Who is ALK

Who is “ALK”?

By Dongtao Li, LL.M., Judge of The People’s Court of Haidian District, Beijing, China.
(Posted on May 2, 2011. This article was previously published in Judge Li's book Dongtao on Law.)

The plaintiff was a computer engineer, and the defendant was a newspaper. 

“ALK” is the name of a personal homepage online, with its owner identified as “B”.  On May 10, 1998, an article entitled A was uploaded onto the personal homepage, with its author identified as “B”.  On October 16, 1998, the defendant published this article in its newspaper, and the author was also identified as “B”.  As such, the plaintiff sued the defendant for copyright infringement for the unauthorized publication of plaintiff's article. The defendant claimed noninfringement and argued that the plaintiff should first prove he was “B”. 

During a Court hearing, the plaintiff demonstrated that he could modify the password of the personal homepage “ALK”, uploads and deletes files.  After proving to the satisfaction of the court, the defendant admitted that the plaintiff was B but argued the copyright infringement was not established.

The court held that the copyright infringement was established with the following reasoning:

Registration of a personal homepage online is free. 

It is only necessary to fill out a simple form that asks for the user’s name, sex, address, telephone number and email address, etc. Except the email address, the other information might be false. Registration of a personal homepage under a fictitious name could protect the user’s legal rights, such as his right to privacy, from intrusion. Meanwhile, it also brings legal difficulties for the user, especially when registration papers that might be used to prove authorship are unavailable.

In this case, the plaintiff couldn’t produce the original registration materials for the personal homepage “ALK”, but he could revise its password and upload or delete files.

Since the defendant didn’t argue that the plaintiff might be a hacker, it was unnecessary to investigate any more.  As such, the Court held for the plaintiff.



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