Eight years after Steve Vander Ark, a 50-year-old former school librarian, first launched his "Harry Potter Lexicon" website, the encyclopedia he went on to create will now be available to the public. According to the Telegraph, "The Lexicon: An Unauthorized Guide to Harry Potter Fiction and Related Materials" will go on sale in Britain on January 16.
The 400-page lexicon was at the heart of a highly publicized copyright-infringement lawsuit brought by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling against Vander Ark and his publisher RDR Books of Michigan. Rowling characterized the lexicon as "wholesale theft of 17 years of my hard work."
The lawsuit became the subject of much public debate and commentary. Many Harry Potter fans fiercely defended J.K. Rowling's desire to protect her creative work, but there were others who argued that she was trampling on the fair use rights of others.
Last September a federal judge in New York agreed with Rowling that the lexicon borrowed too heavily from her books and permanently blocked its publication.
But now Vander Ark and RDR Books will publish a revised edition. Vanderark says that after five or six months of revisions, the new version of the lexicon meets the specifications laid out by the US court.
"We learned a lot at the trial about what was acceptable, what would follow the fair use guidelines," Vander Ark is reported to have said.
Vander Ark's publisher says that the new version of the lexicon contains "a lot more critical commentary, which means more analysis."
"It isn't just saying what happens, it's [Vander Ark's] interpretation of why it's important."
What does J.K. Rowling think of all this?
Neil Blair, a lawyer for Rowling's agent the Christopher Little Literary Agency, is quoted in the press saying: "We are delighted that this matter is finally and favorably resolved and that J.K. Rowling's rights and indeed the rights of all authors of creative works have been protected."