Book five restraining order issued for 'John Doe'

  May 8, 2003 at 4:41 PM ET
  Cheeser     HPANA

From PRNewsWire via Yahoo! Newsopens in new window:


We represent J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, the publisher of those books. We will be sending to you as soon as possible, by way of service, an Order made this afternoon in the High Court by Mr Justice Laddie obtained on their behalf once the Minute of Order has been drawn up.

This Order needs to be fully considered but in summary it restrains "John Doe" from disclosing either the text or any of the contents of the fifth unpublished Harry Potter book entitled 'Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix' and also requires all copies of the book to be returned to this firm. It will also prevent those with knowledge of the terms of the Order from assisting 'John Doe' in breaching the terms of the Order made against him.

In the Sun newspaper of yesterday it was disclosed that a "shifty sounding man" had tried to sell to the Sun three chapters of this book for 25,000 pounds Sterling. Subsequently, someone, probably the same person, tried to sell the book to the Daily Mail and also to the Daily Mirror.

Each newspaper properly declined to deal with that person. There is no criticism of any newspaper to be implied from the fact that they are referred to in the Order or made a Defendant.

"John Doe" is a pseudonym. The true identity of "John Doe" has not yet been discovered. The Police are actively searching his identity and whereabouts. It will therefore be necessary to serve this Order on the media to bind them with the terms of the Order under the principles established in the Spycatcher case and also in the expectation that the media will publish details of this Order which will thereby bring it to "John Doe"'s attention.

To our knowledge this is the first time in this country in over 150 years that a fictional "John Doe" has been used in proceedings where the precise identity of the Defendant is presently unknown although it has continued to be used in the USA. It has therefore established an important legal precedent particularly in the area of intellectual property piracy.

Jeff's Comments

I think the main points to consider are:

  • As of this release, the identity of the thief who stole copies of the fifth Harry Potter book is unknown.
  • A court order has been drawn up to prevent this unknown thief ("John Doe") from publishing the contents of the book.
  • According to the release, this is the first time in 150 years that a "John Doe" has been issued a court order of this type, which could have wide-reaching copyright infringement consequences. My thoughts: Can the entertainment industry now get a court order to stop "John Doe" (i.e. anybody) from publishing illegally copied movies and music on the Internet (i.e. file-trading networks)? Things could get interesting.

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