People are increasingly sharing and obtaining information from a newly developing communication platform---microblog. Is microblog protected by copyright? Does an individual or a group infringe copyright by forwarding pictures on microblog?

Recently, Baiyun District People's Court heard the first microblog copyright infringement case in Guangzhou City. The plaintiff Getty Images (Beijing) Technology Co., Ltd. (Getty Images) brought Guangdong OPPEIN Furnishing Group Co., Ltd. and Beijing MicroDream TechnoInnovation IT Technology Co., Ltd into court, claiming the defendants infringed its copyright and should compensate it for economic losses. OPPEIN allegedly used the copyrighted pictures of Getty Images in its microblog which was run by MicroDream TechnoInnovation.

The judge: microblog forwarding for commercial purpose constitutes infringement

Whether OPPEIN infringed copyright had to be identified by court. Does an individual infringe copyright by forwarding pictures on microblog? A judge from Baiyun District People's Court said it depended on whether the forwarding was for commercial purpose.

The judge pointed out there were three opinions as for microblog forwarding:

It constitutes infringement as the copyright of forwarded pictures belongs to others but not the "forwarder".

It constitutes no infringement as microblog is just a newly developing information exchange platform. Uploading pictures on it is a kind of information exchange.

It depends on the purpose of opening a microblog, that is, whether it is for commercial purpose.

At present, whether microblog is an infringement media is still at issue. Court found difficulties in hearing microblog copyright infringement cases. It is thus necessary to find a solution to such new type cases and raise the handling ability of courts.

(Source: IPR in China)