Success! Roanoke 'Harry Potter Festival' Changes Name To 'Generic Magic Festival' Due To WB's Bullying

from the copyrighta-trademarka dept

Earlier this summer, we discussed a policy shift at Warner Bros. regarding how it was enforcing its Harry Potter intellectual property that has resulted in the bullying of several fan conventions and gatherings. Events long left alone by WB to enjoy and promote the Potter franchise were suddenly getting threat letters and communications from the studio, informing them that all references to the franchise had to be removed. Many festivals, including one in Philadelphia, chose to simply shut down.

Others are going on, however, although perhaps not entirely as originally planned. Now, one might say, they are going on generically planned.

Although much smaller, even Roanoke’ Harry Potter Festival has now changed its name. New names, new features, larger spaces and more magical stories can be expected to appear in this year’s Generic Magic Festival– once known as the Harry Potter Festival.

“We are still celebrating literary magic and a lot of the creatures and potions Rowling uses are ones from mythology that have been used for years,” said Tracy Fisher, Roanoke minister of magic for the Generic Magic Festival.

It can be very hard to define something like success, but surely this must qualify for the WB’s legal and business departments. Through its capricious bullying efforts, it has managed to turn a convention of fans of its product into something so generic so as to include the word in its festival’s name. Yay? Those attending will still know exactly what they’re there for, with the only real changes to this year’s festival being the name, the amount of work organizers now have to do thanks to the changes, and likely some anger towards the studio from the festival’s participants.

Craig Slomczewski, creator of the magical objects and that you’ll see around the festival, tells 10 news that the copyright infringement limitations made this year’s event a challenge to design.

“It seemed like an impossible task because you are used to what you see in the movies and it makes you think out of the box that much more,” Slomczewski said.

Truly, today, justice has been done.

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Companies: warner bros.

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Comments on “Success! Roanoke 'Harry Potter Festival' Changes Name To 'Generic Magic Festival' Due To WB's Bullying”

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Paul says:

Harry Potter isn't just films.

Harry Potter exists as both literary works and movies, with separate copyrights. Does anyone know if WB own the rights to both or the name “Harry Potter” in any context outside of the films? Wouldn’t a festival celebrating strictly the books be outside their copyright reach if not?

Yes, it would be very difficult to have a festival that includes only one, but I would be all for the amount of pettiness required to put on the “Harry Potter Book Festival.”

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Harry Potter isn't just films.

I don’t have time to research properly at the moment, but my guess would be that the rights bought by WB would cover some kid of promotion and merchandising rights as well as the movie, and an independent festival might technically infringe on those even if it’s focussed on the books rather than the movies.

It’s still utterly idiotic and counter-productive to sue your own fans for celebrating things related to your product, but it’s likely they a least have the legal right to block them, if not the common sense reasoning.

John85851 (profile) says:

Re: Harry Potter isn't just films.

“Does anyone know if WB own the rights to both or the name “Harry Potter” in any context outside of the films? “
An interesting question, but irrelevant simply because it would cost too much money and too much time for a festival (or anyone else) to argue against WB’s attorneys.

Just look at the recent decision of San Diego Comic Con versus Salt Lake City Comic Con: no “magic festival” is going to risk defending themselves against WB when there’s even a sliver of a chance they would have to pay millions in attorneys fees.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Ask JRowling

I don’t see why, really. She’s unlikely to have any direct control over the situation, and anything other than “well, that’s just stupid, isn’t it?” will likely be forced by some contract or another. The issues at hand aren’t even happening in the same country she’s in.

Real journalists would be trying to get to the bottom of the issue and getting answers from the people making decisions, not wasting time getting a pointless Twitter quote from a brand figurehead who had nothing to do with those decisions.

That said, there’s nothing to really say here – overbearing copyright owners send lawyers out against people who cannot possibly harm their brand, who choose to give in rather than fight because they don’t have the resources. Happens every day, the only notable thing here compared to other weekly stories on the subject is the size of the brand doing the bullying.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: 'Why do you care about a festival about a hirsute jar maker?

WB does not want this to happen as they are afraid they could have the Harry Potter Mark become worthless.

In which case, as the saying goes, ‘You’re doing it wrong.’

Not getting a license from every use might risk having low quality ones being linked to the brand, but people not using the name at all, such that it fades from memory and no-one after the generation or two when the books came out remember it or care about it will kill the brand much more effectively.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They could have defended themselves with the current name, it would just be too time-consuming and expensive – so they opted for the route of changing it to something they couldn’t be sued over.

This is why this stuff keeps happening – the lawyers get paid whether the target decides to defend themselves or not, and since they rarely see the inside of a courtroom, they’re free to keep doing it even if they are actually causing damage to their client’s product.

Wyrm (profile) says:

Really amazing. This "war on fans" is growing so fast.
The problem is coming from the "permission culture" that is itself based on two axioms:

  1. everything must be owned,
  2. anything I own is under my exclusive control.

Point #1 is just absurd.
Point #2 only makes sense for material goods that only one person can enjoy at a given time.

Normally, both points are irrelevant when applied to ideas, and a legal monopoly is used to allow temporary and limited control over the expression of an idea.

This has been blown out of proportion thanks to a copious amount of lobbying money (aka legalized corruption). Now, most politicians and a good part of the general population has been convinced that "copyright" grants full control on every aspect of a work and its context (which is made easy by the fact that, regarding digital goods, every use implies a copy), and some are even going so far as to think it should last forever. Both scope and duration have been pushed to extremes.

Can we please become reasonable again?

Wyrm (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Of course it’s bound to backfire. But by the time it does, nobody (in power) will want to acknowledge why it did.

On this matter like on many others, some of the people advocate that “the solution to the problem is more of the problem.” And since they are the “loudest” in the room (remember, “money si speech”), politicians listen to them.

If controlling everything fails to bring more fans and revenue, it must become there is not enough control, right?

(For other examples, see “the solution to the gun problem is more guns”.)

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Movie At the Park

I haven’t looked that closely, but I did notice things in the books that were not in the movies, and they were missed. Not so sure about the reverse, though books do have a tendency to invoke the imagination where movies try to fill those holes in, sometimes well, sometimes badly, very badly.

I remember listening to some ‘old time’ radio dramas. Funny thing was, they were always in color.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Timing seems to line up. WB’s announcement of new IP enforcement policy occurred right after the merger was approved and shortly before it was finalized.

A policy change like this would have had to have been in the works for awhile; those decisions aren’t made spur-of-the-moment. But the merger had been in the works for quite some time by then.

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