Fight Plagiarism and Piracy! Protect Your IP Like J.K. Rowling

Aug 20, 2019

Anyone who has walked into a bookstore since the 90s is familiar with Harry Potter, the boy wizard who went off to magic school and ended up saving the world. The books grew up with their initial readers and created a phenomena leading to merchandise, films, stage plays, and even theme park attractions. J.K. Rowling was able to profit from being a worldwide phenomenon and was able to maintain her vision in all of the related commercialization of her world by being extremely careful with the intellectual property in her books. Their popularity means that without a vigilant IP protection strategy knock off products made by people trying to make money capitalizing on her success would flood the market. Equally important was ensuring that business partners remain faithful to her vision of the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Fortunately, Rowling enacted a fantastic legal strategy that made sure her intellectual property and vision for her wizarding franchise is well protected. This attention to detail has made fans of her world very enthusiastic about her films, merchandise, and theme park attractions all of which immerse the fans a little further into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter..

What Has Rowling Done With The Rights?

J.K. Rowling has enjoyed great success with allowing others to create content related to her book series. The film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released in 2001. This led to a film franchise that has created wonderful creatures using special effects, iconic film scores, and introduced us to a cast of actors that brought Rowling’s work to life. The films were made by Warner Brothers.

Rowling’s hold of the legal rights to her books means that she has always had an active hand with how the Wizarding World has been portrayed. She enjoys both being able to offer some creative control which has rightfully increased her financial gain. This attention to detail has extended to merchandise, the spellbinding stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and even theme park attractions at Universal Studios parks throughout the world! The theme parks were made with precise care so that they match the film series; this bolsters Rowling’s brand by creating a cohesive look to her creations. Ultimately, Rowling’s control over her intellectual property has made her and her book series a phenomenal success.

Pirated Books

One problem that the lucrative series has faced is pirated and counterfeit books. One way in which books are pirated is by people uploading digital copies to the internet. In some brick and mortar stores in other countries, poorly produced knock offs of the books would be sold. Luckily, Rowling’s team carefully controls her copyrights and is able to ensure that her brand isn’t damaged and violators are stopped. This also protects consumers from being taken advantage of.

Another method in which people have tried to infringe upon Rowling’s rights is by selling unauthorized sequels. One such book, published in China went so far as to place the series’ main character into the world of Lord of the Rings. Thankfully, Rowling’s legal team was able to stop the book’s production and the offender had to pay a fine. This is a good example of how valuable an intellectual property law team can be to authors and other creatives.

IP and Fans: The Harry Potter Lexicon

The Harry Potter series has a loyal fanbase that loves to create art inspired by the series. This fun can get complicated when it comes to fans building websites about the book series and Rowling’s world. When Warner Brothers was beginning work on the films, they attempted to stop unauthorized websites from using content from the series. Generally these attempts at litigation stopped as most of these websites were operated by teenagers who wanted to discuss the series, which did not damage Rowling’s property. Generally these websites were allowed to stay up as long as they were not for profit and did not distribute the books.

That said, in 2008, a judge ruled in Rowling’s favor when a fansite planned to publish a Harry Potter reference book. While Rowling and her team were happy with the original website which posted essays about the series and let fans discuss the world, when the owner tried to turn a profit on a physical book, it was determined that this went too far and could damage the franchise. One particular concern was that the reference book might devalue any official Harry Potter reference books that may be published. Rowling’s legal team yet again prevented others from infringing upon Rowling’s rights, protecting her brand and preventing others from profiting off of her creativity.

Let Garcia-Zamor Protect Your Creativity!

Are you an author who wants to make sure your intellectual property is protected? Garcia-Zamor would love to speak with you and help you make the best legal choices to protect your work so others don’t infringe upon your hard efforts or take advantage of your creativity. Contact the law office today to get started and continue to write and create with confidence!

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