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Friday, 1 September, 2000, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
Harry Potter and the German pirates
Warehouse full of Harry Potter books
German fans don't want to wait for the new Harry Potter
By BBC News Online internet reporter Mark Ward

A group of German Harry Potter fans are facing legal action over their unofficial translation of the latest novel in the bestselling series about a boy wizard.

The German translation of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" is due to be published in October but some fans cannot wait that long.

A small group of Potter fanatics have started translating an English version of the book and posting the results on a website for anyone to download.

Now the German publisher is contemplating taking legal action against the group if they continue translating the book.

We have every intention of protecting the copyright by whatever means are available

Christopher Little, JK Rowling's agent

The community of German Harry Potter fans, or "Potterianerin" as they are known, is based around the website.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is due to be published in Germany on 14 October, almost four months after the title went on sale in Britain.

But rather than wait for the official version, the eager fans have bought an English copy of the book and have posted translated chapters on the harry-auf-deutsch website for anyone to download and read.

The group had finished translating the first six chapters of the book, were working on another nine, and were looking for people to translate the remaining 22, when their efforts came to the attention of German publisher Carlsen Verlag.

Eager readers

The publisher told the group it was violating copyright and asked them to stop immediately or face legal action. It also asked the company hosting the site to shut it down.

The fans tried to claim justification saying that Carlsen had raised the price of the book to cash in on demand.

Christopher Little, agent for Harry Potter author JK Rowling, said overzealous fans had caused similar problems in the past, adding: "We have every intention of protecting the copyright by whatever means are available."

Mr Little said the price rise was probably due to the fact that the latest Harry Potter book runs to over 850 pages in the German edition and reflects the cost of translating and printing it.

In the face of the legal threat, the translated chapters have been removed from the fans' website and the translation effort has been halted.

If the group had continued, Bernd Koeleman, the webmaster of the German site, faced heavy fines or a jail sentence.

The German incident is not the first time that unauthorised versions of the Harry Potter books have appeared on the internet. In the past, the text of one of the books was stolen and placed on a website. Once the website was discovered, it was closed down.

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23 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Shy Harry meets the press
06 Jul 00 | Entertainment
The Potter phenomenon
08 Jul 00 | Scotland
Pottermania works its magic
30 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
Doing the rights thing
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