Taiwan’s Palace Museum to sue Beijing museum for copyright offenses

The National Palace Museum (NPM) in Taipei has decided to sue the Palace Museum in Beijing for violating its copyright covering three valuable ancient Chinese paintings.

The NPM detailed its plan to take legal action in a report presented to the Legislature on Wednesday on how the museum will deal with disputes on issues related to copyright authorization and value-added uses of its collections.

The dispute with the Beijing museum emerged in October 2015 when lawmaker Ho Hsin-chun (???) of the Democratic Progressive Party alleged that the Beijing museum used images of three popular Chinese paintings in the NPM's collection without the proper authorization.

Ho cited an album of paintings published by the Palace Museum that contained pictures of the three paintings -- "Travelers among Mountains and Streams (?????)," "Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains (?????)," and "Early Spring (???)."

The pictures were apparently scanned from materials published by the NPM.

The lawmaker accused the Beijing museum of failing to give credit to the rightful owner of the images -- the National Palace Museum -- and asked then NPM curator Feng Ming-chu (???) to take legal action against the Palace Museum in Beijing.

In its report on the case, the NPM said it had asked the Beijing museum several times since then to apply for copyright authorization for the images retroactively, but the Beijing museum never replied.

The NPM then took its lawyers' advice and commissioned the Intellectual Property Office of the Ministry of Economic Affairs to handle the dispute based on a cross-Taiwan Strait cooperation agreement on intellectual property protection, the NPM report said.

During talks between the Intellectual Property Office and China's National Copyright Administration, the latter argued that it was not responsible for verifying the originality of photos of paintings or artifacts, and it suggested that the NPM take legal action to prove its copyright existed.

The Chinese authorities also suggested that the NPM and Beijing Palace Museum establish a communication channel to resolve the dispute together, the NPM report said.

The NPM eventually decided on Oct. 6 to file suit against the Beijing museum, and it has since completed the procedures to authorize others to file the suit on its behalf.

Once the documents necessary for the suit have been compiled, NPM representatives will go to Beijing for the court proceedings, the NPM said.

The ink painting "Travelers among Mountains and Streams (?????)" was done by Fang Kuan (??) in the North Song Dynasty (960-1127), while "Early Spring" was painted by Guo Xi (??) in the same era.

"Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains (?????)" is one of the few surviving works by the painter Huang Gongwang (???, 1269-1354), who painted it between 1348 and 1350.

The Chinese landscape painting was burnt into two pieces in 1650, and one of them is stored today at the Zhejiang Provincial Museum in Hangzhou while the other is kept at the NPM in Taipei.

The three paintings are among the most valuable works in the NPM's collection.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel