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Warner Bros. bans Ipswich Museum from use of Harry Potter brand in Book Night event

PUBLISHED: 20:31 01 February 2018

Visitors enjoyed a wizarding evening at Ipswich Museum.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Visitors enjoyed a wizarding evening at Ipswich Museum. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Organisers for a community Harry Potter Book Night event were left petrified after Warner Bros. lawyers issued them with a stark warning they were in breach of copyright – despite hundreds of events across the country using the wizarding wonder’s name.

Louise and Bruce Page  enjoyed a magical evening  at Ipswich Museum.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNLouise and Bruce Page enjoyed a magical evening at Ipswich Museum. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The annual Harry Potter Book Night took place tonight, where muggles nationwide donned their best robes and grabbed their wands to take part in a series of spellbinding celebratory events.

For the third year running Ipswich Borough Council prepared its event at the museum, but organisers were stunned when a less-than-charming letter arrived from the lawyers at Warner Bros. – the firm behind the successful film franchise – just two days before the event stating that they couldn’t use the name.

It said that because the museum event was one which sold alcohol, was aimed at adults and charged entry fee on the door, it was benefiting from copyright material. Other events across the county were not approached.

Organisers attempted to defend the darks arts event by outlining that it did not make a profit, but only covered its costs with the entry fee, and had followed the correct procedure three months prior by applying to book publishers Bloomsbury, but Warner Bros. still refused.

It meant that none of the staff could dress as the series’ characters, and the activities could not reference the names or objects in the film and book series.

The event still went ahead with minor changes, but were forced to delete social media posts and rename it.

A borough council spokesman said: “We registered the event some time ago and were surprised and disappointed to be contacted this week by lawyers representing Warner Bros., asking us to drop all references to Harry Potter and associated characters. We have complied with their instructions but while we did change the name to A School of Magick Night we hope our audience enjoyed themselves.

“This event is not designed to make money – we charge simply to cover costs. Our main aim is to attract younger adults to the museum, show them what we have to offer and get the message across that museums are magic. In future years, we will use the new name for what has become a very popular event.”

A Warner Bros. spokesman said: “We reach out where necessary to protect our valuable intellectual property rights, especially if they are being used commercially without licence or permission and, in this instance, for an event that appeared to be a ‘Book Night’ in name only.”

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