Even the person who gets the news from CNN.com (which is today, much of American humanity) knows that the much-anticipated copyright trial of the young century started today in New York: J.K. Rowling and all things Harry Potter vs. Steve Vander Ark, publisher of The Harry Potter Lexicon, online here and, the federal courts willing, coming to a bookstore eventually. There are many things that could be said about this case; I’ll say only the one thing that I shared this morning with my Copyright Law students:
Over the last decade, copyright owners in many industries dreaded and resisted the prospect that the copying machine that we call “the Internet” might destroy their business models. Rowling v. RDR Books (the formal title of the Harry Potter case) presents the relatively uncommon situation in which the Internet (i.e., “free”) version of the alleged infringement was unobjectionable; hackles were raised and claims were filed only when what was merely digital became (or threatened to become) analog. When bits become books, one might say, the fur flew.