by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 2nd 2007 5:32pm
In the past we've covered various stories of how author J.K. Rowling and her publisher have been needlessly aggressive in trying to enforce copyright claims dealing with Harry Potter. Years ago, we noted that Rowling didn't seem to mind fan fiction, as long as it didn't involve "adult" themes. However, when the money starts rolling in, perhaps things change. The NY Times has an article that claims to be about copyright infringement and counterfeit Harry Potter books in China, but the details suggest it's really more about fan fiction. The article focuses almost entirely on non-authentic Harry Potter books, often written by fans, that are then sold to a Chinese market clamoring for more Harry Potter. In those cases, it's much less a copyright issue and much more of a trademark one. However, as Against Monopoly points out, this has apparently spurred greater interest in reading among kids, so of course Rowling's publishers are looking into stopping these books from being sold. You can certainly understand Rowling's worry about being wrongly associated with works that she had no part in writing... but you have to wonder if she's perhaps missing an opportunity by simply sending in the lawyers. Clearly, there's demand for these works, and it doesn't seem like the demand in any way harms the commercial possibilities for her own works. If anything, it may drive even more interest in the legitimate books. These aren't substitutes. The only reason people want these fake Harry Potter books is because they can't get enough of the real thing. So why not encourage that kind of activity to help grow even more interest in the real product?
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