To nobody's surprise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
has broken all sorts of records, notching preorders in the millions. With just five days before publication, however, there may now be a fly in the wizardly ointment. According to reports like this one
, from Canada's National Post
, at least some portions of the book may have been leaked online:
A 33-year-old Vancouverite has downloaded what appears to be about 60% of the seventh and final Harry Potter book--even though the children's novel isn't supposed to be officially released until midnight Saturday. The discovery of what appears to be major portions of the novel on a European website is part of the continuing hype over the imminent release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
The Vancouverite mentioned above, Byron Ng, claims to have found 495 pages of the book on a peer-to-peer network. "It is not an e-book or Word file, which is what people would normally do," Ng told National Post
reporter Kevin Griffin. "What some guy did was take pictures of it, 500 little files, each with a picture of a page. Someone took the trouble to do that." A representative of Raincoast Books, which publishes the Potter series in Canada, declined to verify the authenticity of the text.
But meanwhile, the plot thickens: it appears that there may be more than one alleged version of Deathly Hallows
floating around the Internet. Back in June, a hacker claimed to have stolen
a copy of the manuscript from Bloomsbury, the book's British publisher. The hacker, "Gabriel," posted a number of plot spoilers, which caused a spike in traffic over at Insecure.org
(a security and hacking site that archived his initial post
on a mailing list.) This may or may not be the version Ng encountered.
And what of Scholastic, which publishes the series in the United States? In response to a telephone query, NewsQuake received a one-size-fits-all email statement from the company's Vice President for Corporate Communications, Kyle Good. "There is a lot of material on the Internet that claims to come from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
," he writes, "but anyone can post anything on the Internet and you can't believe everything you see online. We all have our theories on how the series will end, but the only way we'll know for sure is to read the book ourselves at 12:01 a.m. on July 21st. No matter what anyone claims before that time, we know that parents, booksellers, librarians and especially fans do not want spoilers but rather want to keep the magic alive for that midnight moment when everyone can read the book together."
That said, Scholastic has taken steps to put out yet another piracy-related fire. According to this story
in the Los Angeles Times
, the company has "obtained a subpoena to learn the identity of a user who allegedly posted copies of the final sequel, scheduled for release Saturday, on a California website." The offending material was posted on Photobucket.com, a file-sharing service owned by Fox Interactive. Scholastic has sought not only the removal of the leaked material (which did, according to the subpoena, amount to copyright infringement) but the identity of the poster.
To complicate matters further, NewsQuake has obtained yet another
purported Potter manuscript. The 659-page PDF is clearly not the same one stumbled across by Ng--it's a typescript, with none of the blurry images described in the National Post
article. And unless J.K. Rowling has seriously gone off her game, this one
is clearly a fake. The prose is inept, and on the penultimate page, a randy Harry seems to be giving Ron Weasley some erotic tips:
"Maybe you should stop and pay [Snape] a visit before you leave on your honeymoon," Harry said, grinning. "Ask him for a Potency-Increasing Potion or something. You and Hermione have some catching up to do."
If that's authentic, I'll eat my sorting hat
. It's a tribute to the power of Rowling's series, of course, that such fan-generated sequels have become a minor, black-market industry. But unless Ng's find turns out to be the real thing, Potter fans will have to wait for the legitimate release on Saturday.