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Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang accuses Baptist University and Cosmos Books of copyright infringement

Award-winning Taiwanese film director Tsai Ming-liang has accused Hong Kong Baptist University and Cosmos Books of publishing a book in his name without his consent.

In a series of Weibo posts written since Saturday, Tsai said he lectured at the university in 2011, but never agreed to publish the contents of the lectures in book form. When he later found out, Tsai said he was distressed that the book was “riddled with errors.”

Tsai Ming-liang

Tsai Ming-liang. Photo: Youtube screenshot.

The book, titled Tsai Ming-liang’s Lectures on Cinema, was published by Cosmos Books in 2012. The book was edited by Botang Zhuo, a film scholar at Baptist University who first invited Tsai to be a guest lecturer.

“Each of the lectures were recorded in full. I was used to it, and possibly I signed an agreement for [the recording] to be used for future teaching and research,” Tsai wrote. “Did Zhuo talk to me about publishing? I have absolutely no recollection.”

Cosmos Books also gave a mainland publisher permission to produce a simplified Chinese edition.

Tsai Ming-liang book

Tsai Ming-liang’s Lectures on Cinema, published by Cosmos Books. Photo: Weibo.

Tsai said that the mainland publisher – Shanghai Yazhong Cultural Diffusion – apologised and stopped selling the book after he contacted it. Cosmos Books continues to sell the book, and neither it nor Baptist University has apologised.

“Nobody is willing to accept responsibility and fix this incident of copyright infringement,” Tsai wrote. “As a writer whose rights were infringed upon, I feel like I am being kicked around.”

Tsai told Apple Daily that he wrote to Baptist University and Cosmos Books four times since May. On Saturday, Tsai wrote an open letter on Weibo – the first of three – addressed to the head of the university and the publisher.

Baptist University

Baptist University. File photo: inmediahk.net.

In a statement dated July 11, Cosmos Books said it had a valid license to publish the book and to sub-license it to a mainland publisher.

“The contract states that Baptist University holds the rights to the content and the right to license it, and guaranteed that there was no violation of copyright law,” the statement read.

Cosmos Books also said it would reserve the right to take legal action against false accusations and damage in reputation.

Tsai Ming-liang Stray Dogs

Film poster for Stray Dogs. Photo: distributor.

Baptist University did not respond to HKFP’s request for comment.

Known for his languid visual style, Tsai, 61, first came to prominence in 1994 when he won Best Director at the Golden Horse Awards for his film Vive l’Amour. He is internationally recognised as one of Taiwan’s leading auteurs, with his 2013 work Stray Dogs winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice International Film Festival.

Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang accuses Baptist University and Cosmos Books of copyright infringement