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Another Lawsuit Alleges J.K. Rowling “Stole” Idea for Harry Potter

By Hanako M. Ricks

HollywoodNews.com: Once again, a publisher for the “Harry Potter” series is being sued for claims of copyright misappropriation by author J.K. Rowling. Last year, it was British publisher Bloomsbury; now it’s American publisher Scholastic.

The estate of Adrian Jacobs is claiming that J.K. Rowling copied certain details from “The Adventures Of Willy The Wizard – No 1 Livid Land” – written by Jacobs in 1987, when she wrote “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, which was released in 2000. The estate filed a claim last year in British court against Bloomsbury (with plans to later file suit against Rowling herself), stating that several key plot details were similar to the “Willy the Wizard”. Bloomsbury denied this claim, issuing this statement:

‘JK Rowling had never heard of Adrian Jacobs nor seen, read or heard of his book Willy the Wizard until this claim was first made in 2004 – almost seven years after the publication of the first book in the highly publicised Harry Potter series – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and after the publication of the first five books in the Harry Potter series. Willy the Wizard is a very insubstantial booklet running to 36 pages which had very limited distribution. The central character of Willy the Wizard is not a young wizard and the book does not revolve around a wizard school. This claim was first made in 2004 by solicitors in London acting on behalf of Adrian Jacobs’ son who was the representative of his father’s estate and who lives in the United States. The claim was unable to identify any text in the Harry Potter books which was said to copy Willy the Wizard. This claim is without merit and will be defended vigorously.

Several similar lawsuits have been brought over the past few years, all so far have been judged to be without merit and dismissed. Should this suit have a similar result, let’ hope this will mean the end to other frivolous suits in the future.

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  • July 16, 2010 | Permalink |

    Hanako-Why assume that the Willy Wizard lawsuit is frivolous? Hollywood News I know you are a big Potter fan-we all are-but that is not to say that Jo Rowling didn’t take ideas and storylines from elsewhere. You publish the Bloomsbury side of the suit and are biased by your own admission. Well I ask you to be open minded. The Jacobs book was written thirteen years before and the whole writ is online at your rival at http://thresq.hollywoodreporter.com/2010/07/harry-potter-willy-wizard.html
    Read it for yourself-it is shorter than a Harry Potter book and come on Hanako be fair!
    Read the writ and then tell your followers if you who are a strong Potter fan think it frivolous,or as the great Jo says “ Absurd”

    The Estate claims that Jo’s agent Christopher Little, was Adrian Jacobs’ agent (which he denies through Ms Rowling’s PR guy) but that is for the court to find out.
    Some years after Jacobs had died and his book forgotten, except by a few pals, his Estate finds over 40 similar themes to their 1987 book turn up, altered but recognisable, in Goblet !surely Jo should think that this demands a reasonable explanation-not just a cry of “Absurd” BM

  • July 18, 2010 | Permalink |

    Ben, thanks for commenting. If you’ll read that line carefully, I never stated that the Willy Wizard lawsuit was frivolous. My statement clearly said: “Several similar lawsuits have been brought over the past few years, all so far have been judged to be without merit and dismissed. Should this suit have a similar result, let’s hope this will mean the end to other frivolous suits in the future.” My usage of the term “frivolous” was in regard to any similar lawsuits, in the future that may be without merit.

    I understand that there are similarities in both books, and I am not the one who has to make the judgement on whether or not there was any fraud in this circumstance. However, I am one of those people who wonder why claimants choose to wait years before pursuing these types of claims.

  • July 19, 2010 | Permalink |

    @ Ben — trust me, I read Willy the Wizard when I first heard of this suit and it’s not even remotely similar. It’d be like saying Battlestar Galactiga infringed on Star Trek because they’re both about space. I could find 40 similarities, but it’s not even close to the same.

    Honestly, I read a book called Wizard’s Hall that came out before the HP books that was strickingly similiar, although not a series and not nearly as good. But at least I could see a lawsuit from that author having quite a bit of merit. I’m a big HP fan, too. I think the current suit is pretty frivolous.

  • July 31, 2010 | Permalink |

    Okay lets look at the similarities shall we:
    They both use trains, however lets compare them
    Harry Potter features a red steam engine called the Hogwarts Express that takes wizards to school and back, while Willy the Wizard features a transparent platinum train with special rooms for playing chess. They are not remotely similar, if JKR did copy another writers work it would be more likely Enid Blyton who wrote numerous boarding school stories were pupils were taken to school in steam trains. The chess pieces payed by wizards in HP move and talk while the chess pieces in WW are just normal chess pieces.
    Willy sits in a yellow bathtub in his bathroom/study, while Harry sits in a swimming pool sized sunken bath in the white marble prefects bathroom. Willy looks up information on a monitor screen, while Harry opens a golden egg underwater to hear a message from merepeople. Again nothing like each other, again if JKR did get the idea from anywhere it is most likely from Archimedes the bath and gold crown story.

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