Legal Translation for International Copyright Litigation

When Legal Translators Have to Worry About Harry Potter . . .

We’ve blogged about the importance of legal translation services in copyright infringement cases.  J.K. Rowling’s famous Harry Potter series of books has brought, and continues to bring, joy to children of all ages. Yet, the worldwide fame of the Harry Potter series does not come without a few headaches. One of the biggest problems surrounding the magical adventures of the young wizard is protecting Rowling’s copyright on the stories and the characters that inhabit them.

You may think that Harry Potter is so well known through all the books and movies that protecting the copyright would not be hard, but think again. Even though Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling are household names, protecting the copyright on Ms. Rowling’s work can be a challenge – and an international one at that.

This article will talk about the fascinating, and often funny, complications that come from those who would try to steal J.K. Rowling’s work, or profit on the coattails of her fame. Also, this article will discuss the more serious issues pertaining to translation of all the necessary litigation documents that comprise the record in an international copyright lawsuit. For more information about professional legal translation services, we welcome you to contact All Language Alliance, Inc. You can email us from our website at

Infringing Harry Potter Books

An interesting quirk of international copyright law is that parodies of an existing work are typically permitted under copyright law. But unauthorized appropriation of a copyright is not. Thus, the question of copyright infringement can often come down to whether something is a parody or not.

Looking at the Harry Potter material in particular, there are a number of international copyright cases that involve books that sound like virtual knock-offs but courts have found those works were parodies. Those include:

• Michael Gerber’s book, published in Britain, titled “Barry Trotter and the Shameless Parody.” (Well, that one is a pretty obvious parody).
• Andreyi Zhvalevskiyi and Igor Miyt’ko’s book, published in Belarus, titled “Porri Gatter and the Stone Philosopher.”
• Dmitri Yemets’ book, published in Russia, titled “Tanya Grotter and the Magical Double Bass.”

By contrast, the Harry Potter-inspired book from Indian author Uttam Ghosh, “Harry Potter in Calcutta,” was found to be an infringement of Rowling’s copyright.

China, in particular, is a country in which unauthorized Harry Potter books are everywhere. A book titled “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” actually was published in China 10 days before the actual book by J.K. Rowling “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” was released.

Moreover, Chinese consumers had access to unauthorized Harry Potter sequels including “Harry Potter and the Porcelain Doll,” and “Harry Potter and Bao Zoulong.” To add insult to injury, “Harry Potter and Bao Zoulong” included stolen scenes and scenarios from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.”

Other Harry Potter Violations

Around the time the first Harry Potter movie was about to be released, Warner Brothers sought to shut down domain names that allegedly violated copyright. The problem was, though, that many domains were simply created by Harry Potter super fans, who had no designs on infringing on anyone’s copyright.

One other interesting copyright case involved the website “The Harry Potter Lexicon,” which chronicled many minute details about the Harry Potter series. When the idea came to the webmaster to publish a book of the “Harry Potter Lexicon,” Rowling sued to stop the book’s release. Rowling meant to create her own comprehensive reference book for all things Harry Potter herself.

At the conclusion of a drawn-out copyright litigation, the webmaster agreed to publish “The Lexicon: An Unauthorized Guide to Harry Potter Fiction.”

With Any International Copyright Lawsuit, Legal Translators are Vital

As you can see, copyright matters can, and often, take place anywhere in the world. With the Harry Potter property, China was a focal point for a lot of copyright lawsuits. And, in order to properly litigate those matters, a legal translation service that specializes in legal translation services from and into Mandarin Chinese must be part of the process.

Contact All Language Alliance, Inc. to retain competent Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, Korean, French, Hebrew, Japanese, German, Portuguese, Vietnamese, and other language translators for your next international copyright lawsuit.

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