Wyrd Harry Potter suit settled

A $40-million lawsuit launched over a Harry Potter movie by The Wyrd Sisters, a little-known Winnipeg folk group, has been settled out of court.
Kim Baryluk of the folk trio the Wyrd Sisters launched a $40 million lawsuit against Warner Bros. and their Harry Potter movie franchise. Lawyers for Baryluk and the studio confirm the suit has been settled. ((Joe Bryksa/Canadian Press/Winnipeg Free Press))

A $40-million lawsuit launched over a Harry Potter movie by The Wyrd Sisters, a little-known Winnipeg folk group, has been settled out of court.

It's a quiet end to a five-year legal battle that threatened to derail the 2005 release of Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire and stirred up a cauldron of anger among fans of the popular series.

Representatives for both sides confirmed the settlement. However, it is subject to a confidentiality clause that prevents either side from revealing what, if any, money has changed hands.

The Wyrd Sisters launched the legal assualt when they found out that the movie, like the book on which it is based, was to feature a rock group called either The Weird Sisters or The Wyrd Sisters.

Kim Baryluk, the group's founder and only consistent member, sued for $40 million, and asked an Ontario court to block the release of the movie across Canada. She also asked the judge to force Warner Bros. to destroy any DVD, compact disc, video game and other paraphernalia that contained references to the music group.

Warner Bros. fought back, saying it had removed any reference to the band's name from the movie, and had offered Baryluk $5,000 for use of the name.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Colin Campbell rejected Baryluk's request to block the movie, and ordered her to pay Warner Bros. $140,000 for the company's legal costs. The decision set off years of appeals.  

Movie, soundtrack still available

While the settlement details are unknown, DVDs of the movie and CDs of the soundtrack continue to be available.

The lawsuit was met with anger among Harry Potter fans and followers of British rock groups Radiohead and Pulp, whose members appeared in the film as the now-unnamed band.

They accused Baryluk of seeking publicity and quick cash. They pointed out that references to Weird Sisters or Wyrd Sisters go back centuries, including three characters in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

But Baryluk said she was simply trying to protect a name she had spent 15 years building.

With files from The Canadian Press