Friday, December 06, 2013
A taste of Chinese Justice
By OFW Editor:
Carlos J Cortes
Published: September 18, 2012
Today we have a horror story.
You have written a few novels, sundry short stories and other works. One day, someone complains about the price shops demand for your books, and (here we come to the crunch) hints that only an idiot would pay, when your work can be downloaded free from legitimate sites.
I suppose you go ballistic and check the gossip out. Damn! You navigate to Baidu (the Chinese Google equivalent) and find your precious books available for free download.
Armed with proof of such blatant copyright violation, your lawyers demand that the company stops the theft and issues an apology.
They refuse. Why? Corporations must be stingy, lest they go broke repairing their misdeeds.
So you sue.
Years later (cross my heart) the judges rule in your favor and order compensation. Victory!
Er… not quite.
On September 17,
reported that the Chinese Court’s ruling awarded U.S.$ 23,000, compensation to be split between three writers who’d had their work pirated by Baidu. For those who think that Baidu is a mom and pop setup, please note that the corporation has sixteen-thousand employees and revenue of three billion dollars.
Baidu to compensate Chinese writers over piracy
, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- Beijing's Haidian district court on Monday ruled that Baidu, China's most popular search engine, must compensate three writers for failing to protect their copyrights.
Baidu must pay a total of 145,000 yuan (about 22,939 U.S. dollars) to the writers for failing to take action to prevent their works from being pirated, the court said.
Renowned writer Han Han, one of the three writers named in the case, saw his petition to shut down Baidu's "Wenku" literary database rejected by the court.
Han accused Baidu of "stealing" his works "Go Like the Wind," "1988: I Want to Talk With the World" and "Freezing" by including them in the Wenku literary database and allowing them to be downloaded for free.
Han had asked for 760,000 yuan (119,387 U.S. dollars) in compensation, as well as asked the court to shut the Wenku database down.
He also asked Baidu to post an apology on its home page for seven consecutive days.
Han's lawyer said it is not yet known if Han will appeal the ruling.
Leaving aside the fact that Baidu’s lawyers will likely appeal to keep from paying, or at least to delay payment until the plaintiffs are too old to collect, the obscene compensation is an insult to writers the world over.
Han Han is one hell of a writer, but even if he was a struggling newbie he deserves respect and protection from a government that proclaims fighting against piracy and does nothing to curb China’s national sport.
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