A Copyright Case on C2C

Time of the judgment: Jun.16, 2011

Court: People’s Court for Haidian District, Beijing, PRC.

Judge: Li Dongtao

Plaintiff: Beijing Science & Technology Publishing House co., Ltd.

Defendant: Docin.com Century (Beijing) Technology co., Ltd.

Facts:

The defendant operates a website, www.docin.com, and the website offers C2C file-sharing service.  A registered user is allowed to upload a document and set a price at this website for purchasing the uploaded document, and visitors can download the document by paying the set price.

According to its Online Registration Terms and Conditions, the defendant would review any file uploaded by any of its registered users and delete any illegal document, such as containing pornography and lewd contents.

In addition, for every download, the defendant collects 50% of the payment as management fees.

Through notary process,[1] the plaintiff found two popular books it published at www.docin.com and downloaded the two books by paying the costs of the books at www.docin.com.

The two books were uploaded in the name of the defendant’s registered users, but the defendant failed to present any evidence to prove the existence of its real registered users.

The plaintiff has previously signed a 10-year exclusive license with every author of the books, and the license granted the plaintiff exclusive rights to exploit the rights of the books, including disseminating it online.

The plaintiff sued the defendant for copyright infringement (the right of communication of information on networks[2] and the exclusive right to publish the work ) and sought damages from the latter: to

(1) Stop the infringement;

(2) Apologize to the plaintiff publicly;

(3) Compensate RMB 200,000 yuan; and

(4)Pay notary fees RMB 4,000 yuan.

The defendant admitted the facts the plaintiff alleged, but argued that the compensation the plaintiff sought was too high.

Opinion:

Based on the facts, the court held that the plaintiff was entitled to the right of communication of information on networks and the defendant was an infringer because it uploaded the books in the name of registered users and collected 50% of the payment as management fees.

The plaintiff asked the defendant to take liabilities of infringement and sought compensatory damage for 200,000 RMB, but it failed to present corresponding evidence. As such, the Court does not rely on plaintiff’s claim on the issue of compensatory damage completely and would determine the amount of compensatory damage of the plaintiff according the laws based on the seriousness of the infringement and popularity of the books.

Judgment:

According to the Article 48(1) [3]and Article 49.2[4] of the Copyright Law of PRC (2010), the court orders that:

1.       The Defendant shall stop infringement upon the effective date of this Judgment.

2.       The Defendant shall pay the Plaintiff royalties (notary fees) and compensation of RMB 80,000 Yuan within 10 days from the effective date of this Judgment.

3.       Other pleadings of the plaintiff shall be rejected

The court acceptance fee of RMB 2,180 Yuan which has been prepaid by the Plaintiff shall now be reimburse by the Defendant within 7 days upon the effective date of this Judgment.

After verdict, no party appealed.

 


[1] This is an evidentiary collection and authentication process in which a notary would be present in person to witness the process or the thing that a party wishes to be authenticated and to be used as a piece of evidence in court.

[2] Article 10.1.(12): the right of communication of information on networks, that is, the right to communicate to the public a work, by wire or wireless means in such a way that members of the public may access these works from a place and at a time individually chosen by them.

[3] Article 48(1): Anyone who commits any of the following acts of infringement shall bear civil liability for such remedies as ceasing the infringing act, eliminating the effects of the act, making an apology or paying damages, depending on the circumstances, and may, in addition, be subjected by a copyright administration department to such administrative penalties as ceasing the infringing act, confiscating unlawful income from the act, confiscating and destroying infringing reproductions and imposing a fine; where the circumstances are serious, the copyright administration department may also confiscate the materials, tools, and equipment mainly used for making the infringing reproductions; and if the act constitutes a crime, the infringer shall be prosecuted for his criminal liability: (1) reproducing, distributing, performing, showing, broadcasting, compiling or communicating to the public on an information network a work created by another person, without the permission of the copyright owner, unless otherwise provided in this Law.

[4] Article 49.2: Where the right holder's actual injury or infringer's unlawful income cannot be determined, the People's Court shall judge the damages not exceeding RMB 500,000 yuan depending on the circumstances of the infringing act.