Willy the Wizard and the Goblet of Fire?

As most followers of all things Harry Potter know, J.K. Rowling brought a copyright infringement lawsuit last year against Steven Jan Vander Ark, the author of The Harry Potter Lexicon, which has since been published in a much-altered version. Now it seems that J.K. Rowling, her publisher, and her formidable team of lawyers may be facing another court battle. This time, though, it is Rowling’s publisher who is the defendant as a 2004 accusation of plagiarism resurfaces. David Itzkoff reported on the  New York Times Web site yesterday:

The British publisher Bloomsbury denied on Monday that J. K. Rowling copied substantial parts of another children’s book to write “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” Reuters reported. The estate of Adrian Jacobs, an author who died in 1997, has said it seeks a trial in the London High Court against Bloomsbury for copyright infringement. The estate said that Ms. Rowling’s 2000 novel, the fourth entry in her wildly popular Harry Potter series, was plagiarized from Jacobs’s 1987 book, “The Adventures of Willy the Wizard — No 1 Livid Land.”

Even if her book shares some plot points with Goblet, Jacobs clearly didn’t have Rowling’s knack for fantastic monikers, which raises that age old question: What’s in a name? Would the HP books have been quite so wildly popular if Willy the Wizard, and not Harry Potter, had flown off to “Livid Land” instead of Hogwarts each year?

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