You’ve got to hand it to Steven Vander Ark: the guy’s got chutzpah. In September, a Manhattan judge ruled against Vander Ark in a lawsuit launched by mega-selling author J.K. Rowling over a proposed Harry Potter encyclopedia, which Vander Ark was set to publish. The encyclopedia was a print version of the author’s … er … encyclopedic fan website. The judge in the case ruled that publication of the book would do irreparable harm to Rowling as a writer (read: it might cost her money in lost earnings). The book was permanently blocked from publication, and the judge awarded Rowling and Warner Bros. Entertainment $6,750 in statutory damages, which is probably the amount that Rowling lays down for lunch these days.
It appears, however, that Vander Ark is uncowed. Notwithstanding the September court ruling, the CBC is now reporting that plans to publish the encylcopedia, albeit in a modified form, are going ahead. The Lexicon: An Unauthorized Guide to Harry Potter Fiction and Related Materials will appear on January 12, 2009. The book is to be published by RDR Books.
“We learned a lot at the trial about what was acceptable, what would follow the fair use guidelines,” said the 50-year-old Vander Ark, a former school librarian.
“That was not clear before. There was no law on the books that made it clear what was acceptable and what wasn’t,” he added, saying he spent five or six months revising his book “ originally slated for release in November 2007.
“Coming out of the trial, I had a much better idea of what should go into the book.”
One can safely assume that Vander Ark is not referring to stills of Daniel Radcliffe’s full-frontal nudity in the recent Broadway production of Equus “ this probably stretches the definition of “related materials” “ but the only indication of what the revised volume might contain comes from RDR publisher Roger Rapoport, who is quoted as saying the new version features “a lot more critical commentary, which means more analysis.”
No word yet as to whether Rowling, who once upon a time praised Vander Ark’s site for its comprehensiveness, will take further legal action, or whether she’ll just go ahead and unleash the Dementors on his ass.