An ink painting of Chinese painter Qi Baishi(Xinhua File Photo)
A total of nine descendants of the Chinese painter Qi Baishi have made agreements with one of 19 publishers and received books worth 100,000 yuan (14,051 U.S. dollars) as compensation over copyright infringement, a local court said on Thursday.
The Chinese Drama Publishing House contacted Qi's descendants and decided to give them books worth 200,000 yuan with a 50 percent discount as compensation after the court handed down the petition paper on Feb. 26, according to Shenyang Municipal Intermediate People's Court on Thursday.
Qi's offspring will have 90 percent copyright of the pirated book "Wu Changshuo and Qi Baishi's Seal Cutting" during the next 49 years and the publishing house has the remaining ten percent, according to their agreement.
Qi's descendants sued 24 publishers for 10 million yuan (1.3 million U.S. dollars) in damages for copyright infringement in December 2007. The court accepted 19 of them.
The claims were made against publishers based in Shanghai, Chongqing and other places, according to documents from the court.
Qi Bingyi, the painter's grandson said all the art works of his grandfather should enjoy the protection of copyright for 50 years after his death in 1957, but the publishers printed, published and sold the copies of the works without permission and also failed to pay contribution fees.
The largest damages claim ranged from 100,000 yuan to more than three million yuan.
The evidence that the plaintiffs collected included more than 100 items, including books, gold coins, paintings and seals.
The court began hearing four of the suits on Feb. 25 and a decision is yet to be handed down.
Qi Baishi is best known for the whimsical, often playful style of his watercolor works. He painted almost everything, but shrimps and birds were most popular in his later paintings.
Born in 1864 to a farmer's family in Xiangtan, central Hunan Province, Qi became a carpenter at 14. He taught himself to paint. Aged 40, he traveled across China and settled in Beijing in 1917 where he lived until his death in 1957.