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Harry Potter and the Presentation of Power(point)

When I arrived at court this morning to cover the Lexicon case I was expecting something… different. Where were the hordes of fans? The line around the block? J. K. Rowling, after all, was making a public appearance. As far as venues go, I can now highly recommend the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse. First of all, they screen everyone for weapons, and then you have to check all of your electronic devices: No pesky cell phones going off by “accident.” While the courtroom was packed by the time proceedings began, I found a seat without a problem fifteen minutes before the trial was about to begin.


Hearing the case was Judge Robert P. Patterson who reminded me both in look and voice of John Houston circa Chinatown, and the two frazzled sketch artists that flitted in and out of the courtroom invoked Sybil Trelawney, professor of divination from the Potter films.

While Rowling did not sign any books, she did read a little and expounded upon her past. Presented as evidence were two new mamoth Potter tomes, both larger than any published to date: the questionable Lexicon and the exhibits for the case (they were almost equal in size!). What I got from Rowling’s testimony is that her issue with the Lexicon is not so much the copyright infringement but that it is “Sloppy and Lazy” work.

Shivers ran through the courtroom when Voldermort was introduced as exhibit 1. Fortunately it wasn’t he who’s name you really shouldn’t speak, even as a whisper or such, but the entry in the Lexicon. When the segment in question was put up on the big screen I was unimpressed. With Warner Bros. involved in this case, I really expected better special effects from their Power Point presentation and believe they missed a great opportunity to wow the judge here.

The day’s proceedings went from strange to stranger when, in what must be a new legal precedent, an Idiot’s Guide was used as an exhibit.

more as the story devlops

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