Harry Potter vs. Tonya Grotter

Jul 1, 2003 00:05 · 250 words · 2 minute read

Slate features the article Harry Potter and the International Order of Copyright – Should Tanya Grotter and the Magic Double Bass be banned? which makes the case the Harry Potter follow-ons published around the world should be allowed:

In the end, few people are likely to mistake Tanya Grotter for Harry Potter; it is akin to mistaking Burger King for McDonald’s. The international copyright system is justified in preventing the most basic forms of piracy. But it doesn’t need to stop works like Tanya Grotter. The original Harry Potter is good enough to compete with its foreign cousins. So let a hundred Harrys bloom and let a hundred schools of magic contend.

There are definitely strong arguments for allowing “fair use” to ensure that people can criticize and parody the works of others. In the article, Tim Wu talks about books like Tanya Grotter and the Magical Double Bass being a sort of localized version of Harry Potter that would include local elements that JK Rowling could not write. That’s an interesting point, to be sure, but from what I’ve read, Tonya Grotter has quite a few similarities to Harry Potter and had actually been taken to court in The Netherlands because the publisher was trying to sell the books outside of Russia.

I would imagine that the courts, at least in the US, have fairly well defined notions what what plagiarism is and what constitutes fair use. I hope that those notions don’t just disappear on a global scale.