This year's test paper I for the National College Entrance Examination used an unsigned cartoon named A Fall as the topic for its writing section. This September, Cartoonist He Ying sued the Examination Center of the Ministry of Education (MOE) for infringing his copyright and requested compensation. The Haidian Court in Beijing tried the case on November 8.
Before the trial, He Ying explained that he created A Fall at the beginning of 2005 and published it in Satire and Humor on March 5 of that year as well as King of Cartoon at a later date. The cartoon even won him an excellence award in the "King of Cartoon Cup" competition.
After the entrance examination, He Ying accidentally discovered on the Internet that the test paper I for 2007 National College Entrance Examination used A Fall as its writing topic. The cartoon on the test paper is identical to his work in design, composition, and many other details. This paper was used in the entrance examination in provinces like Henan, Shanxi, and Guangxi.
At first, He Ying was delighted that his work was put on such national examination paper, but he later found out that his name was not included. He wrote a letter to the MOE but no response was received; he then wrote another letter and still received no response.
He Ying was upset and thought, "It's a good thing that my work was used, but what do I have?" He brought the MOE to the Haidian Court, demanding that the bureau make an open apology in a national paper and pay both remuneration and 10,000 yuan (US$1,348) in compensation.
The attorneys for He Ying and the Examination Center of the MOE were both present at the court. The defendant's attorney argued that the cartoon on the test paper differed greatly in expression of thought with He's work and therefore it constituted no infringement of the plaintiff's copyright.
"The test paper only drew some lessons from He's cartoon and it was an independently created work." He also believes that, according to the Intellectual Property Law, as a state talent selection system, the entrance examination is allowed to duly enter into the individual's legal rights.
The plaintiff's attorney asserted that the composition and design of the test paper cartoon is the same as the original work by the plaintiff. The alteration was made without the permission of the author and violated the alteration rights and authorship rights of the plaintiff. The MOE cannot infringe upon the individual's right in the name of public interest, and therefore should compensate the author.
The court did not give a verdict on November 8.
(China.org.cn by Zhang Ming'ai, November 10, 2007)