This week a British judge refused to dismiss a plagiarism lawsuit against best-selling author J.K. Rowling. The claims against the wildly successful creator of “Harry Potter” say that she stole ideas from an obscure fantasy book. The judge said that a proper hearing should be held to consider the matter.

Is plagiarism simply copying words? Or is it more complicated than that?

The dictionary defines plagiarism as “the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.”

(Before we leave “Harry Potter” behind, have you ever wondered if there really is something called a “hallow,” and why they might be “deathly?” Click here to learn what “hallow” means in the real world. Also, what’s the non-“Potter” source of “muggle?”)

Plagiarism, then, is not just lifting sentences from another writer’s work and claiming them as your own. If a writer duplicates the ideas of another, it too may fall under the definition of the dreaded “P Word.” Plagiarism can be avoided if writers dutifully credit their sources.

The word comes from the Latin plagiarius, which means “kidnapper.”

The Roman poet Martial first used the word in the context of stealing another’s literary work. He claimed that another poet had “kidnapped his verses.” (“Kidnap” has nothing to do with taking a nap. Check out where the “nap” in “kidnap” comes from, here.

Interestingly, up until the 18th century, plagiarism in Europe was not considered fraudulent behavior. In fact, copying the masters was encouraged, and originality was rarely considered praiseworthy.


  1. Greg Simcock, the "Original Creator of Harry Potter" -  December 14, 2011 - 9:14 pm

    Thank you Francis for your belief in what I have said. It is all true from my point of view and only a tiny amount of it that can be said.

    I have posted the facts for those who would like to know more of this unknown author. Me! I am Gregory Ronald Simcock, the true creator of the Harry Potter story. I am the young, the older, and old Philosopher in that story.

    Plagiarism I have written about but some thing of the original creator of the Harry Potter stories concepts, and also Willy the Willy concept and cover-page art of the booklet, is for your reading leisure at;


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  4. Francis -  April 14, 2011 - 1:29 pm

    I have read it and *GASP* I think that J.K.R stole her ideas.

  5. Francis -  April 14, 2011 - 1:25 pm

    @Mylord, you have given us an extraordinarily amount of information to chew on. Anaways, since I am an avid Harry Potter fan, I will read it.

  6. Mylord -  November 15, 2010 - 11:12 am

    It’s all very well to believe what you have been told, but ‘the true origins of Harry Potter’ are not known to you, your friends, or your mind! Hello reader, my name is Gregory. Let me tell you something you don’t know. The information you will read may seem untrue, or upsetting, but it is true and upsetting for the real creator of The Harry Potter story to have to tell this information as it is told here. The true author of the Harry Potter story has not been credited for his stories. Using the name Mylord, this unknown author, on amplify.com, has an article for you to read, titled; ‘The-True-Origins-Of-Harry-Potter. You may have read claims of origin of the Harry Potter concept, but you have never read or heard the truth, if the source of the information was from J K Rowling, as the truth would indicate an Australian man designed the Harry Potter story.

    On the mentioned site, be sure to read; ‘The Slimy Blood-Worm’. It is a short story that this unknown author envisioned while distressed in thought, after reading some of the outlandish claims of the origin of the Harry Potter story concept. The short story is written as it was envisioned, and so it will let you see something wonderful has been created, but the deviation in the story may surprise you. If you continue to think the Harry Potter story fell into Joanne K Rowling’s head, fully informed, then perhaps you might believe she was on a delayed train too! You have been mislead by the person you think of as the creator of the Harry Potter concept. The real creator has not been given any credit for the original story-boarded story concept design material. It is I who created the concept of Harry Potter, and done so over many years. Many years designing and building it.

    The author wants the reader to be aware of the lies you know and have been told throughout the length of time the Harry Potter stories have been transformed from the story-boards the original creator had designed and then the publications and productions that subsequently appeared without the original creator having any input in the publications or productions. All without the creator being aware of the story-boards, that formed the stories, were noticed to be missing, as they were on an extended vacation, from the creators home! The original design art has not returned to this authors home, but the films, on DVD’s, and books, have been a welcome form, as the authors stories have been able to be reviewed. Mylord is not the authors real name, but it is used in good faith, and sure beats the name of plagiarist!

    The story; ‘The Goblet of Fire’, is a story this unknown author designed. It was in the form of a story-board set of graphic designs. It has an ending that is a favorite of Joanne K Rowling’s, but it is not of her creation! It was one of my story-boards that depicted the ending sequence of flying horses towing a chariot past the bridge and the sailing ship plunging into the watery depths of the loch. If the reader senses the author of this message is trying to hold back information, then you are right to think so. It is because this author is the original creator of the Harry Potter stories that had been under construction since 1978, and there is so much you don’t know on the true origins of the Harry Potter stories.

    An Australian soldier began the construction of the wizard stories, after screening to preschoolers in RMC, Duntroon, Military College, ACT Canberra, Australia. The cinema trade and its operations set the environment in which the author worked that enabled him to form and develop many stories over his nine years in the trade as a projectionist. One theme was of a film that would teach children and adults in an enjoyable way that was entertaining. One of the authors tasks was to disassemble an SLR rifle, then reassemble it. It was taught that the best tool was the real item, but often the item or subject was not available or was too big, and so the next best thing was a film. Using this knowledge this author designed stories for all age groups. One story concept consisted of children and adults in a creepy castle. Over time, in years, this concept transformed into the Harry Potter stories, of which were given seven titles. The titles, that went astray from this authors home, were the same as the seven titles that have been published by J K Rowling! The unknown author created many stories and many stories have been removed from this authors home. The Harry Potter stories are but one set of stories that have been stolen, produced, loved by the public, credited to the wrong author.

    For over ~10 years this author has been distressed over the loss of the stories artwork and composition materials and written notes and technical design drawings. How the Harry Potter stories have been compiled into books and then published by Joanne K Rowling is obvious, but how she managed to produce stories with the entire character, creature, and feature list, as were in this authors story-board designs, is not yet fully known, but the truth must become known somehow, at some time, and so the original creator of the Harry Potter stories concepts has begun to reveal the information that will undoubtedly cast a shadow on J K Rowling’s claims of the origins she has told of the Harry Potter story concept. It sure as hell didn’t hit her in the head, but she admits the story came to her fully formed! You can believe that, because it was almost ready to publish when it was taken from my home in Western Australia. Being the true and original creator of the stories concepts, I am aware that many of the features, creatures, and characters, that I designed, named, and set into scenes, have appeared in the stories published by Joanne K Rowling.

    I designed most of the characters, creatures, and their names, as used in the Harry Potter stories, NOT Joanne K Rowling! The story of; How ‘Harry Potter fell into Joanne K Rowling’s head’, ‘fully formed’, in ‘four hours’, while on a ‘Delayed train’, is not anywhere near true, as any intelligent person would realize, but the repetitive claim of origin has been told, by Joanne K Rowling, so often, that the people who have heard the story have come to accept the published authors claims. If you ever thought the story of origin sounded too unusual or unrealistic, then you were being told by your mind ‘not accepting the lies’, but you went along and ignored your inner thoughts. There are many people, the world over, who have trained their mind to simply believe in the story, because it is easier to believe in it than to continue to disbelieve it. I am telling here that I have a good reason to believe her claims are not true.

    The truth is, the stories were being developed , by the unknown author, by the addition of graphic images and notes over many years, until the time of the theft of many designs that formed the story-boards for the making of films about the wizard attending Hogwarts school for wizards and witches. A publication about the stories appeared subsequent to the original designing of the story-boards that graphically displayed to a reader the stories that have appeared in the films. A few of the things in the story-boards that have appeared in the films are mentioned here;

    Dobby, Dumbledore, Hagrid, Hermione, Harry, Buckbeak, Mad-eye, Voldemort, Malfoy, The Flying Anglia 105E car, Hogwarts Express Train, Hogwarts Castle, The Flying Snitch, Polly Juice, Quidditch, The Mirror of Erised, Sirius Black, Moaning Myrtle, Spiders, Serpent, Hedwig, and others, were all designed by this unknown author – the real creator of the story-boards that flew, like magic, to Scotland, and became a publication, one after the other, in short time, and these stories were made into films in succession, as were the books.

    The years of the Harry Potter stories development have not been wasted, because the stories were designed to entice children into reading, while creating an atmosphere that would excite the readers sense of imagination and cause it to flourish, so much, that they would go on an adventure in their own mind. The idea that a car, a ball, a horse, could fly, was designed to speediate the reader into the unknown, a mystery land or world they would only see if they went along on the ride, whichever medium took them. It is the many technical elements, such as these, and gillyweed, the talking hat, that the stories have been well liked. These are all of the mind of an inventor – Me.

    The films have been great to see, especially the early films. The reader may have noticed a change in the theme and story structures between films. The reason for this is believed to be because, while the first few films were being built, drawing by drawing, the first film was more advanced than the other titles. Each story-board drawing showed a key scene or feature in the story. As I was a projectionist for 9 years I designed my stories in the form of many drawings. This is why the director has been able to make the films the way I had intended them to appear in film, because of the imagery I designed in my story-boards, and it would have been a simple task to write the books, using my story-boards as the grounding for the publications on Harry Potter. I have been very lost without my design drawings for the years I have missed them. The many characters, children, animals, were my families. I felt I had been raped when I realized my art had been stolen, and I broke down and cried , real tears. I am 54 years of age at the time of writing this message. My whole working life went into my designs and inventions and there were about 3000 drawings, 350+ stories, and ~1000 inventions designs stolen. I feel a great loss over and above the Harry Potter stories. Even the book of short stories; ‘The Tales Of Beedle The Bard’ are of my original creation.

    I see myself as a Philosopher, so I began to form the films first title name with; ‘The Philosopher’. The name was too short, so I thought of alternate words for the title. At some time later, the drawing file, that kept safe and together many stories design art, fell onto the authors toes. The result was that the toe bleed, just like it would have if a stone had been kicked. The many stories and invention designs were what formed the stone, so the word; ‘Stone’, was added to the title name, thus forming the title; The Philosopher’s Stone’. These were my diamonds in the rough – my key’s to success. The boy’s name; ‘Harry Potter’, was added as a prefix to the stories titles shortly afterward.

    Each scene in the films was originally shown in a story-board drawing. For instance; Hermione was drawn, then Harry was drawn. This author used an old shaving mirror to sketch one’s profile, the body, and the round glasses. It was early in the morning, so the author went to bed. The drawing was finished after a sleep. Many hours went into drawings and many drawings were from a technical origin, so the story-boards were often mysterious or weird things. The Snitch, for instance, is one weird thing. Its origin was the focal point on a drawing page. As the Snitch was on the drawing page with both Harry & Hermione, it became a scene which this author called the game of Quidditch.

    The name, Quidditch, has a special meaning that is not what Joanne K Rowling has claimed it to be! If you are curious as to how this author knows about these things, the reason is because this author is the bona fide original creator of the Harry Potter stories. They were formed with numerous drawings that were designed as story-boards for making a series of films or books, toys and other things. All of the original design drawings were stolen some years ago. The story was well designed and the story became published by someone who took possession of the story in one form or another. In no way did the Harry Potter story fall into Joanne K Rowling’s head, fully formed, in four hours, on a delayed train! I formed that sequence of words that formed an unusual story of origin, in answer to a person who had asked me a series of questions about my story-board designs that formed the Harry Potter stories. There are four components to the claims of origin. This is because I use number four, or its equivalent, as a code marker. You may find number ’4′ on the end of the left front root on the cover of a book of short stories; The Tales Of Beedle The Bard, Special edition, the one with the leafy vine on the cover, surrounding a tree stump.

    I do hope you find the truth in my message here and on mylord.amplify.com. If you have read this article and find it of interest, then you might find the article; ‘The-True-Origins-Of-Harry-Potter’ of interest as well.

    Happy Day’s

  7. Ferret -  November 8, 2010 - 9:31 pm

    Although I believe J. K. Rowling in this instance, I must inform many people that just because her books are enjoyable is not any sort of evidence against plagiarism. Has anyone ever hear of Todd Goldman? He’s the head of David and Goliath, Inc. Surely everyone has heard of him! His company makes hundreds and thousands of t-shirts with poular, funny and rude slogans. He is also under fire for hundreds of possible plagiarism cases, the biggest of which went to court but was settled out of court (the other artist dislikes attention, so he wanted to settle it out of court to avoid the public eye. However, he won, so to speak, because Goldman gave him the money he made on the sales). Many internet artists are in a vehement, unbridled rage, but the fact remains that his clothes and art were still popular. So keep in mind that popularity is not evidence against plagiarism.

  8. BUTTER -  November 2, 2010 - 1:13 pm


  9. bjf -  October 28, 2010 - 9:14 pm

    Christopher Little her publisher gave her the Willy the Wizard book well before she supposedly wrote her book. After all Christopher Little was Adrian Jacobs literary agent also and failed to disclose this in court.He has been found out by the court. As they say, don’t believe all you see or hear in the press.

  10. Waldo Pepper -  October 26, 2010 - 5:15 pm

    Hmm, and I was deleted for posting that JKR stole most of her idea from a 1986 fantasy film called TROLL, about a boy wizard who is actually named HARRY POTTER. Very interesting.

  11. Freddie -  October 26, 2010 - 2:43 pm

    Oh my. Seriously guys? You can’t be genuinely having this conversation.

    Half of you automatically believe whatever you read, and I am just going to point out that she might never have even heard of the books, nothing is original anymore, and how many of you, who claim to be writers, can genuinely claim that your ideas are completely and utterly new, never even thought of before? I thought not. And someone said that this isn’t the first time she’s been accused. No, it’s not, but it was all by DIFFERENT people, on DIFFERENT claims for DIFFERENT parts of the book. And yes, I have just said what everyone else has said. Sue me.

    And then the other half, who automatically defend her. You haven’t even considered that she might have copied anything, you’ve just said ‘oh no, she’d never do that!’, just because you like the books. Think before you comment please, and if it’s not useful don’t say it, because I’ve just had to scroll through I don’t know how many comments of complete repetitive tosh to get to the comments box.

    I’m not saying she didn’t copy, but has anyone thought that it might NOT have been intentional? Maybe she was INSPIRED by something she read, hm? I think I’ve seen about five people who actually gave an unbiased comment.

    Oh, and I thought this was supposed to be a friendly debate? Stop picking on people. And Tracie, really? ‘Emily, do you EVER think about what you say before you say it? Try it sometime, people might think you more intelligent than what you appear’? Low blow, and besides, I think your grammer speaks for itself. Irony if I ever saw it.

  12. Bookworm -  October 26, 2010 - 1:21 pm

    In response to the post by RSK, I think R.S.K. is missing an important point about the series with the comment that the author plagiarized “throughout the books” for words and spells.

    Rowling has discussed in interviews how she draws from science, nature, history, myth, folklore, and anything and everything that catches her attention. The name Snape is actually a town in Suffolk, for example. I personally think this is part of what makes the books so special. She is clearly very creative and well read and she has a knack for turning things on end to create a fantasy spin on our real world– like the Ministry of Magic — come on, that’s not plagiarism, that’s being incredibly clever and making a funny turn about real life.

    Regarding the concerns of the bigger ideas that are in question for plagiarism, I have no comment since I have no idea about the details. I think that Rowling is a wonderful collector of bits and pieces of interesting real-life oddities and weaves them together beautifully in her books.

  13. Karyn -  October 26, 2010 - 12:46 pm

    I think that the claim to plagiarism is either out of date or false. First of all it is ridiculous that her books have been out for so long and its only now that someone decides she stole her ideas from another book?! J.K. Rowling’s books are a work of art, she creates an entire new world just from her words! Despite all of that, there is just no way that the court can find any specific and RELEVANT evidence in which to find J.K. Rowling guilty of plagiarism.

  14. Rinnah -  October 26, 2010 - 8:21 am

    I’ve never read any of her books, and i don’t intend to, ever, but it makes me angry when people criticize people without thinking one whit first.I mean, try thinking about what it’d be like to be her.

  15. Knightwing -  October 25, 2010 - 12:49 pm

    *Sigh* Why are people complaining about plagerism these days? Common, if you are so worried about copying ideas why didn’t you sue so-and-so earlier. I hate it when people cry plagerism because a popular series has the same thing as one that is practically unknown series. I mean, think of it this way, someone took your idea *Larry Potter* and made it better. So stop your jealousy and get it over with!

  16. 23 -  October 25, 2010 - 12:40 am

    ..this may be late..but what is written is unbelievable!!i’ve been reading Harry Potter since it came out with it’s 1st book and it’s really amazing,i am big fan of H.P and i grow up admiring and loving the book,the story itself as well as all the people behind it,following it to cinemas and even magazines..J.K Rowling has a wide and great imagination,,if ever she copy(w/c is not true!)well she made it to the top!..whoever you are..get a life!!!

  17. Curly -  October 24, 2010 - 10:09 am

    “There is nothing new under the sun” is from Ecclesiastes, for all those who were wondering. I was thinking of that exact quote when reading this, and it just so happened that others thought of it as well. We must all be plagiarizing each other! Gasp!

  18. Mylord -  October 23, 2010 - 11:12 am

    The original creator of the Harry Potter story concept is a man. It’s all very hush-hush but here is some truth you don’t know, as you were never told this in any of J K Rowling’s interviews before now; The story-boards, that pictorially showed the Harry Potter story, that had been developed over many years, since 1978, were stolen from the original authors home, in Australia, some years ago, and suddenly a woman has claimed the story just fell into her head, fully formed, while on a delayed train. She has said the same words so often and you have been hearing a lie. The reader must use some common sense now, as I am the original creator and I want you to know the truth. The seven titles, many nicely drawn creatures, were originally set in story-boards and J K Rowling has published the stories, with the same named titles that were written on the original creators material that clearly defined the outline of the stories, involving the same named characters, such as; Harry Potter, Hagrid, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Buckbeak, Dobby, and others.

    Read more at; mylord.amplify.com/ The True Origins of Harry Potter.
    While you’re there, Read; ‘The Slimy Blood-Worm’.
    You will learn how Dobby got his name, and more.
    J K Rowling has stated, in an interview (I believe it was said to be the first web interview), that was published on a web site several years ago, that she once thought she was a plagiarist, but the further she got into the story the less she did!

    The transcript of the interview was seen on the web about two weeks ago, but I cannot relocate it. If you know of this article’s location URL then please blog the article to mylord.amplify.com

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