Rowling sues paper over ''Potter'' plot preview. She seeks tens of millions of dollars over the New York Daily News' leak of ''Phoenix'' spoilers

By Gary Susman
Updated June 19, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

J.K. Rowling must feel she’s been mugged by Muggles. On Wednesday, hours after the New York Daily News published plot spoilers from ”Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” Rowling and her U.S. publisher, Scholastic, filed a copyright-infringement lawsuit against the paper seeking ”tens of millions of dollars in damages,” according to wire service reports. ”The book was embargoed [until 12:01 a.m. Saturday] so all kids would have it at the same time, and not to spoil it for the kids,” Scholastic spokeswoman Judy Corman said in a statement. The paper responded with a statement of its own. ”We will vigorously defend any action and are confident we did nothing wrong journalistically or legally,” Daily News spokesman Ken Frydman said.

Rowling’s efforts to keep the highly anticipated book’s plot a secret have hardly been airtight. In addition to the theft of thousands of copies from a British warehouse last weekend, retail copies have appeared early in scattered stores that have broken the embargo, including a Walgreens in Daytona Beach, Fla., a Wal-Mart in Canada, a bookstore in Washington, D.C., and a health food store in Brooklyn, where the Daily News obtained its copy. Rowling herself disclosed in an interview with the BBC this week that a favorite character dies in the book. Meanwhile, the offending Daily News article remained posted at the paper’s website until early Thursday morning.