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Nancy Stouffer

From Academic Kids

Nancy Kathleen Stouffer, also known as N. K. Stouffer, is an author who wrote children's books in the 1980s. Most famously, she wrote The Legend of Rah and the Muggles (in 1984) and Larry Potter and His Best Friend Lilly.

Stouffer accused J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, of plagiarism, claiming that Rowling infringed on her trademark to the term Muggles and on her copyright to illustrations of Larry Potter. Rowling filed a lawsuit against Stouffer in the United States to stop the claims, and Stouffer filed a countersuit alleging the infringement. The court ruled in favor of Rowling.

Comparison of books and characters

The Muggles in Stouffer's book are different from those in Rowling's. What was allegedly infringed was the term—not characters or story ideas—although Stouffer's book has on its front cover a castle in the mountains by a lake (the same setting as Hogwarts school).

Harry Potter's mother is Lily, similar to Larry Potter's friend Lilly. Harry Potter's first name rhymes with Larry, and the last names are identical. Harry and Larry both wear glasses and have black hair. Larry's hair is wavy; Harry's is "unruly". Larry Potter does not appear in The Legend of Rah and the Muggles—he is a character in a series of activity books created by Stouffer and reprinted recently. There is confusion about whether Larry actually had a last name in the original activity books, which are now impossible to find.

The names Nevils and Nimbus also appear in Stouffer's books. ("Nimbus" does not appear in The Legend of Rah and the Muggles but in an unpublished book by Stouffer.) In Rowling's books, there is a character named Neville Longbottom, and a brand of flying broomstick is Nimbus 2000.

There is disagreement about whether the terms "Muggles" and "Larry Potter" appeared in the original titles of Stouffer's books. Stouffer claims that they did, but the court judged in the lawsuit that her evidence for this was altered. Indeed, the name "Larry Potter" may never have appeared in the book at all. Stouffer's web site [1] (http://www.realmuggles.com/) advertises a $100 reward for an original edition that will prove that it did appear.

Outcome of court case

In September 2002, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York found not only that Rowling did not pilfer the Muggles, but also that Stouffer had lied to the court and doctored evidence to support her claims. Judge Allen G. Schwartz fined Stouffer $50,000 for this "pattern of intentional bad faith conduct" [2] (http://www.usatoday.com/money/media/2002-09-18-potter-suit_x.htm). Stouffer was also ordered to pay a portion of the plaintiff's attorney's fees.

Stouffer maintains her position and denies the allegations from Rowling and Scholastic Press that resulted in the ruling. She filed a Motion for Reconsideration with the Court and appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit when that motion was denied. However, the Appeals Court found for Rowling again.

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