A student was indicted last month after Taipei County commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (
During the campaign for the Taipei County commissioner election in 2005, Tseng Yen-wei (曾彥衛), a university student at the time, created a blog satirizing Chou, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate.
Tseng, now 24 years old, is a graduate student at National Taiwan Normal University.
Although Chou was elected, he filed a lawsuit against Tseng for "spreading rumors or untrue statements" with the "intention to prevent a candidate's election," aspersions and copyright violation.
The copyright violation action was because Chou believed that the name of Tseng's Web site, "Wiego's blog," was an imitation of Chou's official campaign Web site "Weigo's blog."
In addition, Chou also alleged that the logo which Tseng used on his blog was an imitation of Chou's official campaign logo.
Tseng denied that he had "spread rumors or untrue statements" with the "intention to prevent a candidate's election" as Chou had alleged, and defended his freedom of speech.
"I gathered all the information from the mass media, which was open to everybody," Tseng said.
"For example, Lo Wen-chia (
The Yung-chou case was a loan dispute between a bank and the Yung-chou Corporation. Lo, Chou's rival for the post of Taipei County Commissioner, had alleged that Chou was illegally involved in the case
Although Chou also sued Lo over the issue, the prosecutor decided not to indict Lo.
Chen Wen-hsin (
"The dispute [between Chou and Tseng] is actually a debate on how far political critique can go," Chen said, adding that the final judgment in the case would set an important precedent for similar cases in the future.
"It's [Tseng's] freedom of expression," Chen said, when asked for his opinion.
"The contents of the blog may have been harmful to Chou, but how else can voters evaluate a public figure running for Taipei County Commissioner if the candidate tries to avoid criticism from voters, media or the public in general like this?" Chen added.
Tseng rebutted Chou's other accusations as well.
"Chou accused me of violating his copyright because my blog was an imitation of his official Web site, and may have caused confusion, but that's nonsense," Tseng said. "He [Chou] didn't have a blog, he had an official Web site with an independent domain name, while mine was a blog registered under Wretch."
Wretch is a popular blog service provider in Taiwan.
"Plus, my blog account was spelled `wiego,' while Chou's Web site domain name was spelled `weigo.' I don't think he can claim that he owns all the accounts or domain names that resemble the word `weigo,'" Tseng added.
Tseng alleged that Chou himself is a plagiarist.
"He [Chou] said that the logo on my blog was an imitation of his campaign logo, but his campaign logo actually looked like the `health food' logo designed by the Department of Health. I suspect that he violated other people's copyrights as well," Tseng said.
However, the prosecutor seemed to disagree with Tseng.
In the indictment, the prosecutor said that he decided to indict Tseng because he had "altered the word `weigo' and the campaign logo" of Chou without permission, although Tseng had prior knowledge that both the domain name and the logo were copyrighted.
"I'm a resident in Taipei County, and I do care about public issues. The blog was the way in which I expressed my political opinions," Tseng said. "It's just unbelievable and ridiculous that a county commissioner filed a lawsuit against a simple student like me, especially after he had won the election by 190,000 votes."
The Taipei County commissioner's office did not respond to the Taipei Times' request for comment.
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