Judge Refuses to Dismiss HARRY POTTER Plagiarism Case

J. K. Rowling’s lawyers petitioned London’s High Court last week to dismiss the plagiarism case against the Harry Potter author, but Judge David Kitchin refused. Although the judge called the charges “improbable,” the case may go to trial.

The estate of late writer Adrian Jacobs, creator of Willy the Wizard, is suing Rowling for plagiarism. They claim the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is similar to a wizard competition in Jacob’s 1987 book The Adventures of Willy the Wizard: Livid Land. Rowling is also accused of borrowing the idea of wizards traveling on trains.

The Jacobs estate claims he had given a copy of Willy the Wizard to literary agent Christopher Little, who now represents Rowling. Little denies this claim and calls Willy the Wizard “an appalling book.” The judge said in his ruling that “it is inherently improbable that Mr. Little would have thought it worth giving a copy to Ms. Rowling some eight years later.”

Rowling denies the charges and said that the claims are “not only unfounded, but absurd.” She says she only became aware of Willy the Wizard when the lawsuit was filed in 2004.

What do you think about this news? I just saw The Social Network last weekend, so I can’t help but compare the two cases. In the movie, Mark Zuckerberg had to settle the Facebook lawsuits because he would not have come across as sympathetic to a jury. However, J. K. Rowling is one of the most beloved authors on the planet. I can’t see a jury siding against the author of Harry Potter! Can you? Not to mention that the similarities between Willy and Harry seem weak. Do you think the Jacobs estate stands a chance against J. K. Rowling in court?

(Source: ABC News)

Follow me on Twitter @kristendaemons

Print This Post Print This Post

Please make sure to read our comment policy before posting a comment.
  • Clive Deakin

    The judge cannot “side” with either party. He must rule on the basis of the evidence presented to him. If you want to know who Elvis Presley was you ask Priscilla. If you want to know who Rowling really is… who are you going to ask? And why has nobody already been asked? You know what Britney Spears has for breakfast and who her lovers are or were but you know zilch about Rowling and that is because the myth of who she is is more important than who she really is or what sort of life she really led. The myth means money for those in control…. loads of it.

  • http://www.daemonsbooks.com/author/sandie/ Sandie

    Well, I guess when you are as successful as Rowling, everybody’s going to be out to get some money, especially if their wizard book wasn’t as popular as hers.

    But as you said the similarities are really weak. Really the tournament is something that she copied from the book? A tournament is just a regular plot device used in a lot of books. But even worse is the train claim. I mean come on, trains are a mode of transportation that people use everyday, just because the wizards in Willy the Wizard use them doesn’t mean Rowling copied the idea. She might have just come up with it because, let me think… maybe she took the train herself at some point and it inspired her somehow. I know crazy!

    These are all general plot devices that are likely to occur in different stories, even wizard stories because they allow for the story to be told. To say it was plagiarizing would prevent people from using general ideas for their story. Ridiculous. Or maybe I just like Rowling, you decide.

    All right, rant over :-)

  • Colleen

    I think it’s pretty ridiculous. She stole the idea of riding on trains? Maybe Major League Lacrosse should sue her for similarities between Quidditch and Lacrosse. Maybe the Agatha Christie estate should get on board the plagiarism litigation when it comes to train riding. When I was young, before Harry Potter was published, I wrote a series of witch stories and I wrote about a witch/wizard competition. It’s so common, humans are competitive, we write about competition and proving ourselves champions.

    I am not a Harry Potter fan but I find the pending charged ridiculous.

  • Pkpost

    One of the things I have found very strange about Rowling is how she differs from other authors when it comes to explaining her inspirations and ideas. It’s quite common for authors (such as Steven King or Tom Clancy, for example) to explain off the cuff in interviews where their inspiration and ideas came from. Rowling, in multiple interviews – immediately becomes a complete ditz the moment she is asked questions regarding the origins of her inspiration, claiming she has no idea where her characters and made-up words came from – they just popped into her head! BS! Fabricated words like “Dursleys” and “Muggles” and “Privet Drive”….their meanings and definitions…don’t just get randomly made up out of thin air by two different people and end up meaning the exact same things. Rowling took original ideas from others, repackaged them and sold them off as her own.

    • http://www.daemonsbooks.com/author/sandie/ Sandie

      Well, I have to disagree with you here. Just because Rowling cannot explain where she got her ideas doesn’t mean she didn’t come up with them, that’s what we call inspiration. You can’t always put words into it, even if other writers are able to. Everyone’s different.

      As for words like “Dursleys” and “Muggles” and “Privet Drive,” I’m confused, where else have those words been used apart from the Harry Potter world?

    • PATZ

      well, JK strings two words or separates them to come up with name. such as DIAGONALLY.. it became DIAGON ALLEY. It’s like reconstruction. You take one words and form it into another to make it a little original. YOu can’t say what she did with the MIRROR OF ERISED copied. erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi. i didn’t even realize what it mean until i decided to read it backwards.. and believe me.. it took some time to think about that.

  • PATZ

    Oh come on! Now that the book’s all famous and well known, they decide to file a case against it? 2004? I got my first copy of the first four books around 2000! Obviously they just thought that they could file a case against her. If it really is plagiarism, they should’ve filed the case against her from the beginning to keep her from writing more of the plot. Clearly, they just want to ride the bandwagon to fame by saying she copied it.