Who owns quodpot?

I’ve been following the court battle between J. K . Rowling/Warner Brothers and the owner of The Harry Potter Lexicon with mixed feelings. My first thought was that the idea that words can be owned by anyone is ridiculous.

But when the words in question are all original works, it changes the equation. And the fact that Rowling has hitherto been so open and supportive of Potter fans and some derivative works puts her in a different category than your typical litigious big media company. I’m inclined to think she should be the final arbiter of who presents Potter content, in any form.

The nearest analogy I can think of is the Star Wars universe, which contains books, movies, and many other derivative works, and which is tightly controlled by Lucas and his minions.

This raises the question of who owns all the content on Wordie. I never bothered to write terms of service, because they just seem dumb. No one reads them, and in the few instances of abuse that have arisen, I’ve used technical solutions, like blocking IP addresses, rather than legal ones. I did consider having a TOS which, in the small print, gave all rights to all content to Bill Shatner, or perhaps Abe Vigoda, and may do that retroactively. Thoughts?

8 thoughts on “Who owns quodpot?

  1. Excellent! I’ve been asked about my “exit strategy” for Wordie, which leaves me hyperventilating with laughter. But now I have an answer: I’m waiting for reesetee’s insurrection 🙂

  2. Well, don’t start packing yet. I forgot to tell you that I know nothing about teh Interwebs.

  3. I think giving rights to Safire would be funny. Or to the people of some third world country, like Papua New Guinea.

    As for Harry Potter, I think Rowling is way out of line. Does this mean we are no longer allowed to publish “unauthorized guides”? When you’re a writer, you put your words out there to be used by authors, for good or for ill. The most you can ask is to receive credit for what you’ve done, which Rowling is certainly getting here.

  4. Maybe we should assign all rights to everything on Wordie to Rowling. Since she wants to own all the words so badly.

    But Safire? My nemesis‽ Never!

  5. I think giving the rights to JKR would be pretty hilarious.

    but seanahan, PNG is not 3rd world.

  6. I have recently refused to join a site somewhat similar to Wordie precisely because the fine print of the TOS says all words and content belong to them. So in the case that dream up a funny phrase, and they happen to sell it to a company as a brand name, I’m knutted. And in general I don’t believe in the private ownership of words.

  7. I would like to posit the solution used by Humperdinck Jehoshaphat Aloysius Stuyvesant van Dumpty where his will said simply ‘All to wife’! (And greetings from gangerh). (And felicitations on baby).

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