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Attorneys for JKR Continuing Battle Against Piracy of Harry Potter Books in China

Posted by: sue
August 19, 2007, 02:14 AM

Piracy of the Harry Potter novels continue to be a high priority issue for attorneys representing author J.K. Rowling, as Scotland on Sunday reports major efforts are at hand to try and stem the tide of fake and many illegal copies of the Harry Potter novels in the country of China. The paper details how widespread the problem is in China, noting how a group of students “working round the clock and eating nothing but instant noodles managed to get Deathly Hallows translated and online within hours of the English-language edition appearing in the shops.”

Also of concern are the many various versions of the Harry Potters being sold illegally on the streets, using creative writing to make a book such as “Harry Potter And The Chinese Empire. The novel blends Hogwarts characters, a bit of JRR Tolkien, and sheer imagination to create the impression it is a genuine Potter novel.”

The ‘Chinese Empire’ blends feverish writing by an unknown author, bits of martial arts epics, extracts from other fantasy works such as Lord Of The Rings, and random characters from Chinese literature with the Hogwarts characters.

The volumes are printed and bound and then sold by street-sellers at prices way below the authorised translated Harry Potter titles available in regular Chinese bookshops. The illegal copies have convincing-looking covers which can lure the unwary into thinking they are buying the real thing.

The real books sell in China for about £4, much cheaper than the equivalent price of a volume in the West, but still steep in a country where average annual incomes hover around the £900 mark.

Neil Blair, Rowling’s legal adviser, said: “We are aware of this one and we are taking action both through the local courts and by negotiating with the authorities in China to prevent violation of copyright. We are very pleased with the co-operation we are receiving from the authorities there.”

Readers will remember only last week a case was dismissed against a young teen fan in France who had posted online an illegal translation in French of the novel, and while that case was not pursued due to findings the fan was not motivated by financial concerns, the larger issue of copyright infringement involving these types of cases does remain for authors everywhere.

Mark Lambert, the chief executive officer of the Scottish Book Trust, said: “It’s not actually an issue of money, in this case, but it’s an issue of intellectual copyright and theft of the idea and using JK Rowling’s name in this way. And she is right to be concerned about this and to be taking action.

“This kind of thing, unauthorised sequels, has been happening before now. For example Star Trek fans write their own episodes online, as a tribute to the series. But this is very different, these volumes are being sold on the streets in order to profit from the name.”

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