A security guard stands among boxes filled with
editions of the latest Harry Potter book, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly
Hallows,' inside a Barnes and Noble distribution center at an undisclosed
location in the northeastern United States, July 16, 2007.[Reuters]
Copies of the final Harry Potter book have already been shipped to customers
by one U.S. online retailer, U.S. publisher Scholastic said on Wednesday, and
purported copies of the novel have flooded the Internet.
Scholastic Corp. said it was taking legal action against book distributor
Levy Home Entertainment and DeepDiscount.com for breaching an embargo preventing
the seventh Harry Potter book from being sold in America before 12:01 a.m./0401
GMT on Saturday. The publisher said Levy delivered the books to the online
People started receiving copies of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" on
Tuesday, but the number of copies shipped only made up "around one one-hundredth
of one percent" of the 12 million copies due to go on sale, Scholastic said.
Photographs have also been posted on the Internet of what is claimed to be
each page of the book, but Scholastic would not comment on whether they were
real. Links to the pictures quickly flooded Web sites around the world.
Author J.K. Rowling appealed to fans to "ignore the misinformation popping up
on the Web and in the press on the plot." The book is due to be released in the
rest of the world when the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. Saturday in Britain (2301
"I'd like to ask everyone who calls themselves a Potter fan to help preserve
the secrecy of the plot for all those who are looking forward to reading the
book at the same time on publication day," she wrote on her Web site,
www.jkrowling.com. "In a very short time you will know EVERYTHING!"
Scholastic also issued a statement asking "everyone, especially the media, to
preserve the fun and excitement for fans everywhere."
Andrew Moscrip, vice president of Infinity Resources Inc., which owns
DeepDiscount.com, said the company was investigating the issue, adding:
"Obviously we're taking this matter very seriously."
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Levy could not immediately be reached for comment.
Scholastic delivered a subpoena on Monday to California-based Gaia Online, a
social networking site for teenagers, in relation to user-posted material on the
Harry Potter book.
"Gaia Online immediately removed the user-posted link from the site. ... In
addition, Gaia Online has banned the user in question for 14 days," Gaia Online
said in a statement.
But Scholastic is unable to remove all the photographs, which first appeared
on Monday on BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file sharing system that links personal
Unlike the Napster music-sharing service that was shut down by authorities
several years ago, such exchanges do not go through a central service, which
makes it almost impossible for the book's publishers to stop the file from being
BigChampagne Media Measurement estimated that by Wednesday about one copy of
the Harry Potter photographs was being downloaded per second and that 50,000 had
been exchanged since Monday.
BigChampagne Chief Executive Eric Garland said he believes the pictures are
Rowling fueled speculation about the ending of the last book when she said
last year that at least two characters would be killed off and a third got a
Tight security has surrounded Rowling's eagerly awaited final novel about the
teenage wizard. The first six books have sold 325 million copies worldwide.
Potter fans reacted angrily to purported Internet leaks.
"I hate it when people ruin things like this for everyone else who wants to
enjoy it the right way," one contributor wrote on Harry Potter fan site
www.mugglenet.com. "I think that's just the most awful thing ever. Especially
when there's spoilers where you least suspect it. People are jerks."