Visual designed company apologizes for plagiarizing British drama 'His Dark Materials' and game 'League of Legends' in opening title sequence of new drama
Published: Feb 07, 2021 07:53 PM

Promotional material of Douluo Continent Photo: Sina Weibo

The video production company of the newly released Chinese TV series Douluo Continent issued an apology on Sunday for plagiarizing British TV series His Dark Materials and a role in the computer game League of Legends while producing the opening title sequence of the drama.

Chinese fantasy ancient costume drama Douluo Continent, starring Xiao Zhan and Wu Yixuan, was released on Friday and its viewership ratings exceeded 250 million Tencent Video and CCTV after just one day of airing. 

However, some Chinese netizens found that some scenes in the 92-second-long opening title sequence shared a lot of similarities with His Dark Materials and the game League of Legends.

On Sunday morning, Visual Impact Digital Production admitted on its official Sina Weibo account that the designers over the opening were inspired by His Dark Materials and the character Jhin in League of Legends and that the drama's opening title sequence shared six similar shots, lasting about 15 seconds in total. 

"We feel very sorry for our company's mistake and the negative influence caused to the public… We will take it as a lesson and strengthen our staff copyright awareness," read the apology letter, and the company promised that "all similar shots will be quickly modified and replaced overnight."

The studio producing Douluo Continent recruited Visual Impact Digital Production Company to make the drama's opening title sequence, according to reports. 

The hashtag for the company's apology has earned 170 million views on Sina Weibo as of Sunday. Most netizens called for "respect for the original" and to "strengthen the copyright awareness of every animation producer."

Xu Xinming, a lawyer specializing in copyright law, told the Global Times on Sunday that if the plagiarism scandal affects the TV series viewership numbers, the production company of Douluo Continent has the right to hold Visual Impact Digital Production company liable for breach of contract, which may also involve compensation.

Wu Xiaolin, a lawyer based in Beijing, told the Global Times that the infringed parties can ask the infringer for an apology or a certain amount of financial compensation.

"If the copyright owner has new requirements for Visual Impact Digital Production Company, the infringer should cooperate and be obliged to notify the network service platform to delete it at the same time," said Wu, suggesting that newly published work should be registered with China's Copyright Protection Center in a timely manner. In the process of adapting, quoting, borrowing, or editing others' works, creators should mark the original source for copyright protection.

Douluo Continent that was adapted from the fantasy novel of the same name tells an inspirational story about a young man (Xiao) who lost his mother as a child and becomes friends with another orphan (Wu). With his perseverance and strength, he overcomes many difficulties to reach the pinnacle of martial arts.