J.K. Rowling law firm sued Russian publishing house Eksmo on plagiarism allegation
The pending case concerning Harry Potter and Tanya Grotter will get its first court decision on March 25th in Amsterdam. J.K. Rowling, her agents, to be more precise, managed to endure Tanya Grotter’s success in Russia (500 thousand books were sold in Russia over six months). They only released several unfounded plagiarism accusations against Eksmo publishing house and Tanya Grotter’s author, Dmitry Yemets. Yet, J.K. Rowling had get a lot more serious after the news about Tanya Grotter’s publishing in the Danish language.
The story started in October of the last year, when the general director of the Eksmo publishing house received a letter from the law firm LeBoeuf, Lamb, Green and MacRae, which represents Rowling’s interest, from Time Warter and from the Russian publishing house Rosman. In the letter it was said in a decisive way that publishing Tanya Grotter books should be stopped. The letters also ran that Eksmo publishing house should present the financial account about Tanya Grotter book sales. In case of non-execution of the ultimatum, the law firm claimed that it would sue Dmitry Yemets and Eksmo publishing company.
Potential claimants managed to accuse the company Eksmo of plagiarism on numerous occasions, to cancel several press briefings, and someone even said that they had nothing against Eksmo. However, the Dutch publishing house Biblos evinced its interest in Tanya Grotter, became Eksmo’s partner and acquired rights for publishing the book in the English and in the Danish languages.
The Russian publishing house Rosman, which publishes Harry Potter books in Russian, claimed that J.K. Rowling would try to prevent from publishing Harry Potter's literature clone abroad. As it was also said, the pending case in Amsterdam would become an incentive for instituting criminal proceedings against Dmitry Yemets and Eksmo at a Russian court. Aleksey Shekhov, the press secretary of the Eksmo publishing house, stated that experts found no reasons for “Tanya Grotter” to lose the lawsuit.
Dmitry Yemets, Tanya Grotter’s author, said in his interview to PRAVDA.Ru that he would prefer to have this Potter-Grotter competition as a literature dispute, but not a legal dispute:
The story with the legal dispute is not pleasant for me. However, I think that the fact that J.K. Rowling’s lawyers went to court implies the fact of weakness. I hope that Tanya Grotter will become stronger at court.
Dmitry, what is Russian readers’ attitude to the current situation? Do they accuse you of plagiarism?
I receive about 30 emails a day, and only three of them are negative emails. Of course, I had to deal with those people, who do not like Tanya Grotter.
Do you agree upon the fact that literature criticism sees anything similar between Tanya Grotter in Russia and Harry Potter abroad as compared to the situation with foreign Pinochio and its Russian variant, Buratino?
I acknowledge the fact that a foreign book might become successful in Russia. A foreign book might have the creative continuation in the Russian language. There is also a chance that such continuation might become more successful than the original. This has already happened before, when Russian writers developed the work of a foreign writer and achieved considerable success as a result of that. On the other hand, Tanya Grotter was not meant to become a re-development to Harry Potter. It was a Russian response to Harry Potter, a parody. Tanya Grotter is a girl with a mole on her nose. She goes to study at a school of magicians. This is the initial point of the story. Other books about Tanya do not have any reference to Rowling’s books.
Do you manage to find time for your writing against the background of the controversy with Tanya Grotter?
Luckily, the controversy happens in an uneven way. I try to write every day. If I leave my text for a long time, it will get rough. Four books have already been published, there are four more plots. Eight books are planned to be published in total. Six of them are to be published until the end of the current year. Tanya Grotter leaves Harry Potter behind, casting all plagiarism talks aside.
Eight books about Tanya and that’s it?
If I do not feel weary, I will keep on writing.
Are you going to Amsterdam?
Yes, I am going there to present my book in the Danish language. Now I collect documents for the trip.
What about the court session?
I stated that I would like to be present there, although I am not sure that I will be able to have my visa by that time. Anyway, such criminal procedures last for more than one day. I think that I will have time to go to court, when I come to Holland at the end of April.
The presentation of the fourth book about Tanya Grotter is to take place soon at the Russian national book fair. It is interesting that the presentation of the book will take place near the Eksmo stand, which is located next to Rosman’s stand (the company, which publishes Harry Potter in Russian). The opposition between the English magic boy and the Russian sarcastic girl continues. They will see each other in Amsterdam.
On the photo: The cover of the book "Tanya Grotter and the Disappearing Floor"
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov