The Times reports on the gagging order that has been made against a number of Canadians who came across early-released copies of the latest Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince. Copies of the novel, which is officially launched on Friday, were put out by accident by the Real Canadian Superstore in Coquitlam on the west coast of Canada. The bookshop realised its mistake, but not before 14 people had bought copies. The Canadian publishers sought and obtained a “John Doe” order from supreme court of British Columbia issued a court order preventing anyone from “displaying, reading, offering for sale, selling or exhibiting in public” the books. Under the terms of the injunction, Under the terms of the injunction, those who bought the book aren’t allowed to even read their books, and are being encouraged to return them to the Canadian publisher. Author JK Rowling’s literary agent said:
“Copyright holders are entitled to protect their work. If the content of the book is confidential until July 16, which it is, why shouldn’t someone who has the physical book be prevented from reading it and thereby obtaining the confidential information? How they came to have access to the book is immaterial.”It’s at times like this that the IPKat wishes that he wasn’t such a blackletter lawyer. While strictly the contents of the book may constitute confidential information, the idea of injuncting innocent purchasers in the interests of having a showy launch leave the IPKat frankly horrified. The IPKat points out that it’s a bit of a strange situation since, while the purchasers may be in possession of the “container” for the confidential information, until they’ve read the book, they cannot know what the confidential information is. In other words, rather than being injuncted to prevent them from disclosing the information, the purchasers are being injuncted to stop them even coming into possession of the confidential information.