Taiwanese Romantic Novelist Wins Groundbreaking Plagiarism Case

A Beijing court decides that mainland writer Yu Zheng plagiarized Taiwan's Chiung Yao for his TV show, 'The Palace: The Lost Daughter'

Popular Taiwan romantic novelist Chiung Yao has won a plagiarism case in a Beijing court against the well-known mainland Chinese scriptwriter Yu Zheng, in a ruling seen as breaking new legal ground for copyright protection.

Chiung claimed that the plot of Yu's TV series The Palace: The Lost Daughter had been copied without permission from her 1992 novel Plum Blossom Scar, which was made into a TV drama in 1993.

In a culture where a fair amount of copying goes on every day, and where plagiarism is seen as a kind of homage to a great artist, proving theft of ideas and content is a difficult area, so the case was a groundbreaking one.

Last year, Han Han, a dashing Chinese filmmaker, race car driver and novelist, as well as the world's most popular blogger, was accused in state media of plagiarizing Thelma & Louise and Easy Rider for the plot of his hit debut movie, The Continent.

According to a statement issued by the No 3 Intermediate People's Court of Beijing late in December, Yu and four companies involved in the plagiarism case were ordered to pay $805,000 (5 million yuan) to the plaintiff, and Yu also was required to issue a public apology.

Yu had claimed that any similarities between his and Chiung's work were merely coincidence, and that she was a hugely influential figure and that it was natural that many would try and emulate her style.

The four companies in question were ordered to stop the distribution and broadcasting of the plagiarized TV series.

Yu's studio has released a statement on its Sina Weibo microblog after the verdict, saying that Yu would appeal.

The lawsuit was one of the most high-profile cases to date in China, because it involved two very well-known parties, and the level of damages claimed also was very high.

Several writers have alleged that Yu plagiarized their texts before and scores of Chinese scriptwriters came out in support of Chiung's plagiarism lawsuit against Yu.

The case also was the first time that expert witnesses were called in a plagiarism case.