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Chinese reality show featuring British pop singer Jessie J mired down in rip-off scandal

(People's Daily Online)    16:04, January 18, 2018

A Chinese reality show has been bombarded with public criticism after it created a controversial musical video for 29-year-old British pop singer Jessie J in January, and was accused by the public of copying a Chanel advertisement.

A music contest show called “Singer 2018” by China’s Hunan TV has been in the spotlight ever since the program aired on Jan. 12. In addition to the popularity brought by Jessie J as a contestant, a rip-off scandal has also put the program in the hot seat, with many criticizing the music video for Jessie J as a copy of a Chanel ad released in 2017.

A comparison between the music video and Chanel’s advertisement reveals some resemblance. Both Jessie J and the ad’s protagonist Kristen Stewart perform in a similar background, while both videos include shots of them running toward a light and gazing into the distance.

As of press time, both Jessie J and the TV show have removed the music video from their social media platforms, without giving further explanation. Chanel also cannot be reached for detailed comments.

Though the public have distained the video for alleged copyright infringement, law experts in China have expressed different opinions, noting that there is no solid evidence to call the video a tort.

“Though both videos encourage women to break through limitations, similar ideas should not be considered as copyright infringement. When it comes to the videos’ forms of expression, the backgrounds that appeared in Chanel’s video clips are not original content, and thus should also not be considered as copyright infringement,” He Jun, an associate professor of Tsinghua University, told the Beijing News.

Echoing He, Zhao Hu, a Beijing-based lawyer, told the Beijing Times that instead of completely using Chanel’s ideas, the reality show merely used some of the ad’s elements. And that is not a tort.

“China’s Copyright Law stipulates that the infringed content should be considered as original, while it’s hard to tell if certain imitation is deemed as copy or not,” He added.

Though it’s okay to learn and absorb good elements and ideas from art, copying forms of expression is definitely unacceptable, said the expert.

“Even if it is not a copycat issue from a legal perspective, it cannot change the fact that some viewers will be uncomfortable when they watch the music video. As a renowned program in China, the TV channel in Hunan should be very careful regarding art creation. After all, original ideas are the foundation of a good program,” He added.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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