Trainees on Chinese reality show ‘Youth With You’ accused of plagiarism
Published: Mar 23, 2020 09:08 PM

From left: Mentors Chen Jiahua, Cai Xukun, Lisa and Jony J pose for a photo at a press conference for Youth With You on Thursday in Guangzhou. Photo: Screenshot of iQIYI's Youth With You official Sina Weibo account

Two trainees on Chinese reality show Youth With You have been accused of plagiarizing the dance moves of other stars, earning them the condemnation of Chinese netizens. 

The second season of Youth With You, which premiered on March 12, seeks to whittle down 109 potential trainees to form a nine-member girl band through audience voting.

On Sunday, a video of a previous performance trainee Zhang Yuge gave with her girl group SNH48 began circulating on Chinese social media. Many netizens pointed out that during the performance, a dance Zhang performed looked more than passingly similar to a dance Kim Taehyung, a member of South Korean boy band BTS, performed in the music video for his 2018 song "Singularity," which US choreographer Keone Madrid worked on.

Although some pointed out that the performance was not for the current reality show, many netizens condemned her performance on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo, saying she was plagiarizing the South Korean star.

"I can tell it. The Zhang's dance moves in her performance are from the choreography of Taehyung's solo song 'Singularity,'" a Chinese fan of BTS told the Global Times on Monday. 

"She selected the most creative part of the dance routine, dancing with a coat hanger."

"The trainee's dance followed the release of Taehyung's song but she never said she had learned these moves from Taehyung," the fan added.

Many of Kim's Chinese fans posted on Sina Weibo that they would not vote for Zhang due to her behavior. 

Zhang was not the only one to get caught up in accusations of plagiarism. 

 During Sunday night's episode of the show, trainee Lin Xiaozhai took to the stage and performed a dance routine that netizens later pointed out was a copy of Chinese dancer Farre Tuzi Lantu's Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon routine.

It wasn't long before side-by-side videos of the two dance performances, Lin's and Farre's, began circulating online, showing that the two routines matched up almost perfectly. Many netizens were enraged and demanded that the trainee respect the intellectual property of others.

"The choreography is not hers, but she took it to the stage for a commercial performance. Did she have the original dancer's permission and copyright? And her performance was so terrible, it was such a waste of the dance," one Sina Weibo user posted.

Netizen pinkypinkyfenxiaojie, who claimed to be the dance teacher for Lin on the show, apologized on Sina Weibo on Sunday, saying that since the time for the dance was short she did not include the name of the original dancer.

"All intellectual property should be respected," she said in the post.

"According to the comparison videos circulating online, the performances of the two trainees suspected of plagiarism are beyond what is appropriate," Shi Wenxue, a cultural critic and a teacher at the Beijing Film Academy, told the Global Times. 

"We usually use the '10 percent rule' for what is considered appropriate," he said, explaining that so long as similarities between two works of art are kept under 10 percent that is considered fair use in many countries. 

Shi noted that many young performers do not have an adequate legal understanding of copyright, "not only for imitators but even those who create original works."

Protecting copyright requires effort from creators and broadcasters. The original creators should apply for protection, while those that wish to use these IPs, including TV stations and online platforms, should acquire permission before use, Shi said.