Chinese mainland TV show sued for copyright infringement of letter belonging to late writer San Mao from the island of Taiwan

By Chen Xi Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/26 17:43:40

Photo: Snaptshot of Pear Video

The news that the siblings of Sao Mao, a late influential writer from the island of Taiwan, filed a lawsuit against cultural variety show Letter Alive for infringing on San Mao's copyrights and modifying said content without permission went viral on Chinese social media on Sunday, World Intellectual Property Day.

According to reports, the Beijing Internet Court tried the infringement case online on Friday, during which it livestreamed the trial. The court did not pronounce a judgment in court.

The dispute focused on a letter that San Mao's father once wrote to the writer, a portion of which was read on an episode of the show's second season. The attorney for San Mao's siblings stated that the show had changed the name of the letter, altered a large portion of the text and broadcast the content of the letter on the show without permission from the rights holder. The plaintiff demanded compensation of 110,000 yuan ($15,533).

However, the defendants said they did not recognize Sao Mao's siblings as the owners of the letter in question and believe that their actions fall within fair use in copyright law. They also said that the compensation is too high, Beijing News Daily reported on Sunday. 

The hashtag for the news had earned 230 million views on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo account as of Sunday afternoon, with many Chinese netizens criticizing the show's actions.

"The original intent of this show was to introduce the soul and depth of literature, to be touched by life, but it lost this truth. It cut content without permission because it would incite the emotions of the audience. Shows from TV stations cannot blindly bow down to the supremacy of audience ratings, but need to be honest and standardized," one Chinese netizen commented on Sina Weibo.

"We definitely support intellectual property! No programs and individuals have the right to change the original work," another netizen wrote on Sina Weibo.

Liu Jiahui, a lawyer in intellectual property from a Chinese law firm Derun Lawyers based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday that Sao Mao's siblings are the owners of the letter's copyright since their father has passed away, and the show Letter Alive has committed two copyright infringements.

"The show used the letter without permission. Meanwhile, their behavior violated the integrity of the work by changing its content," Liu said. 

blog comments powered by Disqus