[Originally written long before OSC went super-homophobe.]
I’ve read some of OSC’s books (Firefly, Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus) and liked them. But now I can’t stomach the idea of giving this man any more of my money. Why?
Here’s the timline.
JK Rowling starts publishing Harry Potter books.
Some guy on the web makes a great web encyclopedia about the Potterverse.
Rowling doesn’t tell him to stop. In fact she admits that she uses it to look stuff up from time to time.
Web guy decides to publish his encyclopedia as a print book.
Rowling sues, claiming copyright infringement, she feels emotionally devastated, blah blah blah.
Orson Scott Card writes a really mean and nasty article about Rowling’s decision to do this.
And that’s what clinched my decision.
Did Rowling draw on other sources for her books? Yes.
Are some elements from her books similar to Card’s Ender series? Yes.
Did Rowling like this guy’s site just fine when it was just a website? Yes.
Is his website a copyright infringement of her work? Possibly (I haven’t read the site, and I’m not an expert on what defines “fair use,” though I have read up on it). The courts will have to decide.
If the site IS a copyright violation, is Rowling within her rights to allow it to exist on the web but not in print? Yes.
If the site IS a copyright violation, is Rowling within her rights to shut it down on the web as well? Yes.
If the website is ruled as NOT a copyright violation, does the guy have a right to publish it in print? Yes.
Legally, has she lost any footing by allowing it to exist for so long on the web before taking action? No, not one bit. You don’t lose copyrights by not actively protecting them (trademarks are a different story). Even if a site had her entire books scanned for free download, and she knew about it and did nothing, 20 years from now she could sue them to take them down, and win because you don’t lose your copyrights until you die or voluntarily give them up in a legal declaration.. Her tacit approval of the website doesn’t mean she has given up ANY control over her work.
Does Card make snide comments in his article? Yes.
Does he put words in her mouth and claim to know what she’s thinking? Yes.
Does he make fallacious arguments as if they were fact? Yes.
Does he show a misunderstanding of copyright law and argue as if he were knowledgeable? Yes.
Does he make personal attacks against her? Yes.
And it disgusts me. He’s being a jerk and an ignorant oaf, Here are my rebuttals to some of his comments, if you care to read them.
OSC: Once you publish fiction, Ms. Rowling, anybody is free to write about it, to comment on it, and to quote liberally from it, as long as the source is cited.
SKR: The court decides to what extent you can quote from a source and still have it be “fair use,” not you. And the court has ruled that 300 words out of a 200,000 word article is not “fair use,” so there’s no simple standard for it.
OSC: [Rowling admitted to using the site as a reference.] That means that Vander Ark created something original
OSC: He added value to the product.
SKR: If I burn a copy of the Fellowship of the Ring DVD and include my own commentary track talking about how the stories and movie influenced D&D, I’ve added value to the product, but it’s still a copyright violation.
OSC: Rowling has nowhere to go and nothing to do now that the Harry Potter series is over.
SKR: Except that she’s stated she’s going to create her own encyclopedia of the Potterverse. And donate the proceeds to charity.
OSC: Moreover, she is desperate for literary respectability.
SKR: Apparently OSC has developed the ability to read minds, or at least Rowling’s mind, because he knows her inner motivations for these actions.
OSC: It makes her insane. The money wasn’t enough. She wants to be treated with respect.
SKR: Personal attack. More mind-reading.
OSC: Now she is suing somebody who has devoted years to promoting her work and making no money from his efforts ? which actually helped her make some of her bazillions of dollars.
SKR: The “it’s free advertising for your work” excuse doesn’t mean it’s not a copyright violation.
OSC: People who hear about this suit will have a sour taste in their mouth about Rowling from now on.
SKR: Much as I do after reading this cheap shot from Card.
OSC: Her Cinderella story once charmed us. Her greedy evil-witch behavior now disgusts us. And her next book will be perceived as the work of that evil witch.
SKR: Wait, her “next book”? I thought she had “nothing to do now that the Harry Potter series is over”?
OSC: It’s like her stupid, self-serving claim that Dumbledore was gay.
SKR: Her “claim” that Dumbeldore was gay? Dumbeldore is her character. If she says he’s gay, he’s gay, there’s no “claim” about it.
OSC: She wants credit for being very up-to-date and politically correct.
SKR: More mind-reading.
OSC: but she didn’t have the guts to put that supposed “fact” into the actual novels, knowing that it might hurt sales.
SKR: Or perhaps she felt that Dumbeldore’s sexuality was (1) irrelevant to the storyline of defeating Voldemort, and (2) something she didn’t want to discuss in a children’s book? Very few characters in the series can be positively affirmed as heterosexual (point at the married ones and the ones hitting puberty and going loopy over the opposite sex), why call out Dumbeldore as gay if he’s not actually dating anyone? And as my sister pointed out (3) the book is from Harry’s perspective and he doesn’t find out about it during the course of the series, thus there’s no reason to mention it in the series, so it’s not surprising she mentioned it outside the books.
OSC: What a pretentious, puffed-up coward.”
SKR: What an arrogant prick.
OSC: When I have a gay character in my fiction, I say so right in the book.”
SKR: When was the last time you wrote a children’s book, Card? Until you write a children’s book and put a gay character in it, your point is irrelevant. And do you still believe we should keep anti-homosexuality laws in place to force homosexuals who wish to engage in homosexual behavior to “do so discretely” so as to “not to shake the confidence of the community”?
OSC: Rowling has now shown herself to lack a brain, a heart and courage. Clearly, she needs to visit Oz.
SKR: And Card has now shown himself to lack tact, wit, and common courtesy. Clearly, he needs to revisit his Bible/Book of Mormon and learn about how good Christians are supposed to treat other people.
So he’s now off my reading list, which saddens me because I really loved Pastwatch.
(And FWIW, if you disagree with my beliefs to the extent that you don’t believe in buying my books, that’s perfectly fair. Of course, that doesn’t give you the right to download them for free….)