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Harry Potter and the Humorless Lawyers

Fans of the Harry Potter series know and revile the character Dolores Umbridge, the noxious “High Inquisitor” of Hogwarts in The Order of the Phoenix. She uses increasingly oppressive and cruel efforts to control Hogwarts in order to quash independent thinking.

Perhaps inspired by Umbridge, Harry Potter publisher Warner Bros is sic’ing its lawyers on booksellers who are throwing parties to sell the books. Among the terms of its contract with booksellers are that “No fees are charged for admission or any activities at the event . . . no third parties are associated with the event in any way . . . the event is small-scale, local, non commercial, not-for-profit.” One of the reasons cited for this policy was “to help us make certain that the HARRY POTTER trade mark and other protected materials are not misused.”

Independent booksellers are scaling back or scrapping their events, including many that were to raise money for charity. Events that would promote the sale of Warners’ book.

I don’t normally write about these issues, but the blatant overreach of Warner to mine every last penny out of its intellectual property represents yet another sad milestone in the takeover of participatory culture. The ASCAP faced public outrage when it tried to shake down the Girls Scouts of America from singing copyrighted campfire songs. In Order of the Phoenix, Harry and friends overthrow Umbridge. Who will overthrow the publishers?

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{ 1 } Comments

  1. project payday | August 12, 2007 at 4:24 am | Permalink

    Who will overthrow the publishers? J.K. Rowlings… perhaps