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Hollywood giant strangles boy's Harry Potter web site.

Byline: By DANIEL DAVIES Western Mail

A harry Potter fan has been involved in a two-year stand-off with movie giants Warner Brothers, who claim his web site infringes their copyright. Teenager Owen Rickards has been forced to shut down the web site dedicated to the wizard, despite owning the Harry Potter domain name.

Even though Owen, 15, of Abersoch, near Pwllheli, paid for the right to set up www. harry-potterfanclub.com, the Hollywood company says it owns the Harry Potter brand.

Owen bought the domain name in 2001, but soon after uploading the fansite, Warner Brothers wrote to him telling him he had no right to use the web address.

Owen said, 'Officially and legally I own the domain name, though it is an infringement of their copyright. How it can be is beyond me.

'I can't see why on earth it is bothering them really, but they sent me the letter in the first place, saying if I didn't reply they would consider it a hostile response.

'I replied saying, 'I do not know what you have got against me and I am not trying to harm you'.

'They tried to get me to hand it [the site] over to them and offered to reimburse me for the cost of the domain name.'

Warner Brothers did not offer to cover the cost of maintaining and running the web site which cost him far more, Owen said.

He has not heard from Warner Brothers since 2002 and has not been able to host a site since then.

He said, 'I did send something back to them asking what they wanted to do and making them an offer.

'I was 12 when I bought the domain name. I saved up the money and had to work quite hard for it really.

'The last thing they sent me was just a transfer document saying 'sign here'.

'It is not something I would just give up because that is not fair.'

His mother Mary, a part- time teacher, said, 'At the time he loved all the Harry Potter books, and he went ahead and did a fansite.

'I thought he was quite enterprising actually.

'When the business with Warner Brothers came up he dealt with them himself - getting off the school bus and then dealing with their legal representatives. He had his own little dossier.'

A Warner Brother's spokesperson said, 'In 2001 we asked that Owen assign the domain name to us and at the same time we offered to license this back to him to continue to use it.

'This reached an amicable conclusion.

'Warner Brothers Entertainment owns various intellectual property rights in Harry Potter. This name could be confusing to fans looking for an official fan club and consequently it was important to us, in protecting those fans, to ensure that content on this web site was appropriate.'

The web site is currently dormant, but Warner Brothers said it would again seek to make sure 'content is suitable' if Owen posted another site.

This week the latest Harry Potter film - The Prisoner of Azkaban - premiered in New York.

But schoolboy actor Daniel Radcliffe's days as the wizard could be numbered.

With his own 15th birthday approaching, the child star is fast outgrowing the role.

Although he is cast to appear in the fourth movie, The Goblet of Fire, it is questionable whether he will be able to play Potter a fifth time.: Star predicts death of wizard:Harry potter star Daniel Radcliffe predicts the schoolboy wizard will die in the last book. Radcliffe reckons author JK Rowling plans to kill off her beloved Harry. Harry's fate in the seventh and final book is a closely-guarded secret.

But with every new instalment Rowling reveals more connections between the character and his arch-enemy, wizard Lord Voldemort.

Radcliffe, 14, said, 'I'm going to be really unpopular for saying this about Harry, but I've always had the suspicion - with everything that's going on - that he might die.

'Harry and Voldemort have the same core in them, we get to see that in the fourth film.

'The only way Voldemort could die is if Harry dies as well.' Voldemort was responsible for the deaths of Harry's parents and left him with the scar on his forehead.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 28, 2004
Words:710
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