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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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 12 Sep 2018 @ 12:36pm

    No good deed goes unpunished

    Now we will wait and see if WB goes after costumed attendees or possibly the providers of those costumes. How far will they go to obliterate free advertising?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Paul, 12 Sep 2018 @ 1:30pm

    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."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2018 @ 1:48pm

      Re: Harry Potter isn't just films.

      From this page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Potter) it says the publishers are
      Bloomsbury Publishing (UK)
      Scholastic (US)

      It seems like WB may only have the movie rights.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 13 Sep 2018 @ 12:32am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John85851 (profile), 13 Sep 2018 @ 10:15am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Agammamon, 12 Sep 2018 @ 1:33pm

    Wasn't the last movie in, like, 2011 or something? You'd think WB would be ecstatically happy to *help* these people promote their fan gathering so it could sell more Harry Potter branded crap to them.

    I mean, what the point of having merchandising rights if you're going to ignore massive loci of potential customers?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Sep 2018 @ 1:49pm

      The last Harry Potter film was released years ago, yes. The franchise, however, lives on with the Fantastic Beasts films, which are set in the same fictional universe as the Harry Potter stories.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 12 Sep 2018 @ 1:44pm

    Expiry

    By a feat of legislative magic the copywrong will live on longer than the youngest fans alive today.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    WhatDoesTheAuthorSay?, 12 Sep 2018 @ 1:44pm

    Ask JRowling

    Why doesn't someone here send a note to J Rowling on her twitter feed.

    Curious what she says about this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 13 Sep 2018 @ 6:04am

      Re: Ask JRowling

      She's actually a reasonable, decent person. I'm sure she'd be appalled. That said, I'd be interested to know how much leverage she has over the over-zealous treatment of her intellectual output by people who might not even have the standing to enforce those rights.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2018 @ 8:28am

        Re: Re: Ask JRowling

        From my perspective, earnest journalists would ask her the question before creating the story.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 13 Sep 2018 @ 8:41am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2018 @ 1:50pm

    Could they have changed the name to "The Fans of Harry Potter festival" and defended themselves on the use of the name being nominative?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Paul Brinker, 12 Sep 2018 @ 2:52pm

      Re:

      Technically even "Harry Potter Festival" could be normative usage. Your celebrating a fictional character.

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

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 12 Sep 2018 @ 3:21pm

        '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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 13 Sep 2018 @ 12:37am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 12 Sep 2018 @ 1:54pm

    Somewhere is an executive who listened to a lawyer who explained how these little meetings would hurt the income from the Potter experience at the theme park.

    Both need to be banished.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2018 @ 2:03pm

    Memo to WB execs:

    ...OBLIVIATE!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 12 Sep 2018 @ 2:17pm

      Re: Memo to WB execs:

      I love it, have a funny vote!

      But what makes you think WB executives read the material they buy (or watch their own movies for that matter), or just look at media numbers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wyrm (profile), 12 Sep 2018 @ 2:05pm

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 13 Sep 2018 @ 9:52am

      Re:

      But you see, it's bound to backfire. An event that would be an exclusive homage to WB's IP with plenty of free advertisement is now forced to go generic eventually ditching said IP in favor of a more open, diverse experience.

      Indeed a flawless victory.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Wyrm (profile), 13 Sep 2018 @ 4:18pm

        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".)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2018 @ 2:11pm

    Movie At the Park

    One of the local towns, San Anselmo does a movie at the park. I found out it cost $500.00 to watch a movie on a projector. Which I think it is a crazy amount to get people together and watch a movie. I wonder what a festival would cost to get the licensing agreement, $10,000s?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Paul Brinker, 12 Sep 2018 @ 2:55pm

      Re: Movie At the Park

      They could get the mark from the Author. No Movies involved at all. The Author would want it to be inexpensive or even token.

      Of course WB would then try to go after every element of the movies not found in the books.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 12 Sep 2018 @ 3:04pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    subhi (profile), 12 Sep 2018 @ 3:23pm

    tech trendy

    Which I think it is a crazy amount to get people together and watch a movie

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2018 @ 6:32pm

    Given the new name, I would be disappointed if no brony cosplayer showed up. Or no cosplayers for a magic related anime for that matter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2018 @ 9:34pm

    I think changing it to, “The festival that cannot be named”, would have been better

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dadtaxi, 13 Sep 2018 @ 12:55am

    change of name

    As its a blatant response to WB's bullying. I'm only surprised it wasn't renamed "Generic Magic Festival and defiantly not any specific He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named festival"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 13 Sep 2018 @ 3:17am

    Dolores Umbrage Strikes again!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    lucidrenegade (profile), 13 Sep 2018 @ 10:20am

    I wonder if these crackdowns started around the time AT&T purchased WB Studios? It's such a dick move that it sounds like something AT&T would do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 13 Sep 2018 @ 1:11pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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