Word is now spreading about the news that Scottish author JK Rowling and Bloomsbury Publishing have failed in their bid to prevent an unwanted copyright infringement action getting to court. A a 10-day Chancery Division trial is now expected, following today’s ruling by Mr Justice Kitchin here that Paul Allen, the trustee of the estate of Willy the Wizard author Adrian Jacobs, has an arguable copyright infringement claim against the author and publisher of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
JK Rowling and Bloomsbury (her UK publisher) both deny all of the claims and argued that, since they were groundless, they should be dismissed summarily. However, after an interim hearing in July which lasted three days, Kitchin J has now concluded that the claim may succeed and would not therefore be dismissed at this early stage. … more here
The New York Times adds:
J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, still cannot make a years-old plagiarism charge disappear. A lawsuit in a British court accusing Ms. Rowling of partly copying a 1987 book, “The Adventures of Willy the Wizard,” by Adrian Jacobs, may go to trial now that a judge has turned down an application by Ms. Rowling’s lawyers to dismiss the case, according to Reuters.
Mr. Jacobs’s estate has said that Ms. Rowling’s fourth book in the Potter series, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” published in 2000, took plot lines from the “Willy the Wizard” book. Ms. Rowling has vehemently denied the accusation, saying that she had not heard of Mr. Jacobs, who died in 1997, until the copyright claim was made in 2004 and had not read his book. A judge overseeing the case in Britain agreed that the assertions by Mr. Jacobs’s estate are “improbable” but refused to dismiss the suit. Ms. Rowling’s American publisher, Scholastic, said it considers the assertions to be “completely without merit.”
Curious Potter fans can check out Willy the Wizard here.
By way of updating my earlier post Is Harry Potter making a Parody of Copyright Law? the BBC has the following report:
A court in the Indian capital Delhi has rejected a lawsuit filed by Hollywood company Warner Bros against the makers of a Bollywood film Hari Puttar. … The court said Warner Bros could have brought the case three years ago and said readers could easily distinguish Hari Puttar from Harry Potter. The court decision means the film can now be released in India. …
“The case has been dismissed. The court said that Warner Bros had known the title of the film since 2005 and had delayed bringing the case to court until the last moment,” lawyer Pratibha Singh was quoted by news agency AFP as saying. …
A little while ago on this blog, I asked Is Harry Potter making a Parody of Copyright Law? One of the points I made was that J.K. Rowling and her publishers had sought to prevent the publication of The Harry Potter Lexicon. Now, from the Wall Street Journal Law Blog comes news that they have succeeded in this endeavour: (more…)
Disney and the Joyce Estate have competition in the world of ridiculous over-enforcement of copyright. Step forward Harry Potter. There have been many, many legal disputes involving Harry, and his creator, J.K. Rowling. For example, several years ago now, Tim Wu wrote an entertaining piece in Slate called Harry Potter and the International Order of Copyright (with added links):
J.K. Rowling and her publisher [Bloomsbury / Scholastic] have launched an aggressive worldwide legal campaign against the unauthorized Potter takeoffs … [they] can use the courts in [TRIPS]/WTO-compliant countries to club her Potter rivals.
Moreover, Warner Bros (the studio behind the Harry Potter movies) takes stern action against cybersquatters on Potter-like domain names (including an infamous example where they threatened 15-year-old Harry Potter fan, Claire Field, with legal action, though they eventually backed down). More recently, the same plaintiffs have sought to prevent the publication of The Harry Potter Lexicon (see its earlier – and continuing – website incarnation here). While we await judgment, you could do worse than check out Neil Gaiman‘s comments on the case.
Now comes news from Legal Eagle on Skeptic Lawyer that Warners are taking on the might of Bollywood, seeking to restrain the distribution of an Indian movie called Hari Puttar – A Comedy of Terrors. Legal Eagle wonders “if they are going to attempt a breach of trademark claim? Or will it be a passing off claim?” Reflecting this, Skeptic Lawyer assets that it “couldn’t be copyright, as they’d skate by as ‘parody’.” (more…)