Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Diary of Ma Yan versus The Story of Xia-yan

Guy Dixon, aided by Jan Wong, wrote an article called 'The diary of a young girl, a film and a festival fight' for the Globe & Mail. It's about Pierre Haski, a Frenchman, who helped edit a book called The Diary of Ma Yan, written by Ma Yan, a little girl from Ningxia province in northwest China.

Now Haski's work was adapted, without his authorisation, into a movie: The Story of Xiao-yan. Haski resents that Ma Yan and his work were made into a propaganda movie.

The amendment of the copyright law of the People's Republic of China adopted at the 24th Session of the Standing Committee of the Nineth National People's Congress on 27 October 2001 states:
Article 10 The term "copyright" shall include the following personality rights and property rights:
(3) the right of alteration, that is, the right to alter or authorize others to alter one's work;
(4) the right of integrity, that is, the right to protect one's work against distortion and mutilation;

Given these property and personality rights Haski could have sued the movie maker for copyright infringement. But he didn't because of the movie was made with the Chinese government's assistence.

Now he is trying to avoid that the movie is played at film festivals around the world.

When you read the editor's review of Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA at Amazon it starts like this:
"Grade 5-8–In 2001, while a French journalist was visiting remote Ningxia province in northwest China, a Muslim woman wearing the white headscarf of the Hui people thrust the diaries of her daughter into his hands."

However, since Ma Yan's mother is not the author of the work, the preliminary question should be: Did Ma Yan gave authorisation to publish the work in the first place?
Article 10(1) the right of publication, that is, the right to decide whether to make a work available to the public.

Read Dixon's article here.

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