Orson Scott Card's take on J. K. Rowling's lawsuit

This article dates from last week, but I only just became aware of it by browsing around the Other Fantasy board on wotmania.com.

Card doesn't pull any punches in this piece, and I don't think that many people will disagree with him. And he ends the article with a bang:

Rowling has now shown herself to lack a brain, a heart and courage.
Clearly, she needs to visit Oz.


Read the entire article here.

46 commentaires:

Dark Wolf said...

I wish a HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Pat. I hope you'll get all you wish for.

Revie said...

Kudos to OSC for saying out loud what a lot of people are thinking.

I never realized that Le Guin was first with 'ansible'. Nice piece of trivia there.

It's your birthday? Have a great day!

Greg said...

Unfortunately, none of what Card says has anything to do with people pulling text almost directly from other books and posting them as a "derivative work"

Michael Natale said...

I originally had the same reactions as Card here, but the more I read about this the more I began to understand why she's doing it.

From what I've read the author of the Lexicon basically cut & paste wholesale chunks of text from her work without the usual required citing of sources to make it a 'scholarly work'.

My basic understanding of copyright law (no expert I admit) is that an owner of Intellectual Property *is compelled* to actively protect their work. The lack of doing so sets precedent where you can actually lose rights to defend it down the line.

If I've not misunderstood all the stuff I've read about this, it seems like a perfectly reasonable position for someone like Rowling to take.

Card seems to have a bug up his ass about Rowling and wants to paint her as a stupid person and I just don't see it. Seems like she's doing the smart thing to me.

reanimated said...

i think you always have to look twice at a situation when someone reacts as strongly as Card.

like michael said, sounds like he's got a bug up his ass.

Cecrow said...

Even should she lose the suit, I wouldn't have imaginged describing Rowling as a 'witch', etc. Who knows what the facts of this case are? I don't see her launching suits right and left against all derivative works, just this specific one. And this suit will be long forgotten about before her next book comes out.

I did think it was curious how the gay Dumbledore thing came out afterwards. She should have left that up to readers' imaginations and interpretations, since it wasn't indicated specifically in the books. Then again, which character ever had a reason to ask Dumbledore to his face about it? And if it had come out, critique would just go the other way (unnecessary to plot, etc.)

Anonymous said...

Michael, you have completely misunderstood. (maybe because the source you read from was wrong).

What you're talking about is trademark law (you may lose your trademark if you're not defending it). That CANNOT happen with copyright.

Shane said...

I really liked the Harry Potter books. Rowling was like my Dean Koontz of Fantasy. Just kind of fun throw away books, filler until something better comes along.
But ever since she decided to "out" Dumbeldore, I've lost so much respect for her. It was obvious she just wanted to create more to talk about in that world she created (or borrowed, whatever).
And now this lawsuit...
I'm no judge. I wont say who is right or wrong, but I have to believe that there could've been an easier resolution. This never had to be such a big deal.

Shane said...

PS.
Happy Birthday, Pat!

Anonymous said...

It's a bit weird really. Up until now the man has praised her. And praised her quite a bit. I find his reaction a little too vehement.

-CN

Cecrow said...

Exactly ... his no-holds-barred reaction has a better chance of making a lasting impression on me about him than Rowling's lawsuit does on me about her.

megaleafs said...

Happy Birthday Pat! GO HABS!

OSC is the man. I totally agree with him, you don't see Christopher Tolkien suing everyone for the dozens of Lord of Rings companion books. Besides, she actually used the guy's website! I didn't really think much of the lawsuit till I read that piece. Dangerous precedents indeed.

Maurice said...

I think OSC does have a few good and bad points here. First of all Rowlings lawsuit is about her written material being lifted, and the 'essence' of her book is similiar to that of Card's, just as it must be similiar to something else. I haven't been on the site where the material for the source book is being taken from, but if large amounts of text are lifted, than she has a right to what she is doing, but if not she needs to shut up.

I totally agree that Dumbledore being gay was a publicity stunt. Wait and see the fad that was Harry Potter will die down after all the movies are released.

They are good for one read through after that, there's no point goign back and kids will quickly outgrow it. I do commend her for getting more kids into reading, but I still cant understand how she is so famous, there is so much better stuff out there.

Anonymous said...

WOW what a big man. Calling another author names. If he doesn't agree with the lawsuit, thats fine, I don't either but that rant was unnecessary and ugly. Personally, given the choice of a new work by "the ugly witch" or "the name calling thug", I'll choose the new book by the witch.

Anonymous said...

take that you jacking whore !
You go Mr Card,
Kudos to a real author coming out and slaying that star wars/enders game ripoff that passes itself of as readable material.

Its just a travesty that so many young children digested this mush as fantasy and the numerous accolades it received, despite reading like a 4th grade story in the worst of the sense and you still have gibbering adults yapping over its intricacies..lol!
are we that dumb?!

myshkinn said...

Poor OSC, he's being totally ripped of by that evil, evil woman. The plot of Harry Potter is so obviously ripped off from Ender's Game that I can't believe it ever got published. Never mind the fact that that plot has been used by uncountable authors in uncountable novels. Never mind the fact that that plot was old when OSC sat down to write Ender's Game. Never mind the fact that that plot is probably the most overused plot in the history of the genre. No, never mind these petty little details, the simple fact of the matter is that OSC used this simple and cliched plot before JKR used it it write (gasp) children's novels! That means he owns it, right?

Seriously, what a douche bag. I think I smell sour grapes.

Anonymous said...

myshkinn - Card wasn't making a legitimate complaint that Rowling stole his plot, he was just trying to point out that fiction is by natura derivative of other work.

I don't think you read or understood the whole thing if you thought he was actually accusing her of stealing his work.

Ian said...

Witch no, money grabbing talentless witch maybe?

myshkin said...

Oh, I read and understood the whole thing, and it still smells like sour grapes to me. The point here is that there is a world of difference between using a derivative plot and lifting entire passages, word for word, from an already published novel. Card is trying to make a point using an analogy that in no why fits, and all the while using said ill-fitting analogy to give Rowling a back handed slap for daring to use the same oh-so-original ideas that he used.

This whole thing reeks, to me at least, of a man who is not happy that an inferior author (in his opinion) is so much more popular, and has made so much more money, than him. If this were just about the lawsuit I doubt that Card would have gone so far as to call Rowling a witch, as well as cruel, cowardly, and stupid. That kind of vitriol speaks of a deeper anger than this lawsuit would warrant.

ben1xy said...

Happy birthday Pat! i'm going to miss your reviews immensely once you go on your trip!

Anyway, OSC couldn't have said it any better. I kept smling to myself while reading the entry.

Emily said...

I love OSC's work, but I actually do disagree with him, because legally speaking, he's wrong. I just did a whole discussion on why here:

http://foresthouse.livejournal.com/463201.html

Roland said...

Myshkin, I think you have misunderstood what Card says. there IS a world of difference, you're right, but he isn't connecting his rather obvious sarcasm about her stealing from Ender with the Lexicon guy "stealing" from her. He simply says that if anyone did this with his work, he wouldn't make a fuss about it.

And he's right, isn't he? However you look at it, any kind of lexicon is just more publicity for the books. It doesn't damage Rowling's sales in any possible way.

As for the "sour grapes" thing, I find this sort of thinking ridiculous (no offense). First of all, Card is the most popular living sci-fi author. In what conceivable way would he be jealous of her? He's got tons of books published and she has ONE series. That's that. She's never going to publish anything again, cause it would never be half the hit HP was. If anything, i think he was genuinely sorry for her before this lawsuit.

I'm gonna check emily's topic now, before I post here again...

Roland said...

Ok, I read it, and I'm dissapointed. It doesn't really explain what makes Card wrong, and it focuses on a piece of sarcasm ,rather than on his main point.

There are many HP guides. None of those has been approved or published by Rowling. Yet she has sued none of their authors. Isn't it strange then, that she chooses to do it with a guy she awarded for his dedication to her works, at a time when she is no longer writing books, but INCIDENTALLY she is planning to make an official guide?

Meanwhile, unlike most of you (or so I feel, if I'm wrong, I apologize), I checked on the site where the lexicon is published online:

http://www.hp-lexicon.org

I found NO quotes of the original books, even though I didn't search that hard. I'm sure there must be some, but they're obviously not prevalent.

I did, however, find callendars, tables and all sorts of things the guy has made himself. The site drips adoration for Rowling's work. I find myself more disgusted with her, than I was before reading it...

Because I CAN'T find her legal claims for suing him. Instead, all I see is her terrible fear that SHE herself could never write so detailed guide to her own world...

thornofcamorr said...

Wow, OSC is such a douche. I don't know if I agree with Rowling actually taking the guy to court over it, but it is her right. I mean, all he's really doing is organizing her work into an alphabetized form and selling it. Probably would have made millions too. I don't think she's doing it because it would have taken sales from her own hypothetical HP guide, because come on, shes a billionaire. It just isn't right to reap insane profits off reselling someone else's books without their permission.

Roland; what? Ive never seen a published HP guide before. There was a small book of speculation and insight into what might happen in book 7 a few years back that the guys from mugglenet put out, and another that discussed the religious effects of the books, but I've never seen a guide or encyclopedia.

And damn people, whats all the shit about the Dumbledore thing. She was at a reading/Q&A, someone asked her if there were any gay characters, and she said 'yeah Dumbledore is gay, it didn't really come up though'. Then the media went wild with it. People make it sound like she called a press conference to finally reveal one of the big secrets of Harry Potter or something, and generate interest. Seeing as how Harry Potter has generated more interest than the iraq was on its own, I think that would be a bit overkill.

I know everyone loves to hate JKR and HP to prove how grown up and literary they are, but I wouldn't have thought an actual author would stoop to such things. Sad, OSC, sad.

Roland said...

I love the Harry Potter books. I really do. I'm disgusted by their author though, for some months now. On the Q/A thing, the answer to such a question is "no/don't be ridiculous", it's not "yes, one of my major characters is gay, only I forgot to mention that in the series, so that my sales wouldn't drop".

As for "rights", yea, she has the right? So? Doesn't make it more noble, does it?

And as for guides, you might wanna check this list:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Magic+Guide+Harry+Potter&x=0&y=0

Everybody does it with every popular series out there...

Roland said...

Argh, the link is too long... But it works, just copy what you see of it and paste it into the browser.

thornofcamorr said...

Link didn't work for me, but I searched amazon and found a few things like explorations of the mythos she used and etc. Theres a few things that are original works based in the HP universe. One or two look pretty close to being a fashion of encyclopedia though, but they seem to also have some original content. I don't follow this stuff enough to know exactly what Rowling and the publisher's beef is with the Lexicon guy, but his product must have been extremely derivitive. I still don't exactly agree with the suit, but I think JKR and the publisher have the right to protect their work where they see fit. They obviously know things about it don't so I think Ill just continue not caring about it.

..."yes, one of my major characters is gay, only I forgot to mention that in the series, so that my sales wouldn't drop".

Youre just speculating there, saying she intentionally left Dumbledore's sexuality ambiguous so she could unleash it when the series begins to flag. Worrying about Harry Potter's marketability has probably been the furthest thing from JKR's mind for like the last decade. Shes richer than the queen. I really just don't think there was ever a relevent place to put that little bit of information into the books. How could there be? 'Oh by the way Harry, Im gay. Just thought you should know.' She could have at least waited until the hype was actually dying down, instead of at it's apex just weeks after the last book is released, with 3 movies and a theme-park on the way.

Nadine said...

Happy belated birthday Pat!

Roland said...

thornofcammor, the link contained a list of thnings that Amazon shows when you search for "Magic Guide Harry Potter". 59 books. None of them is official. The "Lexicon guy"'s work is not "dirivative", since it's not a work of fiction, but a guide. The only difference with those found at Amazon is that it's better and more full. Every Harry Potter fan agrees that his guide is the best to be found in the internet. Heck, even rowling herself has said so in numerous occasions. She has even admited to have gone to the site to check some info about her own books while writing. That is why the lawsuit is utter hypocrisy and extremely pathetic in my view. Like you said - she's richer than the queen. She shouldn't allow herself to do that.


As for the gay thing, you misunderstood me. What I think is that she made it up on the go, when they asked her. She never intended for Dumbledore to be gay, cause if she HAD, she would have found a way to put this information in the books. It's too exact and puts a lot of his actions in a different light to be left out. So I'm absolutely sure she never thought to make him gay and just invented it out of thin air to make the Q/A thing more interesting. Lame? Yes, lame.

myshkin said...

Roland Said:

"As for the "sour grapes" thing, I find this sort of thinking ridiculous (no offense). First of all, Card is the most popular living sci-fi author. In what conceivable way would he be jealous of her?"

You're joking, right? Sure Card is popular, but does he have people lining up around the block to buy his newest novel? Sure Card has made some money (as he likes to point out to us on every possible occasion), but has he made even a fraction of a fraction of what Rowling has made? The answer to both these questions is no. He has plenty to be jealous of.

As thornofcamorr said, there are a lot of people (and authors) who love to hate Rowling and HP just to prove how grown up and literary they are. And there are a lot of people (and authors) who hate the fact that a series which they view as childish and inferior is the most popular publishing phenomenon of all time. I suspect that most o the vitriol directed at Rowling stems form these things. Silly woman, she should have known her place. She should have stayed quietly in the children's section and left the adult literature to the big boys.

Roland said...

Yes. And your point is?

Tara said...

This is a touchie subject I guess.

Reading OSC article reminded me that alot of harry potter books have come out talking about the books, so why does jk row want to only start a court case on this one.

i think at the end of the day, if the author says no and its her work, the book should not go into print. I think the judge does not want to decide and keeps saying the two parties should reach an out of court decision, which would mean the whole thing in the court room was for nothing.

i guess we all have to wait and see

Patrick said...

Thanks for the birthday wishes, guys!;-)

As for Rowling, it goes without saying that she has a right to protect her creation. But when you're richer than the Queen of England, will a 10,ooo-copy edition of a lexicon truly hurt you???

If we were talking about a midlist author, I would applaud that person for sticking to their guns. But Rowling is basically swimming in money, so to file a lawsuit for such a "trivial" work based on HP seems a bit ludricrous. As many have pointed out, there are so many unauthorized HP merchandise out there, and the author never saw fit to put her foot down...

myshkin said...

So a midlist author should be applauded for protecting his or her rights, while a successful author should be vilified for doing the same thing?

To me it seems that this whole thing has been blown way out of proportion, for no better reason than that some people just want to vilify Rowling for something. It doesn't matter what, as long as she's made to look bad.

Roland said...

I'm getting tired of this "You just want to hate Rowling" crap. She doesn't need to be made to look bad, she pretty much managed that on her own.

Let me explain - a midlist author would be HURT by such thing (although that too is debatable, seeing as how such lexicons never work on their own - you still need the original book/s), while she could never be touched by such a thing. She HASN'T been hurt by the - let me repeat myself - FIFTY NINE unofficial quiz-books, lexicons, "magic guides" and so on that can be found at Amazon. I bet you there are many more and she's obviously doing fine despite all of them.

So why now? And I ask again - what reason does Card have to be jealous of her? Money? I'm pretty sure he manages to make ends meet. Money isn't everyone's top priority.

myshkin said...

And I am getting tired of you're "I'm smarter than you" tone. Let me explain something to you: It isn't just about the money; it's about the fact that she spent years of her life creating something and she's not going to be content with someone taking what she's created for them self. This is about theft. Not of money, but of her creation. This is something she's worked hard for, something she's loved. Why should she have to allow someone to steal her creation simply because she's rich?

As for the reasons for Card to be jealous: I thought I explained that pretty well in an earlier post. Go back and take a look. Or are you intentionally ignoring what I wrote earlier?

Roland said...

No, I'm just not accepting it. So she's a one-hit wonder. No one is jealous of one-hit wonders, no matter how much money they generate. If (and that's a pretty big "IF") she EVER gets anything else published AND successful, then REAL authors might have something to be jealous of. So far this is not the case.

Now let me repeat my question for the hundredh time - HOW is making a guide for someone's books (which requires you to actually HAVE and READ them in order for it to be of any use to you) a theft, since it's even protected by law, and HOW is this specific guide any different from the many others out there?

As for my tone, cut the touchiness. Either we're talking as grown-ups, or we're to busy being insulted to do it.

myshkin said...

It's a little early to start calling her a one hit wonder, isn't it? You know, seeing as how she published a major bestseller last year.

As for the lexicon: my understanding is that the major problem with it is much of the text has been lifted, word for word, from the novels. And if doing that were protected by law, why hasn't this case been thrown out of court yet?

Your "one hit wonder" and "REAL authors" comments serve to show that I wasn't much off the mark when I said that this whole thing has little to do with the lawsuit and much to do with people who simply want to see Rowling vilified.

As for your tone: it is possible to speak as an adult without being a condescending douche bag as well.

Roland said...

Not for me. Condescending douche bag is all I'm about :D

Any road, that's another of the tings I already said in this topic - I love the Harry Potter books. Still, as far as "literature" is concerned, I consider them "good" at best. Their success IS totally out of proportion, no matter how you look at it, and Rowling is, according to me, a middling author. It's a quite similar case as with Dan Brown. Who is an abominably weak author in my view, no matter how successful his books can get. Rowling is far from "abominably weak", but she's not the Avatar of Creativity and Dazzling Style either. And yeah, I am pretty convinced she will never publish another book of fiction again, or if she does, it will be quickly forgotten and therefore - her last. If I am proven wrong, I will be only happy. That would mean she's a real author, and not just a woman with ONE good idea that she used to become ridiculously rich.

About the lexicon - lifting text, word for word, would be a crime if it were put in another work of fiction. The facts are different. Those paragraphs are used as quotations and examples to the different entries of the guide. Btw, doesn't it strike you as odd that with all her financial might, and being able to afford the best lawyers in the world, Rowling STILL hasn't won the suit? Doesn't the constant urges of the Judge that the parties reach out-of-court agreement tell us something? You know what they tell ME? They tell me her accusitions are unfounded, she has no legal ground to step on, and THAT, in my view, proves everything Card has written.

Anonymous said...

One hit Wonder??????

I think she's had 7 hits that are some of best selling of all time.

Anonymous said...

Orson Scott Card is a huge homophobe (as he's demonstrated MANY times in the past. The reason that his opinion of J.K. Rowling went from almost worshipful to one of raging hatred is because she announced that Dumbledore was gay. OSC is venting all of his anger at J.K.R. into his trashy opinion piece about her case.

Roland said...

Yeah, sure ;)

Anyway, I meant "one-hit" in this case as "one-hit series". It's obvious that if the first Harry Potter book was THAT successful and the rest were on the same level, the entire series would be a hit. But what about what comes next?

thornofcamorr said...

You know she just sold a book of short stories to Amazon for millions of dollars right?

And anyway, do you really think that there could be a single publisher on earth that would say NO to JKR? It doesn't matter what it is, it could be her grocery list; if Rowling writes something, it will get published, and it will make millions of dollars. Thats just how it is.

Roland said...

I humbly disagree. Oh, it will sell... initially. After that, if it's not on the level of the Harry Potter books, the sales will drop. And that will be that. Do you honestly believe that the book she sold to Amazon will actually be worth it? Come on, be honest.

Jonathan said...

Ultimately the issue for me is one that should affect us all if we ever write something and are successful: should the creator have the right to control who profits from their creation? No matter how mad it may seem, if I create a bestselling fantasy or SF story, surely I should have some say over who can exploit that success for money? I can choose who I sell the movie rights to, who sets up the theme park, and who writes the encyclopedia? It would be my success and surely I should have some control?

Anonymous said...

It's amusing how, almost a year later, it is finally obvious you didn't understand the lawsuit, and that Rowling was right all along.

Fun.