''Harry Potter'' author J.K. Rowling testified in court on Monday, saying a small publisher's proposed encyclopedia based on her novels ''constitutes wholesale theft''

(FROM AP) ? Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling testified on Monday (April 14) in a Manhattan federal court that a proposed encyclopedia based on her book series ”constitutes wholesale theft of 17 years of my hard work.” In an emotional plea to the court, Rowling said that the ordeal, which began last fall when Michigan publisher RDR Books announced that it was publishing a print version of the popular fan website The Harry Potter Lexicon, has caused her to stop writing the new novel she’s been working on. ”It’s really decimated my creative work over the last month,” she said. ”Again, it’s very hard to describe to someone who’s not engaged in creative writing, but you lose the threads, you worry if you will be able to pick them up again in exactly the same way.” She also testified that she does not expect to complete her own version of a Potter encyclopedia for two to three years, saying that if the RDR-published lexicon goes to print, ”I’m not at all convinced that I would have the will or the heart to continue,” she said.

In his opening statement, RDR lawyer Anthony Falzone said the book, written by the Lexicon website’s founder, Steven Vander Ark, would serve as a reference guide, calling it an effort ”to organize and discuss the complicated and very elaborate world of Harry Potter.” The publisher is arguing that Vander Ark’s own interpretation, creativity, and analysis makes the use of Rowling’s work a fair use allowable by law in the long tradition of literary reference guides. Rowling has openly praised the free Lexicon fan site, even commenting in interviews that she has relied on its catalog of characters, spells, magic potions, locations, and events while writing. Her objection came when RDR said it would make money off of her work. In court on Monday, Rowling explained that the Potter characters are too dear for her to allow the encyclopedia to be published without objection. ”I really don’t want to cry because I’m British, you know,” Rowling testified. ”You know, these books, they saved me, not just in the very obvious material sense, although they did do that…. I would have to say that there was a time when they saved my sanity.”

The trial will be decided by U.S. District Judge Robert Patterson Jr. The testimony and arguments are expected to last most of the week. (AP via Yahoo!)