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Commentary: Respecting Rowling

Posted by: Melissa
June 19, 2003, 07:55 AM

I know Melissa has already spoke to this, but I felt I must chime in on Film Jerk's editorial. It's been quite a long, hectic and frankly emotionally draining week so here's the vent in the form of my response:

While I appreciate where you are coming from, I'm afraid I wholeheartedly disagree with your position. In the movie industry, there are screenwriters, directors, producers, cast & crew. Plenty of opportunity to leak bits and pieces of the movie. In the book industry, there are editors, reviewers who have access to the book.

However, Ms. Rowling has made it quite clear that NO ONE (except those who must read the book ) should read the book before 6/21, 12:01am BST. She has kept the book even from her own child and husband. Only a handful of people have read the book - the head of Bloomsbury, Rowling's editor at Bloomsbury, an editor at Scholastic, Jim Dale (who read for the audio version) and Mary GranPre who illustrated the US version. I don't believe even her agent or lawyers have read the book. In fact, each time alleged spoilers are released...only the editors can verify the truthfulness of said information.

Rowling's one wish was expressed yesterday when she made a statement to those who stole 7,680 copies of her book from a truck headed to a warehouse - "Please don't spoil it for my readers." A majority of the Harry Potter fan community is of the same mindset - quite different from, say, Star Wars or LOTR fans. We don't want to know ANYTHING until we can all experience it together. Through a series of small communities created through Harry Potter news, fan fiction, and canon we have bonded with fellow fans all over the world and, in a way, we feel tied to Rowling through story. We don't want to know and my site won't post anything unless it comes from Bloomsbury or Scholastic (or in case of the audio clip, Random House).

I can't speak to the legalities of the situation because I rely on advice from TLC Editor Heidi Tandy who is an Intellectual Property lawyer. However Ms. Rowling went so far as to get an injunction on anyone in the UK printing anything about the book until the embargo is lifted. The NYDN felt they had a loophole because they printed it in their paper edition, which is not readable by the British public - however, their online version is and that's where they printed a copy of the article where the whole world was able to read it.

As a FAN site, TLC has chosen to respect Rowling's wishes to the latter. We have a good relationship with her representatives and feel that will better serve our fans than blatantly ignoring her wishes. I believe her actions are quite within the letter of the law and am very disappointed that the NYDN, AICN and other various publications have chosen to actively publicize their printing of spoilers making it VERY difficult for folks like us who read EVERYTHING Harry Potter to keep our eyes away from it.

If I could do a memory charm, I would.

Nonetheless, I think your editorial comes across as a bit self-righteous and overdramatic as this situation is quite different than any we've encountered before.

Thanks for taking the time to write us and send us your editorial. I'll be sure to have Heidi respond when she has a moment to explain the legalities of the situation.

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