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?