Amid growing complaints of Chinese copyright infringement of the National Palace Museum’s (NPM) historical artifacts, the Control Yuan has reportedly decided to launch an investigation.
Sources familiar with the matter said the probe is to be conducted by Control Yuan members Bau Tzong-ho (包宗和), Wang Mei-yu (王美玉) and Nancy Chen (陳小紅) and that their priority is to ascertain whether the museum’s copyright licensing regulations and anti-fraud mechanism are strong enough.
Bau said that it might require cross-strait negotiations to seek permanent solutions for the copyright infringement problem and that his job is to find out how the museum’s treasures have been copied and whether human negligence played a part.
Items from the museum have reportedly been copied not only by private Chinese organizations, but also government-affiliated groups.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) in October said that China’s state-run Jiuzhou Audio-Video Publishing Co had been publishing unauthorized information from the museum in books and cellphone applications, but the museum had not spoken out about the infringement because the company is supported by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office.
National Palace Museum Director Feng Ming-chu (馮明珠) said at the time that the museum had not authorized Jiuzhou to use the content, nor had it been aware of the company’s background.
A month before, DPP Legislator Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) drew attention to unauthorized copying by Sanxitang — also known as the Beijing Suyin Cultural Broadcasting Corp — of the Wenyuan Chamber (文淵閣) edition of the Complete Library of the Four Treasuries (四庫全書), which is in the museum.
There was also an incident in 2011 where museum employees were caught copying images of a Tibetan manuscript, the Dragon Sutra, and selling the digital copies to Chinese companies.
A Control Yuan member, who requested anonymity, said the museum’s collection belongs to all the people of Taiwan and that suspicions have been raised by many cases over the past three years in which images of the artifacts were illegally copied and marketed in China as authorized duplicates.
“Some members suspect that the images could have been sold by museum staff during trips to China,” the Control Yuan member said.
The Control Yuan member said the investigation would also focus on how the museum’s copyright licensing contracts were signed between the museum and companies, citing incidents where firms received authorization from the museum, but then broke their contracts and produced copies of museum items without its consent.
Another Control Yuan member, speaking on condition of anonymity, attributed the rampant pirating to the museum’s lack of an anti-fraud mechanism.
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