100,000 visit Keelung duck amid profit row
By Lauly Li ,The China Post
December 23, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Over 100,000 visitors flocked to see the giant rubber duck in Keelung City (基隆市) over the weekend, the event organizer said yesterday.
Yesterday marked the second day of the rubber duck's display in the Northern Taiwan port city. Due to rainfall and air pollution, traces of dirt were seen on the large-scale installation. The Keelung City Government said that the amount of visitors who showed up yesterday exceeded its expectation.
According to information provided by the Keelung Department of Transportation and Tourism, the Taiwan Railway Administration and bus operators, more than 100,000 people still showed up in spite of the unpleasant weather, the city government said.
The rubber duck's creator, Florentijn Hofman, was reportedly upset about the arrangements, criticizing the organizers for turning the event into a “commercial circus.” Earlier this month, Hofman also rejected the organizer's proposal to make the rubber duck rotate 360 degrees, saying that the proposal ran counter to the rubber duck's concept of simplicity and tranquility.
Former Event Planner Responds
Jerry Fan (范可欽), a former planner of the event, yesterday responded by saying that Hofman's comments were regrettable, adding that the Dutch artist was being unfair.
During a press conference held in Taipei, Fan claimed that Hofman had received a large amount of royalties for the rubber duck display.
“If this is not a commercial activity, then what is?” asked Fan, responding to the “commercial circus” comment.
Fan went on to say that the rubber duck as an icon has been in existence for over 150 years.
“Even if the rubber duck was copyrighted in the first place, the copyright no longer exists,” Fan said, adding that there are more than 50 registered rubber duck-related commodities in Taiwan.
Anyone can register a rubber duck-related commodity, Fan added.
Fan claimed that as far as he knows, Hofman does not hold the copyrights for the rubber duck in mainland China and in Taiwan, and that the Dutch artist has received royalties from Kaohsiung, Taoyuan and Keelung.
When asked about the royalties, Fan said that he is unable to disclose the amount due to a contractual nondisclosure agreement; however, he did say that the amount is “definitely over NT$10 million.”
The organizers of the event said that they had terminated their working relationship with Fan because Fan and the mayor of Keelung had “communication problems.”
In response to accusations, Taiwan Smart Card Corporation yesterday released a press statement saying that it had acquired permission from the organizers to use the rubber duck's image for its products.
The firm, however, expressed regret over the copyright controversy, adding that it is willing to turn over the already-made products to the rightful licensor, once the circumstances have been clarified.
Keelung City Council Speaker Huang Ching-tai, who doubles as chief of the organizing committee, has since apologized to Hofman over what he called a lack of communication with the Dutch artist. Huang said the port city, in order to demonstrate its position on the issue, removed Fan from his position as head planner due to his unauthorized release of Rubber Duck-related merchandise rights.