I don't know how I came to miss this story when it broke last month...
Apparently, J K Rowling is being sued for copying some elements of Harry Potter from an earlier childrens' work, Adventures of Willy the Wizard. Rowling's publisher, Bloomsbury, vigorously defends the claim.
Interesting that the media instinctively turns to the publisher for a response. Nobody mentions whether Rowling herself has said anything. (Has anyone even asked her? I wonder.)
The author of Willy is dead and in his grave. But his family, who apparently took until 2004 to notice the existence of Harry Potter, are now suing Rowling. They claim she stole key plot elements, including: a wizard schoolboy competing in a magic contest, a wizard train, a wizard prison, a wizard school, and a wizard rescuing hostages from half-human creatures in a bathroom.
Wow, that must be a pretty action-packed 36 pages.
And on this basis, they're asking for £500 million from Rowling. Which, according to the Sunday Times rich list, is about five-sixths of all the money she's made from her 3,500 pages of writing.
Is there anyone who is still willing to say, with a straight face, that copyright is not being abused here?
In unrelated news, secondhand copies of Adventures of Willy the Wizard are now commanding prices into three figures.
Maybe - just maybe - this case will weigh ever so slightly in the scales when Bloomsbury next considers its policy, as regards copyright protection of minor plot elements.