Opinion: Harry Potter And The Early Internetweb Leak

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stu-mugshot2.jpgStuart Dredge writes…

Who’d have thought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows would end with Harry turning traitor, gruesomely murdering Hermione, eating Ron Weasley, and eloping with Lord Voldemort to a new life in San Francisco, eh? Oh, sorry, SPOILER!

Okay, so I’ve got no idea how J.K. Rowling’s wizardy saga ends (although Shiny Shiny has ten guesses). To be honest, I’m hazy about what happens from about 20 pages into the first book, which is when I got bored. But canny internet users got an early look at the last novel in the series, after all 37 chapter titles, and 495 pages of actual text were posted on the internet this week.

Publisher Bloomsbury’s ninja lawyers leapt into action, so the website where the pages were originally posted has taken them down now, although they’re still findable on P2P services, apparently. But Potter fans have been raging… at the unidentified people who put the pages online!

Two thoughts spring to mind. First, Bloomsbury’s speedy reaction is understandable, but these sorts of leaks are inevitable nowadays, no matter how many security guards you hire to protect the final copies of a book (and let’s be honest, very few tomes beyond Harry Potter would be worth leaking online).

Is this kind of leak really damaging? I bet most of the people flocking to see the new book’s pages online yesterday were just curious, with no intention of actually buying Deathly Hallows this weekend. And the proper Potter fans won’t NOT buy it just because they’ve had a sneak preview online.

More importantly, the internet has been much more positive for the Harry Potter series in other ways, fostering a global community of fans following the books, chatting to each other, and even creating their own content around it (yes, including filthy fan-fic). The internet is a double-edged sword, in other words, except the positive edge is much more shiny and giving than the negative side. If that isn’t gobbledegook.

But the second thing that comes to mind reading about Potter fans’ rage at the leak is this: get over yourselves! “Why are these a******* trying to spoil this book for us?” ranted one (I assume the Telegraph has put those asterisks in). You don’t have to read a spoiler, particularly not when the link is sent to you as ‘Cor, read the final Harry Potter book here!’.

It’s one thing to blurt out in, say, a forum or chatroom that Darth Vader is Kevin Spacey’s father in The Usual Suspects, but it’s okay because they can only see Bruce Willis when he’s dead. That’s unacceptable. But if you really don’t want your enjoyment of the new Potter book spoiled, DON’T READ THE SPOILERS. It’s not rocket science.

Now, can someone tell me who Jodie Marsh ends up marrying in her new TV reality show? The last episode isn’t on for weeks and I just can’t wait.

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Stuart Dredge