Harry Potter and the Fixation Requirement: An Attempt at Applying the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 to J.K. Rowling's World of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Yvette Joy Liebesman, Georgetown University Law Center


In the Harry Potter universe, images in photographs and paintings are magically animated. Supposing these items exist, one could posit whether they qualify for copyright protection under current United States law; that is, whether works such as the paintings that hang at Hogwarts meet the subject matter and fixation requirements under the Copyright Act of 1976. The qualifications for protection of works created with such a new technology may already be adequately addressed under the current law. If so, we should question whether legislation should be created to regulate a technology, or protect associated rights, that is either in its infancy or does not yet exist, without a strong public policy reason.