Sun, Sep 21, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Chinese illegally copied historic texts: legislator

SYMBOLIC IMPORTANCE:A DPP legislator said the National Palace Museum mismanaged its responsibility for the texts, allowing illegal reproductions by Sanxitang

By Tsu Fang-ho  /  Staff reporter

The Wenyuan Chamber edition of the Complete Library of the Four Treasuries is pictured in a screen grab from the National Palace Museum Web site.

Source: National Palace Museum

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) yesterday accused China’s Sanxitang, also known as the Beijing Suyin Cultural Broadcasting Corp, of publishing unauthorized copies of the Wenyuan Chamber (文淵閣) edition of the Complete Library of the Four Treasuries (四庫全書), which is reposited in the National Palace Museum.

Chen castigated the museum for not investigating the matter, instead seeking to coordinate a transfer of licensing privileges from the original copyright holder, Taiwan Commercial Press, to the Chinese publisher.

Compiled during the 1700s, the Complete Library of the Four Treasuries is one of the largest sets of books created in Chinese history.

The 3,400 individual works contained in its 36,381 volumes span the breadth of classical Chinese philosophy, science, art and literature. The works date from the pre-Qin to early Qing dynasties, a period spanning more than 2,000 years.

Of the original seven sets, three have been destroyed and one severely damaged. The Wenyuan Chamber set is regarded as the most complete.

Because of its symbolic importance, China in recent years has pushed for the Wenyuan Chamber set to “come home.” Creating full-sized copies of the Complete Library of the Four Treasuries is even listed as one of the Chinese government’s 25 most important publishing goals.

Chen said that last week she requested that the museum provide her with the documents relating to Suyin’s copyright violation.

According to Chen, the museum acknowledged that the Taiwan Commercial Press in 2012 notified the museum of Suyin’s misappropriation of their intellectual property. Suyin’s Web site had listed the price of a complete set at 60 million yuan (US$9.8 million).

Chen said her investigation suggested the museum might have known about the matter as early as 2010, as she found a museum report which mentioned there was a discussion of the issue between the museum’s cultural sales unit director Hsu Hsiao-te (徐孝德) and Suyin, along with representatives of the Taiwan Commercial Press, in 2010 in Beijing.

Saying that Chinese media have reported that the Complete Library reproduced by Suyin has already been sent to the Wenyuan Chamber of Beijing’s Forbidden City for storage, Chen added that according to her sources, National Palace Museum director Feng Ming-chu (馮明珠), during a visit to Beijing in January, even provided her Chinese hosts a blueprint for the Wenyuan Chamber and showed them how to lay out the books.

Questioning how photographic files of the Complete Library could be leaked to China, Chen also questioned the role played by Feng and said she should take responsibility and step down.

In response, museum spokesman Chin Shih-hsien (金士先) said Suyin initially began printing copies of the Complete Library without pursuing licensing.

When the museum found out, it approached Suyin and a licensing contract was signed, Ching said, adding that the contract stipulated Suyin pay a deposit to guarantee the observance of the contract.

However, after Suyin failed to return this deposit, the contract was nullified by the museum and Suyin was ordered to destroy all of its copies, Ching said.

He added that to his knowledge, none of Suyin’s copies of the Complete Library were presently in circulation, noting that such sets would be very obvious given the size and cost of the collection.

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