The Harry Potter Lexicon is a fan-created online website, an encyclopedia of the Harry Potter series.


The Harry Potter Lexicon, also known as HPL, was created by school librarian Steve Vander Ark.

It contains detailed information for all seven published Harry Potter books. The Lexicon lists characters, places, Creatures, spells, potions and magical devices, as well as analysing magical theory and other details of the series.

The Lexicon is credited as creating one of the first timelines of all events occurring in the Harry Potter universe. A similar timeline of events was adopted by Warner Bros. for inclusion with their Harry Potter film DVDs, and was accepted by author J. K. Rowling as conforming to her works.

The Lexicon is a winner of J.K. Rowling's Fan Site Award. Rowling said:[1]

This is such a great site that I have been known to sneak into an internet café while out writing and check a fact rather than go into a bookshop and buy a copy of Harry Potter (which is embarrassing). A website for the dangerously obsessive; my natural home.

Recently, Rowling has filed a lawsuit against RDR Books over the publication of Vander Ark's Lexicon in book form.[2] The lawsuit was heard in a New York court on 14 April 2008.[3] Whilst some sources refer to Vander Ark being sued, the lawsuit only actually names RDR books.[4][5]

The Lexicon also has its Spanish (El Diccionario de los Magos) and French (L'Encyclopédie Harry Potter) versions, with other languages in preparation.

The site has made approximately £3,000 in advertising revenue as of Oct 2007.[6]


The book The Harry Potter Lexicon was due to be released November 28, 2007. This book's purpose is to serve as an encyclopaedia counterpart to the Harry Potter series.

On October 31, 2007, J.K. Rowling along with Warner Bros. filed a lawsuit against RDR Books seeking an injunction against the upcoming book to be released by Vander Ark and HP-Lexicon.[7][8] The lawsuit states,

"The infringing book is particularly troubling as it is in direct contravention to Ms. Rowling's repeatedly stated intention to publish her own companion books to the series."[9]

This case went to bench trial in the New York Federal District Court of Judge Robert Patterson on April 14, 2008. RDR Books defence team, which includes the Fair Use Project at Stanford University Law School, has replied to the suit arguing:

"In support of her position Ms Rowling appears to claim a monopoly on the right to publish literary reference guides, and other non-academic research, relating to her own fiction. This is a right no court has ever recognised. It has little to recommend it. If accepted, it would dramatically extend the reach of copyright protection, and eliminate an entire genre of literary supplements: third party reference guides to fiction, which for centuries have helped readers better access, understand and enjoy literary works."[10]

Rowling stated that her efforts to halt the publishing of the Lexicon have been crushing her creativity, and said that she was not sure if she has "the will or the heart" to now publish her own encyclopedia.[11]

On the 8th of September 2008, Rowling won her copyright case against RDR Books.[12]

Lexicon publisher RDR Books said:

"We are encouraged by the fact the court recognised that as a general matter authors do not have the right to stop the publication of reference guides and companion books about literary works."

Judge Patterson said that reference materials were generally useful to the public but that in this case, Vander Ark went too far.

"While the Lexicon, in its current state, is not a fair use of the Harry Potter works, reference works that share the Lexicon's purpose of aiding readers of literature generally should be encouraged rather than stifled," he said.

He said he ruled in Ms. Rowling's favour because the "Lexicon appropriates too much of Rowling's creative work for its purposes as a reference guide".

External links

Notes and references

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