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Again? But with a different reaction today.

Tuesday 16 September 2008

I blogged last week about JK Rowling – with an opinion quite different from the official view of the Society of Authors – and here she is again in the news defending her creative rights.

Seeing the headline my first reaction was, this time: fair enough. Yes, the title Hari Puttar sounds VERY like Harry Potter and i assumed the story was somehow similar. It wouldn’t take a terribly close likeness to make this a rip-off.

But then you read that Harry Potter and Hari Puttar have nothing in common except for being films about boys. The former is a fantasy about a boy wizard who starts off miserable in his adopted family. The latter is a comedy about a boy expatriated who has to save the world from crooks. I already knew Hari was a common name and it seems Puttar is too.

Too stretchy an imagination thinking the echo of Harry Potter in the title could be accidental? I’m not saying it definitely was, but COULD be? Maybe. To my English ear they are extremely easy to confuse, but i’m not Indian and maybe the vowels sound very different in Punjabi. Either way i don’t see how it can hurt Rowling. Obviously it can only help Mirchi Movies’ publicity – which Warner Bros have now helped even further by bringing Hari Puttar to the attention of thousands who wouldn’t have noticed it without this lawsuit. In fact, if they’d sued when Mirchi registered the title three years ago, that effect would have been far less than it is now the film is on the point of being released.

I don’t think some extra publicity for a Bollywood film is going to make much of a dent in Warner’s profits, somehow.

Don’t go away thinking i’m entirely on the side of the little guy. They may have been completely calculating in the way they went about choosing the title, and who knows what machinations go on in the big-business world of movie-making? But still.

It all leaves me wondering whether the original impulse to pursue this hounding of lookalikes and soundalikes comes from JK herself or some high echelon within Warner Bros.

Possibly they simply wanted to highlight the copyright problem to the public, which i’m all for. As in the Society of Authors quotation i use, ‘The expense, risks and wear and tear of litigation deter all but the most robust writers.’ However, without knowing if Mirchi are a bunch of nasty people or a put-upon group of honest strugglers, it seems a shame to hang their head on a stake as the example to the plagiarism villains.

You can tell i don’t really know where i stand on this one. Let me know what you think. Help me to clarify my feelings!

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