New Year's art starts controversy

Updated: 2012-01-04 10:46

By Cao Yin (China Daily)

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New Year's art starts controversy

Artwork of Wang Yunfei (shown above in the screen snap) is used by Hunan Satellite TV during its New Year Concert without the artist's permission.

BEIJING - A TV station in Hunan province has rung in the new year to the sound of controversy.

Hunan Satellite TV, which displayed artwork behind a singer during the New Year's Eve program, did so without the artist's knowledge or permission.

"I was shocked and thought it weird after my friend told me at midnight. When I confirmed those pictures were mine, I was angry," Wang Yunfei told China Daily on Tuesday.

Wang said he cannot accept that his copyright was used without a prior call for permission.

He posted the infringement case on his micro blog on Sunday, which was forwarded more than 84,000 times and received nearly 20,000 comments as of 5 pm on Tuesday.

"I hope the concert producer and Hunan Satellite TV can give me a written apology and compensate me," Wang, who is in his 20s, said firmly, refusing to disclose how much money he intends to ask for.

He said he received a call about negotiations on Monday from Peng Youlun, the producer responsible for the visual effects of the concert, but they did not reach an agreement during that talk.

"I hope the producer can solve the dispute with me as soon as possible," he said.

So far, however, Wang has not heard any replies from Peng and has found his artwork was still illegally used by the TV station when it replayed the concert.

"I'm consulting a lawyer now. I won't rule out a suit if the producer and Hunan Satellite TV still ignore me," he said.

In her defense, Peng wrote on her micro blog that Wang should "feel honored that his pictures were used" and should not narrow his outlook like "many other conservative and nearsighted paint designers".

Her words immediately invited a backlash.

Peng later deleted the statement and apologized to Wang on the micro blog.

She said on Sunday evening the infringement was caused by insufficient communication in the production group for the concert and was not Hunan Satellite TV's responsibility, adding her team will compensate Wang.

An insider with Hunan Satellite TV, who did not want to be identified, said the backdrop design for the New Year's concert was based on a contract between the TV station and Peng's group.

"The infringement is just between Peng and Wang, not Hunan Satellite TV, because we only provide a stage to show Peng's design," the insider said.

"Our workers in charge of the concert's coordination might not supervise the group's work carefully. So if the case involves our station, we'll definitely shoulder the responsibility."

Liu Yinliang, a legal expert specializing in intellectual property rights at Peking University, said such infringement cases are prevalent in China because most people have no awareness of protecting intellectual property rights.

"The producer must pay for the painter's work and receive a permit from him before they use his pictures," Liu said, suggesting the two parties deal with the dispute through negotiation.