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Wyrd Sisters still battling Weird Sisters

Remember when Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood & Phil Selway formed a band with Jarvis Cocker for the soundtrack of Harry Potter’s ‘Goblet of Fire’? The band was named Wyrd Sisters and quickly changed to Weird Systers after a Winnipeg folk group (Wyrd Sisters) were not amused with the band name.

That was more than two years ago, but the fight is still going on between the Wyrd Sisters – essentially singer-songwriter Kim Baryluk and a revolving group of singers and musicians – and Harry Potter. Canadian newspaper The Star reports that the legal battle is now stretching over three courtrooms in two provinces, with the fate of some wizardly video games and merchandise at stake.

The Wyrd Sisters, having already lost a bid to block the release of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” in 2005, are forging ahead with a $40-million lawsuit and are asking a judge to order the destruction of DVDs, compact discs, video games and other paraphernalia that contain references to a musical act named The Weird Sisters.

“The Wyrd Sisters have spent over 15 years working on and developing the goodwill associated with their band’s name,” reads the group’s statement of claim filed in the Federal Court of Canada in Toronto.

“All of these efforts will be nullified as the goodwill is wiped out in the tidal wave of fame associated with the Harry Potter phenomenon.”

The statement of claim includes allegations which have not been proven in court. Warner Bros. has not filed a statement of defence and rejected an interview request.

Warner Bros. removed any reference to the band’s name from the movie, but Baryluk said the damage had already been done by an avalanche of publicity prior to the film’s debut.

An Ontario Superior Court judge ruled against Baryluk, saying the publicity was more likely to help her band than hurt it. The court later ordered Baryluk to pay Warner Bros.’s legal costs of $140,000.

Baryluk, who declined an interview request on her lawyer’s advice, feels the name she worked hard to develop is being taken away from her.

“Consumers will assume that the smaller and less famous Canadian band is trying to take advantage of the Harry Potter fame by copying the Harry Potter band’s name when in fact the reverse is true,” reads her statement of claim.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros. has filed a motion in Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench, alleging Baryluk has failed to pay the $140,000 judgment against her in 2006. The court has ordered Baryluk to attend Warner Bros. lawyer’s offices in Winnipeg, along with her financial statements.

The attempt to block the movie’s release in 2005 stirred up controversy on the Internet as Harry Potter and Radiohead fans filled The Wyrd Sisters’ online message board with angry rants.

Some pointed out the term “Wyrd Sisters” dates back at least as far as Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” and was the title of a book by British author Terry Pratchett in 1988 — two year before the Winnipeg group formed. But Baryluk’s lawyer has said the issue centres on which musical act has the right to use the name. [thx Cris]

26 Comments

  • she’s an idiot

  • its all hocus pocus

  • fuuuuuckin hell this is still kicking about??
    why not try and use this positively? what do they hope to get out of fucking up the release of harry potter – other than millions of potter fans that will totally hate them for the rest of their career?

    if i was in the “Wyrd Sisters” i would seize this coincidence as an opportunity for publicity – and hopefully drag the band out of the lower end of the music industry

  • They want all of the Harry Potter merchandise that mentions the name “Weird Sisters” to be destroyed? That’s so wasteful and… hasn’t the “damage” been done already? Petty.

  • I stand by the Wyrd Sisters. They had problems with Harry Potter fans coming to their concerts and getting pissed off they weren’t associated with the film. This multi-million dollar movie could have changed things, since it didn’t appear in the books. It’s very difficult for a starting out band. I wished them luck years ago when I e-mailed them and I still wish it.

  • whatever. fuck off, really.

  • btw I was referring to the whole lawsuit.

  • THEY WANT THE MONEY!!!!

  • Drinkin’ milkshakes again, yer Majesty?

  • nonsense

  • I find it funny how they talk about the goodwill they’ve built with fans. How many people even heard of these idiots before they sued Warner Bros? I also find it amusing how they still want money but when the judge rules against them they refuse to pay Warner Bros. back for their legal costs. This bitch is just making herself look stupid so I guess she is trying to make some money; her band will never recover from the stigma associated with her stupidity. If the damage has already been done then why is she suing for use of the name The Weird Sisters? It’s a big enough difference that that no one would’ve known the similarity in the names most likely. Instead she made this public, didn’t settle it privately and showed everyone how stupid she is… I am ashamed to be in the same country as this moron.

  • In other news, the Wyrd Fishes are filing a lawsuit against the band.

  • is there really a group called “wyrd fishes”? i just went searching…only for a couple seconds tho.
    and ya, she must have forseen that any fame that could be gained by suing the harry potter empire would be nothing but infamy. but i suppose once a hole has been dug, people tend to feel that all they can do is keep digging. still. accept and move on. the spelling’s not even the same for cryin’ out loud!

  • the wyrd sisters wasnt that hard a name to come up with, surely?

  • They just want some attention… poor losers.

  • I really hope that this isn’t the reason they aren’t playing in the praries and more specifically Winnipeg. It’s so stupid and wasting money on courts that could be put to better use.

  • clearly this chick wants the loot. now shes gotta pay 150,000 that she doesn’t have. she fucked up, she better write the next stairway to heaven or her life is all bread crumbs from now on.

  • Shakespeare and Terry Pratchett should sue this woman for associating “Wyrd Sisters” with stupidity.

  • It’s all a lot of fuss over what is, in essence, a really shit name for a band

  • the best of this topics comments feed:

    -”her band will never recover from the stigma associated with her stupidity.” – Marc
    -”It’s all a lot of fuss over what is, in essence, a really shit name for a band” – Darren
    -”They just want some attention… poor losers” – CheshireCatGrin
    -”Instead she made this public, didn’t settle it privately and showed everyone how stupid she is… I am ashamed to be in the same country as this moron.” – Marc

  • Aye, as the original article hints: wyrd sisters should be more worried about ripping off Shakespeare and Pratchett. No one that I know who has watched the movies knows anything about a particular band’s name.

    Time to stop laying blame and start taking advantage of the status quo. That’s true marketing, Baryluk. Go read some Seth Godin (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/)

  • Must be something to do with Canadians:

    Dan Snaith of the marvellous Manitoba was forced to change the bands name to Caribou, after Handsome Dick Manitoba (of lesser known / lame punk band the Dictators) took out a lawsuit against him…

    Ah well.

  • You can’t have a reputation associated with goodwill and try to, essentially, take peoples’ games, movies, and music away. This is something the Grinch would do.

  • Calling for the destruction of DVDs, CDs, etc? Christ, these people are asking for it! There’s so much money behind those products, Warner Bros and co will never back down on this one. Prepare to be crushed like bugs.

  • j.k. rowling has many things in her books that are dangerously similar to discworld and terry pratchett, only she wishes she was even 1% as witty as terry

  • Thanks for such a great post and the review, I am wholly impressed!

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