Houston Community News >> Wizards Work Their Magic on Harry Potter Translations

8/15/2007--Translation is not an art taught at Hogwarts - but impatient Harry Potter fans in the country posted the Chinese version of the last installment of the series online as fast as the Hogwarts Express.

The official Chinese version hits bookstores late in October but fans can already download dozens of translations of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - all done by young wizards who worked their magic within hours of the release of the English version last month.

The first full-length translated version is said to have appeared on the Internet on July 21, the day of the book's global release. Links for downloads could be found as early as 11:44 pm that day, or within 15 hours after the English copies were released in the country.

Teenagers on their summer holidays reportedly bought the English copies as soon as bookstores opened, and started translating. They worked in teams and round the clock, eating nothing but instant noodles, according to messages they left on the Internet.

The most famous teams include the Hogwarts Institute of Translation and the International Wizard Alliance. The latter is an online club of more than 2,000 core members, led by a 15-year-old boy known as "wizardHali", whose call for naming July 21 the "World Harry Potter Day" has won the support of more than 100,000 netizens.

Their translations might have different styles but all versions followed standards set by official translations of the previous six books in terms of names and magic jargon like "muggle".

For fear of copyright disputes, all put up a notice in their works saying they were only meant for sharing: "We translated the book because we love Harry, and we do not intend to use it for commercial purposes."

But there might still be legal problems. The Chinese People's Publishing House, authorized to publish official Chinese versions of all the seven books, reportedly said it may "take legal measures" to deal with unauthorized translations.

Pirated book versions based on online translations can be found in some places for 10 yuan ($1.3) or less a copy.

There is a precedent in the form of a case in France.

According to the French media, a 16-year-old student from Aix-en-Provence has been arrested after allegedly posting a pirated translation of the latest J.K. Rowling book on the Internet.

The boy apparently couldn't wait for the French version, so he decided to translate all 784 pages himself.

According to Le Parisien, Rowling alerted her French publishers, Gallimard, to the unofficial version. Police were "particularly surprised" by its quality, which they said was "semi-professional".

The teenager could face charges for violating intellectual property rights.

But Frank Zhang, a lawyer at the Beijing office of the New York-based firm LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene and MacRae, said the Chinese boys and girls who translated the book and pasted the translations online were not violating any copyright law if they didn't do it for profit. It is the websites that will shoulder legal responsibility if they make revenues by using the translations, he said.

(Contributed by China Daily)