J.K. Rowling in a Lawsuit Against Jewish Author's Estate

Published: March 1st 2010
in Culture » Books

Willy the Wizard
Pic: Slice of SciFi



It’s almost like a battle between Harry and Voldemort, except this one has nothing to do with wizardry.




The estate of late Jewish author Adrian Jacobs is accusing J.K. Rowling of plagiarism. On February 17, the lawyers for his estate added Rowling’s name in a lawsuit filed against Bloomsbury Publishing PLC for alleged copyright infringement. The suit claims Rowling copied parts of Jacobs’ 36-page children’s book, The Adventures of Willy the Wizard: No. 1 Livid Land into her novel, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.




Independent company Backman and Turner published 5,000 copies of the Willy the Wizard story in 1987. But Jacobs, who was also an art collector, lawyer and accountant, died penniless 10 years later.




Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which was the fourth book in the Harry Potter series, came out in 2000. Max Markson, a publicist representing the Jacobs estate, tells the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the similarities between the two novels are uncanny. He says, “It has the same plot line. Everything that’s in ‘Willy the Wizard’ is in ‘The Goblet of Fire.’”




Markson recalls how his suspicions began in 2003 after learning that Jacobs’ former agent, Christopher Little, was hired as Rowling’s agent. Little, however, denies that he represented Jacobs.




Rowling is estimated to be worth close to $770 million, according to the Sunday Times of London’s 2009 rich list. She calls the accusations “unfounded” and “absurd.” Rowling was quoted in an article in Daily Dispatch Online saying, “The fact is I had never heard of the author or the book before the first accusation by those connected to the author’s estate in 2004; I have certainly never read the book.”




Court proceedings are scheduled in May and Markson thinks the case has enough material to go favourably on the side of the Jacobs estate.




“If they win the case against Bloomsbury, it rolls around the world. Anything with Harry Potter -- films, games -- it becomes a domino effect,” he said to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “It’s a billion-dollar case, the books are an enormous franchise, it’s in the High Court of England. It doesn’t get much bigger than that.”




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