Homegrown Harry Potter fan conventions are being thrown into uncertain territory as Warner Bros. has started taking a closer look at potential copyright infringements in the unofficial festivals.
The tightening restrictions don't necessarily mean a full-stop for fan-driven events, but they do mean stricter regulations and rules regarding what will and won't fly for Warner Bros.' legal department. Philip Dawson, business district director for Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, where the annual Wands and Wizards festival is held, said in an interview with the Associated Press that he first became aware of the new restrictions in May, when the Warner Bros. legal team reached out. So, what is drawing the studio's ire?
Warner Bros. has officially cracked down on the use of character names, places and objects from the Harry Potter series in any fan-created events, meaning that everything from "Hogwarts" to "Dumbledore" is now off the table. Cosplay at events is still allowed, but any and all namesakes must be struck from schedules or fan-created merchandise.
A representative from Warner Bros. explained that, while the company is, "always pleased to learn of the enthusiasm of Harry Potter fans, but we are concerned, and do object, when fan gatherings become a vehicle for unauthorized commercial activity."
This crackdown isn't the first example of Warner Bros.' tightening the leash on their Harry Potter franchise trademarks. Fans have been receiving cease and desist orders for unofficial events since 2003, but following the major boom in pop culture convention popularity in recent years, and the size to which many fan-driven Wizarding World events have grown, it seems that Warner Bros. is policing their copyrights with renewed vigor.