Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Beijing News Victorious Over iPad app Developer Minesage, But What About The Limitations on Rights?

Beijing Haidian District People's Court ruled that software developer Minesage, who offered an iPad application to read newspapers, must stop these activities and pay 100,000 Renminbi (around 10,000 Euro).
Hao Nan of the China Daily reports here that the Beijing News sued Minesage Co. Ltd, because it used without authorisation the content and layout of the newspaper for the iPad. Beijing News has its own iPad app now, see here.

Hao Nan wrote: "Minesage argued in court that it showed readers the content copyright belonged to the original media." This would have been only relevant if Beijing News gave licensees or via Creative Commons other people permission to take over the content and/or layout under certain conditions (for example not commercial use, giving attribution to the author and making no changes to the content/layout). The author has the right to decide how its content and copyrighted layout is going to be distributed. It does not really matter if the format shifts from internet to iPad.

What is interesting is that in China all news is state news. And because of this there are some provisions in the Copyright Law of China

Section 4 Limitations on Rights 
Article 22 In the following cases, a work may be exploited without permission from, and without payment of remuneration to, the copyright owner, provided that the name of the author and the title of the work shall be mentioned and the other rights enjoyed by the copyright owner by virtue of this Law shall not be prejudiced:

(4) reprinting by newspapers or periodicals, or rebroadcasting by radio stations, television stations, or any other media, of Articles on current issues relating to politics, economics or religion published by other newspapers, periodicals, or broadcast by other radio stations, television stations or any other media except where the author has declared that the reprinting and rebroadcasting is not permitted

(5) publication in newspapers or periodicals, or broadcasting by radio stations, television stations or any other media, of a speech delivered at a public gathering, except where the author has declared that the publication or broadcasting is not permitted;

So I think Minesage could republish from other media (including Beijing News) news about politics, economics or religion, speeches delivered at public gatherings, except when the author explicitly declared that is was not permitted. 
However, for as far the layout was copyrighted, Minesage could not use it without the authorisation of the copyright owner.

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