Don’t bet your piggy-bank that JK Rowling won’t sue kids dressed as Harry Potter

Courtesy, the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA), here is an interesting story about intellectual property enforcement gone amuck: It seems that Penguin books and Harry Potter author JK Rowling won’t be collecting $50,000 from a Durga Puja (Durga is a Hindu goddess and Puja means prayer) committee in Calcutta. A court threw out their claim of copyright infringement over a (huge) unauthorized replica of the Hogwarts school for wizards, constructed for the Hindu festival. The images (that can be viewed on Reuters) show the mockup (pandal) on the left and the actual, film version of Hogwarts on the right. From a Daily Mail (UK) article on the decision: Organisers of the festival in Calcutta said they were ‘overjoyed’ after claiming a court ruling allowed the hybrid Hindu-Potter festival to take place without any compensation payment. The community’s lawyer, Ghose Chaudhuri, said: “The court has given us permission to use the Pandal (the structure) and whatever has been made till the 26th of October, no compensation has been directed to be paid.” From a BBC article, prior to the decision: Members say that they make a different model every year – in the past they have built the Titanic. This year they chose Hogwarts School – as well as life-size models of Harry Potter and his friends. Organisers said a mock steam engine train is also being constructed next to it, to resemble Hogwarts Express. Correspondents say the construction is nearing completion and is expected to cost around 1.2 million Indian rupees ($30,000). But it is argued that the organisers did not seek permission, and so are being sued for breach of copyright. I’ve been in Kolkata during Puja (when it was still Calcutta) and saw some of the more outlandish modern themes used for pandals – I vaguely remember a huge Rambo towering over us. These are scattered all over the city, along with more traditional takes on the festival. Check out the 2 comments that follow the Daily Mail article – both from English readers: I think this has taken Rowling down a few pegs in my estimation. The sheer greed, of someone who has millions, in trying to claim £25,000 from a simple religious non-profit making festival, is beyond belief. – Jennifer Thomson, Manchester England Of course it is vital to both Rowling and Warners to get the money in from this type of thing to keep the franchise going. A few hundred million is never enough. What’s next? Charging the kids for walking around as Harry Potter on Halloween? – Freddie, Dorset, England More on Durga Puja at Wikipedia: During the week of Durga Puja, in the entire state of West Bengal as well as in large enclaves of Bengalis everywhere, life comes to a complete standstill. In playgrounds, traffic circles, ponds — wherever space may be available — elaborate structures called pandals ‘are set up, many with nearly a year’s worth of planning behind them. The word pandal means a temporary structure, made of bamboo and cloth, which is used as a temporary temple for the purpose of the puja. While some of the pandals are simple structures, others are often elaborate works of art with themes that rely heavily on history, current affairs and sometimes pure imagination. Somewhere inside these complex edifices is a stage on which Durga reigns, standing on her lion mount, wielding ten weapons in her ten hands. This is the religious center of the festivities, and the crowds gather to offer flower worship or pushpanjali on the mornings, of the sixth to ninth days of the waxing moon fortnight known as Devi Pakshya