It seems that the court trial involving Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and Steven Jan Vander Ark, author of an encyclopedia fan site he hopes to turn into a book, is turning into quite the sob fest. The NY Times writes more on it here, but I'm just going to go straight into my own opinions on this one.
I am a big Harry Potter fan--I think the books are fantastic and as a writer, I've always had a lot of respect for J.K. Rowling, not only due to her immense imagination, but her philanthropic efforts as well. I'm having a tough time rendering a decision on this one, though, because Rowling's protection of her series strikes me as a little selfish. Her explanation for not wanting Vander Ark to go to print with his book is that she intended on publishing a similar encyclopedia and donating her proceeds to charity. I can't help but toss aside that excuse, though. It doesn't really hold water. I've seen intense Harry Potter fanatics in action (I went to get the last novel at Barnes and Noble on the night before..I know, I know) and they are a doting and loyal group. I'm sure that anything Rowling publishes will be eaten up in a second by that crew. Keeping that in mind, there is certainly room for someone like Vander Ark, another devoted fan, to put some more Potter paraphernalia out there. I mean, seriously, J.K.--do you think he's going to make that much of a fortune from it? Don't you think most people are going to prefer simply visiting his website rather than buying the book? That is, unless he plans to take it down, which I don't think is true. Regardless, my point is that this guy is just a fan who wants to reach out to other fans with a venture he's worked hard on for years. Just a few years ago, she even went as far as to publicly endorse his site.
Bottom line: I know Harry Potter is your brain child, J.K., but this guy and his book are harmless. Don't bring out the big guns on this one. I have a feeling it will only paint you in an unflattering light.