An artist is stripping JK Rowling's name off Harry Potter books and reselling them to fans who oppose the author's vocal anti-trans rhetoric. A legal expert says it's not copyright infringement.
- A trans artist in Canada is re-binding JK Rowling's "Harry Potter" books.
- The books are being sold with a new black and gold cover, without Rowling's name.
A Canadian trans artist is ripping off JK Rowling's name from the "Harry Potter" books, and replacing the cover for fans who'd rather have the book without the author's name on them.
The artist said in a January 4 TikTok video that they are a "trans artist and bookbinder." The video showcases Flom's process of re-binding the books. It involves the cover and a page with Rowling's name being torn off and replaced.
@sensitivequeer unrelated but if youre not listening to @reneerapp on repeat what are u doing #bookbinding #booktok #book #harrypotter #hp #trans #jkrowling #jkr #reneerapp #queer #twilight #twilightsaga #twilighttiktok ♬ Colorado - Reneé Rapp
The artist also posts book reveal videos on TikTok, which shows a black and gold hardcover, along with new end pages.
@sensitivequeer more content to come as new orders come in! #fyp #harrypotter #hp #harrystyles #booktok #book #bookbinding #jkrowling #reveal ♬ Daylight - Harry Styles
A video from January 2022 showed an early iteration of the project, where Flom removed the casing and several pages bearing Rowling's name from a copy of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."
@sensitivequeer Rebinding the entire Harry Potter series #fyp #trans #bookbinding #booktok #harrypotter #jkrowling #jkr #nonbinary #hp #hptiktok #books #ftm ♬ Young - Frankie Cosmos
Flom sells the full set of seven "Harry Potter" books for $1,600 Canadian dollars, or $1191. People can buy a single book in the series for $230 Canadian dollars. A set of "Harry Potter" hardcover books sold on Amazon goes for around $200.
Flom also offers a service where people can have their own copies re-bound.
The artist said a project started out of "spite" and "boredom" has snowballed into something bigger
In February 2022, Flom said on TikTok their aim with this project is to "engage critically and give an option to people who do still want to enjoy Harry Potter without supporting JK Rowling."
"A lot of people have been asking me what the point of this is or what anyone actually gains from me removing her name from the books. And honestly, originally, there wasn't a point or like anything really deep about this project," they added.
The artist said as well that they started the re-binding project "out of spite, and out of boredom."
"But with this platform, and with people's interest in the books, it's become something that is bringing attention to a trans Jewish artist's work, and will eventually bring about donations to trans charities," they said.
Rowling has been criticized for her transphobic remarks by activists and fans of the "Harry Potter" franchise. In June 2020, Rowling wrote an essay on her website about her views on gender invoking an anti-trans myth about trans people and bathrooms.
Rowling in 2020 promoted a store selling anti-trans merch saying "transwomen are men." The same year, Rowling went on a Twitter rant about how, in her opinion, transgender activism hurts women and lesbians — which resulted in her being accused of being a "TERF," or trans-exclusionary radical feminist.
The bookbinder might be operating in a grey area of trademark laws
Mark McKenna, a professor at UCLA's law faculty, told Insider Flom's work is not in violation of any copyright laws. But there might be a trademark claim — though McKenna says it would be "tricky" for Rowling to prove it.
"The Supreme Court's Dastar decision prohibits claims based on confusion about the origin of the book as a work of authorship," McKenna said.
"If they're binding and selling physical books, there's an argument that the claim is about the origin of the physical books," McKenna said.
"But Rowling would have to show that use of her name is not just a statement of authorship, but a trademark, and that's not a slam dunk," he added.
Rowling and Flom did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.
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