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Harry Potter doesn’t beat Wizard Willy (yet)

29 October 2010

JK Rowling and her publisher Bloomsbury have failed to get summary judgment against the estate of Adrian Jacobs who is claiming that the Harry Potter novels infringe copyright in Jacobs’ Willy the Wizard novels by copying that book’s plot and themes.

Rowling and Bloomsbury claimed that Jacobs’ claim should be dismissed summarily, as (a) Rowling had not read Willy the Wizard, and (b) the plot and themes she had allegedly copied were too abstract to be protected by copyright.

The allegations of copying were complex, and the defendants had not disclosed Rowling’s drafts or of her agent’s diaries. Similarly, the judge strongly inclined to the view that no copyright subsisted in the plot and themes, but on neither point was the case clear enough to be suitable for summary judgment.

The matter may roll on to court – but with three firms of solicitors and six barristers involved, the loser could face a very large bill, and hopefully common sense will allow the matter to settle.

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