On June 1, 2021, the National Copyright Administration released the top ten cases of national anti-piracy in 2020, and the "May 21 copyright infringement case in Jining, Shandong" represented by Zhonglun was successfully selected.
Case review: in May 2019, Pearson received a complaint that one children's English training institution in Jining, Shandong Province used pirated teaching materials in large quantities, which seriously infringed the copyright of Pearson. Zhonglun represented Pearson to immediately carry out a field investigation together with evidence collection in Jining City. After gathering the preliminary infringement evidence, Zhonglun represented Pearson to initiate an enforcement action at Jining Cultural Tourism Comprehensive Law Enforcement Detachment of Shandong Province, and successfully seized more than 7,000 pirated English textbooks in the raid action. Due to the large number of pirated textbooks seized, the case was transferred to Jining Public Security Bureau Shizhong District Branch for criminal case filing. After investigation, Zheng, the person in charge of Jining Aibei International Children's English training institution, entrusted Liu of Jining Shuangxing Plate Making and Printing Co., Ltd. to print 72,012 copies of "Aibei International Children's English" and other infringing and pirated products without the permission of the copyright owner, and sold 64,824 copies of pirated products through the Internet, with an illegal business volume of more than 4.03 million yuan. In December 2020, the People's Court of Jiaxiang County, Jining City, Shandong Province sentenced Zheng to four years' imprisonment and a fine of 1 million yuan for the crime of copyright infringement; Jining Shuangxing Plate Making and Printing Co., Ltd. was fined 200,000 yuan; Liu was sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment, suspended, with a fine of 200,000 yuan, and recovered 100,000 yuan of illegal income.
The National Copyright Administration’ comments: "Jianwang 2020" special action takes the special rectification of online education as a key task, vigorously rectifying the phenomenon of infringement and piracy in online education and training industry, and severely cracking down on the sale of pirated online courses and publications through the Internet. This is a typical case of infringing the copyright of training materials. The works in this case involve foreign copyright holders, and the amount of illegal business is relatively high. The investigation and handling of the case in accordance with the law shows the firm position of strict protection of intellectual property rights in China, which is of great significance to maintaining the order of copyright in the education and training market and establishing the awareness of copyright protection.
Case enlightenment: in practice, it is difficult for copyright owner in terms of English textbook to protect their legitimate right. The work on investigation and evidence collection is the key step to promote administrative investigation and criminal case filing. Zhonglun assisted Pearson to obtain infringement evidence, coordinate with authorities to carry out on-site investigation, and successfully push on the criminal case filing procedure. During the enforcement action, the local authorities at Cultural Law Enforcement Department and Public Security Bureau require Pearson to provide proof that its imported teaching materials enjoy copyright in China. Zhonglun assisted Pearson to explain that, according to the relevant provisions of the Copyright Law, the works of Pearson (including its U.S., U.K. and Hong Kong companies) are "foreign works" and shall enjoy the copyright protection by Chinese law according to the international treaties to which China is a party. Meanwhile, Pearson has marked on all the legally published and imported teaching materials with the © copyright indication, namely, to claim that Pearson as the copyright owner by signature. Therefore, Pearson has the right to take action to protect the copyright of relevant teaching materials in China.
Jimmy Huang, a partner of Zhonglun, as the team leader, and Tracy Liu, a non-equity partner, as the responsible lawyer, provided full legal services for the client.