Chivalrous Island: The Right Position for Discussing the Copyright Dispute in Visual China

 Chivalrous Island: The Right Position for Discussing the Copyright Dispute in Visual China

Visual China is on fire.

The cause is clear to all: some netizens found black hole photos of previous fires, which were marked on the Visual China website with the words If this map is used for commercial purposes, please call or consult the customer representative.

In fact, data on the websites of scientific research institutions, including the European Southern Observatory and NASA, show that they can be disseminated free of charge by clearly identifying the source, and in interviews with Chinese media, they also said that they have never given such authorization to Visual China.

Soon, netizens scratched out the visual Chinese website and labeled the national flag, national emblem, Forbidden City and other pictures as copyright ownership. There was also the official micro-blog of the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League that asked, The copyright of the national flag and national emblem is also your company?

What kind of pictures are protected by copyright and what kind of pictures are not? Is it copyright protection or fishing enforcement in visual China? Today, with the increasing awareness of copyright in China, this issue deserves very serious discussion.


Copyright, also known as copyright, is an important civil right that all countries in the world attach great importance to, and China is no exception.

Copyright Law is the main source of Chinas copyright law. In addition, the Constitution, the General Principles of Civil Law, the Criminal Law, some separate regulations, administrative regulations, relevant judicial interpretations of the Supreme Peoples Court and relevant international treaties signed by China are also important sources of copyright law.

From the legal point of view, literary, artistic and scientific works are the premise and foundation of copyright, and the legal fact that the legal relationship of copyright can occur - naturally, the works here include pictures.

So, are all the pictures copyrighted?

View the legal provisions first. Article 2 of the Implementing Regulations of the Copyright Law stipulates that a work is an intellectual achievement with originality in the field of literature, art and science and fixed in some tangible form.

It can be seen that originality and fixed in some tangible form are the constituent elements of works protected by copyright law in China.

Specifically, this storm is obviously not marked with the visual China watermark, visual China has the copyright of the relevant photos, and then you can bid on the website for sale. Moreover, the use of the national flag and emblem in our country is regulated by the special legislation of the National Flag Law and the National Emblem Law.

Daoshus doubts on Weibo today fall into the same category: in the infringement gallery sent by Visual China, there are not only historical classic photos of leaders such as Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping, but also embroidery images and photographs of the Qing Dynasty. To be honest, these photos are absolutely worthy of visual Chinas proof that this copyright is your copyright.

Generally speaking, it is a serious infringement of copyright that visual China has watermarked pictures that belong to the copyright of others and obviously do not belong to its own copyright.

This matter, we sit and wait for the interpretation of visual China, rather than just shutting down the website, self-checking and self-correction.

Previously, the companys interpretation of the flag and emblem picture was that the picture was provided by the visual China contractor, visual China as a platform party did not strictly implement the main responsibility of the enterprise, did not fulfil the responsibility of strict auditing, and revealed that we have weak links in management.

It is true that there is a considerable degree of weak management, but more than that.

The basic logic of this matter lies in: Visual Chinas pictures originate from contributors, the website defaults that the copyright of these pictures after uploading belongs to Visual China, as long as others use them, that is, infringement, can be pursued; but the problem is that the company does not screen the pictures uploaded by these contributors, and whether the uploaded pictures should be judged to have copyright or not. In case of an accident, the responsibility can be passed on to the contributor, who infringes upon the copyright of others.

Very beautiful risk aversion logic, right?


As an intangible asset, copyright has commercial use value and can generate commercial profits for users, which also means that copyright can be commercially produced and operated.

The original intention of such logic is to safeguard the exclusive rights of the creator. If a tort occurs, it can be solved through legal proceedings.

According to Openlaw, there are 2,968 lawsuits related to Visual China in 2018 and 5,676 in 2017; that is to say, there are 8-15 lawsuits in Visual China every day in the past two years.

Prosecutions are so frequent that many organizations have Tucao for porcelain touch. That is to say, searching for the use of each agencys pictures through the picture recognition system, once you find that you have used your own copyright-labeled pictures and have not paid for them, you will file a huge claim, or request to sign an annual contract.

Obviously, this is about protecting rights as a business. Industry insiders have revealed that copyright litigation has replaced the sale of pictures and become the core profit model of many photo companies.

Regardless of interests, rights must be empty. However, the exercise of rights must be limited to the pursuit of legitimate interests. If we abuse the right to seize the interests, it will go beyond the objective purpose of the right and lose the inherent fairness.

In response, Shima Shumei Xinyu wrote that the behavior of visual China is quite similar to that of Patent? Troll or Patent? Pirate in Western legal doctrine. These institutions themselves are not inventors of patent technology, but purchased patent ownership or use rights from other institutions and individuals, and then launched fraudulent patent litigation under the banner of protecting intellectual property rights for profit.

Visual Chinese Event Word Cloud Map


In fact, as a business, photographs are not to blame. We also respect the creative behavior of photographers very much. Today, with the development of the Internet, it is a good business that can be achieved by regulating the environment and ecological construction.

You can also find that in recent years, people are becoming more and more accustomed to pay online to watch dramas, watch variety shows and listen to songs. This shows that Chinese people, especially the younger generation, are more and more aware of copyright and are willing to pay for genuine original content, because only in this way can more people be willing to produce good content and innovate good products.

Specific to this incident, the core question is: What kind of pictures should be protected, what should not be protected? There is still a need to distinguish between what is the use of normal immunity and what is the profitable infringement or commercial use.

As mentioned earlier, similar infringement notices have been received on the island. After consulting legal advisers and legal scholars, Shimadzu got a clear answer: these pictures belong to reasonable use.

The term reasonable use originated from British case law. As early as 1839, British judges recognized in judicial practice the legality of unauthorized use of other peoples works, that is to say, to allow later writers to use previous works without permission or payment for the purpose of innovation, based on good faith.

At present, rational use has been recognized by all countries in the world, and has become the most extensive and important restriction on copyright owners.

Article 22 of the Copyright Law of China stipulates twelve cases of rational use. For many media including the island, (2) to introduce, comment on a work or explain a problem, to quote otherspublished works appropriately in their works, and(3) to report current affairs news, to inevitably reproduce or quote published works in newspapers, periodicals, radio stations, television stations and other media, have been fully explained. The legitimacy of rational use is discussed.

Of course, we also pay for original copyright works.

However, fair use is also the most controversial and difficult rule in the field of copyright theory and practice. Specifically, in reality, many individuals and organizations often unconsciously use copyrighted works when using pictures.

In many cases, such copyright infringement has environmental factors. For example, these works usually appear in the most prominent places in search results or free galleries, and sometimes they are not marked or watermarked. For example, when publishing similar articles, as the platform side, most of the time there is no indication in the system that there may be infringement.

Considering the usage habits and environment of the public, the copyright protection problems caused by these environmental factors obviously need to be promoted in more ways.


This wave of questioning by netizens is a reflection of the peoples copyright literacy. Generally speaking, copyright literacy can ensure that the rights of copyright owners are respected, their rights and interests are protected, and the protected works are used reasonably within the scope permitted by law and morality.

It should be pointed out that the subject of copyright literacy, in addition to the users of copyright works, also includes the owners of copyright works. As a leading enterprise in the field of domestic library, Visual China, on the one hand, will not be protected or not belong to its own works own, stamp and sell, on the other hand, again touch porcelain, so that many individuals and institutions dare not match the map, fearing that it is easy to blame. It is not exaggerated to say that this is the reflection of the enterprises copyright literacy, which abuses copyright rights and collides with public interests.

Some insiders pointed out that the reason why visual China caused public anger this time is superficially regulated, but essentially it is the hooligan business logic which has been confused for interests in the past two years that caused public anger.

The purpose of copyright legislation is not only to protect the legitimate rights and interests of authors, but also to promote the wide dissemination of works. It is not enough to interpret copyright law as individual rights law in theory, but it is more undesirable to emphasize business logic unilaterally in practice.

This is also where some Internet platform companies have risen rapidly, but there has always been Achilles heel. Chinas population base is huge and the scale effect is significant, but the control ability of platform enterprises in quality management and UGC content production is obviously not necessarily keeping up.


Generally speaking, the use of published works by others for personal learning, research or appreciation belongs to the category of reasonable use.

Of course, personal use is one of the most difficult problems in the field of copyright. It seems insignificant, on the edge of copyright protection, but on the fundamental cornerstone of copyright system, that is, how to maintain a delicate balance between the interests of copyright owners in developing works and the interests of users in enjoying works.

There is no doubt that intellectual property protection, including copyright, cannot be abandoned by choking. This attack on Visual China should be an opportunity to discuss the boundaries and uses of copyright and to reflect on the business model of such enterprises.

We also note the difficulties in dealing with infringement in reality. Take Daoshu as an example, every original article of ours is often copied and washed, but the process of obtaining evidence and safeguarding rights is very troublesome. It is believed that every creator who has had similar experience has experienced it. When told that there may be infringement of a picture, it is also very difficult for these authors to spend too much time, one by one, to define who the original picture is.

We hope that this dilemma will be solved in the future. In fact, the developing block chain technology may be a solution.

Island uncle understands that Hangzhou Internet court now adopts Alipays block chain technology. When publishing the original content, the originator keeps it on the block chain, including time, place, person, pre-event and post-event dimensions, which will be stamped on the block chain. Any change, even if it is to rotate a photo, will be recorded and fixed, and can not be tampered with, thus ensuring the authenticity and integrity of electronic evidence.

Tell me about a real case. When they were young after 1980, they all saw the black cat sheriff. His father Shanghai Film Factory found that a media had used the image of the black cat Sheriff without authorization. They had taken evidence of the infringement articles on the block chain. After receiving the indictment, the defendant offered to be private. That is to say, the matter was settled before it entered the court.

This forensics process may sound a bit abstract, you can see a video experience.

Before that, Shanghai Mei Picture Factory had to go to the notary office to notarize the proof of infringement. The cost of notarization varied from 800 to 1000 yuan per copy. Then they waited several days to get the notarization certificate, and then went to the court to file a case.

With block chain technology, the process may take only a few minutes and cost a few dollars.

We all hope that the copyright environment will become better and better, which requires the joint efforts of many parties. We need to supervise and improve peoples awareness of copyright. We also need copyright enterprises and Internet content platform enterprises to work together to create a more friendly, more convenient and cheaper environment for copyright protection.

This kind of environment is good for everyone.

Source: Chivalrous Island Author: Responsible Editor of Bashan Night Rain: Li Hang_BJS4645