Friday, July 24, 2009

ALA Conference 2009: From the Harry Potter Case to the Right to Write Fund; Library Journal, 7/22/09

Norman Oder via Library Journal; ALA Conference 2009: From the Harry Potter Case to the Right to Write Fund: Copyright ruling spawns revamped book, new support for derivative works:

"“RDR publisher Roger Rapoport, speaking at a Washington Office update at the American Library Association annual conference on July 11, described the Right to Write Fund, which he heads, as working closely with ALA. The organization “has been created so no one else has to go through what my company went through,” he said suggesting that the Copyright Act passed in 1976 spawned a new industry of lawyers that challenge reference books.

The fund aims to answer questions from writers and librarians, providing advice an assistance. Stanford Law School, along with Harvard Law School, have trained pro bono lawyers; Stanford has found an insurance company that will write a policy—say, for a documentary film—as long as a lawyer associated with the fund has reviewed the project. The fund also will provide litigation support.

Most people think we lost the case,” Rapoport said, pointing to the larger meaning of the ruling, as expressed in an article for ALA and the Association of Research Libraries by attorney Jonathan Band, titled “How Fair Use Prevailed in the Harry Potter Case."

While author J.K. Rowling prevailed, the decision was based on specific facts unique to the case, such as lengthy verbatim copies of descriptions in the novels, and the addition of two short companion books Rowling wrote.

So federal Judge Robert Patterson’s decision left “ample room for the creation of reference guides to literary works,” Band wrote, suggesting that “The decision also provides a clear roadmap for how to avoid infringement claims.”

That, said Rapoport, is what Vander Ark and RDR did. “The author added 600 original commentaries,” Rapoport said, adding, “We benefited enormously from the fact that a lot of people in the library community and media realized that there was something wrong about trying to stop a reference book.”"

No comments: