Controversial service provides fans with their own ‘personalized ending’ to hot dramas
Published: Apr 08, 2021 07:24 PM
Cho's coversation with the writer online over the issue of changing Better Day's ending. Photo: Courtesy for Cho

Cho's coversation with the writer online. Photo: Courtesy for Cho

"We can combine your request with our team's freely imagined ideas," reads a reply from a "creative script writing" service to Cho, a Jackson Yee fan who was unhappy with the ending the idol's character received in the popular film Better Days. With a payment from Cho, the service would provide her with a new "personalized" ending to the film. 

Cho is not the only fan requesting an alternative ending to their favorite movies or TV shows. In fact, such re-writing services on platforms like Chinese e-commerce site Taobao have become an increasingly popular option among TV and movie fans, especially those interested in idol romance or Boys' Love (BL) productions. 

"BL dramas on screen do not normally come with a 'happy ending' as far as I can see, probably because the mainstream is still concerned about the culture itself. I want the one-loses-another ending to be changed so the two men can be with each other. Actually, after reading the novel of the same name, I want to change some of the major storylines, since I find them illogical," Wu Yu, a fan of a recent hit BL drama, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Such services on Taobao can often be pricy. Cho's writer asked her to pay 80 yuan ($12.20) to re-write the script for a single minute of the film. However, the writer also committed to getting the work done in two days, offered free After Service to tinker the final product, and that the team will merge the original story and any changes Cho wanted to re-create the new scene. 

Additionally, the team itself had no problems taking on cases in which customers want to add some sensitive "over the limit" content to the original work, such as sexual or violent scenes. 

"This very likely constitutes copyright infringement, especially when the newly developed content is mainly based on an original story. "Merging the original" is tricky and makes the evidence slightly hard to distinguish," Gao, an law expert in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

"Also, it is not just about whether a profit is being made. If the new content appears to insult the original work's author, then he or she can sue the person for violating their right of publicity." 

Though rewriting such cultural productions could have legal repercussions, many fans like Wu has said that if such services were not available they would just re-write the ending themselves. 

"These fans' intentions are harmless. This is a way for them to express themselves. Additionally, interpreting cultural productions is allowed and can even be seen as a way to stimulate the derivation and variation of new cultural products," a cultural expert in Beijing told the Global Times on Thursday. 

"What is really important is that their pursuit of self-expression is being exploited and commercialized. They are being used by people involved in this type of business."

"Both parties face punishment under the law," warned Gao, explaining who bears the responsibility when a fan asks an online writer to recreate a work.    

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