(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) Recently, Chinese governments have cracked down on the spreading of rumors online, and have arrested some web users for allegedly fabricating or disseminating online rumors. A lot of netizens have voiced their objections that this crackdown suppressed the “proper freedom of speech.” In our opinion, theoretically, online rumors shall better be handled through other means of self-remedy, such as the victims filing civil or criminal lawsuits against the alleged rumormongers. However, government intervention is in some cases a realistic necessity to more effectively crackdown online rumors, because in some cases the victims hurt by online rumors cannot file a lawsuit on their own initiative, often resulting from a failure to discern the rumormonger’s identity.
(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.