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Rowling reins in Russian copycat

Amsterdam, March 13 (Reuters): British Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has accused a Russian writer of copying her work and asked a Dutch court to block publication of one of his books in the Netherlands, her lawyer said.

Rowling has asked an Amsterdam court to prevent the publication of the first western edition of The Magic Double Bass by Dmitry Yemets, which her lawyer said copies her hit book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

The Russian book features a girl called Tanya Grotter. Potter and Grotter have much in common. Both are orphans, have strange marks on their faces, wield magical powers and battle an enemy too terrible to be named.

The Russian writer says his work is a parody, putting Harry Potter in a Russian context. His Dutch publisher Byblos said his work was not a copy of Rowling’s work but a response to the hype surrounding the boy wizard.

Yemets said last year that he trusted his readers to be able to tell the difference between Potter and Grotter, and would happily have it translated so Western critics could check.

But Rowling and the media giant AOL Time Warner — responsible for turning her books into movie hits — are planning to take the issue to court.

“There are three grounds. Copyright infringement, trademark infringement and unfair competition. It copies storyline, plot and the characters,” said lawyer Diederik Stols of law firm Allen & Overy, acting for Rowling and Time Warner Entertainment.

Rowling and Time Warner aim to block publication of 7,000 copies of a Dutch translation of his book in April. The case is due to be heard at Amsterdam District Court on March 25. Byblos said it would contest the case.

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