Feature

Rowling battles for words

A Harry Potter fan cried in court this week after author J.K. Rowling accused him of stealing from her by publishing a lexicon filled with terms from her books. Rowling is a

What happenedA Harry Potter fan cried in court this week after author J.K. Rowling accused him of stealing from her by publishing a lexicon filled with terms from her books. “It’s been . . . it’s been,” said Steven Vander Ark. ‘‘It’s been difficult because there has been a lot of criticism, obviously, and that was never the intention.” After Vander Ark’s testimony, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Rowling released a statement that said, “A fan’s affectionate enthusiasm should not obscure acts of plagiarism.” (AP in the Chicago Sun-Times) The judged told Rowling and Vander Ark to get together and settle their differences. (eFluxMedia)What the commentators saidRowling is a “witch,” said Andy Martin in the Contrarian Commentary blog. She is “arrogant, petulant, greedy, and a judicial terrorist,” and she is insulting the law and the world’s intelligence by beating up on her hapless one-time admirer so shamelessly. And “Rowling not only wants to control" Vander Ark; "she wants to control the purchasing decisions of millions of Potter fans.”

There are a lot of Harry Potter fans out there who disagree, said Tom Weber in The Wall Street Journal’s Buzzwatch blog. “At two key Potter sites—MuggleNet and The Leaky Cauldron—fan opinions are running heavily in favor of Ms. Rowling.” Many fans say they have sympathy for Steven Vander Ark personally, but they still support Rowling’s right to “squelch” his encyclopedia.

Rowling “may have a respectable commercial case” said the Times Online, “but not much of a cultural one.” The English language “is so full of the neologisms of authors that if we had to credit each one, we would assassinate (©Shakespeare) our prose, and make readers chortle (©Carroll) mightily.” Rowling should be grateful if “her words become as widely adopted as those of other authors.”

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