Oakland, California: Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Brothers unit sued an Indian movie company for infringing copyrights relating to its Harry Potter film series.
Mirchi Movies of Mumbai is part of Times Group’s Entertainment Network unit. Mirchi produces 12-15 feature films a year, mainly in Hindi, according to the company website.
One of its forthcoming releases is Hari Puttar: A Comedy of Terrors. The film features a child actor in adventures that, according to the film synopsis, sound a lot more closely related to the 1990 film Home Alone than to the exploits of J.K. Rowling’s young magician Harry Potter.
The film is set in the UK and features a 10-year-old Indian immigrant who is mistakenly left home with his younger cousin while the rest of the family goes off on vacation. As is the case in Home Alone, the young hero must deal with bumbling burglars who botch a home invasion.
Warner sued in Bombay high court, with arguments set for this week. “Warner Bros values and protects intellectual property rights,” Scott Rowe, a Warner Brothers spokesman, said on Monday in an emailed statement confirming the legal action.
He declined to provide further details of the suit, saying “it is our policy not to discuss publicly the details of any ongoing litigation.”
Mirchi Movies’ chief operating officer Munish Purii told the UK’s Guardian newspaper, “I don’t think our title has any similarity or links with Harry Potter.” Meanwhile, another Hari Puttar has showed up on Google Inc.’s YouTube.com site.
Hari Puttar Aur Jadoo Ki Chadi (Harry Potter and the Magic Wand) bills itself as a “copycat production”. It’s “Harry Potter as conceived by Bollywood”, according to the film description on YouTube. It features Bhangra-style dancing and music—a common feature of Bollywood films—and low-tech special effects. The film makers posted a mock rating notice, saying it was “R for Rubbish.”
At the end of this film, producers posted the notice that this is “parody and protected under fair use”.
Warner’s sixth Harry Potter film Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince won’t be released until July 2009.
Gillian Wee in New York and Susan Decker and William McQuillen in Washington contributed to this story.