How does J.K. Rowling do this to people? The beloved author convinced an American court to hear her complaints of factual errors about an imaginary world, in a proposed encyclopedia of her Harry Potter series. Then, testifying in New York yesterday, she somehow got her attorney to apologize for uttering the words "Lord Voldemort" in court, since the Potter character is "he who must not be named," you see. "Forgive me for speaking the name," said the attorney, Dale Cendali.

Granted, Rowling has many other complaints, first among them copyright infringement, and her attorney may have been having a bit of fun with the "Voldemort" apology. But Rowling still seems to have performed something of a magic trick, turning a relatively straightforward publishing case into a forum on her charitable contributions (her profits, unlike the defendant's, will be donated); on her own plans for a Harry Potter encyclopedia (in the works for 10 years) and on alphabetical order ("What are you accessing in these A-to-Z's? Aren't you being suckered out of your hard-earned cash?").

The author of the encyclopedia Rowling is trying to stop, Harry Potter's Lexicon, once received an award from Rowling for his Potter website, and Rowling has admitted using his site to check her own facts while writing. But she accused the author of plagiarism and shoddy scholarship:

She claims the author has lifted large chunks of her own language without quotation marks. "I believe that this book constitutes the wholesale theft of 17 years of my hard work," she testified...

The entry under Remus Lupin, she said, missed the opportunity to comment on the etymology of the name as a "double allusion" to the character's being a werewolf, since in Roman mythology Remus was raised by wolves, and Lupin derived from lupine.

She also objected to what she called the book's "facetious asides," like a comment about whether Hagrid could fit into a booth at McDonald's.