Prosecutors seek 10 years in jail for mastermind of NPM copyright scheme

Friday, January 13, 2012
The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff--Shihlin District Prosecutors' Office yesterday indicted two former employees of the National Palace Museum (NPM) for taking bribes and conducting unauthorized duplications of copyrighted images belonging to the NPM. Prosecutors are demanding a sentence of 10 years in jail against the mastermind.

Prosecutors filed indictments against ex-assistant researcher Chen Yao-dong (陳耀東) and ex-research assistant Yeh Li-zhen (葉麗珍) of the NPM Cultural and Creative Marketing Department, on charges of corruption, breach of trust, and violation of copyright and commercial accounting laws.

Prosecutors demanded a 10-year jail term against Chen as he has never confessed to his illegal acts during the prosecution process. By contrast, prosecutors asked court judges to reduce the punishment for Yeh, as she returned illegal gains to the prosecutors and confessed to all her wrongdoings.

According to the indictment, after Long-Kuang Digital Cultural Co., Ltd. (龍岡數位文化公司) won an NPM bid worth NT$20.16 million to print ancient Buddhist books in January 2008, the firm's owner Chao Chun-chen (趙鈞震) granted bribes of NT$700,000 to Chen, who was responsible for the project, and NT$200,000 to Yeh (Chen's assistant) to seek their assistance in reducing any losses that might be caused by its failure to meet the publication deadline.

In addition, Chen and Yeh also conducted unauthorized duplication of up to 2,791 digitized images of the Yongle Canon (永樂大典), which, compiled by 2,000 scholars and completed in 1408, is the world's earliest and biggest Chinese encyclopedia.

Furthermore, both suspects also recklessly kept up to 3,926 digitized images of cultural works and publications, which were confiscated by agents of the Agency Against Corruption (AAC) under the Ministry of Justice during a raiding operation on Jan. 14, 2011.

Following exposure of the scandal, the NPM issued a statement to reinforce supervision of consigning printing projects to publishing firms, stressing that the NPM wouldn't justify illegal acts by its employees and immediately moved to contact the AAC to investigate the scandal.

The NPM also proactively cooperated with the direction of the AAC in collecting further facts and evidence, including cooperating with a court order for detention and seizure of relevant personnel, documents and information.

The NPM also stressed in the statement that the incident of corruption by Chen Yao-dong and Yeh Li-zhen was a single incident related only to the personal morals and conduct of the individuals concerned.

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