More on Harry Potter

The Harry Potter court order has generated global attention, leading to several misconceptions.  First, the books were not stolen or otherwise unlawful copies. Rather, the distributor apparently neglected to include an "embargo" label instructing the store (a grocery store in Coquitlam, BC) to only begin selling on Saturday. The store placed the books on the shelves and 14 people purchased copies.  The fault does not lie with the purchasers, which is why this court order is so troubling.

Second, Raincoast Books, the book distributor, has tried to put a friendly face on the matter by noting that several purchasers have returned the book.  They also note that they are offering several incentives to encourage book returns.  What they neglect to say, of course, is that these returns are occuring under threat of a court order as the publisher has obtained powerful legal rights against legitimate book purchasers that even extends to what they are permitted to say. 

In light of this court order, the most difficult question is why would a judge grant such an order (and why would lawyers ask for it)?  I suspect the answer is simply that Raincoast asked for everything they could think of and the judge, considering their case on an emergency basis on a Saturday, granted the order without giving it much thought.  While Raincoast may have relied on copyright law, it is unclear where there is any act of infringement here.  More likely is that we have a publisher that is misusing copyright law and a judge that has sadly played right along.

One Comment

  1. Fees
    I live in Vancouver, and I’d be willing to donate a large sum for court fees to anyone who would like to speak up and challenge this order. I don’t even want to know anything about the book personally. I just want thi s kind of abuse of our system to be punished in some way. Taking Raincoast to court would be a good start.

    Heck. Just GIVE me the book. I’ll go down to the Museum steps and read from the book. Of course there probably is a copyright infringement there too..