The Harry Potter bullying debacle

Will commonsense triumph?

Warner Brothers bullying ruins Field family Xmas
Meet the Warner Bros: Jekyll and Hyde
Warner Brothers shoots at more innocents
Another child's Christmas ruined by Warner Brothers
Warner Bros/ Harry Potter dispute kicks off again
Warner Bros backs down on Harry Potter Web site
Reg to fight for Harry Potter 'cybersquatter'
Warner Brothers bullies girl over Harry Potter site

Regarding Warner Brother's treatment of the excellent www.harrypotterguide.co.uk, I think The Register should become more pro-active on this. In one of your articles on this subject you said there were a number of domains which had never been registered which involve Harry Potter or Warner Brothers in the name. You should encourage each of your readers to go out and register a single domain name which in some way mentions either Harry Potter or Warner Brothers. Then everyone should place just a front page on their domain saying it has been registered as an act of support for Claire Field and her www.harrypotterguide.co.uk website, and which then redirects surfers to Claire's site. If there are 100 domains out there registered to 100 The Register readers, Warner Brothersare going to have to sue 100 different people to get them all off the net. If they succeed in forcing Claire to hand over her domain name, then she would have 100 others to choose from to continue her excellent website. Warners would soon get sick of the bad publicity.

Even if you can't officially recommend this course of action, could you please place this message in your weekly readers letters roundup so that people can decide on their own if it is a suitable form of protest.

Also, if the fight between Warners and the Field family does go to court, please, please, please let your readers know where we can contribute to the fighting fund.

Richard Mason



Your article brought tears to my eyes, until I suddenly realized I didn't care.



I've got a Masters in counselling psychology, and I've been in similar situations as Les and his daughter. If Les wanted to sleep at night and go on working, he should have thought about not being an ass to Barbara, and being happy with the publicity The Reg gave him. I mean, he had the outcome he wanted, and then he pissed on everything you did for him. In my opinion, he simply inflamed the situation and he deserves to be where he is now.

I'm still recovering from the battle of the corporate puppets (Moron vs. Bore). Why don't you end the soap opera already?

Don't you guys have real work to do?

Best regards,
Jon Henshaw



My name is J. Scott Evans and I am a trademark attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina. I have just read one of your articles and all I can say is: "Hooray for sensationalistic journalism."



I found your story on Warner Bros. enforcement of its valuable trademark rights to be slightly one-sided and written in a manner that will only breed further misunderstanding and dissent within the Internet community.

Unfortunately, trademark laws throughout the world do not make a distinction between a "good" unauthorized use of a company's trademarks and a "bad" unauthorized use of a company's trademarks. The only distinction is between an "authorized" use and an "unauthorized" use. If Warner Bros. were to "cherry-pick" between so-called acceptable fan sites and unacceptable sites, Warner Bros. would run the risk of an unacceptable user crying foul and demonstrating that Warner Bros. does not effectively enforce its trademark rights. By doing so, a so-called "bad" unauthorized user might be able to persuade a court that Warner Bros. has no right to pick and choose. More importantly, there is a real risk that ignoring certain uses could weaken Warner Bros. case against any offensive uses.

Given the legal realities faced by Warner Bros., it is a far safer and far more prudent position to simply take the same stance with regard to all unauthorized uses of Warner Bros.'s Harry Potter marks. That is, no unauthorized uses allowed.

With regard to how a fan site could be located on the web without a source identifying moniker which uses one of Warner Bros. Harry Potter marks, the content of a web site is usually searched and/or catalogued by search engines and directories. If the content of a web site contains fan information on Harry Potter then this information should be obtainable by conducting a search on an appropriate search engine or directory service. In fact, I just conducted a YAHOO! search and found several sites containing various information on Harry Potter that did not use any of the Harry Potter trademarks in the URL.

In summary, I would hope that your next article regarding the enforcement of trademark or other intellectual property rights will take a far more balanced approach and remember that intellectual property owners are burdened with the chore of policing the marketplace in order to retain valuable rights to their intellectual property. Sometimes this burden results in what appears to be, at least at first blush, an unfair or inappropriate position. However, a closer look at the realities faced by intellectual property owners reveals that sometimes an objective standard is the best position.

Kind regards
J. Scott Evans



Isn't Harry Potter the name of the colonel in the M.A.S.H series?



Someone should check and see. If M.A.S.H. is not owned by WB then someone should make a Harry Potter fan site with M.A.S.H references inside.

Then tell WB to go take a flying fuck when they get the nastygram.

Hmmm lawsuits for harassment could be fired back at them also.

David Walsh



While I respect Warner Brothers' desire to protect its Harry Potter trademark, I take umbrage at your biased portrait of WB's actions against Claire Field and other young people who have created Potter fan sites. WB lawyers refuse to take into consideration the nature and level of infringement of a contested web site. Trademark law distinguishes between uses of a mark that are confusing and uses that are benign. If a use of a mark does not harm the consumer, it is a lesser violation, possibly not prosecutable under federal law.



In order to determine the amount of infringement, the content of the Web site must be considered. There is no evidence that WB performed even a cursory examination of the Web sites in this case. Most, if not all, of the information on Ms. Field's site is protected by Fair Use statues, as it is both non-commercial and in no way a substitute for the original work.

I am no lawyer, in fact I am a student similar in age to Ms. Field. However, my age does not preclude me from knowing when something is wrong. WB's stifling of free speech and expression by seizure of domain names through bullying tactics is unfair to the fans and admirers of the Harry Potter franchise. Surely a publication of such stature of the Wall Street Journal recognizes the need for free expression, as evident by the use of the copyrighted Warner Brothers character Elmer Fudd in the WSJ editorial cartoon.

Of course, for your publication it's different, as you won't be receiving cease-and-desist letters from WB lawyers anytime soon.

Daniel Silverman



I just read your latest article on the whole WB stomping on innocents to get its way. At the beginning of this whole situation I had never read the Harry Potter books, but I actually received a few of the books for Christmas in some parcels from relatives. They are very well written and I enjoy reading them


What I don't understand is how WB thinks what they are doing is right? Do they have their heads shoved so far from sunshine that they've forgotten to be human?



I am rather infuriated over this. I do have a harrypotter domain (harrypotterguide.ca, which I offered to Claire and the offer is still open), and I intend to state both my opinion of the books and of their Actions on it.

If they have a problem with it, they can come and tell me personally...that is if they can actually get to where I am (Arctic Canada), and I will still tell them where to put their threats.

If you don't mind passing along my best wishes to Claire and her family, please. Especially her dad. I hope he gets better soon. Having one of those nasty "do it our way or else" notes from American Companies can cause some serious shock/stress in individuals...I know, I've gotten some before.
Personally, I just use those notes for kindling for the fireplace, as it gets darn cold up here.

Sincerely,
Ken Haines



[Conspiracy theorist alert]



I wonder if this is one of those fake disputes created by WB's publicity department: use the media to generate excitement (aka free publicity) for the Harry Potter movie, a la Blair Witch Project.

It's all those !!! in the emails that's got me suspicious. Real emails wouldn't contain that many exclamation marks.

The harrypotterguide Web site seems to include much more detail than what a 15-year-old would be capable of producing on her own.

Regards,
Ralph Grabowski

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