Law & Policy

Wanfang Data Ordered To Compensate For Copyright Infringement

The result of the lawsuit between Wanfang Data and the 482 Chinese academics has recently been unveiled and the Beijing-based company was ordered to pay more than CNY1 million for copyright infringement.

In August 2008, 482 academics sued Wanfang Data to court and said their unpublished dissertations, which were completed by them independently, were made into electronic versions by Wanfang Data and were put in the company's data resource system and the online platform "Dissertations of China" without the authorizations of the writers. They said the company reaped high profits by selling its system to libraries and offering online browsing and downloading services. The behavior of Wanfang Data violated their copyrights, they said. Therefore, they asked Wanfang Data to make a public apology and compensate them for economic losses and emotional distress.

Beijing Chaoyang People's Court says after a trial that Wanfang Data included 364 unpublished masters and doctorate theses in its database without the agreement of the writers or any payment to the writers, and then sold these writings to public and college libraries for profit, which has exceeded the allowed use limit set in China's Copyright Law and constituted a infringement. Therefore, the court ordered Wanfang Data to remove the plaintiffs' theses from all databases, publish an apology on its website and compensate 364 academics over CNY100 million.

However, 118 other appeals were rejected by the court which ruled that some universities authorized the company to use certain theses and the lawyers of the 482 academics said in the court that they would take an appeal to a higher court on some of these issues.

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