Harry Potter and the Unending Litigation

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Harry Potter and the Unending Litigation

Mon Nov 05, 2007 @ 09:20PM PST

Posted by Matthew Heller

Harrypotter The magical powers of Harry Potter may not be enough to stop the tide of litigation over J.K. Rowling's monster-selling book series. At least six Potter-related lawsuits have been filed since July. In the latest complaint (click here to read in full), Warner Bros., which has released movies based on five of the seven books, is trying to block the imminent publication of a 400-page Potter encyclopedia. The "Harry Potter Lexicon," to be published Nov. 28 by RDR Books of Muskegon, Mich., is "in direct contravention to Ms. Rowling's repeatedly stated intention to publish her own companion books to the series and donate proceeds of such books to charity," according to the suit, filed in Manhattan by Dale Cendali of O'Melveny & Myers.

RDR isn't backing down, saying it will go ahead with publication. "Lexicon" is no more than a hard-copy version of the hp-lexicon.org website, it claims, which fans hail as the definitive encyclopedia of Potter-iana and has been praised by Rowling herself.

"[T]here is a big difference between the innumerable Harry Potter fan sites' latitude to discuss the 'Harry Potter' works in the context of free, ephemeral websites and unilaterally repacking those sites for sale in an effort to cash in monetarily on Ms. Rowling's creative works," argues Warner Bros., which is seeking injunctive relief and unspecified damages.

A rundown of other recent Potter suits:

  1. Publisher Scholastic Inc. accused a distributor of prematurely releasing the most recent (and last) Potter epic, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," to bookstores.
  2. A Texas senior citizen claimed Warners ripped off the "Angel Genie" character he created. (That case was thrown out last week, with the judge noting that the plaintiff, Hill Sanders III, is "a frequent litigant whose prior cases have been dismissed.")
  3. Rowling and Warners are suing a community group in India for erecting a massive structure in the shape of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for a religious festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil.

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