Harry Potter and the Chancery Judge

For those who have an interest in the copyright travails of Harry Potter, about which I have blogged previously (1 | 2 | 3), Jeremy Phillips has an interesting blogpost on The 1709 Blog:

Wizard gears up for ten-day tangle with boy magician

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:

British Judge Refuses to Throw Out Suit Accusing Rowling of Plagiarism

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.”

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Curious Potter fans can check out Willy the Wizard here.