ€™s already been so magnanimous with her fans. For her, its not a question of a few million dollars anymore. In the end it all boils down to the questionโ€”โ€œis our work our own?โ€

    Maybe I should have introduced myself earlier in this comment. But you ought to know, that me and my best friend run a blog with some other of our friends (including the ishmeet) about harry potter. I think you oughta go check it out. Because you both (ruhi and the anonymous commentor) will gain more insight into my opinion about this lawsuit.

    and finally, thanks ruhi. i’m really enjoying this conversation.

  22. @ Nidhi:

    Nidhi- I don’t appreciate your tone in this comment. I don’t know whom it is really addressed to! Is this entire comment for the guy? (that is what you said in the beginning of the comment). Then why are you saying this-

    Because you both (ruhi and the anonymous commentor) will gain more insight into my opinion about this lawsuit.

    People have different opinions and that’s fine with me. But please don’t write in Caps (Which amounts to shouting). It seems quite kiddish.

    and finally, thanks ruhi. i’m really enjoying this conversation.

    Now why that tone again? I thought that the comment is addressed to some anonymous guy who left a comment on your blog?

    I remember you leaving a couple of comments on my blog a couple of months back, where all you had done was leave two or three links to some specific posts of yours! And you know what I’m implying here. Thanks.

    P.S- It would have been great if you would have provided a link to the comment that you are referring to and a link to your Harry Potter blog. Thanks.

  23. you know, ruhi, i meant to be nice. i had great regard for you, being one of those who regularly haunts ish’s blog.
    i don’t use wordpress, so i didn’t know how to differentiate my original text from the comment i wanted to add. hence the CAPITALS. BUT DON’T TELL ME YOU’VE NEVER COME ACROSS PEOPLE WHO ALWAYS TYPE IN CAPITALS ON THE NET.
    i just saw your reply to my ‘really old’ comment. i get the point.
    you’re not the only blogger on the world wide web. you’re definitely not the best.

    You’re shouting again and don’t get personal. I had asked you a couple of question with regard to your previous comment. I think I do have a right to question you if you leave a comment on my blog for some guy who came to your blog- even though he might have visited through my blog. And of course I’m not the best blogger. Who said that I’m the best? You are most welcome to think whatever you want.- Ruhi

    P.S- Yes, I have come across people who type in caps on the net and I fail to understand their incompetence in learning something so basic.

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