Harry Potter Plagiarized? JK Rowling Heads To Court
Author J.K Rowling is no stranger to controversy, but this new case involving charges that she plagiarized the idea for her enormously successful Harry Potter series is gaining some legs.
In the past there have been rumblings that J.K. Rowling stole the idea for the Harry Potter series from other places, but none of those charges ever held any mustard. There has also been plenty of controversy about the content of the books. Over the years religious organizations and parent’s groups have decried the books subject matter with claims that it is too dark for its target audience and that it leads kids into the study of witchcraft. If anything those controversies most likely helped the book’s sales. If you tell kids they shouldn’t be allowed to read something, you know they are going to want to read it.
But these new charges could be far more damaging to JK Rowling and the children of Hogwarts. This ruling comes right as the hype machine for the next Harry Potter movie (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) is kicking into high gear. The final Harry Potter book has been split into two movies with the first opening in just a few weeks. The book involved in the lawsuit is a little known book titled “The Adventures of Willy the Wizard — No. 1 Livid Land.” The book was written by Adrian Jacobs and was published in 1987. Mr. Jacobs died in London in 1997. His estate is claiming that Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” copied large portions of Jacob’s book.
JK Rowling and her publisher Bloomsbury moved to have the case thrown from court for lack of merit, but in a surprise the judge refused to dismiss the plagiarism lawsuit saying that the claims had a chance of success and that it deserved to be heard in a proper hearing. The one-day hearing has yet to be scheduled.
Paul Allen, the trustee for Jacob’s estate, is delighted that the case will move forward. He has said that if the case is allowed into court Rowling and Bloomsbury will be required to explain the similarities between the two works. They may also be forced to disclose key manuscripts and notebooks which they have previous not released.
Worldwide the Harry Potter books have sold more than 400 million copies. The movies have brought in an estimated box office of 1.7 billion dollars and growing. The final two installments show no sign of slowing down and could actually be the biggest box office sellers of all the movies since they are finishing the story.
The Harry Potter books have taken Rowling from being unemployed to being the richest woman in the U.K with an estimated net worth of 1 billion dollars. It has also turned the three then unknown actors tapped to play the lead roles in the movies into three of the most recognizable actors on the planet. In 2009 Emma Watson (who plays Hermione) was the highest grossing actress in the world thanks to Harry Potter.
If Allen succeeds in his lawsuit and proves that the Harry Potter empire was built upon material plagiarized from Jacobs the payout could be in the tens of millions or maybe even higher. As Harry Potter is gearing up for his final showdown with Lord Voldemort on the big screen Rowling and Bloomsbury are preparing for a hearing, which – if lost – could do much more damage to the Harry Potter universe than any bolt of lightning from a magic wand.
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