Gong Kaijie, the writer of the most popular Internet hit song about the stock market, has sued four music product producers and sellers for infringing copyright.
The Shanghai Huangpu District People's Court heard the case on Wednesday but did not deliver its verdict.
Gong, 33, is seeking 1.07 million yuan (US$150,704) in compensation, including 50,000 yuan in compensation for mental anguish, from the Beijing Hurray Feile Digital Music Technology Co Ltd, the Jiuzhou Audio Publishing Company, the Guangdong Feile Movie Production Co Ltd and Shanghai Xinhua Media Co Ltd.
He is also asking the defendants to stop publishing and selling the CDs involved and make a public apology.
Gong said he has been writing music and lyrics for a long time. Impressed by the stock market boom, on April 26, 2007, he wrote the lyrics of a song titled "I Won't Sell the Shares Even If I'm Dead." He asked a friend Wang Bei to sing the song set to the music of a Taiwan rock band.
The song went online on May 6, 2007, and there were more than a million hits in four days. It was popular because of its vivid portrayal of the psychology of some investors.
The plaintiff said the Hurray Feile company, seeing the popularity of the song, asked to buy its copyright but did not come to an agreement with Gong. It then instructed others to copy the song and told Jiuzhou and Guangdong Feile to publish a CD with the same title. The plaintiff bought the CD from Xinhua Media in the Shanghai Book Mall.
"I wrote the song for fun. I didn't think about profits at all," Gong said.
As well as publishing the CD, Jiuzhou also offered downloads of the song online bringing in it 6.8 million yuan in profits, a media report said.
Huo Qing, who represented all the four defendants, argued that Gong should not be protected by the law because he himself had violated the copyright of the composer of the music. The song had been illegally reworked without permission.
The defendants also said the song they published and sold was totally different except for the title. The Hurray Feile company said it paid others to write a new song.
Liu Chunquan, the lawyer for the plaintiff, said the so-called new song just changed a few words of Gong's lyrics. He said the defendants had obviously wanted to profit from the popularity of Gong's song.
It is the second copyright case Gong has filed. He sued www.5fad.com, a Web site offering music downloads, and the singer Wang last year, asking for compensation of 450,000 yuan. He said the Web site claimed Wang was the lyrics writer after failing to reach an agreement with him.
(Shanghai Daily March 13, 2008)