Harry Potter and the Brazen Knock-offs

The New York Times reports that bootleg editions of the Harry Potter novels as well  as unauthorized continuations and sequels abound in  China, where counterfeiting and copyright infringement are major industries.

No one can say with any certainty what the full tally is, but there are easily a dozen unauthorized Harry Potter titles on the market here already, and that is counting only bound versions that are sold on street corners and can even be found in school libraries. Still more versions exist online.

These include "Harry Potter and the Half-Blooded Relative Prince," a creation whose name in Chinese closely resembles the title of the genuine sixth book by Rowling, as well as pure inventions that include "Harry Potter and the Hiking Dragon," "Harry Potter and the Chinese Empire," "Harry Potter and the Young Heroes," "Harry Potter and Leopard-Walk-Up-to-Dragon," and "Harry Potter and the Big Funnel."

Some borrow little more than the names of Rowling’s characters, lifting plots from other well-known authors, like J. R. R. Tolkien, or placing the famously British protagonist in plots lifted from well-known kung-fu epics and introducing new characters from Chinese literary classics like "Journey to the West."

The publishers of these rip-offs are unapologetic and surprisingly candid about what they are doing.

Wang Lili, editor of the China Braille Publishing House, which published "Harry Potter and the Chinese Porcelain Doll" in 2002, one of the Chinese knockoffs, said: "We published the book out of a very common incentive. Harry Potter was so popular that we wanted to enjoy the fruits of its widely accepted publicity in China."

I can only imagine how these knock-offs make Rowling feel…and how confused Chinese readers must be. How can they tell the real books from the fakes?

3 thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Brazen Knock-offs”

  1. It seems it would be rather simple to tell which books are real and which aren’t.
    I mean, we aren’t talking about the Hardy Boys here, with a hundred-thousand different titles. There are seven Harry Potter books.
    Memorization, it seems, will take you that far.
    Here’s my question: why don’t they just publish that same seven books illegally? Certainly, it’s against even Chinese copyright to publish unauthorized Harry Potter and…’s. It seems they would make more money, and it would require less work, if they just copied the Rowling texts word for word.

  2. I imagine that the Chinese people have other things to worry about… besides which, it is a cultural thing that I guess they have gotten used to: This has been happening with movies and such over there for years.
    And of course, I’m sure JK Rowling is at a financial point where she can be philosophical about such things, although it must grate a little…
    (None of which makes it okay, of course, but there is enough of this sort of nonsense happening in the West without getting too wound up about an issue that would seem to have risen out of an Eastern cultural thing… And there are other things that are more objectionable going on in China that need dealing with first!)
    To G.T: The reason, of course, is to make more money then you would by just recycling the same seven books. Doing it that way, you only make seven sales per customer. The more knock-offs you make, the more sales per customer you can pull off.

  3. I really have nothing important to add to this issue, but there is something else that’s caught my interest.
    I’ve noticed more and more lately that fanfic writers have been selling their “books” on cafepress. They all claim they aren’t profiting from the venture, and that the money only goes into the actual printing process, but … it seems fishy to me. Fanfic is something I enjoy, as long as the writers aren’t profiting from any of it. “Publishing” via cafepress crosses that line. Besides the fact that it is supremely illegal/immoral, it also takes advantage of the reader.
    It’s like when people put “paypal” links on their fanfic pages. For most writers/readers, fanfic is a hobby or a passion. Then you get theses asses who think they can turn some sort of profit off their trash.
    It’s something you should look into, this cafepress BS.


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