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French police have arrested a 16-year-old accused of posting an unauthorised translation of the final Harry Potter book onto the net before the official translation comes out.

The unnamed high school student, from Aix-en-Provence in southern France, was taken in for questioning by police following a complaint from French publishing house Gallimard. He was later released after questioning by police from a French anti-counterfeiting unit. It's unclear whether or not he'll be prosecuted.

"Concerned that such acts of counterfeiting are threats to basic authors' and creators' rights, (author J K Rowling and Gallimard) immediately agreed to support the investigation as it was launched," Gallimard spokeswoman Marie Leroy-Lena said in a statement.

"It is not [just] a young person or a fan we are talking about here - these are organised networks that use young people," Leroy-Lena told Reuters.

The official translation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows isn't due out in France until 26 October. In the meantime, French stores are selling the English language version of the much-anticipated tome, something that happened with earlier editions in the series (the fifth Harry Potter book was the first English book to top the best-seller list in France).

An unofficial French translation of the first three chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows appeared online within days of the 21 July release of the English original, Le Parisien via Reuters reports.

Tight secrecy around the contents of all seven books in the Harry Potter series has meant the books are only released to translation once they are published in English, inevitably creating delays that run into weeks or longer. This creates a demand for unofficial translations that previously saw the publication of an unofficial Spanish-language version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Translation errors and gaps littered this translation, prompting the translator to apologise for its shortcomings. The quality of the French translation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is unknown. ®

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