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Author Sues Over HARRY POTTER Books
A legitimate claim or an attempt to cash in?
By Matt Brady
March 17, 2000
Source: Associated Press
Author Nancy K. Stouffer has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that J.K. Rowling, author of the best-selling Harry Potter books stole much of the material the Potter books are based on from her work. According to Stouffer, Rowling swiped ideas and even character names from her 1984 book, The Legend of Rah and Muggles
, which contained a character named Larry Potter. Stouffer claims that she own the copyright to the name 'muggle,' which in her book are little people who magically care for two orphaned boys. Rowling uses the term 'muggle' to mean someone who does not posses the powers of magic. Other similarities include a character named Lily Potter appearing in both books, and 'Keepers of the Gardens' in Stouffer's book and a 'Keeper of the Keys' in Rowling's series.
Stouffer filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court on March 6 against Rowling and Scholastic Inc., the U.S. publisher of the Harry Potter books. Her lawsuit also names Time Warner Entertainment, which owns the film rights to two of Rowling's Potter books, and Mattel and Hasbro, which have licenses to create and market related merchandise. Scholastic, Rowling and Time Warner filed their own lawsuit in November in New York, asking a judge to rule that the Harry Potter books do not violate Stouffer's trademark and copyright. That suit was filed after attempts by Stouffer to negotiate an out-of-court settlement apparently failed.
After its publication in 1984, Stouffer's book was sold mostly on the East Coast, in Giant supermarkets and Rite Aid drugstores. Stouffer believes Rowling may have come across it when she was on a work-study exchange in Baltimore in 1987 and 1988.