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Zhang Yimou sued for infringement

Zhang Yimou sued for infringement

Zhan Xueyan, one of the Opera performers in the film appears in the court as witness. [chinadaily.com.cn]

A lawyer for Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou appeared Tuesday in Bejing Xicheng District Court, to defend him in a lawsuit over suspected copyright infringement.

The Anshun city culture authority sued Zhang, film producer Zhang Weiping and the film distribution company for not crediting the local Di Opera for performers who appeared in the the film Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles. Made in 2005, the film is based on a national intangible cultural heritage opera from Guizhou.

The plaintiff's attorney played part of the film, which showed eight Di Opera performers from Anshun selected by Zhang. They traveled to Lijiang of Yunnan province with the crew to shoot the film. But the film didn't mention it was Anshun Di Opera performers in the trailer and the plaintiff claims some audiences thought they were from a Yunnan local opera.

The defense lawyer said there is no law in China covering copyright infringement of intangible cultural heritage, and no lines in the film saying the opera company depicted belonged to Yunnan.

The court adjourned after the defendants refused the plaintiff's request to give credit to the Di Opera of Anshun in a later-released copy of the film.

Liu Shuliang, a dean in the cinema school of the Communication University of China, called for quick action on a culture heritage protection law. "We have no legal protection mechanism of cultural heritage in China, and Chinese filmmakers usually take introducing anything for granted," he said. "Western films pay attention to this problem and they even credit to what is aired on the TV used in the film."

By Guan Xiaomeng


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