J.K. Rowling was in New York yesterday to testify against Harry Potter Lexicon author Steven Vander Ark in her noble quest to prevent the publication of his comprehensively nerdy encyclopedia, based on his comprehensively nerdy Website, which she calls "wholesale theft of seventeen years of my hard work." By all accounts, hers was a masterful performance; not only did Rowling, fighting back tears, deftly manage to avoid revealing the hidden sexualities of any more beloved children's characters, she was able to ratchet up excitement for her own forthcoming Harry Potter encyclopedia (the proceeds for which will be donated to charity), convincingly brand Lexicon as "sloppy" and "atrocious" (the scant entry for "Ogre" reads, "Ron and Hermione think they see an ogre at Three Broomsticks," whereas a more complete definition would add, says Rowling, "an ogre in European folklore was a flesh-eating giant," obviously), and even take issue with Vander Ark's inane decision to arrange his book in alphabetical order ("What are you accessing in these A-to-Z's? Aren't you being suckered out of your hard-earned cash?") without anyone laughing.
Before, we figured Vander Ark would probably coast to an easy victory based on established fair-use laws and the fact that his book would by no means be the most copyright-infringing Harry Potter guide out there. But now we're not so sure. The Times says everyone in the room, probably so enraptured by the charming billionaire author, seemed to be competing to make "the wittiest Harry Potter references" (her lawyer apologized for speaking the name of Voldemort, and Vander Ark's attorney told the court that Rowling was trying to "make the Lexicon disappear from our world"). We can't even talk our way out of a speeding ticket!