A judge ruled Monday in favor of "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling in her copyright-infringement lawsuit against a fan and Web site operator who was set to publish a Potter encyclopedia.
U.S. District Judge Robert P. Patterson said Rowling had proven that Steven Vander Ark's "Harry Potter Lexicon" would cause her irreparable harm as a writer. He permanently blocked publication of the reference guide and awarded Rowling and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. $6,750 in statutory damages.
Vander Ark, a former school librarian, runs the site, which is a guide to the seven Potter books and includes detailed descriptions of characters, creatures, spells and potions.
The small publisher was not contesting that the lexicon infringes upon Rowling's copyright, but argued that it was a fair use allowable by law for reference books. In his ruling, Patterson noted that reference materials generally are useful to the public, but in this case, Vander Ark went too far.
"While the lexicon, in its current state, is not a fair use of the Harry Potter works, reference works that share the lexicon's purpose of aiding readers of literature generally should be encouraged rather than stifled," he said.