(By You Yunting) Abstract: In the proceedings of Qian Zhongshu’s letter manuscripts, in ruling whether the privacy right of decedents to a person should be protected by laws, the court decided that the relevant letters and manuscripts are irrelevant to the public interest and thus are private. However, the protective scope of the privacy right between the decedents of a person and a currently living person is different, and the protection of privacy right of decedents is weaker than the right of the public to be informed. The auctioning of these letters and manuscripts would, if it didn’t act to harm the reputations of Qian Zhongshu’s successors and relatives, not constitute an invasion of privacy.
(By You Yunting) As reported by Guangming News (note: the link is in Chinese), Beijing No.2 Intermediate People’s Court ruled in recent to demand the SUNGARI Auction Firm (the “SUNGARI”) not to carry out any conducts which would infringement the copyright contained in the letters written by Qian Zhongshu, Yang Jiang, Qian Yuan to Li Guoqiang. In the previous posts, we have put forward our opinions on the issue (post 1 and post 2).
According to the report, the court ruled that:
1. As the tools to communicate emotions, exchange ideas and discuss issues, the letter is generally the literal work finished by the writer basing on his/her independent thinking, and could be the work protected in the Copyright Law. Its copyright shall be owned by the author, who is namely the sender.
(By You Yunting)At first, the author would like to make a digression statement: in the article “Would Tencent Take the Copyright of Contents Published by Users on WeChat?”, the author analyzed the misunderstanding arisen by the Tencent User Agreement, and after its publication, Tencent modified its agreement, by which the original article has been amended into “For the contents created by the user when using the service herein provided, its IPR shall be the property of the user or the related right holder.” The author deeply appreciates their quick acceptation of the advice.
(By You Yunting) Recently, we noticed that a Beijing-based auction company was interested in selling letters and manuscripts, including those from the couple Mr. Qian Zhongshu and Ms. Yang Jiang (it should be noted both Mr. Qian and Ms. Yang are noted scholars in China). In addition, we have also seen letters from their daughter Ms. Qianyuan to Li Guoqiang, the chief editor of Hong Kong based magazine Guang Jiao Jing, and a manuscript of Mr. Qian’s work. In the meantime, some of the letters’ content has been disclosed to the media; in fact, following these disclosures there was apparent dissatisfaction from Mr. Qian’s widow, Yang Jiang, alleging that these public disclosures were in fact a violation of one’s private communication, and any public disclosure, by the media or otherwise, would be considered improper.