Suit claims paper damaged rights, harmed marketing campaign

NEW YORK — Author J.K. Rowling sued the Daily News for $100 million Wednesday after the newspaper obtained an early copy of her new Harry Potter novel and published a preview, the book’s U.S. publisher said.

The News published details of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” after buying a copy from a Brooklyn health food store that had mistakenly put the book out for sale before its Saturday release.

Suit, prepared by lawyers for Rowling and Scholastic Inc., claims the newspaper damaged Rowling’s intellectual property rights and harmed Scholastic’s $3 million worldwide marketing campaign.

Book — the fifth installment in the adventures of the boy wizard — has been under extraordinary security ahead of the release. In a statement, Scholastic said it hoped “this unfortunate situation will not spoil the surprise for millions of children around the country who have been eagerly awaiting the book.”

Scholastic provided a copy of the suit to the Associated Press and said it had been filed late Wednesday in Manhattan federal court. There was no way to verify the claim Wednesday evening.

“We will vigorously defend any action and are confident we did nothing wrong journalistically or legally,” Daily News spokesman Ken Frydman said.

The News story contained what it called a “brief glimpse into the 870 action-packed pages” of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”

“If you don’t want to know anything about how Harry and his pals spend their fifth year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, stop now, and buy the book when it’s officially released Saturday,” the News said.

An accompanying graphic displayed, with legible text, two of the novel’s pages.

The News said the store owner received a shipment of four books from a wholesaler and decided to put them in the window. The owner told the paper he didn’t know he was supposed to wait until Saturday. The paper withheld the name of the store and its owner.

Retailers signed agreements not to put the book on sale early, with Scholastic threatening to punish violators by withholding timely shipments of future Potter books.

Stores across the U.S. plan late-night parties Friday, and a countdown is scheduled in New York’s Times Square.

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