Movie giant Warner Bros has initiated a legal battle with a director who claims he devised an earlier version of the Harry Potter character.
John Buechler was behind a little known film called Troll, released in 1986, which featured a young boy called Harry Potter Jnr. Now, 49-year-old Buechler says he intends to create a £20 million remake but lawyers for Warner Bros have warned him they will defend their rights to JK Rowling’s character.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, Buechler is beginning a search for a boy to star in his remake.
His partner, Hollywood producer Peter Davy, said, “In John’s opinion, he created the first Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling says the idea just came to her, John doesn’t think so. There are a lot of similarities between the theme of her books and the original Troll. John was shocked when she came out with Harry Potter.”
But Rowling has always vigourously defended any suggestion that her Harry Potter was not an original creation and she maintains that she has never seen Troll.
Warner Bros spokesman Scott Rowe said, “If these producers intend to remake Troll they’d better tread carefully not to infringe on our rights.” Since first coming to wide notice in the late 1990s, the Harry Potter book series by Rowling has engendered a number of legal disputes.
Rowling, her publishers and Time Warner, the owner of the rights to the Harry Potter films, have taken numerous legal actions to protect their copyright, and also have fielded accusations of copyright theft themselves.
The worldwide popularity of the Harry Potter series has led to the appearance of a number of locally produced, unauthorised sequels and other derivative works, sparking efforts to ban or contain them.
While these legal proceedings have countered a number of cases of outright piracy, other attempts have targeted not-for-profit endeavours and have been criticised as a result as too draconian.
Another area of legal dispute involves a series of injunctions obtained by Rowling and her publishers to prohibit anyone from reading her books before their official release date. These injunctions have very sweeping powers and have occasionally drawn fire from civil liberties and free speech campaigners and sparked debates over the “right to read”. The powers afforded by these injunctions have even been used in subsequent cases unrelated to publishing.
Outside these controversies, a number of particular incidents related to Harry Potter have also led, or almost led, to legal action.
In 2005, a man was sentenced to four years in prison after an altercation with a weapon over stolen pages from an unreleased Harry Potter novel, while in 2007, Bloomsbury Publishing came close to legal action against the supermarket chain Asda for libel after the company accused them of overpricing the final Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
It have been the subject of a number of legal proceedings, largely stemming either from claims by American Christian groups that the magic in the books promotes witchcraft among children, or from various conflicts over copyright and trademark infringements.
Various religious conservatives have claimed that the books promote witchcraft and are therefore unsuitable for children, while a number of critics have criticised the books for promoting various political agendas. Her revelation that the character Dumbledore was homosexual has increased the political controversies surrounding the series