Publisher pays for violating copyright
Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court Monday ordered a publishing house in North China's Shanxi Province to compensate Paws Incorporated, copyright owner of the world famous comic Garfield, 213,800 yuan (US$25,000) for copyright infringement.
"The American plaintiff is protected by the Copyright Law as China and the United States are both members of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works," Monday's judgment said.
Sources with the defendant -- Taiyuan-based Hope Press, said they were innocent.
"Hope Press signed an agreement with Paws through its agent company RM in 1998 to acquire the publishing rights of the Chinese version of Garfield stories," Liu Zhijun, the lawyer representing the publishing house, told China Daily Monday.
"Hope paid Paws 253,000 yuan (US$31,000) for this," he said.
Liu said whether to appeal to a higher court will be decided after further negotiation with the publishing house.
Tang Zhaozhi, representative of the plaintiff, told China Daily Monday that he was satisfied with the judgment.
"Although the figure is less than our initial appeal of 772,200 yuan (US$93,000), the result is acceptable," Tang said.
The American company categorically denied they had reached an agreement with Hope over rights to publish the Chinese version of Garfield in China.
Created by Jim Davis in the United States, Garfield first appeared on paper in the 1980s, according to the court.
Its original copyright owner United Feature Syndicate signed a contract with Paws in 1994 to transfer all rights and income related with the copyright of Garfield to Paws.
Hope Press published a series of Garfield stories in Chinese in 1999, including 11 books.
Any contract over the copyright of Garfield needs to be approved and signed by Paws, the judgment stated.
"Since the American plaintiff denied there was a contract with the publishing house or RM,, the court rejected the defendant's claim that Paws had approved their publishing of Garfield," Liu Wei, the chief judge said yesterday in court.
"The publishing of Garfield without Paws' authorization violated the copyright owner's rights of duplication, publishing and remuneration," the judge said.
The Chinese publishing house was ordered not to publish any further related Garfield series.