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'Harry Potter' Wizardry No Match For Online Pirates

Pirated versions of J.K. Rowling's latest book are turning up on file-sharing sites, causing consternation among the Muggles.

Witchcraft, wizardry, magical combat, and big publishing backers couldn't defend Harry Potter against the dark arts practiced by those who posted counterfeit versions of the latest and yet-to-be-released Harry Potter book online this week.

Pirated versions of the highly anticipated Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows swarmed the Internet before Saturday's release. It was unclear if the versions -- often appearing as photographs of the last pages of the book -- were accurate, but several fans on Harry Potter discussion boards guessed that they were and complained about them. The Los Angeles Times reported (registration required) that publisher Scholastic filed a lawsuit against at least one of the Web sites.

Some fans said the copies were so widespread, appearing on top-10 lists of several photo and file-sharing sites, that it was difficult for loyal fans to avoid accidentally seeing them.

The controversial file-sharing site Pirate Bay ranked several files appearing to contain the Harry Potter book or portions of it at the top of one of the site's 100-most-popular lists. Pirate Bay has not been named in reports about the publisher's lawsuit.

Author J.K. Rowling herself anticipated spoilers and leaks in a note to fans visiting her Web site in May. "The first distant rumblings of the weirdness that usually precedes a Harry Potter publication can be heard on the horizon," she wrote, adding that she wants readers to be able to "embark on the latest adventure without knowing where they are going."

"Some, perhaps, will read this and take the view that all publicity is good publicity," she said. "However, spoilers won't stop people buying the book, they never have -- all it will do is diminish their pleasure in the book."

Though industry associations and artists complain that piracy erodes their ability to make a living, huge hits, like the movie Sicko and last year's release of the Red Hot Chili Peppers album Stadium Arcadium seem to cope and do well regardless.

Fan loyalty and the not-so-magical power of decoys offer some help to creative types for overcoming the "dementors."

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