Transcript of BBC's interview with SVA
Just a quick note: Steve
babbled stuttered a lot throughout this interview. I tried to keep in all the uh's and um's and y'know's for accuracy, but for the most part I gave up. So this makes him sound a little more eloquent than he really was.
SVA: My name is Steve Vander Ark. I'm the webmaster of the Harry Potter Lexicon website, and the - uh, one of the four authors of the Harry Potter Lexicon book.
BBC: And you are a massive Harry Potter fan, I guess?
SVA: *chuckles* I guess I would have to be under the circumstances. Yes, very much so.
BBC: And that must make it very difficult for you, because you are, ah, involved in a lawsuit in which the people who wanted to publish a version of the Lexicon in book form are being sued by your heroine, J.K. Rowling.
SVA: Yeah, that's very true. I would never have wanted this. If I would've had a way to get around it or a way to have solved this before it turned into a lawsuit, it would have been wonderful. I wish it could've.
BBC: J.K. Rowling has accused you of plundering her work. How do you respond to that?
SVA: I wasn't in the courtroom when she said those things. Obviously, I was hurt. Very much. And so was my staff; we were crushed. You know, we've put an enormous amount of work and love into the site, and we've always been strong supporters of Ms. Rowling's work, of the books. I know in my particular case, I've been a librarian who's had to fight to keep people from taking the books off the shelves. You know, I spent a year of my life doing that. So to hear that kind of criticism was very, very hard.
BBC: J.K. Rowling has been quite supportive of fan writing on the internet in the past. So why do you think that she took particular exception to the Lexicon?
SVA: My sense was she felt like from the things she said, that there was too much taken directly from the books. And so, as I said, that's certainly something worth looking at.
BBC: So you would consider maybe changing the Lexicon, in order to make it acceptable to her?
SVA: Well, I offered that months and months ago, and said "Is there other edits we can make? Can we make changes?" And no, there was nothing offered at all. So unfortunately, that time could have been, at one point, and I'm hoping maybe that can happen again.
BBC: The judge has encouraged both parties to settle. Are you making progress on that?
SVA: Um, I obviously can't talk about that kind of thing in detail, but let me just say that both sides took that to heart. And so I have reason to hope that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.
BBC: It is the case that if the book's published, you'll earn money from it. Some people would say that you're earning money based on another person's work and original thought.
SVA: A lot of people, actually, make money on Harry Potter. Let's face it. A lot of fans make money on Harry Potter, in some cases quite a bit! You really can't say nobody but J.K. Rowling will ever make a penny on Harry Potter. I mean, it's amazing how much. I mean, we've got people who make wands. And they look just like the ones in the film, and of course they write Harry Potter and they wear a Harry Potter outfit and they sell them to people. You've got people that write wizard rock, which is rock music with all Harry Potter lyrics, and they do concerts and sell CDs. I mean, there are people around making money on Harry Potter. You've got websites that make quite a surprising amount of money! Uh, the Lexicon not being one of them. *chuckles* I think in court we worked out, we went through all the records and found out that the Lexicon has made less than $7000 in eight years. So we're not exactly raking it in. But I think it's worth mentioning that I, and my staff, when we were working on this were never thinking about it in terms of how much money we could make. One of the first things that happened after the lawsuit was filed was I had an email from one of the other editors who had done work on it, and she said "People will never believe that we didn't do this for money!" And I understand, they probably won't, but that's the truth! I mean, we weren't really thinking about it as a big huge money-maker. We were thinking of it as the answer to the requests we've had since 2003, "Please can you publish this in book form?" People wanted it in book form. So, you know, that's really beside the point, in a way, because it's really a matter of: Is this particular book all right under Fair Use in the genre that it is? I mean, we all know that that genre exists, and there's an acceptable way to do it, and that's what we need to figure out.
BBC: And it is, as the judge said, a complicated area of law.
SVA: Very, very murky. It's not clear. If it was clear this wouldn't be a big question that we're going through. But yeah, it's very much something which, because of the way the law is written, has to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
BBC: Are you optimistic?
SVA: I am optimistic... yes, I am optimistic. Exactly what I'm optimistic of, I'm not quite sure. What I would love to see is working together and and coming up with something that everybody's happy with. If the book comes out and Ms. Rowling feels like it's just the most horrible thing that ever could be, it wouldn't feel very good on my end either. You know, it was never our intention to do something like that. So again, my hope, what I would really want to have happen, is for the book to come out and for it to be in a form which was acceptable to everybody.