(Recasts, adds byline, first Rowling comments from court hearing)
By Christine Kearney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling said Monday a bid by a fan to print an unofficial encyclopedic companion to the boy wizard series left her unsure if she had "the heart" to publish her own version.
Steve Vander Ark has written "The Harry Potter Lexicon," a 400-page reference book based on his popular fan Web site (www.hp-lexicon.org). Rowling and Warner Bros. are suing RDR Books, which planned to publish the volume last November.
Rowling, 42, has said she plans to write her own Harry Potter encyclopedia, which would include material that did not make it into the novels, and donate the proceeds to charity. The novels have sold more than 400 million copies.
"Mr. Vander Ark has gutted that book," Rowling, who wrote seven Harry Potter novels, told a New York court. "He has simply taken it and copied it ... It is sloppy, lazy and it takes my work wholesale."
"He's taken my creation ... I did feel an act of betrayal," said Rowling. She said she was not sure if she had "the will or the heart" to now publish her own encyclopedia.
She said the possibility that parents would part with their well earned cash to buy Vander Ark's book was "a travesty."
The lawsuit filed in October names independent U.S. publisher RDR Books and unidentified persons. It seeks to stop publication and requests damages for copyright and federal trademark infringement and any profits to be gained.
Warner Bros. is a unit of Time Warner Inc, which owns the copyright and trademark rights to the Potter books.
"This is a case about the massive wholesale copying," Dale Cendali, a lawyer for Rowling and Warner Bros., told U.S. District Court Judge Robert Patterson in opening arguments. "The lexicon is drawn almost entirely from Ms. Rowling's work."
"This is not a case about money," she said, adding "the Harry Potter books encourage reading" and the lexicon "does not reflect well on the Harry Potter series." Cendali said it was not a research guide as it lacked original material.
RDR Books has said Vander Ark, a librarian, had spoken at Harry Potter academic conferences in Britain, Canada and the United States and that a timeline he created was used by Warner Bros. in DVD releases of the Harry Potter films.
The company and Vander Ark have said the book would only promote the sale of Rowling's work and that Vander Ark's Web site, used by 25 million visitors, had been called "a great site" by Rowling herself.
"The lexicon is not a plausible substitute for any of the Harry Potter novels," said Anthony Falzone, a lawyer for RDR Books. "It's simply not plausible to argue that Ms. Rowling's sales will be hurt in any meaningful way."
He said Vander Ark's Harry Potter interest began "as a labor of love" and his expertise was so sought after that Warner Bros. flew him to the set of the fifth Harry Potter movie and used his lexicon everyday during production.
"It is, above all else, a reference guide," Falzone said. "Profit was never the point." (Editing by Michelle Nichols and xxxx)