If college students are forming quidditch teams, should they be paying royalties to J.K. Rowling?
Is quidditch an original work of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression? Check. Is the work being performed publicly? It appears so. Check again. Do any relevant exceptions or defenses apply? Fair use is always worth a shot, but as the law stands now, and given the breadth of licensed Harry Potter merchandise, intercollegiate quidditch strikes me as a licensing market waiting to emerge. So fair use likely doesn’t apply. So long as college students don’t put on robes with names and numbers on the back — that is, so long as they stick to backyard quidditch — they are probably on safe ground. But once they take the pitch in real university-affiliated competition, or once the broom sponsorships start coming in, watch for Rowling to assert her rights.
[Via Critical Mass]