How Long Do Authors Own Their Work?



This may be old news, so forgive me if you’ve seen or read this 100 times. The other day, I read an article written by the fantastic people over at Mental Floss. It focused on 12 things we’ve learned about the Harry Potter universe since the series wrapped up. Most of these things are new content that J.K. Rowling revealed in interviews, on Pottermore, or in some similar fashion. For those of you who now want to read this article, here’s the link: 12 Post-Potter Revelations J.K. Rowling Has Shared

You’ll also remember that I posted last week about the new Potter short story Rowling recently wrote for Pottermore. Written in the form of Quidditch World Cup Commentary by Rita Skeeter, we were given new glances into the lives of Harry and friends, now adults, as they arrived to watch the Cup.

So what’s the big deal? Well, it’s not a big deal…unless you think Rowling should stop adding new content to the universe. Apparently, some Potter fans don’t agree with some of the new revelations and want the series to be left alone. They don’t want Rowling rethinking the Harry/Ginny relationship or pairing Neville with Hannah Abbott when we all know he and Luna were supposed to end up together. Am I right?

Well, this made me start thinking about the ownership question. Exactly how long should authors contribute content to a series or universe that is officially finished? At some point, do the readers take over? When an author pens the final word, is it over? Is new content considered canon? This has been debated before, but it keeps popping up. How much control does an author have over the universe they created?

So here are my thoughts, short and sweet. Feel free to disagree if you want. In my humble opinion, the author created the universe. He or she had the talent and imagination to pen a world that swept readers away. And even after the series has finished, the author has more content to share. As a reader, I want to know all of it. We don’t often get an inside look at things the author changed, passages that almost didn’t exist, or backstory that didn’t make it into a published book. I think it’s an absolute privilege that authors want to continue to share insights and create new content for something I love.

If I decide at the end of the story that Neville marries Luna, great. But since J.K. paired Luna and Rolf Scamander, that’s canon. She owns the universe. My ending might work nicely as fanfic. But my work isn’t canon, and will never be. As long as J.K. keeps investing in the series and universe, her word is final. She created it, she owns it. That’s all there is to it.

What do you think?





Filed under Jancee's Thoughts, News

3 responses to “How Long Do Authors Own Their Work?

  1. Well, as far as Rolf and Hannah are concerned, those pairings were made years ago in the family tree on Rowling’s personal website. Before the 7th and 8th movies (and the Neville/Luna ship) even existed. So people getting upset about that now is just silly.

    I tend to agree with you about an author’s right to cannon, but I do understand the need for readers to create the futures of their favorite characters in their minds after finishing the book. In my opinion, if you don’t want to know, don’t read the new “revelations.”

    For instance, I’ve always believed that Albus Potter went on to be in Slytherin, and the animosity between the houses was decreased due to the Potter kids. If Rowling came out and said otherwise, I’d be sad. But, I’d still believe she has a right to say what happens in her own world.

    Thought provoking post, Jancee! From the title, I thought you were going to talk about copywrite laws. LOL


    • I love that fanfiction is such a great way for readers to add their content to an established universe. There is such a freedom in that. And I was just using the pairings I listed as my own personal examples – I was that person who shipped Harry/Hermione and Neville/Luna. But of course I will accept whatever Rowling creates, because she is the master of the Potter universe. It would be refreshing to see a Potter in another house, bringing unity at Hogwarts. That’s a really good theory! 🙂

      And no, no copyright laws. Lol. Even after library school, I’m afraid I’m still a bit muddled on the topic.


  2. Pingback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? | Jancee Reads

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