The brother of China's last emperor has confirmed he will stake his claim to the copyright of the emperor's autobiography, the Beijing News reported on Thursday.
The newspaper quoted Jin Youzhi, originally named Aisin Giorro Puren, as saying that he would "definitely claim the copyright" and hold a press conference on Friday to "further clarify the issue."
The report came after Beijing-based Qunzhong Publishing House filed a suit at the People's Court of Beijing's Xicheng District, applying for "intestate" status on the copyright of "The First Half of My Life -- From Emperor to Citizen," a long-time bestseller by former child ruler Aisin Giorro Puyi.
Mu Xiaojun, a lawyer with the Beijing-based Zhong Fu Law Office, said, "There was no reason for the publishing house to file the suit applying for intestate status as Jin is legally entitled to the copyright after the death of Puyi and his wife."
"It is the private property of Puyi's family for 50 years, the copyright's legal duration... and the publisher has taken drastic measures to handle the dispute," the lawyer said.
The newspaper quoted the publisher as saying that Jin was "ineligible" for the copyright as the publisher was entrusted by the state to "improve and edit" the book in the 1960s and the remuneration was divided equally by Puyi and the editor Li Wenda.
In November 1985, the National Copyright Administration issued a statement saying Puyi and the editor were co-authors of the book.
However, a verdict of the Beijing Intermediate People's Court in 1995 ruled that "the copyright was solely owned by Puyi himself due to its autobiographical nature, and his wife owns it after Puyi."
The Xicheng court published a proclamation on the intestate application in the People's Court Daily on Sep. 25, saying, "The copyright will transfer to the state if no one claims ownership within a year, and profits from the book sales will be nationalized according to the law."
The publishing house has had a long dispute with the 89-year-old Jin after the death of Puyi from illness in Beijing in 1967 and his wife Li Shuxian, who held the copyright until she died in 1997. But the couple, who left no legal will, had no offspring to take over the ownership.
In December last year, Jin lost a lawsuit claiming ownership of the copyright on Puyi's image after the Palace Museum held an exhibition on Puyi's life.
The Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court ruled that Puyi was a public figure whose life was "closely connected with China's history," and reproductions of his image did not infringe on the family's rights.
Wang Qingxiang, a research fellow with northeast China's Jilin Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, said Puyi was not the biological brother of Jin, who was adopted as the stepson of the Qing emperor in 1908.
The autobiography, a memoir of the first half of the 20th Century seen through Puyi's eyes, depicts his changes in fortune after the last dynasty of China collapsed in 1911.
Puyi started the book in 1957 and the government published it in 1964 after editing by many historians and experts. About 1.87 million copies in 21 editions have been sold over the past four decades.
In 1908, when Puyi was almost three years old, he ascended the imperial throne as the 10th ruler of the Qing Dynasty, the last dynasty of China's feudal system. Less than three years later, the 1911 Revolution forced his abdication.
After being expelled from Beijing's Imperial Palace in November 1924, Puyi and his family and entourage fled to Tianjin.
The Japanese occupiers in China enthroned him as a puppet emperor in the early 1930s, but he was dethroned by revolutionaries after a three year reign.