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Thursday, 9 August 2007

Harry Potter lands teenager in jail

The IPKat is grateful to Jim Davies for pointing him in the direction of an article in Time concerning action taking against a French teenagers by none other than the teen wizard himself. An unnamed French teen was carted off by the gendarmes, questioned, and held overnight after posting an French translation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows online. The novel isn’t released in French until 26 October since the French translator wasn’t provided with a copy until the English release date of 21 July. It appears that the boy translated the whole work himself. His version was found by the French agency for fighting counterfeiting, which alerted Rowling and Gallimard Jeunesse, the publisher of the French version. JK Rowling’s literary agent welcomed the news, pointing to an alleged network of French P2P sites which are posting French translations and making a profit from carrying advertising on the sites where the translations can be found. "The real Harry Potter fans are not supporting this", he said. Meanwhile, the teen may face charges.

The IPKat wonders how one can tell who a ‘real’ Harry Potter fan is. It seems that to fit into this exclusive group, one must not only be keen to read the books, but also to support its copyright, and the way in which the publishers are controlling the market by creating massive anticipation but failing to fulfil it in a timely manner. Copyright allows them to do this, just like it allows them to create an enormous demand for translations, but then fail to satisfy it for many months. The IPKat doubts whether supporting legal action against a fanatic teenage Potter fan who appears to have made his translation for the sheer love of it is going to endear the publishers to the ‘real’ fans.

9 comments:

diabolic preacher said...

did the whole translation himself?!

the teen is the real fan of harry potter novel series...not of the publishers.

Nicolas Jondet said...

The French publisher has not yet filed a lawsuit against the teenager,and will probably never do given the non-commercial nature of his endeavor. As you point out, such an action could also be a PR disaster for the publisher. However, people who sell these illegal translations are much more likely to be prosecuted. See
my post
on French-law.net about this story.

Jordan said...

The lag between release of foreign language content and its official translation leaves many fans to go the same route as this French teenager. This has been happening -- in a very highly developed way -- with Japanese animation or anime. Groups of dedicated fans use distributed production techniques to translate, subtitle, encode, and release Japanese language television shows, sometimes even within hours of airing in Japan. The licensed translator/distributor industry actually (at least at one time) benefited from this and at the moment has reached a sort of detente with the fansub (as they are known) groups. [insert plug] For more see my article Of Otakus and Fansubs: A Critical Look at Anime Online in Light of Current Issues in Copyright Law" in SCRIPT-ed.

Robert Seddon said...

I'm a bit late with this, but a point of information: the linked article is from Time, not The Times.

David said...

Not too late at all. Thanks for spotting the error (now fixed).

Jim said...

Neil Blair, a lawyer at the Christopher Little Literary Agency, said Rowling's agents were "heartened" that the French authorities took action against the teen "to protect copyrights and to avoid innocent fans being duped."

That's a relief - here was I thinking it was all about money!

Am I being a bit thick here - or could the publishers not just sign up a very limited number of translators and (under controlled conditions and with suitably draconian NDAs) give them advance access to the text - so they could have the official versions all ready at the same time? After all, the publishers, printers etc. must get to see it early in order to produce the english copy...

Anonymous said...

Could the teenager copyright his translation?

David said...

Copyright does subsist in a translation, but that doesn't stop it from being an unauthorised copy of the original. The same goes for any 'transformative' work, such as performing or recording a new version of an old song.

Nicolas Jondet said...

Predictably, the publisher has
announced yesterday that it will not seek damages or file suit against the teenager.

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