Huayi Brothers has filed a lawsuit against a Weibo user for spreading what it says is false information about the release of one of its films.
According to Beijing’s Haidian People’s Court official Weibo account, Huayi Brothers says that Weibo user and official Weibo WeMedia (or zimeiti 自媒體) account “A.D. 1874” (公元1874) caused harm to the company’s reputation by transmitting false information.
Specifically, A.D. 1874 wrote in a post on October 26, 2016 alleging that Huayi Brothers called SAPPRFT and demanded that the release dates of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them and Sully be moved in order to allow cinemas to give more screenings to Feng Xiaogang’s I Am Not Madame Bovary (我不是潘金蓮). The post was reposted 11,869 times and attracted 1,591 comments. The user made a similar accusation in another post on November 18th.
The two offending posts have since been deleted or hidden from the public.
Huayi is asking the court to force Sina to delete the user account, reveal the identity of the user by providing his real name, proof of identity, phone number and address to Huayi, and post an official apology on its front page for 30 days.
A.D. 1874 is one of the many self-proclaimed WeMedia users that have sprung up through Chinese social media platforms in recent years. Similar to citizen journalism, WeMedia users create content outside the traditional media framework, feeding news on wide variety of topics via WeChat news feeds and Weibo microblogs. In addition to film reviews, A.D. 1874 also gushes about Hong Kong entertainment and provides commentary about pop culture and current events on his Weibo microblog. He even released an e-book about Hong Kong pop music. It has 4.47 million followers.
A.D. 1874 acknowledged the lawsuit by reposting a Weibo post about the case. Before shutting down comments on the repost, he only wrote that he believes the court will make a fair judgment.
The Chinese government had previously shut down a large number of WeMedia accounts that touch on sensitive political topics. This week, a number of celebrity gossip and entertainment news-related WeMedia accounts and blogs were shuttered after internet regulators demanded social media platform operators to crack down on vulgar news that cover celebrity scandals and glorify their extravagant lifestyles.
In 2015, Fun Age Pictures, New Classics Media Corporation and writers Pang Damo and Yan Fei filed a lawsuit against the writer of a WeChat public post for alleging that Goodbye Mr. Loser (夏洛特煩惱) is plagarized by Francis Ford Coopola’s Peggy Sue Got Married. The result of the court case was never publicized.
An official date to hear the case has not been set.