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Chinese publishing house fined over use of `Peter Rabbit' image
( 2003-10-09 14:08) (Agencies)

Peter Rabbit maybe a cuddly children's story character, but don't think his image can be used by just anyone.

A publishing house connected to China's official Academy of Social Sciences has been fined 350,000 yuan (US$42,700) for using illustrations of Beatrix Potter's beloved creation on the cover of its Chinese-language edition of the beloved children's tale.

The Beijing Eastern City District Commercial Office also ordered 23,000 copies of the book seized, saying the publishers had violated copyrights covering the illustrations, said an official of the office's trade mark division, who declined to be identified by name.

Newspaper reports said the book had illustrations from Beatrix Potter's 1901 tale about the naughty bunny on its front and back covers and on the spine, including the famous drawing of Peter running from the farmer Mr. McGregor after raiding his vegetable garden.

Media here cast the case as a major test of the law's effectiveness in protecting foreign publishers' copyrights in China, where piracy is rife and popular children's trademarks appear on everything from clothing to candy.

Copyright holder Frederick Warne Ltd., a division of Penguin Books, copyrighted illustrations from Peter Rabbit in China in 1994. The actual story, however, is not covered by copyright in China and the publishers did not face sanction over the text of their book, the Commercial Office official said.

Potter's story about the rabbit who is nearly killed after defying his mother's warnings to avoid McGregor's garden has sold more than 150 million copies in 35 languages.

Another Potter _ Harry _ has been extensively pirated in China, and the newest ``Harry Potter'' book was released early here last month to undermine counterfeiters.

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