Cover to Cover #306B: Inspiration and Copyrights

Voicemail: Lejon sheds some background on the book Tales Before Narnia, and Stackpole expands with some more reading he'd done about the collection. And that leads to a discussion about the use and meaning of "inspired by".

Submitting Listener comments: If you have any suggestions or comments, please let us know!

Listener review: Mike liked this review so much, he's running it a second time! Hear Princess Eve's review of the audiobook of Orson Scott Card's Empire.

Discussion: Mike Stackpole brings up the lawsuit that J. K. Rowling brought against the creator of the Harry Potter Lexicon, which began as a fan website and is now being published as a book (she's suing because of the book, but loved the content of the website).

The discussion runs through authors' rights and public domain intellectual property and fair use, and a lot more.

Link: BBC: Rowling defiant on Potter rights
Promo: The Scapecast


  1. I think that it is important to remember that never intended this book to be a literary critique. In fact, most the WB/JKRs case has been based on the fact that they think he intended it to be.

    The fact is, Steve created it to be a refrence guide. Something that people could use to understand and organize Jo's world with. Did you forget who Theodore Nott was now that he's been mentioned here in book seven? Well, don't bother skimming six previous books, I'll just pop open this encyclopedic guide and find out. Don't remember what a specific spell or potion does, because you aren't obsessive enough to take time to memorize it all? Well, by all means don't hang your head in shame! Just open this book.

    But what I find particularly interesting is the fact that Jo criticizes quite a lot for incorrect etymologies. Steve had marked 'Alohomora' as being derived from the Hawaiin word 'Aloha' meaning both hello and goodbye. Yet, she says, it is really derived from a Sidiki (sic) word meaning 'favorable to theives'. First off, this is Steve's own work, he isnt' channeling the author or her inspirations. Simply because he got something wrong doesn't make his ideas any less important. And secondly, even knowing the origins of the word (Sikidi, the 'd' and 'k' are inverted on the Court transcripts) it is quite hard to track down that word origin. In fact, I've not been able to find anything on the Sikidi language at all. The fact of the matter is that it is Steve's work, whether aligned with the authors intentions or not, that are going into that book. And, even if his thoughts are not accurate, they are still his thoughts and research that are going in.

  2. As I listen to Dragon Page I am often struck by the differences between my entirely secular UK outlook at the American outlook, which seems very Christian-oriented to me.

    I actually couldn't believe it when a voicemail caller mentioned the Rapture as if it were fact in a call-in about christian-friendly fiction, and then no-one commented on it. In the UK such a caller would be seen as cultist or deluded.

    This raises some serious issues in my mind about how the perception of any particular work of fiction varies from country to country around the world. Perhaps another incident similar to what happened with Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses" is always ready to happen.

    I dislike the notion of "safe" fiction but agree that anything that stretches a person's mind and broadens his horizons is a good thing. I would like to think that any dedicated Christian would be able to read anything without fear of losing her faith. I dislike the avoidance of knowledge. Tolerance and understanding are the order of the day, especially now people from different religions and cultures are being brought closer by technology.

  3. You guys might find interesting Neil Gaiman's comments on the Rowlings/ Vander Ark situation. He's made 3 blog posts that include material on this issue. Gaiman has gone to court before to defend his own copyright, and he's also produce (and permitted)unauthorized books before, so his perspective is interesting:

  4. Brent Kellmer says

    At least part of the time. I've enjoyed a number of his things, both short story and novel, and I personally think that Ender's Game earned the awards it got.

    So when I was listening to Princess Eve's review of Card's book Empire, I thought I'd at least give it a try. (For the record, they had the review to try and be even handed, since they'd bashed the book a few weeks before because Card injected his politics too much into it).

    I was willing to give it a chance, even acknowledging that having the hero be a conservative doesn't in and of itself make it a bad plot. Hell, half the country is conservative. (If he'd made the hero a bushite, that'd be a different matter, since I won't sit still for a hero that's an idiot).

    And frankly, I can't put up with the book anymore -- and I'm not even very far into it.

    It isn't the conservative leanings of the hero that annoy the hell out of me -- it's Card's skewed (and highly politicized) sense of reality.

    I put it away because near the beginning he has an extended scene that takes place at Princeton, where the main character (who's a soldier and conservative) has continual run-ins with his professors. Card has the soldier being very reasonable -- no problem with that, not a bit. But he has the professors being such unreasonable, bigotted assholes that it's astounding. Card puts the blame essentially on the professors far-left liberal political attitudes, which is crap.

    Okay, I might quibble about the issue of all the professors being ridiculously far left -- I've attended 3 universities, and gone to grad school in a relatively conservative area, and my experience is that while university faculty tends to be a bit more liberal than not (education often does that to you), it is never, ever a uniform thing. You get liberals and conservatives, lots and lots of moderates, and extremists of every type. Okay, point one against Card -- his portrayal of university life is stupidly unrealistic and plainly based on his own political attitude.

    What capped it off, though, was that he had the professors basically all ganging up on the soldier and verbally attacking him in the middle of classes. What a load of crap! In all the classes I've ever been in, I have seen only one example of a professor actively berating a student like that, and it wasn't anything like what Card portrays. That sort of thing may have (and I'm speaking hypothetically) occurred in some places during the height of the Vietnam war, but then the country was so radically split and polarized around a specific subject (the war) that many injustices occurred on all sides. (We're dramatically polarized now as well, but in a different way, much more like Germany on the brink of Kristallnacht). And that Vietnam-type polarization doesn't occur in the book, so it doesn't make any sense, other than as a reflection of Card's attitudes. I can see -- maybe -- one professor doing something like that, but not in the massive, almost organized fashion that Card presents.

    Basically, I dropped the book because it's stupidly unrealistic, even if only in this portion (since I didn't get farther). And clearly -- although he denies it in the afterward -- the book is strongly based in his own political attitudes. The outcome and the plot may not be, but the world of the novel clearly reads otherwise.