JK Rowling Must Fend off Wizarding Plagiarism Attack

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on February 22, 2010 10:15 AM

Well, it's hardly on the scale of an assault from Voldemort, but it may be that J.K. Rowling is wishing she could fend off a this attack with a few swipes of a magic wand. According to a London Times Online report on February, 18, Rowling has been added to a suit, originally filed last year, accusing her of plagiarism. That is correct, according to the estate of the late author, Adrian Jacobs, Rowling may not be Harry's "onlie begetter."

In June of 2009, the estate of Adrian Jacobs, the creator of Willy the Wizard, filed a plagiarism and possible copyright infringement suit against Rowling's publishers, Bloomsbury Publishing. According to the Times Online, after discovering such an action would not be barred by a statute of limitations, faster than you can say royalties, the world famous creator of Harry Potter was added as a defendant. The suit is predicted to approach the the $1 billion range in potential damages.

According to plaintiff Paul Allen, trustee for the Jacobs estate, the author's self-published work features a wizard named Willy and contains striking resemblances to the fourth book in Rowling's Potter series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The plaintiff claims that the two wizards undergo the same type of year-long quest and competition to test their powers. 

Reuters reports that an earlier statement by the representatives for the plaintiff lays out the some of the specific similarities they find to be problematic. "Both Willy and Harry are required to work out the exact nature of the main task of the contest which they both achieve in a bathroom assisted by clues from helpers, in order to discover how to rescue human hostages imprisoned by a community of half-human, half-animal fantasy creatures," the statement said.

For her part, Rowling says the allegations are so much smoke and mirrors. The Times reports Rowling had never read nor heard of the book before the original claims surfaced back in 2004. With the world-wide audience for Willy approaching 5,000, it does seem plausible she may have overlooked him.

Rowling, however, is not unfamiliar with copyright infringement suits. In June 2008, she successfully she sued the former-librarian author of The Harry Potter Lexicon, for "plunder[ing]" her work. The Lexicon was later published, but in altered form.

In this court battle, which wizard will win? Kids of all ages, the smart money's on Harry.

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