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Friday, May 02, 2008

Another Faulty Comparison

Orson Scott Card is not sympathetic with her case against the publisher of an unauthorized Harry Potter lexicon:

Well, heck, I feel like the plot of my novel Ender's Game was stolen by J.K. Rowling.

A young kid growing up in an oppressive family situation suddenly learns that he is one of a special class of children with special abilities, who are to be educated in a remote training facility where student life is dominated by an intense game played by teams flying in midair, at which this kid turns out to be exceptionally talented and a natural leader. He trains other kids in unauthorized extra sessions, which enrages his enemies, who attack him with the intention of killing him; but he is protected by his loyal, brilliant friends and gains strength from the love of some of his family members. He is given special guidance by an older man of legendary accomplishments who previously kept the enemy at bay. He goes on to become the crucial figure in a struggle against an unseen enemy who threatens the whole world.

This paragraph lists only most prominent similarities between Ender's Game and the Harry Potter series. My book was published in England years before Rowling began writing about Harry Potter. Rowling was known to be reading widely in speculative fiction during the era after the publication of my book.

I can get on the stand and cry, too, Ms. Rowling, and talk about feeling "personally violated."

The difference between us is that I actually make enough money from Ender's Game to be content, without having to try to punish other people whose creativity might have been inspired by something I wrote.

It's an entertaining screed, but there's just one problem: it has nothing to do with the lawsuit in question. The case involves not the borrowing of somebody else's plot, but the for-profit publication of an encyclopedia about an author's specific literary creations. It's one thing if I write about a giant monster that repeatedly defends Dallas from other giant monsters and inflicts lots of collateral damage in the process; it's another if I start selling Godzillapedia without Toho Group's permission.

At FindLaw, Julie Hilden itemizes all the legal issues.


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