Secret Website

The Secret Website, The Secret Infringer

By Dongtao Li, LL.M., Judge of The People’s Court of Haidian District, Beijing, China.

In this first instance case in the People’s Court of Haidian District, Beijing, China, the parties are arguing about the copyrights of a Chinese TV series.  The Plaintiff is a Beijing-based film company owning the copyright of the TV series Chongqing Espionage, and the defendant is a dot com.   

In addition, there are two websites named LianboNet (Unioncast) online: the first is the Defendant’s www.unioncast.tv, the second is www.lianbo.tv.

Initially, the Chongqing Espionage was broadcasted on the website www.lianbo.tv without plaintiff's permission.  The registrant of the domain name lianbo.tv was a Shenzhen company in Guangdong Province, but the registration fees of this domain name were paid by the defendant.

The plaintiff sued the defendant for copyright infringement and petitioned the Court to order the defendant to: (1) immediately stop infringement; (2) make an open apology to the Plaintiff on Legal Daily; (3) pay the Plaintiff RMB 100,000 as compensation to economic losses.

The Defendant argued that it did not infringe plaintiff's copyright, because it didn’t own the domain name lianbo.tv and have any relations with the website www.lianbo.tv.

On the basis of the above stated facts, the Court held that:

The Plaintiff is the owner of the right of communication through network of ChongqingEspionage.

The owner of the website www.lianbo.tv infringes the Plaintiff’s the right of communication through network for broadcasting Chongqing Espionage without authorization and should take legal liabilities.

The Defendant argued it was innocent, but it paid the registration fees of this domain name and didn’t say who was the true owner, under such a circumstance, this website (www.liaobo.tv) should be regarded as the Defendant’s secret tool for copyright infringement.

The Plaintiff petitioned the Court to order the Defendant to pay RMB 100,000 as compensation for economic losses, but without sufficient evidence. The Court shall therefore take into consideration factors of the seriousness of the infringement to determine the Defendant’s liabilities.

In conclusion, according to the Article 12.1(12), 47(1) and 48.2 of China’s Copyright Law (2001), the Court orders the Defendant to stop infringement, make an open apology to the Plaintiff on Legal Daily and pay the Plaintiff RMB 80,000 as compensation for economic losses.

After the verdict, the Defendant appealed to the Beijing No.1 Intermediate Court and mediated with the Plaintiff there.