Friday, June 27, 2003

From Slate -- Harry Potter and the International Order of Copyright - Should Tanya Grotter and the Magic Double Bass be banned? By Tim Wu
I heard of the Dutch case around "Tanya Grotter", and heard that there was a Chinese version. Belarus, as usual, claims the prize.
And next door in Belarus you'll find Porri Gatter and the Stone Philosopher. In something of a departure, Harry's Belarussian clone wields a grenade launcher and re-fights the White Russian wars.

I am not sure what exactly the White Russian Wars are -- I presume they refer to the Communist Revolution and the Civil Wars of 1917-1922. What teenager did not dream of using a modern weapon to turn back the tide of history. I am definitely getting myself a copy of that book.

On a more serious note, I like the Slate story. It would make sense for Rowlings, in my opinion, to ask courts to require publishers to show clearly in book jackets and covers that this is NOT authorized or related to the Harry Potter created by Rowlings. Trying to squeesh all copycats seems like a thanksless and pointless task. Perhaps even counterproductive. For years I was under the impression that it was A. Volkov who created the Wizard of Oz, while in fact he translated the original and then created an excellent, as it happens, series of spin-off novels. He was able to do that because USSR did not recognize, or care, about international copyright when it suited them. Still, hours of amusement and fond memories of his characters are lodged in my memory. Additionally, there is always the allure of a "real thing", and it is hard to say how many copies of Harry Potter were bought by fans who were brought into the "fold" by cheaper local imitations.


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