Art Copyright Coalition Reports Progress In China

The Art Copyright Coalition brought together six art publishing & licensing companies to attend the April 2013 Canton Fair and Jinhan Fair in Guangzhou, China for 3 days to search for copyright infringed products.  Just 5 months ago, five of the same companies attended the same fairs, and while they found a similar number of infringing exhibitors (over 40), the number of images being copied was significantly lower, and infringing companies were more cooperative when asked to remove infringing products from their booths.

In a case where an infringing exhibitor refused to cooperate, Wild Apple Graphics presented formal documentation of copyright ownership to the Jinhan Fair organizers, who in turn caused the infringer to remove product and sign a legally binding promissory letter never to produce or sell that infringing product – at the risk of being permanently banned from the Jinhan Fair.  “The amount of paperwork we had to do to ‘prove’ legal copyright for some of our images was extremely time-consuming,” said Wild Apple owner John Chester. “But it was worth it to show an obstinate counterfeiter that we are serious about enforcing our copyrights.”

The participating companies, although competitors, joined forces to combat this common problem in the art industry.  Lonnie Lemco of World Art Group explains, “For any one of our small businesses, fighting copyright infringers on our own would be an overwhelming prospect.  Working together with other art publishers helps sustain our sense of mission, and it makes a much bigger impact on the companies stealing our artwork.  It’s still difficult and expensive, but we are seeing some positive results.”  The international group on this trip was composed of the following:

The art companies distributed Art Copyright Coalition educational material (in English and Chinese) to all companies found with infringing product. “We toned down our aggressive approach from the last time and received a lot of cooperation in return,” commented Mauro Torre of Top Art. “We hope and expect to see a further reduction in violations when we return next October.  We were happy to see the progress from six months ago, but we still have a long way to go.”