Group Sued for Copyright Breach in Recreating Hogwarts Castle (Updated)

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Oct 11, 2007

Posted by EdwardTLC
Uncategorized

Reuters is reporting legal representatives for Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling have filed a court petition against a group in India for recreating the Hogwarts Castle as part of a religious festival honoring the Hindu Goddess Durga in the eastern city of Kolkata. The FD Block Puja Committee of Salt Lake has been constructing ‘a massive structure in the shape of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’ which includes a ‘mock steam engine train’ made to resemble the Hogwarts Express as well as life-sized models of Harry Potter and other characters. J. K. Rowling and Warner Bros., who control the rights to the Harry Potter series in India, filed a petition in the Delhi High Court seeking 2 million rupees (approximately 25,000 pounds) in compensation from the group that created the pandal, an elaborately crafted temporary structure.

While the legal representatives for the author have not yet commented further on the petition as the matter is to be presented before the court, Santanu Biswa, secretary of the FD Block Puja Committee of Salt Lake, is quoted in the article as saying:

“We had no clue that we had to seek permission from the author… Our lawyer in Delhi will appear before the court tomorrow to explain our stand.”

“We did not have any commercial motive behind this. The immense popularity of Harry Potter prompted us to choose this as a theme to get more footfalls for our pandals… If they are still not satisfied, we will dismantle the pandal.”

The pandal, which is nearing completion, was said to have cost ‘around 1.2 million Indian rupees’ and be unveiled as part of the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata, set to begin October 17th.

UPDATE: Further information on this story has now come from a BBC article, which cites a newly released statement from WB saying:

“Sadly, the organizers of this large-scale commercially sponsored event did not approach us for permission to go ahead. This event falls outside the guidelines set up by Warner Bros., JK Rowling and her publishers to help charitable and not-for-profit organizations to run small-scale themed events that protect fans and allow everyone to enjoy Harry Potter books, films and events in the spirit in which they were created.”

The article goes on to note court hearings on this case will begin this Friday in Delhi, India.





67 Responses to Group Sued for Copyright Breach in Recreating Hogwarts Castle (Updated)

Avatar Image says:

That’s a rather strange thing to happen. I bet the religous fanatics are going to say this is furhter proof of Harry Potter being “evil”. On another note, I read a story that said a case in INdia once took 3 or 5 centureis, and just recently was completed…maybe it wasn’t true, but that would be lousy if Jo’s greatX3 grand children aren’t finsishing this case… not that I’m anti-India or anything…

Avatar Image says:

Er, wait. Are they profiting off of this? Because loads of people (book writers, bands, etc etc…) are actually profiting quite massively off of Harry Potter and nothing is being done about it. But from the sounds of it this was not for profit at all, so I don’t see what the problem is…

Avatar Image says:

If they are not using it to make money then I don’t see why they can not make a display. What difference is this then all the crafts etc.. people make for there own use and put out there that you see on website including this one. I mean this website and many others use her made up words, images and places for there names and it is allowed because you are not making money off of it. Now if they intended to sell tickets to see the castle and such then I say ok shut it down but if not why are they being targeted. Every website, crafter and such who use her words, images, and characters for no finical gain should then be targeted as well.

Avatar Image says:

I really don’t agree with this, I made a lego sculpture in my backyard of Hogwarts, it was 8 feet tall and 10 feet wide, does that mean I need permission from the author. No, its all part of the fandom, and WB should accept that.

As for what Amy said…Are you saying that Wizard Rock bands shoud be stopped because they are making a small porfit, if any, from doing what they love?? Or are you just saying that since they did nothing about Wrock, why should they do anything about this??

Avatar Image says:

Sorry, but I am with the religious group (with the info I’ve read, not know more): they say they didn’t know they need permission and remember this happen on India, where laws are quite different (look eBay’s case). I think 25.000 pounds are so far abussive.

I think that because I live in Valencia, where we celebrate “Fallas”. And every year there are cents of constructrions on the streets of the city and they often are about a specific subject. If they would make a falla of Harry Potter, I would see shaming that WB or JKR sues it. In fact I have seen in past fallas “statues” of Harry, or politics as Harry, and WB has never acted.

With popular parties you have to study it carefully. It is not like a fair where the “house of horror” is the Shrieking Shack, is not the same. The particular interests are quite differents.

  • If later I read something new about the case, it possible I change my mind. But for the moment I think they shouldn’t sue this group.
Avatar Image says:

They’re not profiting off this at all, it’s just like a non-commercial float in a Thanksgiving Day parade. WTF. JKR’s evil-giant-corporation-ness is getting out of hand.

Avatar Image says:

Come on WB and Jo! Jo, I respect you and love the world you created but, that is WAY too far. Why not sue me for making a Dumbledore costume? I mean, really. Lets all just sue out the nose!

Avatar Image says:

I am not Indian, but I happen to be from a neighboring country very familiar with the culture. I have no doubt that the logo and all was not something done for money, but just a way to attract people to come to that particular group’s celebration of the event. I agree with whoever said WB should respect the fandom. Also, though approximatley 1.2 million pounds may have been spent on creating this thing, WB is still asking for a LOT, and say they do end up paying this.. the amount of money they may have instead received form people coming to visit and pay, wont be nearly as much as before since they’ll have to take abort the idea, and 1.2 mil, is a a large sum for any nation or group or firm, and in a developing nation too.. i just don’t think it’s right, and even if they do end up following through and the Indians lose the case, at least they should not have to pay all that WB is asking for.

Avatar Image says:

This doesn’t make any sense. Remember the boy who translated the Deathly Hallows into French and published it over the web? JK Rowling didn’t file a court petition over that, and the french translation would actually lose her money. If the Indian party didn’t make a profit off the Hogwarts model, why are they being sued?

Avatar Image says:

She shouldn’t sue them. They were not aware that they needed permission and they’re not making money out of this, so why are they getting sued?! This world so corrupt, everyone sues everyone these days.

Avatar Image says:

Well it doesn’t seem very fair. Jo, you shouldn’t…

i dont see the sense

Sure I could visit this temple thingy _ its like a monument.

Unless they’re worried that it will divert interest from the harry potter theme park???!!! which i can’t really see as the reasoning behind it. :S

Avatar Image says:

What´s her problem? They don´t make money with it.

Well, she is a Christian. Maybe she doesn´t want to get “abused” by a foreign religion.

Avatar Image says:

Shame on J.K.Rowling. And shame on her lawyers. Sue me.

Avatar Image says:

Boo.

Avatar Image says:

How very sad…....by the way,folks. Let’s not get carried away with the “their being targeted” thing. THAT is kind of unfair, to Jo.i agree, that it is a religeous(spl) event, and should be treated more fairly. I hope it is not one of the many “let’s get some publicity out of this” that a lot of PR folks do. Maybe, Jo is not even aware of this whole thing….....just sayin’

Avatar Image says:

I seem to be weirded out by this news post Quite out of character. I can’t seem to form a proper opinion. something seems off. hmm…

Avatar Image says:

For some reason I dont think we have heard the whole story. Jo has not been wealthy all of her life and well I should say in my own opinion I really dont think she would sue for all of what this news clipping has told us. So I just think if she really is sueing them then there has to be more to the story just dont rush to judge just yet.

Avatar Image says:

I wonder if Jo even knows about this, considering that the Indian branch is suing. It seems out of character. If it wasn’t for profit, why are they suing? My church did a Harry Potter themed retreat. Are they going to sue us for that?

Avatar Image says:

Yes, I also doubt Jo has any involvement in this legal action. After all the castle it resembles is Hogwarts from the films, which I imagine is somewhat different from the book version of Hogwarts.

Avatar Image says:

Woowwwww. This is insane! They had no clue they needed permission from the author to build a huge-butt version of Hogwarts, a steam engine, and figures resembling Harry and others? Oh c’mon!!

“The immense popularity of Harry Potter prompted us to choose this as a theme to get more footfalls for our pandals…”

Okay, even if they don’t get profit directly FROM the Potter stuff, it still draws more people who then still dish out money for other things. People make payment, even if it isn’t required. This “group in India” didn’t spend 1.2 million freakin’ rupies for nothing!

Stop being so hard on Jo, we don’t have all of the information, guys.

Avatar Image says:

It seems like they made this pandal for the prestige of building a model that was most popular. it is considered a great “honour” to get most visitors and it was designed as an attraction for the poor?

www.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=68543&vi deoChannel=3

Avatar Image says:

Also i found this comment on Mugglenet:

“I actually live in Kolkata, where this festival is held… this festival is just a fun thing…i know that they do not make any money off this…so i think it is kinda unfair that they are being sued… though I am a huge, huge harry potter fan…i feel this is unfair… the castle will be taken down after the festival is over anyways… which is like in a week from october the 17th”

Avatar Image says:

This sounds bizarre and very much unlike Jo. She’s always embraced the fandom, so it’s weird that she’s sueing anyone for a model castle. I smell a rat

...glances at Wormtail and not that kind of rat, either.

Avatar Image says:

I’m sorry, I love J.K. Rowling a lot, I love her books, I love the movies. But this just seems ridiculous! Unless they are trying to make money off of it, I see no problem with allowing these people to make a castle for everyone to enjoy. It only can add to the franchise! The people going are all going to be Harry Potter fans anyway, so why would this turn them off to buying the movies, books, really anything? I don’t see why this is a problem from any stand point. Maybe I am just ignorant to the way these things work… But I think it’s extreme for them to go ahead and sue. These people have already lost a lot of money and used a lot of effort.

Avatar Image says:

I agree with everyone here. I think Jo should let them be. I don’t see what’s wrong with that. As has been pointed out, it seems they’re not making a profit out of it. And surely, some people worked hard to make this thing (a massive Hogwarts structure and lifesize characters!!) and they say they’ re prepared to take it down if Jo’s representatives are not satisfied at the court. I’d hate it if they did. It would be too ridiculous.

Avatar Image says:

hmmmmm… sorry Jo, I love you, but I’m not with you in this.

I mean they say it’s not even for money, and the group didn’t know they needed permission, and even if Jo doesn’t like the idea of her ideas being displayed there, she could have mailed them or warned them first rather than going directly to court …. shrugs

Avatar Image says:

completely unfair. This is the first time I have disagreed with Jo on anything.

Avatar Image says:

The way trademark law works is that if you don’t defend your trademarks, you risk losing them. So I can imagine the lawyers thinking it better to go on record as having sued and then settle out of court for some token amount than to not sue at all. Even if it turns out that this use is so obviously non-profit, etc., that it would not put the trademark at risk to let it slide by, intellectual property lawyers’ default position is to be aggressive in such things. Otherwise they conceivably risk harm to their client. Who knows what the statutes of limitations etc. are in India given the transitory nature of the exhibit—maybe they didn’t have the luxury of time to investigate the subtleties of whether these folks were indirectly benefiting or not b/4 they had to get something filed. Anyway, it’s at least conceivable the suit was never intended to actually get the large sum of money from the defendants but rather to put Jo’s (and WB’s) trademark defense on record.

Avatar Image says:

Jill: And it is probably worth pointing out that Warner Bros. owns a lot of the trademarks, and particularly the rights to the movie scenery which this version of Hogwarts rather resembles.

Avatar Image says:

I’m sorry but I think it’s too much, I love JK and all, but this isn’t right. It’s a festival, they don’t sue everyone dress as someone from HP at Halloween do they. I know you have to protect your work but this is silly. And I really hope Jk isn’t behind it, I doubt she is.

Avatar Image says:

I agree with the people who say we haven’t gotten the whole story—or at least Jo’s side of it. When has she ever done something so out of character like this?

Avatar Image says:

This is so unfair! What are they going to get out of doing this? Some amount of money, a ruined religious festival, disheartened children, and something that took months to make go to waste … I’m normally a Jo supporter but I’m not siding with her on this =(

Avatar Image says:

JK Rowling SERIOUSLY needs to get over herself! You’d think she’d figure out that people LIKE her books and creations, considering the billions of dollars the franchise has made. Maybe she is a complete idiot.

It’s not like they were scamming to get money off of it or something.

I understand if they’d want to sue over illegal piracy of books or films, but if they were just trying to put Harry Potter into something fun for their community, they should be allowed too and not get sued.

Go ahead fat head jk rowling, sue every kid that ever drew a picture of harry and entered it into competition. Sue every kid that did a book report on it, because they probably put “Harry Potter” in the place for the title. Sue all the kids that write fan fictions. They used your characters and creations. Sue all the fan sites including leaky cauldron, for their use of your creations.

Or maybe, you could just do the simple thing: Get over your self and realize that the world doesn’t revolve around you or your precious dollars.

Avatar Image says:

you mean euros.

Avatar Image says:

As a feminist, this festival means a lot to me. Durga is a huge figure and, although I’m not Hindu, I have a lot of strong feelings about this. All that aside, I think it’s really sad that after all the hard work and money these people put into making their models, they might be sued. It’s a little silly. Everythng else I have to say has already been said, though. You guys are great. WB? Not so much.

Avatar Image says:

ohkay…......

well i think this is kinda weird, but i guess i see where they’re coming from…

<3padfootrocksmysocks

Avatar Image says:

This fandom seems to be falling apart. Goodness, wait until we have more information before you start attacking Jo Rowling in the effing comments.

Avatar Image says:

Oh jeez it’s just a stupid replica, it’s not like anyone’s going to think they invented the HP series, everyone knows Jo did.

Avatar Image says:

Someone talked about defending the trade mark. Then why are they not suing all the fan fiction writer or the wizard bands or this website. Just on this website alone they use a Harry Potter fictional name, they post art work from fans, they write essays, they show crafts made by fans all using Harry Potter images, charters etc… Wizard rockers should be sued too they are profiting from Harry Potter. Do they have permission? If your theory is they have to fight every time there trade mark in used even when not for profit then this website and all the others should be shut down note given awards by Jo. If the theory is to protect the trade mark then you can’t pick and choose which person or event is infringing on the trade mark you need to go after every infringement out there. Something tells me this is the lawyers doing there thing and Jo may not even know about it.

Avatar Image says:

This is disgusting. Warner Brothers has no idea; they should be honored that Harry Potter is being represented in a Durga Puja pandal. This is probably one of the biggest festivals in India, and to sue people over something for such a celebration is just low.

Avatar Image says:

I hope she’s happy! Making a fun community event hard for everyone who planned it, and then having to suck some fun out of it.

She probably is. Wow! She might be a few grand richer! But, when you’re greedy, I guess any amount you GAIN is okay!

JK Rowling writes cool books, but she seems like a freaking wank in this situation!

Avatar Image says:

I agree most people here. this is stupid and greedy, whoever is behind it, they need to get over themselves.

Avatar Image says:

“Sadly, the organizers of this large-scale commercially sponsored event did not approach us for permission to go ahead. This event falls outside the guidelines set up by Warner Bros., JK Rowling and her publishers to help charitable and not-for-profit organizations to run small-scale themed events that protect fans and allow everyone to enjoy Harry Potter books, films and events in the spirit in which they were created.”

What is this dude talking about. what harry potter spirit?

Avatar Image says:

I am absolutely repulsed by this. I am in full confidence that Jo herself is not involved in any of this and that hopefully, by her persuasion, WB (who is the true pursuer of the suit) will put an end to this nonsense. I’ve never seen such a harsh display of party-pooperness.

And to Nandini, who said: They’re not profiting off this at all, it’s just like a non-commercial float in a Thanksgiving Day parade. WTF. JKR’s evil-giant-corporation-ness is getting out of hand.

Excuse me, but when has Jo EVER shown ANY signs of developing “evil-giant-corporation-ness” at ALL?!? Please.

Avatar Image says:

This is ridiculous. I love Jo and what she’s given us, but I can’t believe she would do this. I understand when she sued the Daily Mail for printing pics of her son: that’s totally understandable. But this? I’ve lived in India and know what it’s like – they were just doing it in the spirit of fun, it was to give children pleasure, and it wasn’t for commercial gain, so what’s the freaking problem? The WB has enough money already – ugh. This just disillusions me. Why not sue every fansite and fanfic while we’re at it?

Avatar Image says:

Ok am I understanding this right? Is WB saying that if they would have approached them with this idea first and under the understanding that they “charge” people the look at it or go in or I guess take pictures with the models and donated the money to a charity then they would have no problem with it. I guess I do undersatnd but I just dont agree with the “terms” that Jo and WB have created I just dont see anything wrong with it as long as they are going to take it down in a week. I mean my word what would it hurt for these Harry Potter fans to enjoy this for a couple of days and then glady take it down. I mean I am sorry I just dont see the hurt of anything or “anybody” in this case.

Avatar Image says:

I live in kolkata and i would like to share the possible truth with you all. durga festival is one of India’s greatest and the main festival of eastern India.People from all over the world comes to Calcutta/kolkata to participate. the structure calls pandals.there are more than 1500 festival club/community in Calcutta. this F.D block puja committee is very famous for there royal structure and idols. millions of people visit this pandal . they erect a famous shrine/temple/monument every year. some years ago they made a exact copy of the famous Titanic ship which made them top crowd puller of the festival. the Penguin book India(distributor of Harry potter books in India) claimed this committee is using Harry potter for business purpose which is ridiculous because their is no entry fee or anything.its purely for entertainment purpose.they may have charged a fee from various company like Pepsi, Coca-cola etc for setting up stalls in their ground or for advertising in their published festival journal. but these are fare because these company makes huge profit by selling their product or advertising them.this include nothing with club’s personal gainor profit.u must have sponsors to fund something as big as these festivals.sponsorship is everywhere.these clubs does not have anything to do with commercial profitthey this pandal is only a tribute to the Harry potter series. every year many calcutta puja committee makes huge replica of many world famous structure but never we saw anything as this happen before.lastly the pandal costs 1.2 million Indian rupees(30000 dollar/15000pound aprox)and the W.B and the publishing committee have claimed 2 million indian money(25000pound/50000dollar). this is very disappointing

Avatar Image says:

I still need to know the whole story. There’s got to be something we don’t know of. At least, I hope so, truly hope so.

Otherwise:

What a pathetic and lame explanation they give us…c’mon! It’s a huge festival commercially sponsored but profitable enough to be sued? Why, is Pepsi a sponsor? Which sponsors of the festival do not suit WB? This has to be the most horrible thing I’ve heard about Jo. I mean ever. Does she need more money? Does she even know about this? Does she agree? The whole thing seems disgusting, shameful, ill-judged and greedy.

C’mon! Each of us has seen it! There are hundreds of things around the world made of from Harry Potter for a profit and without permission. Why don’t you sue those? I bet they don’t have inconvenient sponsors attach to them.

Avatar Image says:

My goodness andother case where WB want to waste their time and other people’s money for liking harry potter. I wish they never got their mits on such a great book. Poor Harry…

Avatar Image says:

I’m a big harry potter fan and i’m from the same city where this incident is taking place. Durga puja is a Hindu(Bengali) religious festival and it lasts for about 5 days in mid-October. Images of the Goddess “Durga”( which is incidentally one of the many names the Goddess has, another being Parvati)are worshipped in temporary structures called “pandals”. After the festival ends, these structures are brought down. Harry Potter is hugely popular in India, as he rest of the world, and it’s becoz of this that the organisers thought of using it as a theme for their locality’s pandal. It is absolutely non-profit and the people just have a funtime during this festival( pandal-hopping,etc) I have to say that Rowling is just making a mountain out of a molehill and depriving people and fans who love her books so much, of a reason to celebrate and admire what is her own creation…. in this city.

Avatar Image says:

See, this is why you should never trust massive marketing corporations. Because the money the executives receive makes them suffer from avarice.

Avatar Image says:

This is an interesting story. Firstly, who is actually suing? JK? Bloomsbury? or WB? thats not clear but it sounds as if its WB as their guidelines are mentioned. Secondly, why are they suing? Apparantly, the trademark protection guidelines are being broken. no one is disputing that, not even the festival organisers. The organisers did not think to check copyright fringes (thats very lousy management). I honestly think JK has no role in this somehow. This corporation protecting their copyright laws but in this case the guidelines did not define any clarity of such a scenario as this, i expect. We know JK rowling as a person through her literature, her interviews – do you honestly think she could be a greedy person? Is that the kind of faith we have on our favourite author where we will believe every word of Rita Skeeter? Will we not learn from warning s in her books about perceptions, media?

Avatar Image says:

I honestly think JK may embarassed over the festival thing and it wont be her fault – of course its the execs who are digging themselves a rot but in effext are painting a very bad image on JK. That is sad. The festival organisers should also have thought about the copyright but then again they do it every year with other copyright protected themes such as Titanic and probably thought its ok. WB will argue they are upholding a principle. Some posters here are saying why dont hp fans get sued for the stuff they replicate and HP bands but these are fans – not organisations. Its only organisations that are targetted for infringement.

Avatar Image says:

This is yet more evidence that JK Rowling has let her fame and her money go to her head. Also, there seems to be more than a little racism/religious bigotry involved. I seriously doubt that she’d be suing, say, a church that built a large replica of Hogwarts for its Halloween haunted house, or a big synagogue that modeled Haman after Voldemort in a Purimspiel.

The more I see and the more I hear, the less I like this woman.

Avatar Image says:

Well, if they’re going to be consistent about it, they should ban companion volumes and sites like Mugglenet.com, as well, since authors/maintainers of both clearly admitted they were making money out of these enterprises.

Avatar Image says:

I am from Kolkata,West Bengal, India.One of our local news TV channels just reported that the said group has been given permission to carry on with the ‘Hogwarts replica’puja pandal till 26th October.After 26th they will need to break it down or seek the writer’s and Warner Bros.’ permission.

Avatar Image says:

Soumya: That’s great news! I still don’t think that Jo Rowling was in the wrong. WB/whoever it was might have been harsh in their to-be-punishment, but I understand why they wanted to take action.

What I don’t understand though, is: Do they worship Durga IN these pandals? Outside of them? Do they put a figure of Durga next to it? I’m so effing confused. They use these mainstream media attractions to get people to go to a festival to worship Durga. This just doesn’t make sense to me.

Avatar Image says:

Ellid – I really don’t think you can accuse JK of racism (out of all things!) The WB, maybe…but that’s a separate story. JK’s books are all about tolerance and it’s so obvious she’s a tolerant, open-minded person. Maybe this is just a misunderstanding or something. I’m still hoping :(

Avatar Image says:

To J:’Pandals’ are actually temporary structures in which an idol of Goddess Durga or any other God/Goddess is kept and worshipped during festivities.Later they are broken down.This Durga Puja festival though being religious one,has a great social side.So there has been a tradition for some years in Kolkata to create pandals based on ‘themes’ like important events,popular films,books or personalities,even catastrophes like the Indian ocean Tsunami,important social issues etc.All this is just for fun and social awareness and there are no monetary gains for any puja committees involved.

Avatar Image says:

they should sue JKR now for the stress she probably caused them. hahaha.

Avatar Image says:

I find JKR’s actions disgusting to say the least. Does she want to build a castle as big as hogwarts out of money? In india for various festivals idols of gods and goddesses are put up with various themes. And no money is taken from visitors. People have durga idol at home and visit all the pandals in teh city. They simply celebrate, dance. Some pandals provide free food to everyone who visits. for poor people.

She is such a fake. I am disliking the more I am learning about her.

Avatar Image says:

Okay, calm down WB! They’re making a huge and unnecessary deal about this. Heck, why not sue people for make HP t-shirts, wearing HP Halloween costumes, drawing fanart and writing fanfics as well? (Scary thought).

Avatar Image says:

making sorry.

Avatar Image says:

To me it sounds as if this is a WB issue, not a JKR issue. Her name seems to be only involved because she is the author of the series.

Avatar Image says:

A Bake Sale? A little model? Did you see the video? If that was being built in the US without getting JKR and WB’s permission first YOU BET there would be lawsuits flying. JKR is not in the wrong here, kids.

Avatar Image says:

I would also venture a guess that a large portion of Indians who have read HP books did not put ANY money in JKR’s pocket. So please tone down the “I’m so disappointed in her” and “Isn’t she rich enough?” whining. As for WB not going after fansites – bought a Pottercast T shirt lately?

Avatar Image says:

“I would also venture a guess that a large portion of Indians who have read HP books did not put ANY money in JKR’s pocket.”

Are you serious? Do you mean to stand up for someone with such an argument as that? How does that (if true) relate in any way to this piece of news? Is it because a city in India equals, somehow, “a large portion of Indians”? Sorry, but to me such arguments border dangerously on racism.

And as to the fan sites: That battle was fought long ago. WB only backed off after dealing with too many upset fans and, of course, reaching some sort of agreement with their webmasters. Happily, then JKR was on the fandom’s side.

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