March 16, 2001 4:30 PM PST
Warner Bros. backs off Harry Potter fight
Claire Field, the 15-year-old owner of harrypotterguide.co.uk, will maintain her site now that Warner Bros. has agreed not to seek transfer of the domain name.
That marks a reversal from Warner Bros. earlier position. In December, the company sent her a letter accusing her of infringing on the company's intellectual property rights.
In a statement announcing the development, Prettys Solicitors, which is representing Field, said the company, a subsidiary of AOL Time Warner, "is prepared now to rely on Claire's good faith and her assurance that she has no plans other than to continue her present noncommercial use of the domain name."
Warner Bros., which bought the rights to Harry Potter movies and merchandise from author J.K. Rowlings, has embarked on an aggressive campaign of cracking down on hundreds of unofficial fan sites and other pages that used the Harry Potter moniker in their domain names. The company's threatening letters have landed in the hands of some of young wizard's biggest fans--many of them pre-teens and teenagers--prompting some to organize a boycott of Harry Potter paraphernalia in protest.
It's unclear whether Warner Bros. is softening its stance against other fan sites or is just backing down because Field and her father, Les, have been vocal opponents of the studio's bullying. Upon receiving the letter, Claire Field contacted The Mirror, a British tabloid, which ran her story. Other papers, including some in the United States, followed with stories about her plight. Warner Bros. did not immediately return calls for comment.
Prettys, which just last month had begun a voluntary defense fund to fight Warner Bros., says it will refund the money shortly.
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