Date: 17th April 2003
J.K Rowling's publishers and team of lawyers spend much of their time intercepting hoax versions of her Harry Potter books, the latest of which has been fooling readers in Australia.
The long awaited fifth book in her phenomenally successful series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is officially released on June 21, but has been beaten by several dozen imitations on the internet.
But there's a simple way to detect the real thing from a fake.
Rowling's publishers revealed the first lines of the book in January but the latest hoaxer didn't even use that readily available tip to make their version more convincing.
The real Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix begins:
"The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive ... The only person left outside was a teenage boy who was lying flat on his back in a flowerbed outside No.4."
However, chapter one of the latest internet version doing the rounds in Australia opens:
"Come on, hurry up," scolded Mrs Dursley, "They'll be here soon and I don't want you around when they arrive." Harry stared down at his plate. Why did Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon always make him hide when people came to the house? Didn't he promise no magic of any kind, not even to mention the word?"
Rowling's lawyer in London, Neil Blair, said that monitoring the fakes had become a time-consuming occupation.
"There are quite a few fakes out there," he said.
"It's a growing problem because the internet is becoming more and more prevalent. We monitor it very closely.
"Sometimes they have JK's name on it which is potentially very damaging. I find that quite annoying, we've got to take action.
"Sometimes they're pornographic which is even more annoying because a lot of the fans are kids."
Blair said once a fake is spotted, he sends a cease and desist letter to the Internet Service Provider on which it appeared.
In 99 per cent of cases, the ISP will remove it from the net and inform the rogue writer they have infringed their regulations, although legal action has been taken against several persistent infringers.
Last year, an anonymous Chinese author ran out of patience waiting for Rowling to finish her fifth instalment and released the fake Harry Potter and Leopard Walk Up to Dragon under the Englishwoman's name, selling over a million copies in Beijing street markets.
The fifth volume in Rowling's series is the longest at 38 chapters and 255,000 words, more than a third longer than the fourth book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
The others have all gone to No.1 and have sold 200 million copies worldwide.
Source: Press Release