Indian court allows Harry Potter replica

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian court has allowed a community group to create a replica of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, rejecting a petition from author J.K. Rowling for copyright breach, the group’s lawyers said on Friday.

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The British creator of the Harry Potter boy wizard and Warner Brothers, who control the rights to the series in India, had sought 2 million rupees ($50,000) in compensation from the group, which had been erecting the structure for a religious festival.

The court allowed the group in the eastern city of Kolkata to use the structure until October 26, when the festival ends.

“The court has given us permission to use the Pandal (the structure) and whatever has been made till the 26th of October, no compensation has been directed to be paid,” the community’s lawyer, Soumitra Ghose Chaudhuri told Reuters.

“The case has been disposed of,” he added.

Neither court officials nor the lawyers for J.K. Rowling were immediately available for comment

The group’s lawyer said they argued that since the celebrations were held in the public interest and they were not for profit, the community did not need to pay compensation.

The group’s massive structure in the shape of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was planned for the Hindu 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 organizers also planned to include life-sized models of the bespectacled Harry Potter and his companions.

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

“We are quite overjoyed with the court’s order,” said Santanu Biswas, a leading community member.

The four-day Durga Puja festival which begins on October 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 honor for local communities if their pandals are praised for originality and getting the most visitors.

(Additional reporting by Tamajit Pain in Kolkata)

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