Top News

Rowling sues Kolkata group for copying Potter castle

KOLKATA, India (Reuters) - J.K. Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter series, is suing a community group in Kolkata for breach of copyright for recreating Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for a religious festival, group members said on Thursday.

Artists apply finishing touches on a marquee in the shape of Hogwarts castle from the Harry Potter series, in Kolkata October 11, 2007. J.K. Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter series, is suing a community group in Kolkata for breach of copyright, group members said on Thursday. REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw

The British author and Warner Brothers, who control the rights to the series in India, are seeking 2 million rupees ($50,000) in compensation from the community group.

Lawyers representing Rowling confirmed that a petition had been filed in the Delhi High Court but refused to comment further, saying it could be sub judice.

The group is accused of erecting a massive structure in the shape of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for the festival of the Goddess Durga, which celebrates her killing a demon and the victory of good over evil.

A statue of the 10-armed goddess sitting on a lion, stabbing a demon emerging from a buffalo, dominates the set, and organisers are planning to also include lifesized models of the bespectacled Potter and his companions.

“We had no clue that we had to seek permission from the author,” Santanu Biswas, secretary of FD Block Puja Committee of Salt Lake, the community group which designed and paid for artists to make the tent.

“Our lawyer in Delhi will appear before the court tomorrow to explain our stand.”

The controversial structure has been built to resemble Hogwarts Castle, the school where Harry Potter learns magic. Organisers said a mock steam engine train was also being constructed next to it, to resemble Hogwarts Express.

Almost nearing completion, the structure is expected to cost around 1.2 million rupees ($30,000).

The four-day Durga Puja festival which begins on Oct. 17 is the biggest Hindu festival in east India. In Kolkata alone, more than 10,000 pandals -- elaborately crafted temporary structures in various themes -- are set up to venerate the goddess.

People from all over the country visit the city at this time, and it is considered a matter of great pride and honour for local communities if their pandals are praised for originality and getting the most visitors.

“We did not have any commercial motive behind this. The immense popularity of Harry Potter prompted us to choose this as a theme to get more footfalls for our pandals,” said Biswas.

“If they are still not satisfied, we will dismantle the pandal.”