Published on:

Art and Copyright Law and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter


Copyright and art law through the eyes of a novelist (and a legal scholar):

Gary Pulsinelli, Harry Potter and the (Re)Order of the Artists: Are We Muggles or Goblins?


In our modern, globalized world, conceptions of the ownership of property, especially artistic and cultural property, are continually being challenged and revised. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,1 author J.K. Rowling uses a nonhuman species, the goblins, to bring this reconception into sharp relief. According to Rowling, goblins have an intriguing view of ownership rights in artistic works.2 They believe that the creator of an artistic object maintains an ongoing ownership interest in that object even after it is sold, and the creator is therefore entitled to get the object back when the purchaser dies. While this view may strike some as rather odd when it is applied to tangible property in our “Muggle” (that is, nonmagical human) world,3 it actually has some very interesting parallels to the legal treatment of intangible property, particularly in the areas of intellectual property and moral rights. The first Part of this Article lays out the goblin view of property, and the second Part examines some of the parallels between that view and Muggle law.

The third Part of this Article explores the question of whether we Muggles are becoming goblins….” (read full article in the Oregon Law Review, Volume 87, Number 4 (2008))

Contact Information