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Gov't groups finally forced to pay up
By Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-01 01:43

The State Postal Bureau has finally paid a Beijing folk artist 88,000 yuan (US$10,600) in damages for copyright infringement.

On Monday, the Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court enforced a judgment that was handed down by the Beijing Higher People's Court in December.

The postal bureau and its affiliated Postage Stamp Printing Bureau were also forced to apologize to Bai Xiu'e.

Her paper-cuts were used on their stamps in 2001 without her permission.

According to Beijing Evening News, Li Xin, an executive editor at the printing bureau, discovered Bai's works at a Beijing expo in 1999.

After negotiations, Li obtained four paper-cuts with a pattern of snake from Bai, after paying her 970 yuan (US$117) for using her "material."

No contract for the transference of the copyright was signed nor fees paid for massively copying Bai's patterns.

On the Chinese lunar calendar, 2001 was the Year of the Snake. The printing office altered one of Bai's patterns and used it for a commemorative stamp that it issued nationwide.

She later took the two groups to court, asking for 1 million yuan (US$120,000) in compensation.

To focus on the case, Bai refused all invitations to supply work to other organizations and declined to take part in competitions, the 35-year-old told a local newspaper.

During that time Bai's family lived on her husband's meager income and they struggled to make ends meet. But she was determined to safeguard her rights.

The postal bureau stood firm, claiming it had not infringed upon Bai's copyright.

Her works are merely folk art, whose copyrights are not clearly defined by law, the defendant told Beijing Evening News.

In addition, designers from the bureau made some alterations to Bai's pattern and her name was placed on the author's list.

Bai, born into a rural family in Yan'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, started her career in paper-cutting in 1988.

She came to Beijing in 1996 and started carving out a reputation with her exquisite designs and fresh rural themes.

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